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Cal has another tweak for another big week

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John Calipari has coached UK to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five seasons. (Chet White, UK Athletics) John Calipari has coached UK to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five seasons. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Between the time Fred VanVleet's shot bounced off the rim, the backboard and onto the floor to the time John Calipari did his postgame press conference and finally got on the bus, Coach Cal's phone didn't stop buzzing.

When Calipari checked his phone, he said he had 100-plus text messages, more than half of them from friends telling him they had just watched the best college game they had ever seen. (There's no telling how many more voicemails he got.)

After reading about 30 of them, Calipari stopped, stood up on the bus and asked his players if they were getting the same thing. Unanimously, they said yes.

"I said, 'Did you, like, realize that when we were playing?' " Calipari recounted on his weekly radio show on Tuesday. "And they're like, 'No.' And the rest of us didn't either. We were just trying to play the game."

Time will ultimately decide just how good Sunday's game really was -- though there's little disputing that it was a classic and the best of this year's NCAA Tournament thus far - but the Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats (26-10) will have little time to revel in their best and most thrilling victory of the year.

With archrival Louisville (31-5) next in line on the hopeful journey to the Final Four, UK, believe it or not, has an even bigger stage to tackle.

"Wichita was probably playing as well anyone in the field," Calipari told radio show host Tom Leach. "Now, with us, who's left, who do you think I would tell you I would tell you is playing as anyone in the field?"

Rhetorically, the answer is Louisville.

"That's just the truth," Coach Cal said. "When you watch them, they're being aggressive, their physical play, the bump and grind of it, they're pressing, they're up in you. It's all the stuff that makes them aggressive, and they're playing well."

Louisville actually struggled in its two NCAA Tournament victories, coming back from a late deficit against Manhattan to avoid an opening-round upset before grinding out an ugly win against a strong St. Louis group.

But great teams pull out good wins even when they don't play well, and Louisville certainly fits the criteria of a great, if not elite, team.

The defending national champions have won seven in a row and 14 of their last 15. During that streak, which dates all the way back to Feb. 1, the Cardinals have won by an average margin of 22.9 points per game, including victories over NCAA Tournament teams UConn (once by 33 points and the other by 14 in the American Athletic Conference championship game) and Cincinnati.

UK won the regular-season meeting vs. Louisville, 73-66, at Rupp Arena, but both teams are far different than the ones that met on Dec. 28.

U of L no longer has Chane Behanan down low, who was dismissed from the team just days after the loss to UK, but Montrezl Harrell has stepped up his absence, transforming into one of the premier big men in the country. Luke Hancock was still coming back from an offseason injury during the team's first meeting and has just recently returned to his Final Four Most Outstanding Player form of a year ago, while Russ Smith has continued to score at a high rate.

Throw in the fact that the Cardinals have rounded their defense into their typically stifling postseason form - they lead the country in turnover margin thanks to 10.1 steals per game - and UK, just as anyone would expect, has its hands full with fourth-seeded Louisville.

"Do you really think you're not going to play against somebody who's not good (at this point)?" Calipari said Tuesday. "Every team's good."

UK is also significantly better.

Though the Wildcats won the first meeting behind James Young's 18 points and 10 rebounds and Andrew Harrison's solid point-guard play, they played nearly the entire second half without leading scorer and rebounder Julius Randle, who spent most of the final 20 minutes in the bowels of Rupp Arena receiving treatment for leg cramps.

Since then, UK has taken several lumps - seven more losses, to be exact - but the Cats have obviously turned things around in recent weeks, punctuated by Sunday's victory over the previous undefeated Wichita State Shockers.

"Why were we ready for all this adversity? Because we went through a gauntlet this year," Calipari said, noting UK's second-ranked strength of schedule. "As we struggled, oh, the onslaught of criticism, oh, the personal attacks, oh, the agendas came out. ... And these kids never broke up. They stayed together, they kept believing, they kept believing our staff. So which team in this tournament has been through that like us?"

Not many.

Calipari was able to turn things around in recent weeks by taking blame for his failure to coach his players in the way they needed to be guided. Once he realized he needed to change, he made the celebrated and unsolved "tweak" before the Southeastern Conference Tournament and then another tweak before NCAA Tournament play.

Now - you guessed it - there's one more tweak. Calipari's calling it the "three-tweak," and it's being made just in time for Louisville.

"All these have been based on us, but this one's also based a little bit about how that other team plays -- some things that they do that we're tweaking some of our stuff," Coach Cal said on the radio show. "Because you know what? You've got to keep people on their heels a little bit, and so we're going to go with the three-tweak and see what happens."

Calipari planned to institute the third tweak with his team on Tuesday night in the first practice since Sunday's game. The Cats will leave for Indianapolis on Wednesday and practice in the evening while they're there to get their bodies and minds acclimated to the approximate 9:45 p.m. start.

"What time do you think it will start?" Calipari said, hinting at the fact that the game will tip even later because of the preceding Michigan-Tennessee game. "I mean, we're going to be playing until 1 in the morning."

Practices will continue to be physical this week, Calipari said, because that's what's worked so well recently.

"We're going to stay with what we've been doing: physical practices," Calipari said. "Grab. Hold. Guy tries to get open, put two hands around his hip. The guy drives, put your hands up in the air and hip check him. That's what we've been doing. So we're doing it this week."

There's a notion that the pressure is now off UK and squarely on Louisville this week because of the disappointment the Cats endured in the regular season and the subsequent breakthrough against Wichita State. Coach Cal doesn't want his team to have that mindset of relief.

"Losing stinks," he said. "Like, really stinks."

So Calipari wants to win on Friday and keep the turnaround going, but he also doesn't want to lose sight of what this experience is all about, and that's to have fun. Calipari said that goes for both fan bases and told listeners on Tuesday to enjoy this week and not be nasty with rival fans.

"I'm proud of them," Calipari said of his team. "You got a lot of guys with smiles on their faces. And you guys that have listened to me every year, you know I say we have to have more fun than the other team. Bottom line, you've got to have more fun. The last game I kept saying, don't make the game bigger than it is. It's just a basketball game."

Try telling that to the people that will text Calipari if Kentucky wins again.

