Kentucky Travels to Face Texas A&M

Jan. 8, 2015

Kentucky travels to College Station, Texas for its first SEC road test, facing the Texas A&M Aggies on Staurday, January 10. The game will be carried by CBS and tip is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky at Texas A&M
Saturday, Jan. 10 - 1:00 p.m. ET
College Station ,Texas
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | TAMU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: CBS
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via CBS
Live Audio
Live Stats
Text Updates
UK Team Stats TAMU
76.3 Points 68.1
50.6 Opp. Points 61.4
.468 FG% .465
.311 Opp. FG% .405
.340 3-FG% .335
.284 Opp. 3-FG% .285
.667 FT% .646
41.4 Rebs 34.7
31.6 Opp. Rebs. 31.5
16.8 Assist 15.9
11.6 Turnovers 11.9
8.1 Blocks 2.5
8.1 Steals 6.1

Cat Scratches: Sustaining energy a must as Cats pursue individual growth

John Calipari took a new approach to the holiday break this year.

For this edition of the practices, workouts and film sessions known affectionately (or un-affectionately, depending on who's talking) as Camp Cal, Calipari shifted the focus from team to individual. He asked his players to name an area of their game they wanted to add or improve before the end of the season and committed to helping them do it.

Willie Cauley-Stein said he wanted to handle the ball more effectively. Andrew Harrison picked out his mid-range shot as an area for growth. So too did Dakari Johnson, who even attempted one such shot in Kentucky's first game after the break.

"I kind of scrunched, like, 'Phew, not now,' " Calipari said. "But we've been working on that. That's one of the things he's added to his game. So I can't now work on it with him and then tell him not to do it."

Johnson's shot, which missed, came in the second half of an overtime win over Ole Miss with UK up just two, so it's only natural Calipari cringed a bit when his bruising 7 footer decided to show off his newfound range. So then, does that reveal he may have erred in changing things up for a team that had steamrolled through its first 13 games?

Ahead of a Saturday trip to Texas A&M (9-4, 0-1 Southeastern Conference), Coach Cal thinks not. ... Read the full story

Recent News

Wildcats Win SEC Opener in OT

  • Kentucky needed overtime to shake off Ole Miss in the SEC opener for both teams in an 89-86 win in Rupp Arena on Tuesday.
    • With 14 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the sixth-best start in program history, tying the 1921-22 team and 1977-78 squad for that honor.
    • Kentucky is 64-19 all-time in SEC lidlifters, including 5-1 under Coach John Calipari.
  • UK opened the game on a 12-0 run, scoring on its first seven possessions, before Ole Miss fired back with a 10-0 run of its own.
    • The back-and-forth battle featured 13 ties and eight lead changes.
  • Kentucky was 11 of 20 from behind the arc against the Rebels and have now hit 10 or more from long range in two of its last three games.
    • After making a combined 8 of 49 (16.3 percent) 3-pointers in the previous four games, the Wildcats have found their stroke from long range over the last four contests, hitting 36 of 75 (48.0 percent).
    • During that span, Devin Booker has hit 12 of 14 3-pointers (85.7 percent) and Andrew Harrison has connected on 5 of 9.
  • With the three-point victory, UK now has wins of 50 or more, 40 or more, 30 or more, 20 or more, 10 or more and one or more this season.
  • UK played in its 100th overtime game in program history.
    • The Wildcats are now 55-45 in overtime games.
    • UK is 7-3 in OT games in the Calipari era.

Cats Deliver Cardinals Their First Loss

  • In a meeting of undefeated teams, Kentucky outlasted the fourth-ranked Cardinals 58-50 in a defensive battle for the ages.
    • The 108 combined points between the two teams is the fewest in the series since Jan. 21, 1922, when the Wildcats won 29-22 (51 total points) in Lexington.
  • As has been the case all season long, defense was once again the story for the Wildcats.
    • UK held Louisville to 25.9 percent from the field, the worst single-game field-goal percent for the Cardinals under Rick Pitino, which dates back to the 2001-02 season.
    • It was the eighth opponent this season the Cats have limited to less than 30 percent from the floor and the fourth ranked opponent.
  • Kentucky limited the Cardinals to just one assist for the game, the fewest assists a UK opponent has recorded since at least the 1974-75 season, the first season Kentucky has complete game-bygame assist totals.
  • Kentucky's four freshmen -- Tyler Ulis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and Trey Lyles -- combined for 39 of the Wildcats' 58 points.
    • Tyler Ulis, who was named the Bluegrass Sports Commission Most Valuable Player, led UK with a career-high 14 points, with 12 of them coming in the second half.

