Alabama Visits Rupp to Face Kentucky on Saturday
Kentucky and Alabama meet for the second time this season, this time meeting in Rupp Arena on Saturday, January 31. The game will be carried by the SEC Network and tip time is 7 p.m. ET.
|Kentucky vs. Alabama
Saturday, Jan. 31 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UA
|TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via SEC Network+
On Friday afternoon, assistant John Robic allowed himself about as long a moment of reflection as you'll see a coach take during the season.
Kentucky, with a win late on Thursday at Missouri, became the first Southeastern Conference team since Rupp's Runts in 1965-66 to start the season with 20 wins in a row. Robic credited the players for making it happen.
"It's kinda neat that they can make their mark as a team," Robic said. "But they probably don't even know it. It's a good feeling to have, and we're just going to try to keep stringing games along right now."
The No. 1 Wildcats (20-0, 7-0 SEC) have no shortage of opportunities to do just that.
The trip to Missouri started a stretch of three games in six days, the next coming at 7 p.m. on Saturday against Alabama (13-7, 3-4 SEC). The Cats didn't return to campus until close to 2 a.m. on Friday morning, leaving them barely 40 hours to prepare for a rematch with the Crimson Tide at Rupp Arena, a turnaround similar to what UK will face during the NCAA Tournament. ... read the full preview
This Week's News
- Facing its first second-time opponent of the season, the Wildcats earned double-digit performances from starting guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison en route to a 69-53 victory on the road at Missouri.
- The win is the 20th of the season for the Cats, who are off to their best start since the 1965-66 season and the best in the John Calipari era.
- It also marked the 59th season with 20 or more wins in program history.
- Calipari has led his teams to 20 or more on-court wins 21 consecutive seasons, the most of any ac tive head coach.
- UK improved to 53-0 under Calipari when holding its opponent to less than 55 points, including 15 wins this season.
- Kentucky has limited 15 opponents to 55 points or less, the most in school history in the shot-clock era (1985-86).
- The Wildcats and Tigers combined for 54 fouls. The Cats rode a 9-for-11 performance from the line from Andrew Harrison in the win.
- Harrison led UK with 15 points, one shy of tying a season high.
- Aaron Harrison added 13 points for the Wildcats and hit a 3-pointer to extend his career-long streak of at least one made long ball to 12 consecutive games.
- Both Harrisons had three steals in the game.
- Kentucky jumped out to a 6-0 lead, trailed for just 27 seconds at 13-12, before Dakari Johnson’s dunk gave UK the lead back, which it never relinquished.
- Johnson had eight points and a team-high seven rebounds.
- UK’s largest lead of 20 points came at the 8:20 mark in the second half following a run-out dunk on a traditional three-point play by Johnson.
- Kentucky earned a 16-point win despite logging just one block and yielding a 41.9 percent field-goal clip to the Tigers.
- In a place that’s been difficult to win for Kentucky in recent years, the Wildcats earned a 58-43 defensive masterpiece at South Carolina.
- The Cats held South Carrolina to 22.6 percent from the floor, the 10th opponent to shoot less than 30 percent vs. Kentucky.
- South Carolina’s 19 second-half points marked the 14th half this season where UK has stopped its oppo- nent from reaching 20 points.
- UK had more blocks and steals (17) than South Carolina had field goals (12).
- The Cats limited the Gamecocks to just four field goals in the second half.
- UK held the Gamecocks without a field goal from the 4:31 mark in the first half to the 15:12 mark in the second.
- Kentucky also held South Carolina to a 6:16 field- goal drought that ended with a USC 3-pointer with 6:07 left in the game.
- With two steals in the game, Willie Cauley-Stein became the first player in Kentucky history with 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals.
- Devin Booker charted a game-high 18 points, his fifth game with at least 18 points.
- Devin Booker won his third straight SEC Freshman of the Week and fourth overall after averaging 12.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and a pair of assists in wins over Vanderbilt and South Carolina last week.
- In four true road games during his freshman campaign, Booker leads the team with an aver- age of 14.5 points per game and is shooting 56.3 percent from the floor. Booker has knocked down a squad-best 10 of 19 3-point field goals in road contests.