"This is a time to enjoy all this," he said. "Don't be anxious, don't be uptight, don't--just enjoy the ride and what's going on. A lot of you are going to Indianapolis. Well, have fun."

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Andrew Harrison had 18 points in UK's 73-66 win over Louisville on Dec. 28. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Andrew Harrison had 18 points in UK's 73-66 win over Louisville on Dec. 28. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Kentucky and Louisville went nearly three decades without running into each other in the NCAA Tournament before a Final Four matchup in 2012 that essentially shut down the state.

Two years later and two rounds earlier, it's happening all over again in the Sweet 16.

For the second time in five days, the eyes of the college basketball world will be on the Wildcats when they square off with the Cardinals at 9:45 p.m. on Friday. Before then, you'll surely read countless stories about the rivalry and what it means to fans, and the relationship between John Calipari and Rick Pitino will be dissected yet again.

But there's time for all that later. For now, we're going to stick to the stats that could decide the winner of the latest Dream Game.

As we have done for each of UK's two NCAA Tournament wins, we're going to use kenpom.com's advanced data to evaluate the two teams. First, let's take a look at the stats that decided the December matchup between the two teams when the Cats scored their signature regular-season win in Rupp Arena, 73-66.

1. Turnovers -- And really, it's not even close.

Like most Pitino-coached teams, Louisville thrives on turnovers forced with their pressure, both full- and half-court. In spite of a freshmen-laden backcourt, the Cats were exceptional taking care of the ball against the Cardinals.

UK committed turnovers on just 15.7 percent of its possessions and 11 for the game. On defense, the Cats exceeded their season average and forced turnovers on 18.6 percent of the Cards' possessions and 13 for the game.

As a result, UK was the only opponent to have a positive turnover margin against U of L in the regular season. Saint Louis matched the feat in the round of 32, winning the turnover battle, 19-18.

2. Rebounding -- As the Cats have done so often this season, they exerted their will on the glass and won the rebounding battle, 44-36, even though leading rebounder Julius Randle had just three as he battled second-half leg cramps.

UK was solid on the defensive glass, grabbing 69.2 percent of Louisville's misses (27 of 39), but even better on the offensive boards. There, the Cats rebounded 41.5 percent of their own misses (17 of 41). That's a big part of the reason why UK was just one of five U of L opponents this season to score more than one point per possession against the Cardinals.

3. 3-point shooting -- Given that UK shot just 3 of 14 (21.4 percent), this might make you do a double-take.

However, U of L shot just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) from deep to counteract 53.1 percent shooting from 2-point range. The Cardinals are shooting 37 percent from 3 to UK's 32.7 percent, so treading water from deep was a win for the Cats.

With that behind us, let's take a look at the rematch.

When Kentucky is on offense

It's always interesting to see an offense and defense so efficient match up. UK currently ranks 17th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, while U of L is third on the defensive end.

It's even more interesting that matchup play out when the two units are good for completely contrasting reasons.

The Cats are good on offense thanks to their superb rebounding (second nationally) and free-throw rate (seventh). The Cardinals, meanwhile, are average or below average in the two corresponding defensive categories, ranking 231st in rebounding percentage on the defensive end and 124th in defensive free-throw-rate.

U of L makes up for its deficits by contesting shots and forcing turnovers at an exceptionally high level, ranking sixth in effective field-goal percentage defense (.438) and second in turnover percentage (.252). The Cardinals are the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 in both categories. On the flip side, UK is 158th in effective field-goal percentage (.498) and 167th in turnover percentage (.183).

In December, it was UK that most effectively capitalized on its offensive strengths. If the Cats can duplicate that performance -- and maybe even do a little better than shoot 16 of 30 from the foul line -- they could be on the way to a fourth Elite Eight in five seasons. U of L will have other ideas.

When Kentucky is on defense

This matchup is a bit more straightforward, matching strength vs. strength.

UK and U of L are an identical 29th nationally in effective field-goal percentage on offense and defense, respectively. Both are also solid rebounding units. The Cats (167th in turnover percentage) should not expect many Louisville mistakes, as the Cardinals are 25th nationally in turnover percentage behind sure-handed point guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones.

To limit the Cardinals again, UK will need to protect its defensive glass and force Russ Smith to take contested looks once more. The All-American scored 19 points in the first matchup, but did so on just 7-of-20 shooting.

Bottom line

The pace of Friday's game will be worth paying attention to. On the season, UK is averaging 2.6 fewer possessions per game than U of L.

In the postseason, the difference is even starker. In playing their best basketball over the last five games, the Cats are averaging just 62.4 possessions per game. By contrast, U of L is speeding it up in the postseason and averaging 69.4 possessions in the American Athletic Conference and NCAA tournaments.

UK will likely try to grind it out against the Cardinals, but don't think the Cats can't win a fast-paced game. The regular-season matchup featured 70 possessions.

Regardless of tempo, the outcome is going to come down to which of these two teams playing at their peak executes in a high-pressure environment.

UK and U of L fans each have reason to be confident. Every national champion in the history of kenpom.com's ratings has ranked in the top 25 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Cardinals are currently 15th on offense and third on defense. UK is 17th on offense and 26th on defense, one solid performance away from meeting the criteria.

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.


UK advanced to a third Sweet 16 in as many seasons with a 64-59 win over Syracuse on Monday. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) UK advanced to a third Sweet 16 in as many seasons with a 64-59 win over Syracuse on Monday. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
Matthew Mitchell had a hard time containing himself at various points on Monday night.

Coping with the 2-3 zone defense Syracuse mixed with full-court pressure and myriad traps, his Kentucky Wildcats did things that made him scratch his head. Frankly, it was a wonder he didn't do more than that.

"There were times where I wanted to run out to half-court and scream and go nuts or sometimes I wanted to leave the building a couple times with some of the decisions that we were making," Mitchell said. "But what we had to do tonight was keep our wits about us."

Two days after the Cats piled up the points, the Orange made them work for the Sweet 16 berth they so badly wanted. Even though the scoreboard had a much easier time of it than in a record-setting 106-60 win over Wright State on Saturday, UK moved on with a 64-59 victory in spite of shooting just 36.2 percent from the field.

