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Video: Highlights vs. Notre Dame

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The Kentucky softball team got just what it needed when Meagan Prince stepped into the circle against No. 1 LSU with two runners on and one out and trailing 2-1 in the top of the third inning.

It turns out the sophomore lefthander got just what she needed as well.

Coming off an outing in which she gave up six runs in just one inning at Auburn last Saturday, Prince came back a week later and redeemed herself.

In 4.1 innings of work, she allowed no runs on two hits with five strikeouts. She loaded the bases twice and had four walks, but LSU, one of the most explosive offenses in the country, was held cold.

Saturday's performance came after head coach Rachel Lawson issued a challenge to Prince following last week's short work in Auburn.

"After that Auburn game, Coach Lawson got on me pretty good," Prince said. "She said we had specific things that needed to get accomplished and accomplished now before this weekend. During practice we worked on those to make sure we had some of those things controlled a little bit better for this weekend."

Saturday, the Wildcats had just given up two runs to the top-ranked Tigers and squandered a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Prince came in with one out in the frame and walked her first batter to load the bases, but that's when the tides turned in her favor.

She got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning and prevent LSU's offense from putting together a big inning.

The next inning, a single and a pair of walks loaded the bags again for LSU. Again, it was Prince with a strikeout to send the Tigers away empty-handed.

"Meagan came in, and she put runners on, but the nice thing is she was able to close the door," Lawson said. "This is the reason we recruited Meagan, she's very tough. She's been tough her entire life. She not only got beat up by Auburn, but she probably got beat up by me a little bit this week. She responded, she did what she needed to do. She had the fortitude and the command, and she worked on her pitches and picked herself up. Today she came out and showed the type of player that she is, and we're really happy that we have her on our team."

The key was Prince's approach to those two bases-loaded jams, which started just one batter in to her appearance.

Before entering the game, it was some advice from UK's ace that helped get Prince going.

"One pitch at a time," Prince said of her approach. "As a matter of fact, that's what Kelsey [Nunley] told me right before I went out, she was like 'OK, you have to take it one pitch at a time.' So that's what I tried to do. Just take it one pitch at a time, perfect that pitch and throw that pitch, perfect that pitch and move on."

"Meagan was outstanding today, this is one of the best games I've seen her pitch," Lawson said. "She was able to command all four corners, she was able to command her pitches, she looked confident. She was throwing hard, she was really making the curveball move, which was really nice. Overall I'm very proud of her and I think she was a huge reason why we won the game today."

The confidence that might have been wavering after UK's trip to Auburn is on its way back for Prince. Shutting down the No. 1 team in the country will do that though.

Prince allowed a lone single in the fifth inning before Kentucky tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the frame. Prince followed with a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth and retired the first two batters in the seventh. After a two-out walk, Nunley came in and got the save.

Giving up two hits and no runs over 4.1 innings has put Prince back on track. She still has work to do, but she likes where Saturday went.

"It helps the confidence," Prince said. "There are still some things I need to work on of course, there were some pitches that weren't hitting today, so there are a lot of things that still need to be worked on."

When she gets back to working on those little things this week, Prince will have some confidence, and momentum, on her side.

Video: UK football's first spring scrimmage

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Trey Lyles is leading Kentucky in scoring in rebounding through three games of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles is leading Kentucky in scoring in rebounding through three games of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
CLEVELAND - Trey Lyles is just 19 years old, but his game resembles that of two 36- and 38-year-old NBA superstars.

Lyles grew up logging many hours on the basketball court with his dad, working on shooting angles and the fundamentals of the game. He also watched tape of his favorite players and tried to mimic their every move.

The end result is a guy who is coming into his own on the biggest stage, averaging a team-high 11.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament. According to junior Willie Cauley-Stein, Lyles' emergence as a force was simply a matter of time.

"You knew it (in) workouts, you could see the talent level, you could see how he could be a huge factor on a team," Cauley-Stein said. "It's just the fact, when you learn to play in a college setting or play in the college game like that. It started in workouts. You could see him starting to take over a workout or him embracing being tired and being fatigued and still making shots and still doing stuff that's not normal."