Cauley-Stein Tops 500 Career Rebounds

  • With a game-high 12 rebounds against Ole Miss, junior Willie Cauley-Stein became the 51st player in program history to register 500 or more career rebounds.
    • He is the 35th player in school history to need three seasons or less to corral 500 or more boards.
  • He currently has 502 career boards and sits 49th all-time on the career rebounding list at UK. He needs just 15 more carooms to move into 48th place passing Souleymane Camara (516).

Media Opportunity - January 8, 2015

Head coach John Calipari

On the quality of Kentucky's defense vs. Ole Miss ...
"Well, I think the one thing we've been really good at is taking away the 3-point line. So what I did was I focused on some of those 3s. Some of them we were all over them and they made it, but there were five or six that our hands were down, so we're going to zero in on that. Threes and free throws: if that beats us, we're not doing what we're supposed to do. And it can beat you because you can't guard a free throw, and if a team is a great 3-point shooting team, you have to make them drive. But you have to give (Ole Miss) credit. Every team we play is going to play like that, and we still won. So at my house last night we showed the will to win and the fight they had. The only shot I showed that was a make was Andrew's. The rest of them were misses that we grabbed and made another play from."

On Andrew Harrison's late made shot being the only made shot he showed the team on tape ...
"Because it was a (game-)breaker for us. It got us to where we wanted to go, but we missed free throws. I didn't really show those. We had a chance to be up 8 or 10 and we just didn't. We missed free throws, but the other stuff was effort and energy. And that's what I wanted to see."

On the way the Ole Miss game started making him evaluate his substitution patterns ...
"No, but what it makes me evaluate is should I have left them in longer. I told my team that, but let's talk about that because we've got some basketball bennies here that really know this game. If I play that first group six or seven minutes and I go to sub, what's you're issue? I've got to sub all five. I can't sub four. So now Derek (Willis) or Dom (Hawkins) have to be in that rotation. I told them that yesterday. If I leave these guys in because of that run, what, am I going to leave a guy in for 10 straight minutes the way we're playing? You can't be in there that long. So that's the issue we have, and that's why I was trying to go four. But you know what? Should've left those guys in longer."

On giving players like Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins a chance at earning playing time over the holiday break ...
"And I said to my team: `Which of you want to give up some of your minutes?' And none of them raised their hand. Which means that they have to take minutes. Which means that they have to perform at a higher level that earns them minutes versus another guy because nobody wants to give up minutes. And I asked twice. `Come on now, let me ask this again: Does anybody want to give up their minutes?' And nobody raised their hand. And how can you ask a guy that's playing 21, 22, 19 minutes per game to go give up three or four more so we can get another guy minutes. This is not communism. That's not what this is. You've got to earn it. The guys that earn the most minutes are going to play the most."

On Trey Lyles' defense ...
"Didn't play as well last game."

On Lyles' defending on the perimeter, specifically the beginning of the season to present ...
"Better, but he still did not play as well last game. The things that he has done well for us, he wasn't ready to play offensively when he got the ball. He was standing there. He took some shots he didn't need to take and then later in the game he played well. The other guy that I was really happy with late was Devin Booker because early in the game it was like he was hurt in practice - squinting, jogging, and had a shot blocked. What are you doing? Then, late in the game, he played. He made shots, had a huge rebound, had an offensive rebound and laid it in, and defended well. I said to Trey, `Trey, we went to you late with 15 seconds to go on purpose for you to shoot those free throws.' I told him the story of how I did that with Tony Barbee as a freshman when we were playing Penn State in a conference tournament. We had never advanced to the finals in the history of the world. We threw the ball to Tony Barbee in the same play that we just ran. He caught it and they fouled him. Tony went bam, bam. Game over. He went cling, clang. Game on. Now you're like, `Hey man, am I going to go to you late in the game?' That's what was great about all of these experiences for these kids because he'll say, `I'll never miss it again.' I may never give you the chance."

On Dakari Johnson's 15-foot jumper in the Ole Miss game ...
"I saw it. I kind of cringed like, `Oh, not now.' But we've been working on that. That's one of the things he's added to his game so I can't now work on it with him and tell him not to do it. I wished it was a different score in time, but I let it go. I did the same thing. `Oh please' when he shot it. I thought, `Oh my gosh, he's shooting it.' The crazy thing is that Andrew told him to shoot it. I think it was Andrew or Tyler. He said, `Shoot it!' They're for each other. They know he's been working on that."