"It still was just very, very difficult to make it happen," Mitchell said. "And I'm so proud of the players on a night where clearly the ball didn't go in the basket for us and we didn't always make the best decisions, being able to create and force 23 turnovers and getting them at crucial times down the stretch and answering every run that Syracuse made today."

The Orange made plenty of them.

When UK (25-8) built a nine-point lead with less than 13 minutes left, Syracuse (23-9) charged back with seven straight to make it 46-44. When the Cats built the cushion back to 10, the Orange wouldn't go away either.

It wasn't until Bria Goss buried five of six free throws over the final 3:52 to salt away the win and clinch a third Sweet 16 berth in as many seasons. For the game, Goss scored led all players with 17 points, 11 of which came at the line.

"I'm really confident going to the line and it's almost like an automatic two and I think that my team knows that and they know my abilities," Goss said. "That always helps."

Goss was valuable as much more than just a free-throw shooter on Monday, making hustle plays on both ends in grabbing six rebounds and snagging two steals.

"On a night where it was difficult to score because the opponent played really, really well and worked real hard to keep them from scoring and confused in so many ways, to have a player that would fight for loose balls, would hang onto the ball when she got fouled, attack the basket when we were struggling to score and no fear going up through three people and getting to the rim and getting to the foul line, it was huge," Mitchell said.

While Goss was drilling shots at the line to salt away the victory, Janee Thompson was coming up with clutch defensive plays.

The sophomore point guard, in many ways, perfectly represented her team on this night. Thompson couldn't make a shot, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, and was responsible for many of the decisions that left Mitchell wanting to exit the premises in committing five turnovers, but she hung in with the help of an individual talk from her coach at the five-minute mark.

"He basically pulled me aside and just told me to stay ready and he wanted me to come in and play tough defense and try to get some stops down the stretch," Thompson said. "That's just basically what I was trying to do when I got back in the game."

She did just that, coming up with a key steal from Brianna Butler, who led Syracuse with 15 points in the absence of leading scorer Brittney Sykes. The play came when the outcome was still in doubt with 44 seconds left, short-circuiting a possession when the Orange trailed 63-57.

Eleven seconds and two missed free throws by Jennifer O'Neill later, Thompson did it again. This time, it was a blocked shot on a 3-point attempt than killed crucial seconds.

"That's what you like to see, a player bounce back from a real disappointing 35 minutes or up to that point in the game and she got it together and contributed to the victory," Mitchell said.

It's a victory that propels UK into a Sweet 16 rematch with Baylor at noon ET on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. Regardless how it looked, Mitchell is just glad the Cats got it.

"We were not very explosive offensively and we were able to get it done on the defense," Mitchell said. "So I love them and I just want to keep coaching them and I'm real, real excited about the upcoming week."

The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate their 64-59 win over Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate their 64-59 win over Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
At the biggest moments in Monday's win, the impact of the crowd at Memorial Coliseum can't be understated. With every big shot from the Kentucky women's basketball team, the Big Blue Nation answered with a big cheer of their own.

Kentucky had to give everything it had in the 64-59 win, and the fans were there every step of the way.

The Big Blue Nation made up nearly all of the nearly 5,000 fans witnessing UK make the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season. Combined with a small, but vocal, contingent of Orange fans, band and cheer squad, it made for an entertaining atmosphere. There was a lot on the line on the court, and the fans answered.

"The crowd really responded two days in a row," UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We had an unbelievable environment so thank you to the fans."

It was the type of game that left you sitting on the edge of your seat. For the fans at Memorial Coliseum, most of them didn't bother using their seat at all in the last several minutes.

With each made basket, steal or defensive stop, the energy was there both on and off the court. It had an impact, on both sides.

"It's a great team, a bunch of athletes in a great environment for women's basketball," Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said of Kentucky and the Memorial Coliseum crowd. "It's unique for women's basketball, to come to a place like this and they bring a great crowd, a very respectful crowd, too. It's just a very good venue for women's basketball."

When Syracuse got within five in the second half, the Wildcats -- and the Big Blue Nation -- answered. When Syracuse cut UK's lead to two at 46-44, the Wildcats, and their fans, had an answer.

There was no giving up, and the Wildcats made it known, the fans had an impact.

"It helped being in our house where the fans were really helpful," Kastine Evans said of making shots down the stretch. "They made a lot of noise when we needed it. Especially when we made big plays.

The party continued well after the final buzzer. The team stuck around for several renditions of the fight song. Coach Mitchell pumped his fists to both sides of the blue-filled Coliseum stands. The players waved and showed their appreciation.

It was a fun night at Memorial Coliseum. Combined with Saturday's opening-round win, it was a fun weekend at the old arena. Whether it was at 11 a.m. Saturday or Monday evening, the noise was there.

Now, the Cats, and the ever-loyal Big Blue Nation, take the party to South Bend, Ind. The Wildcats will play either Cal or Baylor. No matter the color of the Bears, be it blue and gold or green and gold, it will be another tough test for UK.

Kentucky won't have the benefit of the home crowd, but knowing the Big Blue Nation, there will be a sizable number of fans cheering on the Wildcats on the road.



SEC backing up talk of disrespect

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Championship-game opponents UK and Florida are two of three SEC teams to reach the Sweet 16. (Chet White, UK Athletics) League championship-game opponents UK and Florida are two of three SEC teams to reach the Sweet 16. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
John Calipari has been tooting the Southeastern Conference horn all season.

"It amazes me when people beat each other in other leagues it shows how strong their league is," Coach Cal said back in February. "When we beat each other in our league, then the league is not very good. What?"

Reasonably, with the way the league performed against some lesser opponents out of conference, those words sounded hollow then. Now, in late March, with the SEC rolling through the NCAA Tournament, they're carrying a lot more weight.

The league only got three teams into the field of 68, but all three are still dancing in the Sweet 16. Combined, UK, Florida and Tennessee are 7-0, with the Volunteers forced to win three games because of a first-round draw.

Not only is the league the only unbeaten conference in the tournament, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the SEC is the first conference to go 7-0 or better in the NCAA Tournament entering the Sweet 16 since the Big East went 8-0 in 2003.