And now the guy UK head coach John Calipari routinely labels as Kentucky's X-Factor is causing excruciating headaches to opposing defenses and offenses due to his size and athleticism.

"For his size, the things that he does, I'm saying it again, he's the X-Factor for us," Coach Cal said after UK's first rout of Arkansas. "He's the one that makes us go from pretty good, really good, to uh-oh, what is this I'm watching?"

His favorite player is Kobe Bryant, and his game resembles both a blend of the athletic, 6-foot-6 guard and 6-11 forward Tim Duncan, known as the Big Fundamental. This all makes perfect sense, since the 6-10 Lyles is a natural four playing as a three for the Wildcats.

"Kobe is my favorite player so I watch him a lot," Lyles said. "I watch his workout tapes, highlights and stuff like that. Try to learn from guys. Then again, Tim Duncan is another guy I learned from just being fundamentally sound, learning how to use footwork and angles off the glass, stuff like that."

Cauley-Stein says Lyles has an "old-man game" with the way he doesn't get sped up and with how smooth he plays.

"Plays angles and knows how to use his body," Cauley-Stein said. "You can't really teach it. It's something that you acquire over time."

Against Notre Dame, a team known for its 3-point shooting and offensive prowess, Lyles' defense and offense will both be called upon for Kentucky to advance to back-to-back Final Fours. Only this Final Four would be even more special for the Indianapolis native.

"It would mean a lot," Lyles said. "It would be a great moment for me and my family. It would be exciting to be able to play on that stage in front of a home crowd and stuff like that. It would be exciting.

"I said I wanted to win a national championship in Indy. Now we have the opportunity to do that, but we have to make sure we get there first."

Wildcats, Irish show mutual respect before showdown

Against West Virginia, the trash talk from the Mountaineers prior to the two teams' Sweet-16 showdown fueled the Wildcats' fire in a big way. The end result was a UK rout, as the Cats jumped out to an early lead and kept their foot down throughout the game en route to winning 78-39, tying a Sweet 16 record for margin of victory.

Either Notre Dame saw what happened when you poke the bear - err, Wildcats - or the Irish just go about their business in a different manner. Either way, the trash talk from the Sweet 16 didn't carry over to the Elite Eight.

"Everyone talks about their size but if you look at Kentucky's team overall, they're a fabulous team," senior swingman Pat Connaughton said. "In the way they're unselfish, the way they always talk about how they have nine McDonald's All-Americans, and none of them really care about their stats; they care about winning. So they're the true testament of a team."

"They're really good," sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson said. "They've got tall guys inside, they've got tall guys on the perimeter, they're just really good all over."

"You just know you're going to have to bring your A game," senior All-America guard Jerian Grant said. "When a team is that dominant, you can't mess around with the game, you can't come out and not be ready to play from the jump."

Kentucky, for its part, showed similar praise when asked to assess their upcoming matchup with the Irish, which sport the second most efficient offense in the country.

"Notre Dame is a great offensive team," Andrew Harrison said, "it's going to be a big challenge."

"They're one of the best 2-point shooting teams and one of the best 3-point shooting teams and one of the most efficient teams in the country," Coach Cal said. "They score in bunches, they can score at the rim, layups, post-ups. They can score on breakdowns. But what I've seen in the last five games is they're really defending. They're playing more physical, they're playing tougher, their rotations are tighter and I think that's why they've gone on this run, because now they can get to 75, 80, and they make it hard for you to do it now."

Willie Cauley-Stein says the lack of trash talk isn't a problem though, and that with a berth into the Final Fourth on the line, looking for an extra edge isn't necessary.

"I think guys are self-motivated," Cauley-Stein said, "and I think guys know exactly how they see themselves playing in the game and going to the game ready to play and take care of business."

Aaron Harrison gives update on finger

Much of Thursday night's demolition of West Virginia was a beautiful sight for Big Blue Nation. Not everything was so pretty though when Aaron Harrison reached for the ball early in the second half and pulled back to reveal his left ring finger wasn't in the exact place it was supposed to be.

