Gameday: Kentucky vs. Auburn

Kentucky Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Auburn Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Press Conference Quotes

Coverage

TV: Raycom, distributed in HD where available (coverage details)
Radio: Live on the Big Blue Sports Network
Live Stats: Gametracker gametracker
Online video: Free and live (for qualifying ISPs) through ESPN360.com or Yahoo! Sports; delayed per SEC rules on Extreme Access watch
Online audio: Free, live audio listen

Cats Return Home 3-0 in SEC Play

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Wildcats return home for the first time in a week and a half to host the Auburn Tigers in a regionally televised game on Raycom.

For the 38th time in program history, the Wildcats have started league play with a 3-0 record, the latest victory coming in the form of a 68-45 win at Georgia. Jodie Meeks continued his torid pace on the offensive end, recording a game-high 22 points. It was Meeks fifth straight 20-point game.

UK also had Patrick Patterson (15) and Perry Stevenson (13) scoring in double digits, while Stevenson and Michael Porter shared game high honors with six rebounds. In addition, Porter tallied seven points and three steals in only 17 minutes.

The Wildcats continued their stifling defense, holding the Bulldogs to 31.1 percent shooting from the field.

Cat Scratches

  • Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
  • Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,980.
  • The Wildcats are 82-17 all-time against Auburn, including an impressive 42-2 mark in Lexington.
  • Jodie Meeks leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fourth nationally in scoring (25.7 ppg).
  • Meeks is averaging 30.5 ppg in his last eight games.
  • Patrick Patterson ranks third in the nation in FG percentage (67.7) and 37th in rebounding (9.2).
  • Patterson is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in scoring (4th - 18.2) and rebounding (3rd - 9.2).
  • UK ranks second in the country in blocked shots per game (7.4), fourth in field goal percentage (50.7), fifth in free throw percentage (79.2) and 10th in assists/game (17.6).
  • Patrick Patterson has recorded nine double-doubles this season and 15 in his career, tying him for 22nd on UK's all-time double-doubles list.
  • UK is 13-0 when leading at the half this season.
  • Kentucky has not allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or higher from the field this season.

Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie

On Auburn's style of play...
"They are a hard team. I always say that, but I really do mean it and I don't say it if I don't mean it. They have had six losses this year and their losses were only by one, three, four, four, four, seven and 12 points. They have played a difficult schedule. They won on the road at a major conference in Virginia. They played Xavier and they're obviously a very good team. They played a bunch of other people close - they could be 3-0 in conference very easily. They got off to a tough second half start against South Carolina who is playing really well at home. They had a great chance to beat Florida, but Florida made some big plays at the end and beat them. So, they are playing great. Their challenge is their athleticism; they have the ability to shoot three-point shots and some of the guys are like Jodie (Meeks) with their athleticism. They can shoot threes, but if you get up close to them they are able to drive and finish. They have a great offensive rebounder inside. They are a very physical and experienced team. Out of their nine guys that they play, they have five juniors, three seniors and one freshman, and the freshman is very good. So, it's a big challenge for us. It's a very, very good team that has probably gone overlooked."

On Auburn's defense...
"It's a big difference from Georgia. And that usually happens when you get a big physical experienced guy like (Korvotney) Barber inside. He is a real aggressive guy. They are much better (with their) interior defense and on the perimeter. I always thought Coach (Jeff) Lebo did a really good job. We played them four years in a row at Texas A&M and some of those guys just seemed like they were never going to leave. They have gotten better every single year. Last year, they had more injuries than anyone in the league and this year they have everyone back. They have a great amount of experience. They know where they are supposed to be on defense. They are tough and have more steals than anyone in our league. They know what they are supposed to do on both ends of the court. I think that they are second in our league in points given up. So, it's a very difficult matchup for us."

On (Korvotney) Barber being such a threat...
"He is just such a great player. When he catches the basketball, he scores before you can even reposition yourself. He does a great job with establishing a low post presence. He doesn't have to bounce it several times like a lot of other post players. He gets things done with quickness instead of brute strength, although he is very strong. Those are always the hardest guys to guard. And if he misses or goes for a rebound, he jumps three times before anyone else can jump once."

On Patrick's hand injury...
"He was out for a little bit yesterday at the end of practice. I think it has been bothering him a little bit. It is a concern, but he hasn't said much about it. We need him to get better, because I think it is affecting how he has been gripping the basketball and maybe catching the basketball. He doesn't say anything, but I do think that it's affecting him a little bit. We just wanted to give him a little extra rest. He has been taping two fingers, but now they are going to tape one for more flexibility. It is a concern, but it's not a big one."

On Perry Stevenson's play...
"He is doing a lot of hustling and is accepting responsibility. He understands how important he is for the betterment of our team and he's taking a step up in maturity. He's not taking a back seat on the bus because he knows now that he can do things. He has to be really good for us to be good as a team. We are not there yet. He is a very smart defender. When he is actively defensively, that's when we are at our best. When he shoots the ball without second guessing himself, that's when we are at our best. He is doing better positioning himself physically. He is not a real physical guy, but he is a strong guy - he just tends to drift a little too much. He's been doing a lot of aggressive play and that's what we need from him, and I have total confidence in him. He definitely played like that on Sunday. He is very capable of doing that every half. When you have players like Jodie and Patrick on your team, I think that he thinks he can go on vacation for a while and come back and you are still going to have a job. He needs to change his thought process in that a little bit."

