Kentucky Tabbed No. 4 Seed in East Region of NCAA Tournament

Kentucky men’s basketball extended its national record for most NCAA Tournament appearances to 55 on Sunday, as the team was selected as the No. 4 seed in the East Region.  The Wildcats will play Stony Brook, the No. 13 seed in the region, on Thursday, March 17 in Des Moines, Iowa.
UK’s first-round game will tip at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS. Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson will broadcast the game.
Earning a No. 4 seed for the fourth time in program history, Kentucky enters the NCAA Tournament fresh off a thrilling overtime victory over No. 17/17 Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the championship title, taking down the Aggies 82-77.  The title marked the 29th time that the Wildcats had claimed the SEC Tournament crown in program history, meaning UK has plenty of momentum and a five-game winning streak entering the Big Dance.

“We’re playing great, so we have confidence in each other,” senior Alex Poythress said. “We’re not scared of anybody we gotta play or anything like that. We feel confident in our ability and what we need to do to get there.”

The Cats learned their NCAA Tournament fate at a tame gathering hosted at Calipari’s house after flying back from Nashville immediately after their win over A&M. They showed the effects of playing three games in three days,

“I’m ready to get in bed, lay down,” Alex Poythress said. “It’s been a long three days. That’s my personal opinion. We had to figure out who we’re playing and now we gotta get ready for Stony Brook.”
 
The Wildcats are currently 26-8 and claimed a share of their 47th regular season SEC title, going 13-5 in conference play. Calipari said the team will practice and depart for Des Moines on Thursday.

UK is 44-10 in tournament openers and has won 22 of its last 23 first round tournament games.  UK owns a 120-48 record all-time in NCAA action, with its .714 winning percentage the fourth-best in NCAA history.
 
Kentucky has met up with the Sea Wolves just one other time in the history of the two programs, with UK securing a 62-52 win on Nov. 27, 2007. Stony Brook will be making its first trip to the Big Dance after a historic season that saw the Sea Wolves record a 26-6 record and claim both the America East regular season and tournament crown, led by three-time America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney.  The senior dropped a career-best 43 points in the tournament title game to lead Stony Brook to an 80-74 win over Vermont on March 12.   
 
“Stony Brook, I watched that game,” Calipari said. “They’re good.”

With a win over Stony Brook, Kentucky would face the winner of the No. 5 Indiana – No. 12 Chattanooga matchup.  Indiana holds a 25-7 record on the season and 15-3 in Big Ten action.  The Hoosiers most recently were upset by Michigan in the quarterfinals of the B1G Tournament, 72-69, on March 11.  Chattanooga won its 11th Southern Conference Tournament Championship on March 8, taking down Eastern Tennessee State, 73-67.  Kentucky is 32-24 against Indiana and 4-0 against ETSU in the all-time series.  

“They’re a good team, but we can’t look ahead to any teams like that,” Poythress said of Indiana. “We gotta focus on Stony Brook first and then figure out who we gotta play next after that.”
 
Tickets for the first and second round games in Des Moines can be purchased by visiting NCAA.com/tickets.  Fans will find complete ticket information for all NCAA sites, including information on NCAA Ticket Exchange, the official secondary marketplace for authentic NCAA Tournament tickets.  Student ticket information will be posted online at UKStudentTix.com later this evening.
 
Check back for additional information regarding UK’s 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance.
 
For the latest on the Kentucky men's basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web at UKathletics.com.

Kentucky Men's Basketball
Pre-NCAA Tournament Quotes
Lexington, Ky.
March 13, 2016


John Calipari


On UK's tournament selection and the potential matchups in its region …
“Texas A&M as a three (seed) is another way of doing it. Who we’re playing, those teams are, you know, we knew West Virginia would be there. Indiana, North Carolina and we got the toughest path. Stony Brook, I watched that game. They’re good. They’re good. They’ve got a big kid that had 40 points in a game against Vermont, and like I said, I just happened to be laying there and I watched some of the game. But this is how it is. It’s every year the same. Need to look at some other teams. They got a great path and we’ve got this, you know. I bet you they’ll try to switch over and put the Warriors in there. I don’t know if they can make a late call, but we’re playing. Let’s show up. Where is it? Where are we playing? I thought it was Anchorage—Des Moines? I like Des Moines. See, if it was in Anchorage, I was going to have the (Alaska) Bush people. They were going to be there and, you know, the Kilchers from The Last Frontier. You’re going to have them in the front row.” 
 