The Big 10 and Pac-12 also have three teams in the Sweet 16, but they also had more teams in the field to begin with. The Big East is gone. The Atlantic Coast Conference has just one.

Maybe there's some truth to the belief that UK and Tennessee were under-seeded after all.

"Someone's got to find out when you have a strength of schedule of two and that's all they keep talking about, what did you use to make that team an eight?" Calipari said last week. "What did you use? And they can use anything. 'Well, it was a cloudy day that day and we decided they were an eight.' And that's what it is and you go and as coach that's fine. Put me where you want, let's go. But as a league, we got to figure (it) out."

UK finished the season with an RPI of 17 and the second-toughest schedule in the country and got a No. 8 seed (the Cats have played seven games against five of the 16 teams in the Sweet 16). Tennessee's RPI wasn't nearly as good as UK, but the Volunteers won five in a row before narrowly losing to top-ranked Florida just before the NCAA Tournament, and three of those victories were by 27 points or more. Tennessee was regarded as one of the best teams in the country in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, and that was before Selection Sunday and the Sweet 16 run.

LSU and Arkansas are also still alive in the NIT and both were on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Missouri and Georgia also won their opening-round games in the NIT.

"Tennessee played as well as any team in the country down the stretch," Coach Cal said last week. "Are you taking how teams are playing at the end or how we were playing at the end? 'Not in your case.' Well, what did you take in our case? And you really got to go down and find out what it was. 'Well, you didn't beat enough people.' Did everybody else? I mean, so compared to who? And so that's the kind of stuff that our league - not me, not the ADs -- our league needs to find out who in that room, what were we basing this on because you can't keep moving the goalposts. 'It's strength of schedule.' Really? Then move the goalposts. 'It's how you finish.' Really? 'No, it's you didn't beat enough people.' Really? I mean, which one (is it)? And moving the goalposts makes it easy. But you know what? At the end of the day in this thing, you just got to go play now."

The SEC has done just that and backed up the league's beliefs.

Nobody could hear -- or perhaps wanted to hear -- those "S-E-C, S-E-C" chants before, but they ringing as loud as ever.


Notes: Mutual respect defines UK-Wichita State

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UK bested Wichita State in a memorable round-of-32 matchup on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK bested Wichita State in a memorable round-of-32 matchup on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Story by Eric Lindsey and Guy Ramsey

ST. LOUIS -- Players for both Kentucky and Wichita State said all the right things in the lead-up to the most anticipated matchup of the NCAA Tournament so far.

The Wildcats praised the Shockers, saying their undefeated record was no mirage. The Shockers praised the Wildcats, saying their size, athleticism and talent were as advertised.

After the two teams went back and forth for 40 of the most intense minutes you're ever likely to see on a college basketball court, UK and Wichita State showed the pregame compliments weren't idle talk.

Once the Cats finished a brief celebration of their heart-stopping 78-76 win, the teams assembled for a handshake line that proved to be much more than just perfunctory.

"I told them I watched tape of you guys and it's amazing and I am happy for our guys," John Calipari said. "And I am just disappointed because they had a heck of a run going."

A matchup as hard-fought as Sunday's often leads to bad blood, but not this time.

"Coach Cal just told me we had a marvelous season," Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. "And I congratulated each and every one of them and told them, you know, 'Congratulations and great game.' "

The only thing between UK and Wichita State was mutual respect.

"They played a great game," Marshall said. "They put on a wonderful show. And I just thought it was a great basketball game. And they deserved it tonight. They played -- they were one play better."

Even Ron Baker and Andrew Harrison -- two players who often guarded one another and scored 20 points apiece -- only had good things to say.

"At the end I shook hands with Andrew Harrison and he said, 'You're a bad, bad, bad boy,' " Baker said. "And I told him the same. He's a great player and I wish him the best."

Aaron Harrison had his turn guarding Baker too and had a similar reaction.

"It is a great team and they had a lot of great players on that team. And I was matched up with him and it was a joy just playing, playing the game," Aaron Harrison said. "And we had to play hard and battling is really fun and just going to work, really fun. And going against a great player like that was a good matchup and a great challenge."

Both teams thrived on the challenge and the 19,676 fans in the Scottrade Center got to watch the result.

"They have a few great players on that team, so we knew we were going to have to play every possession," Andrew Harrison said. "And it was just a joy."

Coach Cal can't put classic into perspective

Hyperbole was flying around during and after Kentucky's win over Wichita State.

Twitter was abuzz with attempts to put the game into perspective, while television analyst and hall of famer Charles Barkley immediately ranked it among the best he's ever seen.

Asked whether it's the best game he's ever coached in, Calipari let a little air out of the big-game balloon.

"I have been doing this so long, I don't want to say that," Calipari said. "I've been in wars."

That's not to say, however, that UK-Wichita State wasn't special.

"I would say this was an Elite Eight game that the winner should have gone to the Final Four," Calipari said. "That's how good they are and how good we're playing right now."

In Calipari's eyes, the Shockers didn't deserve to lose in the third round. But even so, the defeat that came too soon doesn't erase what Wichita State accomplished in coping with all that comes with carrying an unbeaten record into late March.

"I feel for their team and I feel for their coach," Calipari said. "And Gregg, understand what he did to keep these guys on point was nothing short of miraculous. I have done it where I had to coach teams that were 26-0, 20-0. I'm telling you, each game there is more and more pressure to win."

That pressure was only intensified by playing in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"I was also in a league where we could not afford to lose any league games," Calipari said. "If we did we became a seven seed. We would go from a one seed to a seven seed. You couldn't lose any games. I have been where he is. I know how hard they worked."

The buildup for U of L has already begun


The dust had barely settled from what will likely be one of the greatest games Julius Randle will ever play in, but given the next opponent and what lies ahead this week, the question about Louisville was inevitable.

"Julius," the reporter started, "your reward for winning a game like this is you get to play Louisville. Do you have any idea what this week will be like building up to that?"

"I have no idea," Randle said.

He really has no clue.

When Kentucky-Louisville played in the Final Four in 2012 for the right to go to the national championship game, it was like nothing the state of Kentucky had ever seen in the storied rivalry.