On how Meeks and Patterson are at helping the young guys along ...
"Fantastic. The reason that Darius (Miller), DeAndre (Liggins), Josh (Harrellson) and A.J. (Stewart) are about to take off is because of their leadership. They've had some immature moments and that's what young players do, that's what new players do, and (Patterson and Meeks) have done a great job of helping through those moments with only one thing in mind and that's helping the team get better. They know how good all four of those guys can be and they know how good we can be if all four of those guys get to be the best players that they can be. They've been great. Jodie has really blossomed. Patrick has been solid ever since he got here. He's gotten better since he's been here, but Jodie in the last month has really blossomed into a fantastic leader."

On how Jodie has blossomed into a leader ...
"He's just more vocal. He's totally comfortable about playing and he's not worrying about anything he's doing. He has a great deal of concentration, he has a great deal of focus and there's not anything that goes on out there that he doesn't know what needs to be done - offensively, defensively, transition, out-of-bounds plays - so he's not having to think a whole lot. I think he's giving a great deal of effort to help those players through hard times."

On how the size of UK's guards have held opposing team's three-point shooting down ...
"I don't know. I think you only know that when you don't have it. The numbers look like we've been defending the three really well, but when you back and look at all the three-point attempts that have been taken, the teams have missed some shots that we're not guarding nearly as well. I do like our size. I think we had a bunch of guys get blocks on Sunday other than Perry and Patrick - both of them are doing a good job of getting blocks - but it's nice when a guy does beat you into the lane and pulls up and you got Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Kevin Galloway and some of those taller guys that can block a shot when they contest it at shot level. I think that's really helpful because we're not extremely quick, but I don't think we've given up a ton of quickness to substitute it with a little size."

On not getting into the top 25 ...
"It's not something you can control so we're not going to worry about it. I think the teams in the league overall are obviously respected nearly enough. But over the course of a 16-game conference season, those things play themselves out. I heard this yesterday: the late Paul Brown said, `when you're winning say nothing and when you're losing say even less.' That's really a good deal for all of us to go by whether you're playing basketball or whatever you're doing. I'd probably still be married if I would have done that. The thing about it is you get a chance to play in a league that gets great exposure and over the course of the season that's going to play itself out because there are a lot of really good teams in this league. I've seen just about everyone by now and studied most of them and there are a lot of really good teams."

Kentucky Players

#3 Kevin Galloway, Jr.

On Auburn ...
"They are a really good team and they play really hard. They have some really experienced guards and we know we can't take any plays off against them."

On stopping the outside shot ...
"We have to really be able to help each other and make sure we are really talking to each other on defense. We have to make sure we are play are playing good transition defense and execute our defense to stop the outside shot."

On not being ranked in the top 25 ...
"We thought about it a little bit but it really doesn't matter. We just have to keep improving and keep ourselves in every game to make sure we always are in a position to win."

On getting two SEC road wins ...
"In conference play every win is a big win. We are on a big emotional high right now and we want to keep the wins coming and make sure we play really well at home and on the road. Teams are coming to play us and they are putting a lot of emphasis on Jodie and Patrick. It is tough for those two but it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of us. We just have to keep working and continue to be amazed about what those two are able to do. I want to be more aggressive and be less timid. I am getting more comfortable every time I play."

#22 Ramon Harris, Jr.

On Kentucky not being ranked in the top 25 this week ...
"It doesn't bother me because it comes down to the teams that are in it at the end of the season. Rankings don't really mean anything other than it helps you get in to the tournament and things like that. I believe that our time will come if we keep doing what we are doing. We will let the rankings handle themselves."

On if they are happy with the way the team is playing right now ...
"I am very happy with the way that the team is playing right now. At the Georgia game I felt that everyone was on the same page. The guys that came off the bench contributed and it was great. It is not all about scoring points, but making a difference in some type of way and I think that everyone did that."

On Jodie Meeks' leadership ...
"I think that he is being more of a leader. He is stepping up when the team needs someone to step up, whether that is in practice, games huddles or off the court. Whenever we need that shot, or stop, or a big steal, we can always rely on Jodie to do something."

On if Auburn is better than their record indicates ...
"Definitely, they have a very athletic team and they are good. They have guards that can really get after you on defense and shoot, and a big man that can dribble and also shoot the ball well. I think that they are a really good team and their record doesn't indicate how good they really are."

#55 Josh Harrellson, So.

On the biggest challenge that Auburn presents to Kentucky ...
"The biggest challenge is that they are a lot like VMI. They have four good guards and one big player and it will be a big challenge guarding them on the perimeter."

On the most improved part of his game since the start of the season ...
"My shooting and rebounding are a lot better. I'm also playing more competitive now running the floor. I think that I am running the floor a lot better now than I was earlier. I need to play with more energy and work on being everywhere all the time."

On playing at Kentucky ...
"Sometimes when you think about it then it can be overwhelming, but when you realize it you just have to keep going. I am having fun and I really love being here."

On how big it is for Kentucky to get off to a good start in conference play ...
"Coach has been talking a lot about how the first six games in conference are going to be the hardest because five of the six are on the road. He told us that if we want to come out on top we have to win these games."

On what the team is telling each other right now with their recent success ...
"We are trying to keep each other motivated right now and not let anyone get over confident. We need to keep pushing each other and playing well."