On whether he thinks the SEC championship game should be moved to Saturday …
“I told Greg (Sankey) that today. If this is what happens, why are we playing that game? We won the game. A technical got them the game and they get a three seed and we get a four. I’m happy for A&M. I’m disappointed that South Carolina didn’t get in. I can’t believe it. I’m, like, stunned. But, they do what they do and they have numbers that they can convince you that this is all, these are, emotions don’t play a part in it. OK. They don’t for me either.”
 
On the “name brand” teams in the East Region motivating the team …
“I don’t think they’re worried about it. They’re so happy, they don’t care. They’re hungry. They’re like, ‘I don’t care who we play, let’s play.’ ”
 
On how much he has seen of Indiana this season …
“I haven’t watched much of them. I told Tom (Crean) three weeks ago that we would be playing them. I said, ‘West Virginia, you, and my prediction was Kansas.’ He’ll tell you. He just called me. The problem is, you’re affecting more than one; you’re affecting a lot. And, they’ll say it’s all conspiracy, and I hear it all. But it’s fine. “
 
On drama about not playing in regular season and people trying to force that match up …
“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the people on the committee. I am telling you, they will come up with some great numbers and land in Florida for you. I am just telling you.”
 
On the way the team played today being another step getting the team prepared for the tournament …
“Yeah, and then we are playing Thursday. OK, let’s go! Let’s leave today. Let’s leave right now and we’ll play it all on I-95. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s the greatest thing.”
 
On how the SEC Tournament championship game versus Texas A&M looked…
“It was a great game. Great college game. It obviously helped A&M more than it helped us. “
 
On speaking to someone in the selection committee …
“No. I won’t. Just no. They have probably been listening to what I have said the past two days though.”
 
On scouting Stony Brook …
“I didn’t. I just was watching the game. I just know one kid had 41, a big strong kid. I didn’t watch the game that way. “

UK Student-Athletes


#00, Marcus Lee, F


On his reaction to playing Stony Brook …
“Happy to be in the tournament. Doesn’t really matter who we play.”

On if he’s heard of Stony Brook …
“I’ve definitely heard of them. I’ve watched some of their games. They’re a great team. We’re just excited to play them.”

On if UK is playing its best basketball right now …
“There are definitely more levels we can go to, but right now we’re really connecting.”

On there not being a reaction because everyone is tired …
“Yeah, it’s been a long weekend. We finished the way we wanted to. Now we’re ready to start over.”

On if they’ve looked at the other teams in their region …
“I think Cal said it, the best way you have to play is section by section. If you do (look ahead), then you’re overthinking it and might end up losing.”

On what specifically UK will be working on prior to the tournament …
“We just have little things that we have to put together so we’re all on the same page, kinda just like getting more used to when things break down, help our team out and stuff like that.”

On potentially facing Indiana in the second round …
“I think it would be a great game. They’re very athletic and we are too, so I think it’d be a really good game to watch.”

On the fun and pressure of the NCAA Tournament …
“Yeah, it’s very different, but it’s every kid’s dream to play in this thing. Most people have more dreams about this than playing in the NBA. So, this is an extremely big thing.”

On the chemistry of this year’s team compared to previous UK teams …
“We’ve all had very different chemistry throughout the three teams. All of my teams have been really close, but this one we’ve built up, we know each other and we’ve figured things out together.”

On how much fun the team is having …
“Yeah, definitely. Once we started clicking and figured things out we were able to just kinda let loose and have fun.”

On if Coach Cal has stressed to them to have fun …
“I’ve been with Cal for three years. This is kinda the moment where he always stresses to have fun. This is kinda the moment people start stressing over the little things or what might happen. When we stress on having fun it kind of drains all that out.”

On if he’s happy with the No. 4 seed …
“I’m, personally, happy with it. I’m just happy to be in the tournament. That’s how you gotta look at it, as a blessing to just be in the tournament and be able to have fun with it.”

On how much they talk about what seed they’ll be and if they try to predict …
“We didn’t really have time this weekend. We played three games in three days. We didn’t have that much time to talk about it. This is the first time we were able to sit down and relax and see what happened.”

On why there wasn’t a reaction …
“I think it was just exhaustion. It’s been a long weekend. There’s definitely excitement in there. It’s just deep in there because we’re tired. Overall, we’re really excited to just be in the tournament.”

