Cats Carry Winning Streak to Georgia
Jan. 23, 2012
The Wildcats pushed their winning streak to 11 games, posting a hard-fought 77-71 win over Alabama on Saturday.
|Kentucky at Georgia
Tues., Jan. 24 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UGA
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via ESPN3
Kentucky had six players score in double-figures for the first time since the 2004-05 season led by Terrence Jones' team-high 15 points. Doron Lamb (14), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (13), Anthony Davis (11), Darius Miller (11) and Marquis Teague (10) also scored in double-figures in the victory.
The Wildcats hit a number of crucial free throws down the stretch, going 8-for-8 from the line inside the final minute of play.
UK's 11-game winning streak is the second longest by the Wildcats in the John Calipari era.
Located in Athens, Ga. (441 miles south of Lexington), Georgia enters Tuesday night's game off a 66-63 loss to Ole Miss in Athens. The Bulldogs have dropped four of their first five games in league play.
Georgia has a pair of players averaging in double- figures, led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's team-leading 14.7 ppg average. Donte' Williams is averaging 5.5 rebounds per game, best on the team.
Mark Fox is in his third season as head coach in Athens where he has tallied a 45-28 record. The native of Kansas arrived at Georgia after five successful seasons in a similar capacity at the University of Nevada, which played in the postseason in each of those five years.
During Fox's five-year tenure as head coach, Nevada won at least 21 games each season, won or shared four-straight Western Athletic Conference titles and played in three-consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He was named the WAC Don Haskins Coach of the Year three times.
He has amassed a 168-81 career record.
Having won 12 of the last 16 match-ups, Kentucky owns a 113-25 (.819) advantage in the Georgia series. The Wildcats' .819 winning percentage against the Bulldogs is UK's third highest winning percentage (.889 vs. Ole Miss; .835 vs. Auburn) against an SEC opponent that was in the league prior to the 1992 expansion.
Kentucky is 39-16 against Georgia in Athens, and has won three of the last four against the Dawgs in Stegemen Coliseum.
Pre-Georgia Media Opportunity - Jan. 23, 2012
Head Coach John Calipari
On being ranked No. 1 …
“I was trying to get a hold of (Syracuse coach) Jim Boeheim, I was so mad at him. It’s just an added thing. I just watched Georgia and Vanderbilt, Georgia had Vanderbilt beat at Vandy. I don’t know if they need anything added, they are at home against us and it will be sold out. I’ll tell these guys it’s a badge of honor, not a burden; it’s a badge of honor let’s go play. Because we are here, it wasn’t a big deal. When they lost I didn’t feel anything, it’s a different deal here. We’ll address it for a second or two but we just have to play.”
On recruiting guys that can handle the atmosphere …
“You don’t know until they are in there doing it, but you’re hoping you peg the kids that you think can deal with all this. I’ll give you an example, Kyle Wiltjer, not afraid at all. We pegged it right, he is not afraid at all. If he is open he is shooting it, defensively he is out there playing hard and he’s not playing timid in any way. We’re not playing poorly down the stretch in games, we’re giving ourselves a chance to win but there are things we are going to have to do to keep getting better.”
On seeing talented recruits that can’t handle Kentucky atmosphere …
“Normally they’ll let you know, they’ll say they aren’t interested. I’ve had kids that I’ve really wanted and kids that I wasn’t sure of but that kid convinced me that he could do this and the other kid was shaky even though I thought he was right, but the kids know. In most cases, kids don’t want to put themselves in positions of being exposed and they won’t come here. This place is not for everybody, it’s the toughest place to play basketball; we are everybody’s Super Bowl.”
On Anthony Davis’ counter to someone always being on his body …
“I showed him the tape where before he catches the ball he has to be ready to play, not after the ball is swung and the guy is into his body. He has to play defensively the same way, as the ball is moving he’s in position before that wing catches the ball. He saw on tape that as the ball was caught he tried to move for position and got sealed. It’s all playing before you catch it and before the ball gets to the wing defensively. He’ll learn, I’ve never seen him miss dunks or one-footers, this was the first time. He’s got to learn, if they aren’t going to call it you have to negate it. That’s all of us, Terrence (Jones) the same, Terrence has missed 25 one-footers with his left hand. You have to make those, I don’t care if you got hit, whacked, grabbed, punched, you have to make those.”