On Johnson's confidence to shoot that 15-foot jumper ...
"You have to run harder. It's the same thing with Karl. Karl's start to the game was unbelievable. He sprinted 10 times in that game. Eight of them were in the first four minutes. How did he play? Two of them were in the rest of the game. He didn't play, started fading, didn't play as aggressive and didn't run as hard. It's all effort and energy, but these guys are young. What we're asking them to do is really hard. They'd rather not do it. They'd rather do their way. `Let me jog, stand straight up and shoot a fade away.' You just can't win playing that way."

On balancing adding new things to the game with the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" mentality ...
"My thing wasn't if it's not broken don't fix it. It was, did they focus more on what we were trying to teach them individually and got away from the energy that we need to play with? I'm going to talk about it today, but I'm still telling them, `I'm counting on you to bring energy. I'm still working with you. I'm not backing up.' I want you to look at each individual by the end of the year and say, `He's a better player.' Every one of these guys that you look at, `He is a better player.' If that happens, then our team has grown. We're doing all the kind of stuff we need to do, but I will say this: We are a defensive team. If we guard like we did last game or if another team can shoot jumpers like they did, then we'll be in trouble again."

On keeping the clutter away ...
"They're doing alright. It's hard though. Sometimes it's like it's coming from all angles and coming to break us down. I'll give you an example: There were a lot of teams that had close games last night. Like close. In all cases. Maryland lost and the others could have lost. They were playing teams that were 5-9 and could've lost. You didn't see stories on PTI, Around the Horn, First Take, and SportsCenter saying, `What's wrong with these guys.' You saw, `Strong Survive.' It's just, we're at Kentucky. That's what it is. (Reporter: When do you have time to watch these shows?) The strong survives (thing) was just something that Joey Palumbo showed me this morning at coffee, `Look at this! Can you imagine this?' "

On if last game just wasn't Marcus Lee's type of game ...
"Marcus Lee is an energy guy. If he starts the game and he's not clapping, bouncing and showing an effervescence that he has, I'm not playing him. And I told him that. There's no reason for him not to go in clapping, bouncing, blocking, running, flying, dunking. That's who he is. If he's not into that, then I'm not playing him. And he's the greatest kid. It's hard. What I'm asking them to do is hard. What's easier is every fifth play I'll do something that stands out, and the rest of the time I'm going to coast. You just don't win at the level we're trying to win playing that way. And he's a great kid."

On what Texas A&M does well and what they're trying to do ...
"They're great in pick-and-rolls. They've got players at every position that can score. They're playing a pack-line defense, man-to-man. They'll also play a tandem zone like all these teams are now playing us. So they're going to come in with one thought: Let's slow these guys down. They'll run offense. They'll shoot a quick one in transition, but they're going to make us play in half court. They're a good team."

On Texas A&M getting beat by 21 last game ...
"Because their best player didn't play. Their leading rebounder and their leading scorer. Jerry (Tipton), you've got to start reading the papers. (Jerry: I'm watching all the shows). You're not reading the papers, I know that. I don't know what shows you're watching."

On how he got Andrew Harrison to bounce back after the Louisville game ...
"He was good, but he's still - you're going to see Andrew in two months - he's a 6-6 point guard who can absolutely play. Think about that. That transfers to whatever level you want to go to. (He's) playing OK right now. He's not playing bad. He's playing OK. I want everybody to look at him and say, `Holy cow.' Got to play faster. Got to have more energy. He's capable of all that. Be more aggressive. Get in the lane. No one's stopping you from flying up and down and getting in that lane. Get in there! `It's really hard. I'm a little tired. I want to jog it and bully it.' You can't play that way anymore. Little guy's on you, your advantage is getting in that lane. Can't guard you. You can pull up, you can shoot runners, you can throw lobs. I think he's as good a point guard as there is in the country. You know, he has up-and-down games like every other player. His, though, he's at Kentucky. He's at Kentucky, which means--he went 1 for 8, `He stinks.' Really? He went 8 for 9. `Well, he may stink. Let's see next game.' What? I mean, he's a point guard. It's like being the quarterback here."

On if Andrew Harrison has the personality to handle that ...
"He's doing great. You've got to be a strong-willed, strong soul. And that isn't easy. These kids are 18 and 19 and some 20 years old. I don't deal with them like they're 25. They haven't been through this. It's OK that I get killed. I'm old. I've been killed. You shoot me, it goes through a bazooka hole. I've been shot up. I can take it. These guys, it's the first time anybody's ever questioned them as a player or as a person or their character. Andrew is one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. One of the greatest kids I've ever coached. And that's why I'm always going to be with him. He's for this team. He wants to get better. This is all new to him. I'm with him. He's my point guard."