"It was awful," Coach Cal said, "and then I kept looking like, is that his right hand or is that his left hand, I couldn't figure it out, and he said left, I said you're good, tape that thing up. And I put him back in, I just wanted him to take a shot or two like to make sure he would feel OK."

After the game, Harrison said his hand was fine and he would definitely play against the Fighting Irish. On Friday, he echoed those sentiments and said he didn't expect it to play a big role Saturday evening.

"It's a little sore but it's not going to be a big factor in the game," Harrison said. "I'm doing a lot better and continue to get treatment and things like that."

Cats playing with something to prove

At 37-0, Kentucky has tied the 10th-ongest winning streak in NCAA Division I men's basketball history. It's also set an NCAA record for the best start to a season in history.

Not bad, right?

Except, Aaron Harrison said there's more left to prove for the Cats. Much more.

"We just want to prove that we're one of the best teams ever," Harrison said. "Just to prove that I think we definitely need to win a national title. That's our goal and that's what we're working for."

After capping an eight-game win streak with three straight losses on the road to No. 9 Auburn last weekend, No. 15 Kentucky hoped to use the following week of practice to bounce back to winning form before Friday's SEC home opener versus No. 1 LSU.

According to UK head coach Rachel Lawson, the Cats jumped at the opportunity for redemption.

"(The players) worked incredibly hard this week," said Lawson. "They had to basically reinvent themselves, and remember the team that they had been in the past that allowed them to be so successful."

Instead of simply returning to the heights they had experienced before, Kentucky used Friday's platform to bypass all of its past successes. The Wildcats' 3-1 victory over LSU marked the first win over a top ranked opponent in program history.

"Any time you can beat a team the caliber of LSU, you feel pretty good about your win," Lawson said. "The team worked hard this week, so it just validated all of the work they put in in practices and film, and all of the things that they did to get ready for today."

For senior catcher Griffin Joiner, this week meant letting go of external pressures and getting back to doing what she does best.

"We just have a better focus," Joiner said. "We stopped worrying about all the outside things. We just tried to worry about getting better each day at practice, and let the pieces fall where they fall."

As evidenced by her 3-for-3 performance at the plate (including the contest's only home run and her team-leading sixth RBI of the season), all of the right pieces fell into place for Joiner.

"(Joiner) has been clutch for us her entire career," Lawson said. "So, to be able to see her do it after we had such a rough weekend, to be able to do it against an outstanding team, and just to be able to relax and let the game come to her really says a lot about her character, and her ability just to keep moving on and playing the game the right way."

Joiner & Co.'s defensive performance that held the Tigers to just a single run for only the second time all season was anchored by junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who earned her 10th win of the 2015.

"We didn't do so well, and we weren't aggressive enough last week," said Nunley. "So, Coach was like, 'We've got to be more aggressive. We've got to be on the hunt.' So, we just came out, and we were like, 'We have nothing to lose. Let's just go out on the hunt and try and play our game.'"

Despite making the trip to Lexington with only one blemish on their record, LSU's remarkable resume failed to intimidate the team that used nine innings to defeat the Tigers 4-3 in last season's SEC Tournament semifinals.

"It was just nice to come out and get to play the No. 1 team in the nation," Joiner said. "We play in a tough conference, and we know that every game that we come out here is going to be tough. So, we were excited."

Nunley echoed her catcher's sentiment.

"I love the challenge, and I love pitching against teams that are really, really good," said Nunley. "That's why I chose to play in the SEC, because I love to play teams that are always going to be a challenge. So, it was fun."

However, Lawson is just pleased to see success return to her team who worked so hard to deserve it.

"I think it's gratifying for (the players)," Lawson said. "Fortunately, we did not have a midweek (game), so we were able to have some really demanding practices, and they answered. Today, you saw the fruits of their labors. So, I feel really good about that today."