On if he’s concerned about a quick turnaround playing Thursday …
“I mean, we’ve been battle tested like this before where we had to have a quick turnaround. We’ve had this multiple times in a season, so I think we’ll be ready and totally fine with it.”

On players stepping up in the NCAA Tournament …
“I think it’s special because it can totally be anyone on your team. For us, it can be absolutely anybody. It can be Isaac (Humphries), it can be Charles (Matthews) who has a big game. It doesn’t matter because we’re all a team (inaudible).”

On how the SEC Tournament helped prepare them …
“I mean, if we had a cakewalk it wouldn’t have prepared us for anything. But having games like these it forces us to battle the whole time, it makes us ready for what we might see.”

On Kentucky being a No. 4 seed and Texas A&M being a No. 3 seed …
“We have to just let that go. It happens. They have us pretty evened up from the way I saw it, and you can’t really worry about that. It’s what happens and you gotta just play the game.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F


On UK being a four seed and Texas A&M a three …
“I really don’t know how all that stuff works, but it is what it is. We gotta play all these games anyway, so let’s get them out of the way.”

On the way UK is playing …
“We’re playing great, so we have confidence in each other. We’re not scared of anybody we gotta play or anything like that. We feel confident in our ability and what we need to do to get there.”

On whether he has watched Stony Brook …
“No, but Coach said they’re a good team. I think they won the league. Our coaches will probably go into the office right now to find out more stuff about them and we’ll deal with it from there.”

On being excited about his second NCAA Tournament …
“I mean, yeah, I’m excited, ready to play. Ready to play, get out there and just compete.”

On whether he has watched Indiana …
“I’ve seen a couple games. They’re a good team, but we can’t look ahead to any teams like that. We gotta focus on Stony Brook first and then figure out who we gotta play next after that.”

On the battle with A&M …
“It was a good game. It helped our team chemistry and focus and just show how we gotta do if we get in those tough situations, overtime games, how to fight at the end of the game.”

On the biggest difference with this team …
“Everybody’s just more defined into their roles. Everybody knows what they need to do and how they need to play. Everybody’s just playing well at this point and really just focusing and competing.”

On Tyler Ulis …
“He’s playing great. Never gets rattled, runs our team. He’s exactly what you want from a point guard and just so poised, calm out there.”

On their confidence in Ulis …
“Yeah, we got the most confidence in him and we got the most confidence in each other. We all—we feel like we’re really playing well and we can really do good things.”

On being back in the NCAA Tournament …
“It means a lot. Last year I couldn’t play. I was hurt. So I want to go out on top this year.”

On whether having power programs in UK’s bracket is motivating …
“Yeah. It’s a motivating factor. We’re going to have to play them at some point, so might as well play them, get it out of the way. Try not to look at any games ahead. Try to take it one game at a time. When you look ahead, that’s when you get beat.”

On how he played in UK’s last two games …
“I think I played well. There’s always room for improvement, room for improvement everywhere. I don’t know if we got practice tomorrow or not, but we just gotta get back in the gym and work on correcting, fix little things.”

On UK’s poise the last two days …
“The team’s real poised. Down the stretch, we were calm, never panicked or anything like that. So we’re just looking forward to playing, getting out there and competing, getting back on the court.”

On having more fun on the court …
“Oh yeah, we’re having a lot of fun. We all enjoy playing, being out there on the court with each other.”

On being calm under pressure …
“There’s no pressure. We’re all playing loose and just playing out there, really.”

On not having a strong reaction to the bracket …
“Yeah, I know. I’m ready to get in bed, lay down. It’s been a long three days. That’s my personal opinion. We had to figure out who we’re playing and now we gotta get ready for Stony Brook.”

On A&M getting a three seed …
“I don’t know how that stuff works. I really don’t know. The RPI, BPI, I don’t know who makes that stuff up, but it is what it is at this point. You can’t change anything about it. So we just gotta throw up the ball and hoop.”

Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell


"It was just an unbelievable game here yesterday. The environment and atmosphere here was just electric. The community has embraced this team. The students have embraced this team. It is so hard to win a championship and I'm so proud that this team was able to break through and do that. Today was the icing on the cake getting to hear our name for Selection Sunday. Since I took over this program this has been something I've dreamed about. It's a great day for us. We are going to play a historic program - one of the best programs in college basketball - with a Hall of Fame coach and first round draft picks all over the place. This is a great opportunity for our guys to go and continue their season and play one of the best teams in the country."