On Andrew Harrison caring too much and if this is a bad place for that because of the spotlight ...
"Derrick Rose cared too much. It's the same way. He could not deal with anything that was not perfection. He missed some foul shots, he was like (down in the dumps). Stop it. Just play. I don't care about that. I just want to see you compete. And he's learning that. Let me say this: He went from last year's body language to by-the-end-of-the-year body language to how he is now. But, he's not through the roof yet. But he will be."

Freshman forward Trey Lyles

On whether today is the first practice since Ole Miss ...
"Yeah, it's our first practice back. We had individuals yesterday and film sessions and stuff like that."

On whether he got a sense of how SEC teams will come after them vs. Ole Miss ...
"Definitely did. They came out and played the hardest they've probably played this year against us. That's what every team's going to do be just have to be ready and be expecting of that."

On whether the way Ole Miss played surprised him ...
"It didn't surprise me that they were going to go that hard but it surprised me they were hitting all the shots they were hitting. Some crazy shots they were hitting. I shouldn't have been surprised, but it was crazy at the beginning."

On what they learned in that game ...
"If we play together and we just come out with energy, if we play the defense that we're capable of playing, there's no team that can probably stay with us."

On what he's been working on in his game ...
"Just running the floor hard, hitting those jumpers when I'm open and really just trying to find the open man on a drive or something like that."

On whether there's anything he's been disappointed with ...
"No, not really. I feel like I'm in a comfortable position right now and now I just have to reach out there and get better at something that I'm uncomfortable with."

On what he's trying to add to his game ...
"Mainly for me, just defense on smaller guys. Being able to go out there and run around on the perimeter with them and keep them in front of me."

On what kind of challenge it will be to guard smaller players going forward ...
"I do it every day in practice, having to guard the twins and Dom Hawkins and some of the other guys. So hopefully when the time comes around I'll do well with that."

On the toughest part of adjusting to guarding smaller players ...
"Just staying down low and keeping them in front. Being in high school having to guard centers all the time, it's a big difference when you're having to guard Division I guards."

On whether he would prefer guarding a center ...
"It's easier, but it's better for me (to guard smaller players) and the development of my game to be able to guard those guys."

On his mid-range game ...
"My dad always works with me on that. He says that's where the money's made. So me and him spent a lot of time working on mid-range jump shots."

On why he doesn't take 3s instead ...
"I just feel like I'm very comfortable with shooting it. I've been doing it for a long time and it's a shot that I know I can make."

On not shooting as many 3s lately ...
"It's just something that I've been working on lately with Coach after practice and stuff like that, just trying to extend my range even further."

On why he running harder now as Coach Cal tells him to ...
"I knew that if I do what he asks me to do, I'll probably tend to get a little more playing time. He stopped getting on me so much for not running so that's definitely something that I took advantage of and started doing."

On whether he is enjoying Coach Cal not yelling at him about running ...
"Yeah, I definitely am, but then again whenever he's on you it's because he cares. I know it's because he cares."

On Ole Miss being a learning experience ...
"Yeah, it was definitely a wake-up call for all of us, I think. They're going to come out and play that much harder against us. It's SEC play now, very physical. I'd say it was the most physical game we played so far this year and we're going to get every team's best shot so we just have to be prepared for it."

On whether the Ole Miss game was more physical than the U of L game ...
"Yeah, I think so. Definitely."

On whether that surprised him ...
"It did. I had to play a lot of the four that game. Usually I'm out there guarding guards, so this time I was out there guarding the big guys."

On moving on from Ole Miss ...
"We just left it in the past and we're looking forward to the game on Saturday and everybody's just trying to stay positive."

On the experience of playing his first road game at U of L ...
"It was great. The atmosphere was great to play in. It was fun. We went out there and took care of business, so that helped out a lot. It was just great to go out there and get a win on a rival's court."

On whether that game prepared them for SEC road games ...
"Definitely. There were a lot of fans there that didn't want us to win and that's how it's going to be at every road game. So it definitely got us prepared for the road games coming up."

On how much having to execute down the stretch vs. Ole Miss will help in the long run ...
"It'll help us all out a lot. We had to be on our Ps and Qs at the end of the game and we were. When it came down to the stretch, we executed the plays that Coach wanted us to do defensively and offensively. So it's definitely going to help us out in the future."

Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns

On what they learned in a close win over Ole Miss ...
"Everybody's going to give us their best shot. We already knew that, but we hadn't experience it until that game. We learned how to really take control of the game, but we also learned how to, when everything's not going right, find ways to win."