Kentucky (22-8, 2-5 SEC) will host LSU (31-2, 5-2 SEC) for the second installment of a three-game series on Saturday at noon at John Cropp Stadium.

UK will face Notre Dame on Saturday in the Elite Eight. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK will face Notre Dame on Saturday in the Elite Eight. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
CLEVELAND - In the days leading up to Kentucky's matchup versus West Virginia, it was often asked how Kentucky's offense would fare against West Virginia's No.1 turnover-inducing defense.

As everyone saw, it did just fine, doubling up the Mountaineers 78-39 in front of a sold-out Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.

Now just one game away from its fourth Final Four berth in the past six seasons, the question for Kentucky has reversed from how its offense will handle the opposition's defense, to how the Wildcats' defense will do against Notre Dame's offense.

"Defense is our first priority as a team and that's what we pride ourselves in is being a defensive team," freshman forward Trey Lyles said. "I think that tomorrow going out against a great offensive team is just going to pick it up even more for us."

That defense was on full display against West Virginia. UK scored 18 of the game's first 20 points and held the Mountaineers to just 19.2-percent shooting in the first half. The second half wasn't much better, as West Virginia didn't hit a basket in the second half until 8:42 had ticked off the clock.

Such numbers aren't expected again against the Irish. Notre Dame enters Saturday's showdown third nationally in offensive efficiency, according to, is the No. 1 2-point shooting team in the country, is No. 2 in effective field-goal percentage and No. 3 in offensive turnover percentage.

"They're very precise," Lyles said. "They run their plays, they run everything they're supposed to, to the pinpoint. We just have to go out there and try to disrupt it in any way we can."

After Notre Dame shot 75 percent in the second half against Wichita State and hit nine 3-pointers in the Sweet 16, junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein said Kentucky would have to try to hold them to about half that number.

Two big cogs - literally - in doing that will be he and Lyles. While Cauley-Stein's defensive prowess is well documented, Lyles' defense has paired up quite nicely with the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year to form a formidable 6-foot-10 and 7-foot perimeter defense.

"I think I've grown a lot in the defensive aspect of my game having to run around and guard guys who are 6-foot and 6-5, stuff like that," Lyles said. "I feel like defensively my game has developed a lot more than any other area."

He and Cauley-Stein will likely have to face Notre Dame All-America guard Jerian Grant and swingman Pat Connaughton at points during the game, who combined to average 29.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

"It's going to bring that competitiveness out," Cauley-Stein said. "But then it's also going to make you cautious. They got the reputation of being a really good offensive team. Well, we got the reputation of being a really good defensive team."

By really good defensive team, Cauley-Stein means historically good. Currently, Kentucky's defense ranks No. 1 nationally in adjusted efficiency, effective field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage, and No. 2 in 2-point percentage and block percentage.

Not to be forgotten, the Cats have the sixt- most efficient offense, averaging 115.4 points per 100 possessions. So how do you stop a team with such balance?

"I don't know if someone has to play a perfect game," UK head coach John Calipari said. "My team knows that every team that's left playing can beat us, we know that. Somebody talked about perfection. We're not perfect; we're undefeated. I mean, we should have lost five or six games. I mean, easily could have lost those games. And we were lucky enough to win, stay undefeated. We're not perfect."

In order for UK's record to remain perfect it will have to continue to guard the 3-point line with the same stingy effort that it has all season. The Irish average over eight made 3-pointers per game while hitting over 39 percent of its attempts. Connaughton averages 2.49 3s per game by himself, and has hit 42.6 percent of his attempts, while Demetrius Jackson is a 43.2-percent outside shooter and V.J. Beachem has hit 41.6 percent and Steve Vasturia is hitting 40.6 percent.

"I think that we just have to force them to drive and take tough 2s because, really, it's tough to take 2s against us," sophomore guard Aaron Harrison said. "I think a team could beat us by hitting a lot of 3s, if we let them take 'em. So that's why we're definitely pressuring them and making them drive."

The differences between Notre Dame and West Virginia aren't limited to each team's offensive abilities. While West Virginia led the country in fouls per game, Notre Dame commits the sixth fewest.