Sure, there have been some classics over the years, and maybe nothing can quite ever compare to the original Dream Game in the 1983 NCAA Tournament, but the buildup? It was unprecedented in 2012.

This year's meeting in the NCAA Tournament might take a slight step back from that game two seasons ago, but only slightly - and only because this one's a few games removed from the title game.

But when you take into account UK and Louisville have won the last two national titles and could easily win a third one as well, the buildup for Friday's game at 9:45 p.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is going be insane.

Alex Poythress had already turned his attention from the postgame celebration on Sunday to Louisville by the time reporters met with him in the locker room.

"We have to," Poythress said. "We got to take it one game at a time, focus on your opponent. We got to come out and play strong, try to take their strengths away."

UK won the regular-season meeting 73-66 at Rupp Arena on Dec. 28. The Cats won that game without the services of Julius Randle for most of the second half because of cramps in his legs.

It was Coach Cal's fifth victory in six games against Louisville since coming to Kentucky.

Since then though, Louisville has returned to its national-championship form of a year ago, winning 14 of its last 15 games behind Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell and a stifling defense.

"They press a lot, they got great guards (and) good bigs," Poythress said. "We just got to come out and try to take those points away and try to break the press and everything like that."

Head down

If someone would have told Calipari before the game that Wichita State would shoot 55.1 percent from the floor and 10 for 21 from behind the arc, he wouldn't have given his team much of a chance.

"I would have said it was a heck of a year," Coach Cal said.

As it turns out, Kentucky matched Wichita State in the shooting column, staying within reaching distance with strong shooting performances from the Harrison twins, James Young and Alex Poythress.

But the Cats didn't rely solely on their jump shots to win. When the game was on the line late, UK took the ball to the hoop.

While Cleanthony Early and Baker seemed to make anything and everything from all spots on the floor, UK made a concerted effort in crunch time to drive to the basket, get a layup or get fouled.

 "In the end they basically just lowered their head," Marshall said. "It seemed they were just driving it and we were having too much body contact. And for the first time this year, it seemed like the rules, the new rules, worked against us as opposed to in our favor. So credit them."

As a result, the Cats shot 14 free throws over the final 4:52 of game time, making 11 of them.

"That was a big key," Marshall said. "We couldn't defend the foul line at the end of the last eight or 10 minutes."

Play of the game

Aaron Harrison hit big shots. Andrew Harrison made clutch free throws. Julius Randle ignited the second-half rally. And James Young hit the biggest shot of the game.

The biggest play of the game in Calipari's eyes, however, was Dakari Johnson's unofficial offensive rebound after Aaron Harrison missed the second of two free throws with 4:11 to play.

Johnson didn't get credit for the rebound because he deflected it off a Wichita State player and out of bounds, but it gave UK the ball back. Andrew Harrison went to the line for two more free throws after the timeout, making both and getting UK within 69-67 with 3:54 left in the game.

"That was the play of the game," Coach Cal said. "If we don't get the ball and get it back to two, I don't think we win the game.

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Matthew Mitchell (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) Matthew Mitchell (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
Matthew Mitchell was bordering on surprised, not that his team won, but at how well the Wildcats played during Saturday's NCAA Tournament first-round victory over Wright State.

Even with all the momentum the Kentucky women's basketball team took into the NCAA Tournament coming off a nice run at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Mitchell just wasn't sure what to expect.

Hosting a NCAA Tournament game for the first time, having not played in two weeks and facing a relatively unfamiliar opponent with postseason pressure Mitchell had good reason to feel that.

He ended up witnessing -- and contributing to -- one of the better all-around performances Kentucky has put together all year.

"I certainly didn't come into today with this kind of expectation that we would play this sharp," Mitchell said. "We've historically kind of struggled in this game for whatever reason, because of the long layoff and so my mindset going into the game was just to let them know that they had clear advantages in the game."

Mitchell may not have anticipated his team would play as well as they did, but he certainly enjoyed the 106-60 victory. Much of the success may have been down to his simplified message before the game: to exploit Kentucky's physical advantages be them in terms of size and speed.

"I didn't go in thinking we were going to win by 20, or 40, or anything like that," Mitchell said. "I sort of showed up with the mindset (Saturday) of let me do my part for the victory, let me coach the best that I can and let's see what happens. Nothing that they did really surprised me, but I was extremely pleased and grateful to the players that they came out and executed the game plan."

And so Mitchell turned his attention to Syracuse, Kentucky's second-round opponent, and the challenges the Orange will pose to UK when the two tip off Monday at 6:40 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.

But instead of focusing on the painstaking details of the matchup, Mitchell has been stressing a similarly simple approach to the one UK used going into Saturday's win. The Wildcats will need to continue to excel in every aspect of the game from here on out should they hope to advance.

Standing in the way will be Syracuse and the many variables that could affect how people play them.

"What I see with them is a team that is able to create some turnovers in a different way than we do," Mitchell said. "They full-court press you, three-quarter court press you, they've got some half-court traps that we're going to have to deal with and then the 2-3 zone, which we've had some success against, but it certainly hasn't been automatic this year. There have been times where we've struggled against the 2-3 zone."

The Orange -- in Mitchell's eyes -- match up far better with UK than Wright State. Thus Mitchell and his Wildcats will look to play even better than they did on Saturday morning. In other words the Wildcats are looking to improve on what was already arguably their best-played game of the season.

"We had a great day yesterday and we had a significant advantage in personnel," Mitchell said. "This game, the difference in personnel is not as great, the advantage is not as great and we have to be ready to play."

Arguably the biggest challenge for the Wildcats could be executing offensively against Syracuse's base 2-3 zone defense, which UK struggled against early in the SEC schedule. But the Wildcats have since shown they can make shots and get the ball to the paint no matter what defense they face.

And yet like their coach, the Wildcats themselves are embracing the challenge of facing a formidable zone defense in the high-pressure NCAA Tournament.

"I think it should be easier for us because it's just one thing we have to focus on, it's the 2-3 zone," UK guard Jennifer O'Neill said. "We don't have to worry about them playing man or trying to switch it to a 3-2 or stuff like that. We know what they're going to play and now we just have to go out and perform and execute."

Samarie Walker also doesn't seem to sweat the prospect of facing a 2-3 zone so long as UK can execute its offensive counterattack to the zone.