On Willie Cauley-Stein saying some freshmen were surprised by how difficult SEC play was ...
"Everyone's going to give us their best shot. Everyone's Super Bowl is playing against the University of Kentucky. We had to come out and play with energy. They came out and played one heckuva game. We just have to bounce back and find a way to win."

On if they didn't play as well defensively vs. Ole Miss ...
"Credit goes to Ole Miss. They hit some great shots and played outstanding on offense. But also, we had some defensive lapses we're not used to having. It was one of those games where they were playing their A-game and we weren't playing our A-game. We have to find a way to come back and win."

On if he expected head coach John Calipari to crank up practices after that game ...
"I expect him to crank it up every day, even after a win. I expect we'll take it up another notch. We have to. Everyone is going to give their A-game to us. We have to make sure that we exceed expectations and exceed our goals."

On what they learned about playing on the road at Louisville that they can take with them for the SEC ...
"What I learned? We're not liked in that many spots. I learned we really just have to come out with energy. No matter where we are, we have to take control of the game from the get. If we can do that we can have a lot easier time during the game. If we allow the opponent to be the aggressor, it can be a rough night for us."

On what makes him say that UK isn't liked in many spots ...
"Just the whole experience of being in Louisville. It's a rivalry. It's one of the biggest games I'm going to play in my college career. It's just one of those things I'm really going to cherish. You can see everyone is really out to get us. We have a big target on our back. We have to make sure that we keep moving so they can't hit us."

On defensive lapses ...
"Doing little things. Cracking down, moving, pick-and-rolls, we just weren't there that game. Like I said, credit goes to Ole Miss. They hit some great shots and played amazing offensively. We just have to bounce back. That was a game of pure will. We had to make sure we had the will to win, and we came out with the win."

On him, personally, coming out strong and then struggling later in the game ...
"It's really not about me. It's more about the team and we did a great job. We did what we had to do to come out with the W. It's one of those things where as the game goes on, you really don't know what's going to happen. We did a great thing of just winning the game. That's the most important thing."

On what he wants to add to his game ...
"There's never really just one thing I want to add. I'm more of a guy who I want to continue growing in all aspects. I just want to keep doing what I have to do for us to keep getting W's, but also improve my game. Just trying to do everything from offensive, defensive standpoint, playing lower, doing a lot of things. I'm not worried about one thing."

On if it was surprising how hard Ole Miss came out at them ...
"No, I mean c'mon. We expected that coming in. Like I said, we always know everyone's Super Bowl is playing against the University of Kentucky, so we have to make sure when we come out, we come out with energy. We did. We came out with a great run, and then it just seemed like we thought it was going to be like another game, up by 15 it was going to be the end of the game, but credit to Ole Miss. Great offensive game they have. It's amazing to look at that game and see how great they played offensively and know we still came out with a W."

On how locked in he felt to start the game against Ole Miss ...
"The basket looked like the ocean. I was ready to just attack it at all costs. I just wanted to be really aggressive and come out and dominate the pressure and make sure my presence was known. The ball felt so good in my hand and the basket looked like the ocean. I don't know, I probably could have thrown it from half court and could have made it."

On who from Kentucky impressed him down the stretch ...
"Andrew. Really, it was a team effort, but it was one of those things. I think it was Andrew. He hit big shots, he went to the free-throw line and hit big free throws. Willie Cauley-(Stein). We really don't have to say much about the effort. He made a lot of great effort plays to seal the game for us. Trey Lyles. He's a freshman just like me, but he was out there and really did a great job. He came in there and took the pressure head on and came out with results. Even Devin Booker also, had the follow-up basket. It's just one of those things, you don't expect freshmen to be poised like that in those close moments with what we had on the line, and they came out and made baskets."

On the challenges, personally, of playing smaller teams that spread them out ...
"I just want to be versatile and work on making sure I can guard guards and also be guarding a forward. It's one of those things where I'm blessed to have such great talent to play against every practice that anytime I can challenge myself and know I'm playing against one of the best in the country at any position. I've been blessed with that. I just feel like I'm improving every day, especially defensively, and offensively just making sure I'm continuing to grow and continuing this path to success that we're paving right now."

On trying to add stuff to their games, but balancing the adage of "if it's not broken, don't fix it" ...
"Of course, but at the same time, if it's not broke, don't fix it, but if the pencil is good enough to use, why not make it sharper? We can still do a lot of things to improve your game and make it even a more valuable part and asset to your game. That's my thing. I just want to make sure I continue growing and doing new things, but also, like I said, make the pencil sharper."