With all that said, Coach Cal said Kentucky will stick to what it has all year: itself, and being the best version of themselves.

"You know, the thought of playing fast or pressing, playing slower, I don't know. How do you play when you play your best?" Coach Cal said in regards to the season-long question of how a team must play in order to beat Kentucky. "But here's the great thing, our team's not worried about that, we just don't want to help them. So let's make sure we're at our best, we're the best version of ourselves, we know how we want to play. ... this is the same kind of game, you can't help Notre Dame. If you do, you're going to lose because they're that good."

Karl-Anthony Towns will look to rebound from a one-point Sweet 16 effort on Saturday against Notre Dame. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Karl-Anthony Towns will look to rebound from a one-point Sweet 16 effort on Saturday against Notre Dame. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
CLEVELAND -- Karl-Anthony Towns is in the conversation for best big man in the country.

The 6-foot-11 freshman has turned into a dominant force the last two months of the season and his Kentucky team has come to rely on him.

But on Thursday night, the Wildcats got but a point and two rebounds from Towns,  spelling trouble for their quest for a national title and a 40-0 season, right?


Instead, the Cats tied a Sweet 16 record for margin of victory with a 78-39 throttling of West Virginia.

"It's one of those things that, not many people in the country could ever say that they played the way I played and still come out and win by 39," Towns said.

With Towns limited to 13 minutes by foul trouble and general ineffectiveness, John Calipari instead turned to Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. The two sophomores answered the bell, combining for 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"Karl gave us ugats," Calipari said, breaking out some Italian slang, "nothing, and we still win big because of those two, and that's because we're playing them."

To Towns' credit, he was able to relish his team's success even though it came as he took a step back individually.

"That just shows you how deep and how much my brothers had my back," Towns said. "I think that's the blessing. You can't look at individual success. This is the tournament. Individual success doesn't matter. It matters what the team does."

Kentucky, however, is best when Towns is at his best. And to survive third-seeded Notre Dame and advance to the Final Four, it's likely Towns will need to regain his late-season form.

On a team with an historic level of talent and depth, Towns scored double figures in 10 of 16 outings prior to West Virginia. He averaged 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds during the stretch, surging to win Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors.

His teammates expect to see that player back on the floor in Quicken Loans Arena against Notre Dame.

"Karl's a competitor so I expect him to do big things this next game," Willie Cauley-Stein said.

That's due in part to the fact that his coach demands it of him.

"I've been harder on him than anybody on this team, but I told him at the beginning of the year, it would be that way because he had a long way to go," Calipari said. "But I saw his upside being the best big guy in the country, and I'm not settling for anything else."

Neither Towns nor his family would have it any other way.

"When he gets off point, I'm right there, but after the game I get a text from his dad: 'Stay on him, don't let up, Coach,' " Calipari said. "Not: 'Get him more shots, play him more minutes.' That's the greatest thing about coaching these kids, they trust us that we're about them, we're about them getting better individually, that I want every one of them to shine, I want every one of them to be talked about. And so when they have a game like that and we still win, kind of takes the pressure off you."

On the season, Towns is averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. Solid, but not the kind of eye-popping statistics typical of a player in contention to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Towns, playing just 20.7 minutes per game, has the perspective necessary to understand why.

"It hasn't hurt any of us," Towns said. "I mean, it's not about the minutes we get, it's about what we do with those minutes."

Towns will look to be a little more effective with his minutes Saturday night, but that's still not even his primary concern.

"I think that's the biggest joy I have: the fact I still get to play with my brothers," Towns said. "We love each other tremendously. It's just one of those things that it's not even the fact of playing another game. It's about who you're playing another game with. I've been given an opportunity to play another game with my brothers and we get to go back out there and lace up our shoes again and hopefully we get to do it again for several more times."