"It's a little frustrating for inside players because we don't know where were going to get the ball, we have to work just a little bit harder than (against) man (defense)," the senior forward said. We might not always get the ball on the block which is where we want to get the ball, it's a lot more movement for us but I think by now we should be used to it because that is what we got played most by in the SEC."

For his part, Mitchell seems more concerned with his team playing its best more than he focuses on specific opponent game planning. Although he likely watches plenty of opponents' game film and develops schemes to attack other teams too, Mitchell indicated he goes into big games keeping it simple, focusing more on his team positioning itself to play its best than preventing other teams from playing theirs.
 
Mitchell admitted as much when asked how he would prepare the Wildcats for playing Syracuse without knowing the injury status of one of the Orange's best players: Brittany Sykes.

"I don't know if this point in time with our team that we make it totally about the opponent," Mitchell said. "We really try and have a good plan that we can execute whether she's playing or not."

The Syracuse sophomore guard has since been ruled out for Monday's game, but the news likely won't change the broader theme for UK.

Mitchell is focused on his team playing its best as early and as often as possible as UK continues into the second round of the the NCAA Tournament.

Andrew Harrison played with an injured elbow and scored 20 points in UK's round-of-32 upset of Wichita State. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Andrew Harrison played with an injured elbow and scored 20 points in UK's round-of-32 upset of Wichita State. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
ST. LOUIS -- Speculation ran rampant for the 39 hours or so following Kentucky's win over Kansas State.

Fans broke down the instant replay of the injury Andrew Harrison suffered in the final minutes. Some wondered whether the actual diagnosis was actually more severe than a hyperextension.

The question underlying it all, however, was simple: Would UK's point guard be able to play against Wichita State in the round of 32's most highly anticipated game?

Funnily enough, that's the same question John Calipari had for Andrew Harrison.

"All I asked him was, 'Are you going to play?' " Coach Cal said.

At first, the answer was no. But as game time approached, Andrew Harrison couldn't help but change his mind.

After receiving around-the-clock of treatment in his hotel room overnight, there Andrew Harrison was walking onto the Scottrade Center floor wearing a sleeve over his shooting arm as a starter. In spite of some initial hesitation, he wasn't about to let his elbow keep him away from this moment.

"I wasn't going to play at first, but I felt like I just had to," Andrew Harrison said. "And I fought through it."

His brother, Aaron, always figured he would.

"He knew we needed him and the team knew we needed him," Aaron Harrison said. "And I've known him for a while, so I thought, I knew he was going to play. He wasn't going to sit out this big of a game."

Andrew Harrison played an instrumental role as UK (26-10) handed top-seeded Wichita State (35-1) its first loss, 78-76, in a game that lived up to its billing and then some.

"Without him obviously you know now it would have been a different game," Calipari said. "We couldn't have won the game."

Andrew Harrison didn't wait long to ease concerns about his elbow, scoring UK's second basket and back-to-back jumpers later to give UK a 19-15 lead midway through the first half. He likely would have avoided one or two of his four first-half turnovers and six for the game if he had been 100 percent, but the Cats had their floor general and the game was on.

In a second half filled with body blows and haymakers thrown by both sides, Andrew Harrison landed more than his fair share. He had 13 points after the break, helping to overcome 51 combined points from Wichita State stars Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker and a 3-point attempt at the buzzer by Fred VanVleet.

"I said yesterday that he would play and I anticipated him playing and he played great," Wichita State's Gregg Marshall said. "He drove it, drove it, shot it very well. ... Tremendous young player. Tremendous young player who had a great day."

He took advantage of the size that made him such a sought-after point-guard prospect, absorbing contact on drives to the basket and repeatedly getting to the free-throw line. He converted seven of his nine attempts there -- including five of six in the final four minutes -- as UK made 15 of 19 after halftime when every point was precious.

"He did a good job and we know we needed him for real," James Young said. "And he just came out there and just led us to the win."

It was the kind of performance expected of Andrew Harrison this season, though such efforts have only become regular in recent weeks.

He and his brother came to be the faces of the hype surrounding this Kentucky team. It began before they even before they set foot on campus, as the UK fans turned to the "Keep Calm, The Twins Are Coming" mantra to ease their minds during a disappointing 2012-13 season.

That pressure and those expectations, in many ways, came to define both the Harrisons and this team according to the outside world. Inside the walls of the Joe Craft Center, it's never been that way.

"This team and what people said about this team, all we have done all year is continue to get better," Calipari said. "We hit some shots. We missed some. Like every team, you hit a hole that you don't play well. But they believed in themselves."

After some subtle changes made before the postseason, Andrew Harrison is showing that belief to the world and redefining his year and his team's in the process.

Coach Cal believed his point guard would eventually come around.

"Because I have been through this 20 years and I've coached every different kind of point guard," Calipari said. "And I have been in a situation -- I don't know what I was thinking. Tweaked a couple of things for him and all of a sudden he is playing different, he's got a smile on his face."

Injured elbow and all, Andrew Harrison was all smiles as the Cats celebrated wildly on the floor following their upset win and later at the dais for UK's postgame press conference. He's in for a week of treatment on his elbow to get ready for a rivalry rematch with Louisville in the Sweet 16, but Andrew Harrison wasn't feeling much pain on Sunday evening.

"I am better now," he said. "Yeah, I'm good."

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

UK took down top-seeded Wichita State in a thriller in St. Louis on Sunday, 78-76. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK took down top-seeded Wichita State in a thriller in St. Louis on Sunday, 78-76. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
ST. LOUIS - The shot was off, the weight was lifted and the perfection was over.

When Fred VanVleet's 3-point attempt bounced off the backboard and dropped harmlessly to the floor, the disappointment of Kentucky's regular season, with one swift, emphatic and stunning performance on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, suddenly felt like it had vanished.

"It felt like five million pounds off our shoulders when the buzzer went off," Willie Cauley-Stein said. "It was just a good feeling."

With a 78-76 victory over top-seeded Wichita State on Sunday in a game for the ages, UK has not only erased the frustration of the regular season, it set up a chance to write one heck of an ending. The Wildcats (26-10), in ironic, almost poetic fashion given the preseason expectations that were thrown on this group, ended the Shockers' bid for perfection at 35-1.