On transforming good players into National Champions …
“What happens when we are all done with this is that history will tell you what kind of job you have done. What kind of men you have molded, how they have turned out, what you have done in the community in the places you work, in the community you work. It all comes out. If I am worried about what everyone is saying, I am cluttered. I have a sign on my wall upstairs that says ‘coach your team’, and that’s my job. Coach the individual players, and help them get better. At the end of the day, I want them to be about those players. If they keep saying, ‘Well, he has better players than everybody’, and I get the connotation ‘he can’t coach,’ then that’s OK. Then I have done my job because they are saying my players are better. That gives me satisfaction. You are never going to hear me say that ‘this guy can’t do this and this guy can’t do that’. I’ll challenge them physically to mentally be tougher in all of those things, but I have always said that I’ve got good players, and our job is to get them to play harder, get them to play together, get them to talk to one another, mental and physical toughness is the key to all of that.”
On getting a team of great players to play as one collective team …
To get the all-stars like Phil Jackson would do, to play a triangle offense and then defend together, and then communicate together, and then have breakfast club together, that is the challenge of what we do. Not getting a mediocre group together and getting them to play well, and ‘We're not playing well, so let me get a timeout and I’ll show you my out-of-bounds.’ To me, that’s not coaching. Coaching becomes how do you become the best, and how do you get that group to really come together, sacrifice for one another, be their brother’s keeper, and compete. The crazy thing in college is that it is not the best of settings. It’s one and done. Stuff gets overridden here. You have some of the greatest coaches in our history not getting to a Final Four because of where they coached. They are some of the best coaches, and they have never been to a Final Four. Gene Keady is one of them. John Chaney is another one. They have never been to a Final Four. Does that mean they can’t coach? No, it is where they coached.
#3 Terrence Jones, F, So.
On how receiving the No. 1-ranking changes things …
“It’s pretty much going to be the same for right now. Just for the teams playing us, we’ve got the target on our back. It’s going to be the same. We’re going to have to come in to every game knowing that teams are going to play their best or as hard as they can.”
On whether the team expects every game to be like the game against Indiana now …
“I think it’s going to be the same. The last couple games the other teams have been playing their best. We’ve still been pulling it out so hopefully we’ll just keep executing down the stretch and get the same results.”
On whether it’s easier being No.1 deeper into the season …
“I think it’s the same. It’s just what comes with it. Every team wants to beat you, especially at away games.”
On whether the younger players have felt rattled at all by all of the pressure …
“No, especially because of how much we do it together and how much we depend on one another. It’s not really built on one player to do too much. Every guy puts in his fair share of work.”
#14 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Fr.
On how it feels to be No. 1 and whether the team deserves it …
“It’s a great experience to be No. 1 again. I’m just ready to play now.”
On whether they expect Georgia to come with an Indiana type performance …
“Of course, but that’s every game with us. It’s the same way every game for us, so it’s nothing different.”
On how being No.1 changes their approach and whether the team deserves the ranking …
“It doesn’t (change the approach) at all. Of course (we deserve the ranking). We’re young, but we’re good too.”
#33 Kyle Wiltjer, F, Fr.
On the toughness of practice …
“It’s definitely tough when you’re tired and having to push through the pain; especially when you have workouts and then practice and weights and things like that. It’s definitely an adjustment, but I’m glad I’m here.”
On being ranked No. 1 again …
“We’re still going to look at every game the same way. We’ll prepare for every opponent regardless of what they’re ranked. We don’t like to look at the numbers. We just want to get better as a team as the season goes on. But it’s always nice to be at the top of the pack, it definitely brings joy to us. Everyone is going to play their best game against you though, so we have to be ready every game. We’ve come a long way since we were No. 1 the first time, so I definitely think it will be a little easier and we just want to play every game like it’s our last.”
On the Alabama win …
“That game just shows our will to win. We’ve had a couple close games that we’ve pulled out. We hopefully won’t be as close in the future but a win is a win.”
On his improvement as a player …
“I just feel like I’ve been better on defense, with angles and being in the right spots, doing what Coach Calipari asks. I’ve gotten a lot better in all aspects of my game because we’ve been working hard in the gym. Getting better has been a combination of everything; film study, practicing more, playing more. Going against Terrence [Jones] and Anthony [Davis] in tough ways every day in practice and also just knowing where you are on the floor and listening to Coach Calipari and the advice he has for me. He’s there for me and he wants me to get better. Then just watching film and trying to learn from my mistakes and trying to become better.”