Cauley-Stein embracing pressure of big stage

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Willie Cauley-Stein will play in the Elite Eight on Saturday after sitting out the final three games on UK's 2014 NCAA Tournament run. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Willie Cauley-Stein will play in the Elite Eight on Saturday after sitting out the final three games on UK's 2014 NCAA Tournament run. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
CLEVELAND -- Willie Cauley-Stein has talked many times over the last year about how difficult sitting on the bench for the latter half of Kentucky's magical tournament run was for him

On the eve of the Elite Eight, he revealed another facet to what it was like being relegated to spectator status.

"It was a weight off your shoulders though, knowing you're not going to have any impact on the game playing," Cauley-Stein said. "So that worry, that stress, you didn't have to endure that."

Unable to play due to a stress fracture in his ankle that knocked him out of UK's Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville and had him in plainclothes for the Elite Eight and Final Four, Cauley-Stein admits there was part of him that enjoyed just being along for the ride.

A year later, he has no such chance.

Cauley-Stein is the upperclassman leader and defensive anchor for top-seeded Kentucky as the Wildcats carry a 37-0 mark into an Elite Eight showdown with Notre Dame at 8:49 p.m. on Saturday. Night in and night out, the 7-foot junior draws the toughest defensive assignment and carries an ever-growing offensive load.

In short, whether UK makes its fourth Final Four trip under John Calipari will be up to Cauley-Stein as much as anyone. Different as it may be from last year, it's exactly where he wants to be.

"It feels good," Cauley-Stein said. "You just embrace it. You can't be scared of it. You can't be scared of the moment that we're in."

Whenever Cauley-Stein feels the fear, he needs only reflect on where he was two years ago.

Then, he had just seen his freshman season unceremoniously end in the first round of the NIT. After that loss at Robert Morris, Cauley-Stein said he was on a mission to render it a distant memory.

The mission continues.

"I feel like I'm on a mission," Cauley-Stein said. "I said that day after we lost, I have never won a championship before. I've never won anything, any crazy awards and I'm back to fill that spot in my heart, that emptiness. And crazy enough, it's happening. Never thought it would happen like this, but it's really happening. It's crazy to think that two years ago I was just talking. And now I'm living it, and it's sensational."

The crazy awards - national defensive player of the year, All America - are certainly coming and Cauley-Stein already has two conference titles under his belt, but the championship he really wants is three wins away. Third-seeded Notre Dame, which put on an offensive clinic in shooting 75 percent in the second half of an 81-70 Sweet 16 win over Wichita State, is the first hurdle.

The Fighting Irish (32-5), rated third nationally in offensive efficiency, will be the best offense UK has faced all season. Kentucky, of course, is first in defensive efficiency , pitting two of the best units in the game against one another.

"It's going to bring that competitiveness out," Cauley-Stein said. "But then it's also going to make you cautious. They got the reputation of being a really good offensive team. Well, we got the reputation of being a really good defensive team. ... It's just one of those things that you'll know when the ball gets thrown up whether you think you can play the guy or not."

For Cauley-Stein, the answer will surely be yes. The question, however, is who he'll actually guard.

Notre Dame has just one regular who stands taller than 6-foot-8 - 6-10 Zach Auguste - and often plays three 6-5 players at the same time. Almost all of them can shoot, with four players hitting 40 percent or better from 3-point range.

Not included in that group is star 6-5 point guard Jerian Grant, who averages a team-best 16.4 points per game and 6.7 assists. Could Cauley-Stein see time on him? Is sharpshooter and leading rebounder Pat Connaughton his more likely cover? Or what about any of the other five players averaging 6.4 points per game or more?

"We're going to get everybody's best, so them having five guys who can be a threat to us just opens up our defense," Cauley-Stein said. "It's going to put more pressure on our defense to play better and accept that challenge."

It's a challenge Cauley-Stein will be happy to accept considering he didn't have the choice a year ago.

"I think this means a lot to him," Karl-Anthony Towns said. "He didn't get to experience it last year, and who would have known what would have happened last year if he was playing. I know he has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to go out there and he wants to prove that we can win it."

That desire started long before he ever had to sit out during last year's NCAA Tournament.