They did so with their gutsiest performance of the season in the best game of the tournament.

"Heck of a game," John Calipari said. "Really proud of our guys hanging in there and fighting. They never gave up. Wichita State never gave up and had their last chance to win the game. Just proud of the guys."

The Wildcats, who are headed to their fourth Sweet 16 in five years under Coach Cal, stormed the court in celebration as the buzzer went off at the Scottrade Center.

The game warranted it.

Set up with tantalizing storylines (undefeated vs. preseason hopes of perfection), drastic backgrounds (big, bad Kentucky vs. a Missouri Valley Conference school), and contrasts in age and experience, Sunday's UK-Wichita State matchup was billed by some as the best round-of-32 game ever.

Somehow, someway, it actually lived up to the hype.

"This was an Elite Eight game," Calipari said. "The winner of this should have gone to the Final Four. That's what this was."

Kentucky will have to settle for a reward of a matchup vs. archrival Louisville in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis (more on that later), but the Cats will take it after the way things appeared to be headed.

After Wichita State took a 37-31 lead into the halftime locker room and opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Julius Randle shook out of a first-half slump and sparked the Wildcats on an 8-0 run.

From there on out, it was blow for blow, basket for basket, player for player. There were three ties and 14 lead changes Sunday. It was college basketball at its finest, but Kentucky landed the hardest punch.

"I thought it was a great game the whole time it was going on," Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. "It was back and forth. They would have the lead, we would have the lead, they would have the lead, we would have the lead. And ultimately their lead was two or three points."

That haymaker came from James Young, who, after seconds earlier had hit a layup, pulled up from behind the arc and drained a 3 to give UK a 73-71 lead with 1:41 to play.

"It was supposed to be a drive for (Andrew Harrison), but then I guess the defender stopped him a little bit, so he gave the extra pass and I just shot with confidence and it felt good to hit it," Young said.

From there on out, it was a matter of who could withstand the pressure the best. Andrew Harrison, who nearly didn't play Sunday because of a right elbow injury suffered Friday in the Kansas State game, was game.

The freshman guard, who has taken more than his fair share of criticism for UK's 10-loss season, stepped up with three free throws over the final 42 seconds to ice the win.

"I fought through it," Andrew Harrison said of the pain in his elbow. "The elbow, once you get your adrenaline flowing, it felt fine."

Between Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Julius Randle, UK hit 11 of 14 free throws over the final 4:52 of game time. One of the only misses - the back end of Andrew Harrison's two free throws with 7.2 seconds left - gave Wichita State a shot to win or tie it, but VanVleet's miss out of a timeout ended a super season for the Shockers.

"It's literally been a magic carpet ride," Marshall said.

The Cats just pulled it out from under them.

"All of the adversity we have been through all season, just to see us coming together as a team and getting better each game and finally get a big win like that, just enjoyed it," Randle said. "Everybody was happy and we just have to keep building on it."

UK shot 54.0 percent for the game - its highest mark since Dec. 21 - knocked down 8 of 18 3-pointers and hit 16 of 22 from the line.

Andrew Harrison led all scorers with 20 points and was clutch down the stretch, but Aaron Harrison was just as big with 19 points and four 3-pointers. Randle rebounded from a rough first half with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Young finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Wichita State looked liked it was going to hold UK off when the sensational Cleanthony Early - he of the 31 points and 12-of-17 shooting - hit one of his four 3-pointers go give the Shockers a 69-64 lead with 4:36 left, but there were so many moments the Cats could have died and didn't.

Take, for instance, the nine-point Wichita State lead in the first half when UK suddenly couldn't hang on to the ball. Young answered stole back momentum with a 3 before halftime.

Or the 6-0 run by the Shockers when UK had seized the momentum and the lead, 58-55. Andrew Harrison calmly answered it by getting to the line and making two foul shots.

"Earlier in the year we would have gave in, but it just shows how we've grown," Dakari Johnson said.

Was there some good fortune involved? Maybe a little. One could probably chalk up Aaron Harrison's banked 3-pointer as that.

But for a Kentucky team that had failed to live up to its preseason billing and had so often hit the mat when fights got tough in the regular season, there's something to be said about UK playing itself into a position for its biggest win the year - and perhaps a season-changing one at that.

"A lot of people counted us out the first game, let alone this game," Cauley-Stein said. "It just goes to show that we kept on fighting through all the bad stuff that happened the rest of the season and playing with a will to win and playing with more energy and effort now. That's the game, especially in the tournament."

For the Cats, who talked of a new season when the postseason began last week at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, they've been given a chance to write a new ending.

"They have been through so much," Calipari said. "They have been attacked, they have been bludgeoned, 'they can't play, they're not a team, you can't do it this way.' But they stayed together. It makes you strong. It makes you tough as nails. And we just hung around."

When the game ended and the Cats jogged back to the locker room, the coach who has dragged his bad hip along for the last few months seemed to float to the locker room as he pumped his fist in the air for the fans clad in blue.

Coach Cal said not to mistake his happiness as a sigh of relief.

"If wins are relief, it's time for me to retire," he said. "This was great joy in seeing a group of young men come together and start figuring this out. It took longer than I'd hoped. I told them after the game, I've been hard on you like I've been every team. It's just been a longer process with you guys. But at the end of the day, you are seeing that they understand what's acceptable and what's not acceptable."

Now the stage is set for yet another gargantuan NCAA Tournament showdown with archrival Louisville, the second one in three seasons. Randle admitted he has "no idea" what to expect in the buildup to Friday's titanic showdown in Indy, but he's got time to figure it out.

"I just wish we had another month of the season left, like keep playing, because we're getting better every day," Calipari said. "I just wish, you know, this thing could extend and extend and extend, but obviously it won't."

It will for at least one more week and without the weight of the world on their shoulders.

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Numbers reveal few Wichita State weaknesses

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John Calipari addresses reporters at a press conference on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) John Calipari addresses reporters at a press conference on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
ST. LOUIS -- As it happens so often for John Calipari's Kentucky team, the narrative entering the Wildcats' round-of-32 matchup with Wichita State is based on contrast.

