Kentucky Hosts Georgia on Tuesday at Rupp
Kentucky and Georgia both hired new coaches in the 2009 offseason. John Calipari and Mark Fox have matched wits at least once a year since.
|Kentucky vs. Tennessee|
|Tue., Feb. 9 - 9 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UGA
Digital Gameday Program
|UK||2015-16 Team Stats||UGA|
Serving as Coach Cal’s game-planning ace, John Robic has come to notice a trend in how the Bulldogs play under Fox.
“We were actually talking about it today,” Robic said. “They’re always really solid.”
Per usual, that starts on the defensive end of the floor.
For the sixth straight season, Georgia ranks in the top 80 nationally in defensive efficiency. And this year’s group is, statistically speaking, Fox’s best. The Bulldogs (13-8, 6-4 SEC) are 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency according to kenpom.com entering a Tuesday matchup with No. 22/21 UK (17-6, 7-3 SEC) at 9 p.m. in Rupp Arena.
“What they’re doing, it’s great position defense and he’s mixing up a matchup 3-2, 2-3 zone and he’s doing some things that put them in great position so that you’re getting one tough shot and they’re rebounding the ball – and they’re rebounding with all five,” John Calipari said.
Most of the time, three of those five are guards.
J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann carry a heavy load for the Bulldogs, combining to average 42.6 points. Frazier and Gaines each do much of their damage from the outside, hitting 105 3-pointers between them. Mann, meanwhile, gets to the free-throw line repeatedly, ranking third nationally in free-throw rate.
“They’re a good team,” Calipari said, “and they’ll play physical and they have veteran guards and if you have veteran guards like they have, you have a chance to be in every game.”
UK might not have two seniors and a junior in its backcourt like Georgia, but the Cats are pretty good at guard too. In a win over Florida on Saturday Jamal Murray exploded for a career-high 35 points and Tyler Ulis had a double-double, but it was their defense that most impressed Robic.
“We’re getting better and better at it,” Robic said. “I thought Saturday’s game was terrific defensively. Coach put in a great game plan of how we were going to guard Florida. Players executed it really well and we really guarded as a unit, as five. I think that takes away some of the pressure off individuals. It was truly a solid team effort in the half court.”
That obviously includes UK’s big men as well, who withstood the absence of Alex Poythress. Isaac Humphries played a key role, posting four points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks in 15 minutes of action.
“He played terrifically,” Robic said. “He stepped up when the opportunity was there. He did the things exactly what we needed him to do.”
Poythress is expected to return to the lineup after he was a late scratch with a balky knee against Florida, but that doesn’t necessarily squeeze Humphries out of a significant role.
“This would be a good game for Isaac because of (Georgia’s) post players, that they actually have size in the post,” Robic said. “If it was an undersized – say a Tennessee, where they really don’t have a true post, that would be a tough game for Isaac. This is a matchup-type game that benefits all of our bigger players.”
Yante Maten is the player Humphries and the Cats will most have to worry about inside. He’s averaging 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds in a breakout sophomore season.
“The ball is in the hands of their guards a lot, but Maten, boy has he gotten better,” Robic said. “Putting up great numbers. You can see his confidence level is really high. He’s gotten good, and he gives them a solid low-post threat.”
Murray, Ulis Spectacular in Rout of Florida
Kentucky was facing its first three-game losing streak of the John Calipari era, but Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis didn’t let it happen. With two standout individual performances and a hot shooting day from behind the arc, Kentucky improved to 32-7 following a loss in the John Calipari era with an impressive 80-61 victory over Florida.
Freshman Jamal Murray torched the nets for a career-high 35 points against the Gators. The 35 points tied Terrence Jones (Jan. 11, 2011) for the most points by a freshman in a single game. It also tied Jones’ mark for the most point in the Calipari era.
Murray simply would not miss against Florida, making his first six 3-point tries and 8 of 10 overall. His eight 3-point field goals tied for the fourth most in a game in school history and was just one shy of tying the Rupp Arena record.
Though Ulis’ streak of 20 or more points came to an end at five games, he still managed one of his best performances of the season with 18 points and a career-high 11 assists, the most assists in a game since John Wall dished out 11 vs. East Tennessee State on March 18, 2010.
The Wildcats appeared to receive a crushing blow before the game when they learned just before tip that Alex Poythress was out for the game with a right knee injury. However, using a “next man up” mentality, UK stormed out of the gates to a 10-2 lead and eventually completed a 22-3 run to gain a 24-5 advantage. Another Kentucky run -- this one 14-3 -- gave the Wildcats their biggest bulge of the first half at 42-18.
Florida responded with an 11-0 spurt in the second half and got as close as 42-29, but Murray’s career day and UK’s big shooting day from 3-point land was ultimately too much. The Wildcats ended the game with a season-high 12 3-pointers on a season-best .600 3-point shooting percentage.
• UK extended its Rupp Arena winning streak to 33 games, tied for the second longest in the venue’s history
• The Wildcats shot 51.7 percent from the floor, the fourth time in the last five games they’ve shot better than 50 percent
• Kentucky won the rebounding 37-28, improving to 16-1 this season when winning or tying the rebounding battle
• Murray is now the only freshman in school history with multiple 30-point games in a season
• Ulis (16) now trails Roger Harden (17) by just one game for the most consecutive four-assist games in school history
• Junior forward Derek Willis notched 12 points and tied for the team lead with six rebounds, the sixth time in the last seven games he’s led the team on the boards
• Filling in for the injured Poythress, freshman forward Isaac Humphries logged a career-high 15 minutes and scored four points and a career-high six rebounds
UK Loses Rare Back-to-Back Game at Tennessee
For the first time since 2014 and just the seventh time in the John Calipari era, Kentucky lost back-to-back games with an 84-77 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
UK led by 21 points in the first half, but Tennessee closed with a 23-8 run just before halftime, took its first lead with 14:09 left in the game, and then held off Kentucky’s attempt at stealing one in the final minutes. It was the biggest lead the Wildcats had blown in the Calipari era and just the third time in 181 games in the Calipari era that UK led by 10 or more points in the game and failed to win.
The loss wasn’t without another outstanding individual performance from sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis. He recorded his fifth straight 20-point game and his ninth such one in the last 11 games. He also added five assists, improving his school record (since assists were available in 1972-73) of 20-point, five-assist games to 10 on the season.
Freshman guard Jamal Murray scored a team-high 21 points to continue is double-digit scoring streak to 20 games. Senior forward Alex Poythress added 14 points and five rebounds and freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe chipped in with 10 points and eight boards.
• UK fell to 0-4 on the season when allowing 80-plus points
• The Wildcats lost the rebounding battle, falling to 1-5 this year when finishing the game at a rebounding deficit
• Tennessee made 30 free throws, the second straight game UK has allowed the season-high 30 free-throw mark
• UK’s two steals were tied for its fewest in a game this year
• Briscoe and junior Derek Willis tied for the team high with eight rebounds
• Freshman forward Skal Labissiere blocked three shots
• Ulis fouled out for the first time in his career