"Playing in your backyard and you're thinking of these moments, taking a last-second shot and shooting maybe the last free throws of the game and if you make them then you win, if you miss you lose," Cauley-Stein said. "That's that pressure that you put on yourself all when you were growing up. This is it now. This is the time to put it together."

Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns

Aaron Harrison and Trey Lyles

Tyler Ulis and Dakari Johnson

Head Coach Mark Stoops did not mince words Wednesday when he voiced being displeased with how the Kentucky football team practiced for the first time since returning from spring break. Stoops gave no excuses and challenged the Wildcats to get better. They answered the bell Friday morning with a spirited session in the Nutter Field House.

"A much more efficient practice today and I felt that the guys had a much better focus about them and competed better," Stoops said. "We executed better and threw and caught the ball well. It was much more competitive plays. It wasn't just one side having success because the other was inept at times. I just felt that today when sides won it was because they made competitive plays. If we work with that kind of mentality and that kind of effort each and every day, we will have a chance to put together a good football team. We have to be consistent and we challenged them to come back tomorrow and have a good practice."

Stoops said the staff was not happy about Wednesday's practice on either side of the ball and the offense made a concerted effort to get the ball downfield more and they achieved that Friday. Although a defensive guy, Stoops was happy to see the offense stretch the field.

"As you know, going back to Wednesday's practice we were just not very efficient on either side of the ball, so today, offensively, we made a conscious effort to get the ball down the field and they did. That is never good if you look at it from a defensive point of view, but I do find myself cheering for the offensive to make competitive plays because if we don't make plays down the field we aren't going to win football games. I just felt there were some very good individual efforts today and the ball was in the right places and we made some plays down the field. So if you are looking for something tomorrow, I hope they don't make as many plays down the field," Stoops joked.

Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach D.J. Eliot said Friday was a good day of work for his squad and although they didn't win every battle, he echoed Stoops' praise of the team's overall competitiveness.

"Good practice today, which is good, but we didn't win every battle," Eliot said. "I am one-sided and Coach Stoops isn't. We didn't win every battle on defense and we have to fight to do that and that is our goal, to win our one-on-one matchups. We have to improve on that. Besides that we had a very competitive practice and had our fair share of success and we are looking forward to tomorrow."

The strong practice comes a great time for Kentucky as Stoops and Co. will open up the gates to practice Saturday for fans and media. The open practice will start at 10:30 a.m. ET and is scheduled to take place at the Tim Couch Practice Fields at the Nutter Training Center. Practice may be moved inside to the Nutter Field House. Parking will be available free of charge in the C8 Lot behind the rightfield fence of Cliff Hagan Stadium; E-Lot beside Cliff Hagan Stadium; Small E-lots on Sports Center Drive; Green Lot near Commonwealth Stadium (if practice is moved to the Nutter Field House).

Saturday's practice will mark the sixth of the spring for the Wildcats, who will take the next three weeks to complete the 2015 spring schedule. The Wildcat's last practice is scheduled for April 15.

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  • R Warren Vaughan: I have been a fan of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and when they are not playing, root for read more
  • Annette Cook: What an amazing tribute to our Kentucky Wildcats. I have been a loyal fan since age 6 . Coach Cal read more
  • rob m: Congrats to the team this year, wow what a ride we had! Although a disappointing end, we can now start read more
  • Bernard Nelson: I've been a UK fan since the late 40's. Now going on age 82 loved this season. Wish all of read more
  • Bsantella: U guys made this season the best ever. U will never be forgotten. Wishing u guys would have stayed and read more
  • donald hert: I been a Kentucky wildcats fan from the age 10 years old an I am now 32 years old win read more
  • connor: I am So happy for the wounds Who went To the nba read more
  • Vickie Vincent: I bleed BLUE! Always have, always will. So proud of these boys. I wish them the best in whatever journey read more
  • Tina: Thanks for the amazing season. I wish you all the best. You gave us all a great year, so go read more
  • Tina: Thanks for the amazing season. I wish you all the best. You gave us all a great year, so go read more