In one corner there's UK, the uber-talented and uber-athletic group of freshmen and sophomores. In the other there's Wichita State, the outsized and under-recruited group of veterans with experience and cohesiveness on their side.

But for all the (oftentimes overplayed) differences, there's one thing the two teams unquestionably have in common: mutual respect.

"They play really hard," John Calipari said. "They have really good players. You don't go 35 or 36-0 or whatever they are without having really good players. And they have really good players. And they play hard and compete."

Coach Cal's Wichita State counterpart had a similarly glowing review on the eve of the matchup between his top-seeded Shockers (35-0) and Kentucky (25-10).

"With Kentucky you have not only a great style of play, but you have seven McDonald's All-Americans," head coach Gregg Marshall said. "You have guys that will play at the highest level very soon. I don't know how long; I am sure Cal would like to keep a couple of them around. But you have some of the best athletes at their age in the world."

Not only are the Shockers familiar with the Cats, they also know the history of the Kentucky program well. Marshall, for instance, named four of the five leading scorers from UK's 1978 national-title team off hand -- Jack Givens, Rick Robey, Kyle Macy and Mike Phillips.

"One of the storied programs in the history of college basketball," Marshall said. "Eight national championships and preseason No. 1. So certainly our guys are excited for this challenge and they are ready to go."

Ron Baker won't be teaching any history lessons like his coach probably could, but he has family in the Kentucky area and even a father who is a fan.

"When you hear 'Kentucky,' you think of basketball," the sophomore guard said.

Wichita State has a history of its own, including Final Four appearances in 1965 and 2013. All of the Shockers' major contributors this season were on that 2013 team that took eventual national champion Louisville to the wire.

"They've been there for three to four years so they know their coaching staff and they've been through a lot of stuff to get where they're at," Willie Cauley-Stein said. "There's a reason why they're successful."

It's now UK that stands in the way of the Shockers bid for history. Cauley-Stein, in a way only he can, broke down the matchup.

"They're playing with a lot of swag right now but we're also playing with a lot of swag right now, so the swags are going to intertwine and whoever fights more is going to win the game," Cauley-Stein said.

The outcome, however, will be decided by more than just intertwining swags. Let's go to the numbers to figure out how using kenpom.com's advanced stats.

When Kentucky is on offense

Defensively, Wichita State conspicuously lacks weaknesses.

The Shockers are only average in the turnover department, forcing mistakes on 18.3 percent of possessions (175th nationally), but they rank in the top 11 in both effective field-goal percentage defense (.442) and defensive-rebounding percentage (.740), and a solid 71st in defensive free-throw rate.

In other words, the Cats are going to have to earn whatever they get.

Barring a remarkable night, UK can't expect to shoot the lights out on Sunday. The Cats haven't been a knockdown shooting team -- ranking 171st in effective field-goal percentage -- all season and shouldn't expect that to change against a defense that ranks 10th nationally in adjusted efficiency.

Where UK likely needs to make its hay is in attacking the basket and the offensive glass. As well as Wichita State has rebounded and protected the rim this season, the Shockers haven't faced a team with UK's length and athleticism.

Wichita State did defeat Tennessee and its bruising forwards Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, but Marshall sees Kentucky in a different light.

"These guys are like a total eclipse when you go in there," Marshall said. "It is a different deal. And they are much more vertical. Cauley-Stein is a vertical guy. Maymon is a wall builder. Jarnell Stokes at 6-7 is talented but not as big as (Dakari) Johnson."

When Kentucky is on defense

Wichita State offense is much like its defense: solid in nearly all facets. The Shockers' 11th-ranked unit is no worse than 66th in any of kenpom.com's Four Factors. No other team in the country even ranks in the top 100 of all four.

If you want to stretch for a weakness, your best bet is 3-point shooting. The Shockers are just 159th nationally in that category at 34.6 percent and have shown a propensity for attempting more than the numbers suggest they should. Wichita State attempts 36.5 percent of its shots from 3, well above the national average of 32.9 percent.

For UK's defense to have success at the level needed to score an upset, the Cats will need to contest first shots well as they have all season in ranking 11th in effective field-goal percentage defense and close out possessions with defensive rebounds. Since Wichita State takes of the ball so well and UK forces turnovers so infrequently (16.3 percent of opponent possessions), the Cats can't afford to give the Shockers any extra opportunities.

Style of play

Wichita State has the athletes to get out and run, but the Shockers thrive in the half court. They are 241st nationally in adjusted tempo and Kentucky 203rd. This suggests Sunday's game will be a slow-paced one that requires the young Cats to be tuned in from start to finish.

That's how the Shockers' second-round game was, which caught the attention of Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero.

"The thing about Wichita State is what we want to emulate most in our program is they very, very, very rarely take any plays off," Callero said. "Their defensive attention and focus and offensive attention and focus is excellent. As good is there is in basketball, college basketball."

As detailed above, both teams play solid defense. Missed shots, as a result, could be plentiful. If that does prove to be the case, Baker's analysis could be prophetic.

"It will be a war on the glass and I think the winner on the glass will win the game," Baker said.

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Recent Comments

  • Guy Ramsey: The song is "The Mighty Rio Grande" by the band This Will Destroy You. read more
  • Griffin: What's the name of the song that this video starts playing when describing Cal getting ejected and Aaron talking about read more
  • Quinn : It was an amazing run! I hope you all return and make another stab at it. read more
  • Sandy Spears: I completely with the person's comment above. So proud of all the young men and their accomplishments. They have everything read more
  • BJ Rassam: The Cats came so close to winning another NCAA basketball championship. read more
  • chattyone: Congratulations to our Wildcats! They are terrific. All of us just like these young men are disappointed in the loss, read more
  • clint bailes: Such a great season! You guys fought hard til the end. Loved watchin the season! Can't wait til next season. read more
  • Andrea Boyd: you guys are AMAZING! as individuals and as a team. thank you for your tremendous playing and work and attitudes. read more
  • laura n: What an honor and privledge to watch all of you grow into incredible young men. Never enjoyed a season more. read more
  • Amy Carnes: Very proud of you cats you have really grow as a team .You proved all the doubters wrong. And have read more