UK Hosts Penn in Final Tune-Up for SEC

Jan. 2, 2011

Cat Scratches: Video: Cats not looking past Penn after U of L win

Gameday
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Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Penn Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Mon., Jan. 3, 7:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPNU
Radio: BBSN
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Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.

The Wildcats ended 2010 with an exclamation point, traveling to 20th-ranked Louisville and posting a 78-63 win over the Cardinals.

Brandon Knight scored a career-high and game-high 25 points, while Josh Harrellson also posted a career day with a career-high 23 points. Harrellson tied his career high with 14 rebounds, six on the offensive end.

Terrence Jones also scored in double-digits, finishing with 12 points to go along with eight rebounds, a career-high five assists and three blocks.

The Wildcats shot a season best 87.5 pct. (14-16) from the free throw line, the third straight game in which UK shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe.

The Cats also shot better than 50 percent from the field for the third straight game.

Pregame Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach John Calipari

On if Monday’s game against Penn could potentially be a ‘trap game’…
“This team hadn’t been that way so I would say not, but (Penn) is a team that can beat us if we don’t show up and play.”

On what separates junior guard DeAndre Liggins as a defender…
“Well, that’s what his mindset is. Defense and rebounding is – yes, there’s skill to it. There is a skill to working hard every day, like bringing it every day. That’s a skill, too. But that’s the skill, where you come and bring it, where you compete, do you have the desire, do you have the will to play harder than the other guy knowing that you can’t stop. If you stop, you hold and grab which is what other guys do. Rebounding is the same way. Are you making that the emphasis? So he’s done that. But the biggest thing is he’s really improved his shooting. So now, even if he doesn’t shoot well, if he defends and rebounds you can’t take him off the floor. See the other guys don’t want to hear that. They want to walk in the game, give up a basket, give up a rebound and then miss two shots and say, ‘You got to let me out there.’ No. If you had rebounded and stopped the guy twice we could afford your misses. But that’s that buying in and it starts in practice. We were at my house last night as a team and I told them that we’re taking this up a notch and there’s a couple guys that will start practicing harder and with more intensity, but the minute I don't see it they’re on the treadmill for a 30-second run and you’re going to give it to us somehow. You can’t just turn it on and off. You either have that reserve and you have something in the bag you can draw on at gut-check time, or you don’t and you’re attitude is to go half speed, stand straight up and down. We just have to change habits. I mean, you look at Josh (Harrellson), Josh changed habits. Now all of a sudden he’s a different player. He did it, it’s not what we did. He changed his habits. Some guys refuse to change habits. That’s just who I am. OK. And then they want to blame everybody. Everybody else is – change. ‘I can’t!’ Well, then you’re going to be who you are. Doing things the same way over and over and over and expecting a different result (is) insanity. You’re insane. You don’t want to change yet you want something down here to change. It won’t change. And so that’s what we’ve been able to do with most players who will trust us and buy into what we’re saying. They’ll change their habits and then all of a sudden their game starts changing.”

On the process of DeAndre Liggins buying into what he was saying…
“He didn’t trust and probably rightfully so. You know trust is one of those things you build over time. You don’t just say, ‘Trust me.’ Because he’d been told that before when he was growing up and they just left him. Different males in his life have probably all done the same. Different coaches told him when you come here you’re going to do this, this, this and this, and then none of it happened. So I walk in and I say here’s how we’re going to do it and if you do this, this will happen, if you don’t, you’ll do this. I wouldn’t have trusted me either. Never trusted anybody in his life. So trust happens over a period of time. Do you do what you say you’re going to do? When he looks, I think now, he means what he says and he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do and I can trust him. That’s all part of what we have to do as coaches.”

On people telling him when he got to Kentucky that DeAndre Liggins needed to go…
“They asked me to get rid of him. It wasn’t that he would leave, it was 'get rid of him.'” (Then asked why he decided to keep Liggins…) “Because I knew him from high school, I knew some of his issues and I thought I could get through to him. See look, I’m not worried – and I knew there’d be ups and downs – I don’t do things publicly. So when I punish a kid, usually you don’t even know about it. I’m not trying to make myself look better by punishing a young kid. I’m not doing that. And I also am not afraid to take chances and have people say things about me, because it’s not about me. It’s about this young man. And I thought we could get him to play the way we wanted him to play, that we could win him over, that he had the things that I like to see in a player, but he had to change. He wouldn’t go in a game…I’ve had many players argue with me. I’ve had players not want to go in the game. You ready for this? If there’s a minute to go, and the young man hasn’t been in and we’re up 25 and I go to stick him in, I’ll say, ‘Do you want to go in?’ If the young man says, ‘No, I don’t want to go in,’ I’m alright with that. You know why? Because I was that guy. I know how that one feels. ‘No, please don’t put me in with a minute.’ Other guys, they could care less if it’s 12 seconds, I got that Kentucky uniform on girls are watching, I’m in. I am in. So, I don’t worry about all that, I don’t worry about give and take. This is an emotional game; we play with a lot of passion. And it’s not over yet with DeAndre. It’s never over. When guys totally start changing habits and learn to trust – sometimes one thing can shoot you in the wrong way, ‘Oh well I knew it.’ We don’t know. The guys last year, same deal. We all thought it was over the hump, we come in to practice, oh my gosh he’s back to where he was day one. So, it’s a daily grind in this, but you know what? It’s worth it. It’s worth it for me.”

On Penn…
“They’re a team that runs great stuff. I watched tape of them and I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’ Drexel beat them, and I’m going to tell (Drexel head coach) Bruiser (Flint), (Penn’s) running better stuff than you’re running. But then I said how in the world did you win? Well, Drexel made shots and Penn didn’t. But they run good stuff, they’re going to play zone. They’ll do stuff to bother us. We've got to come and play. We’ve been a team that has shown up for every game, at least tried. In Hawaii I think we ran out of gas playing six guys, but every other game I think we’ve come with a great sense of urgency.”

#1, Darius Miller, G, Jr.

On if the team will be focused in practice after coming off such a big win at Louisville …
“Yeah, I am pretty sure that (Coach Calipari) is going to have us focused today and we will be going hard. I think it will carry over to the Penn game tomorrow.”

On the team keeping their composure in an intense atmosphere at Louisville …
“I’m not really (surprised that we kept our composure.) We have had a lot of tough games at the beginning of the season and that really helps to carry over. We have a lot of experience in high-intense games and I think that helps us be prepared for that game.”

On high-intense games like North Carolina and Louisville helping the team down the stretch …
“Yeah, like I said it just helps us from the experience point of view. We are playing against a lot of intense teams and really good teams. I think it will help us and will carry over to the rest of the season.”

On his aggressiveness in the first half …
“I played alright. I still have to work on staying out of foul trouble. I had a lot of dumb fouls and that is something else that I have to work on in practice. We are going to keep having intense practices and hopefully those habits keep carrying over.”

#34, DeAndre Liggins, G, Jr.

On if this game against Penn is dangerous coming off a big win against Louisville …
“No, we just have to bring the same intensity defensively and execute offensively. We are making some good strides right now and we need to continue to do that.”

On if he can take satisfaction from the Louisville game by how he played defense, although he didn’t score a ton of points …
“Yeah, I missed a couple of shots. My offense wasn’t there so I had to pick it up defensively.”

On UofL coach Rick Pitino saying that he and Josh Harrellson know the game of basketball really well …
“That is good. I just have to continue to do well. Josh played a great game for us and I did a good job defensively. Our team played well in that building and we have to continue to do that.”

On guarding a smaller point guard compared to guarding a bigger player ...
“It is very hard for me to guard little guards. I was just so intense and enthused about that game (Louisville) that it really didn’t matter (who I was guarding.) I just wanted to make it hard for my opponents. You just have to stay really low and be very crafty with the ball and come off screens."

On guarding Preston Knowles …
“He is a good player. He is a feisty competitor that can shoot the ball well. I just tried to get up in him and make him uncomfortable.”

#55, Josh Harrellson, F, Sr.

On what he attributes his recent success to …
“Conditioning has been the biggest thing that I have done. That is probably why I could play 37 minutes last game is the conditioning I have been doing lately. That is what I pay it all off to is the conditioning and all the hard work.”

On where this team is one game away from conference play …
“I think that our team has made long strides since Maui and against North Carolina. I think that we have made big strides, coming out, especially against Louisville at a noon game, showing people that we can play at noon. The last game (at noon) against North Carolina we came out flat and weren’t ready to play. We turned it around and have turned our season around. Everybody is making strides as we go. Brandon (Knight) is becoming a team leader out there and Terrence (Jones) is playing strong. DeAndre (Liggins) is playing great on defense. Everybody is just stepping up and playing out of their element right now and out of their minds. Our team has come a long way since the beginning.”

On him being No. 1 in the SEC in rebounding and Terrence Jones being No. 2 …
“Coach Cal kind of said that it was going to be tough to rebound this year, especially gang rebounding, but you know that is something that I took to heart. I said that I was going to go out there and try to get every rebound with two hands. I am just going to try to outwork my man, get every rebound on offense and defense and try to get second-chance points. That is something that I have been successful at this season is rebounding. I am just going to keep it up.”

On if there was a point this year that he realized he could become the player that he is now …
“It has definitely been a gradual process from the beginning, getting in better shape and building my confidence back up pretty much from scratch to back where it is now. It has been a long process and it is finally paying off, especially in the last game showing everybody that I can actually play a little bit. It is definitely paying off (more) now than it was early.”

On what the last 48 hours has been like for him after scoring 23 points and posting 14 rebounds against in-state rival Louisville …
“A lot of treatment, trying to get ready for another game because 37 minutes is a lot of minutes. It has been great. Everywhere I go people are saying, 'Great game!' I can’t thank the fans enough for just sticking it out with me the last couple of years and just having my back through thick and thin. It is just great knowing that they have supported me even when I wasn’t playing and now that I am playing.”