Media Opportunity - January 30, 2015
Kentucky Assistant Coach John Robic
On Willie Cauley-Stein’s recent play …
“It might have been a tough game for him yesterday. He had a lot of family and friends that were there from the Kansas City area. I think you could think about that a little bit. Just wasn’t one of his better games, but I know that he will rebound because he’s playing at a high level. We’re not concerned at all, we just have to get back to it today, and put that one behind him.”
On how UK played at Missouri …
“I thought we played pretty well. I think we get a little bit spoiled every now and then. The numbers were fine. Points scored against us was fine. We had a couple of breakdowns that we typically don’t have, especially in pick and roll defense where they scored six or eight points on that, which is pretty unusual against our team. But give them credit. They made adjustments from the first time we played them. When we were switching they were doing certain things to us in the pick and roll game. But overall to come back off the road and win by 16 in front of the biggest crowd they’ve had all year, it felt good.”
On UK’s struggle defending the pick and roll at Missouri …
“A little bit of both (communication issues and defensive breakdowns). Not only did it affect the ball handler and the screener’s defender, but especially the guys off the ball. We call it tag. We’re trying to tag on the pick and roll to have help there, and that help wasn’t there. It was almost more off the ball than it was on the ball.”
On what adjustments he expects Alabama to make from the first game …
“Well they played us all zone the first game. They played their tandem matchup zone. I think they will mix it up a little bit, with some man and some zone, and have us make shots. We did a good job in the first outing of getting the ball inside. Playing inside-out, which was really effective for us. It got them into a little bit of foul trouble. It got us into a good rhythm, and we made shots that game. Our players did a good job of following the game plan pretty well.”
On UK shooting fewer than 10 three pointers in each of the last three games …
“It wasn’t by design. It they’re open then we want them to shoot them. From our standpoint, if they’re not forcing threes then we’ll take what they give us. Our big guys have been doing a good job of kicking it back out. We could probably do it more, but we want our guys to be a little bit more aggressive going to the rim especially Aaron [Harrison]. He showed that last night and in the last couple games. Against a zone, it could be different. Missouri played us man to man. We just have to go how the game is flowing and take open shots when they’re there.”
On UK’s 20-0 start …
“Give the players a ton of credit. They’re finding out how to win games. It’s kind of neat that they can make their mark as a team, but they probably don’t even know it. It’s a good feeling to have and we’re just going to try to keep stringing games along right now.”
On the play of Karl-Anthony Towns right now …
“They’re definitely trying to be physical with him. There’s no question. He’s finding that out. I thought in the first half last night that he played very well even though he had a turnover on the first play of the game. He held his position much deeper into the paint. When he’s aggressive like that and goes and catches the ball with two hands and in tight, we like that. We just don’t like when he fades away and settles for getting post position off the block. That doesn’t do us any good and our spacing is terrible, but he knows. He’s working at it. We need to have some type of presence inside, whether it be from Dakari (Johnson), Karl, Willie, or Marcus (Lee) - probably the first three more than Marcus because he’s more of an offensive rebounder type. We’ll get that. For Karl, it’s a little bit of confidence and understanding how strong you have to be to be able to play on the block.”
On the freshmen’s adjustment to holding position on low block …
“You’d have to ask a post player, I’m definitely not that. Don’t forget (Karl-Anthony Towns) is young. So I’m sure it’s a new thing. Playing against someone near or at the same size you are, not only in the games, but in practice every day, when you’re going up against the bigger players on our team, it’s helped our entire team because practice has been competitive. It just has to translate into games.”
On Andrew Harrison’s turnaround performance at Missouri …
“You know what? He warmed up great. He had a great attitude, really good shoot around. He was aggressive. He pushed the ball, and he was playing with confidence last night. Maybe seeing the ball go in a couple times, even if it’s free throws. But we really liked his pace of game. Didn’t start great last night, but towards the latter part of the first half and the second half, he pushed the tempo a little bit more and was more aggressive, and used his size to his advantage.”
On taking quick turnaround Saturday versus Alabama …
“(Not playing until 9:00 p.m. EST last Thursday) is really the only drawback. We’re going to face that in the SEC Tournament. We’re going to face it in the NCAA Tournament. We got back about 1:40 a.m. last night, so the guys probably got back to campus around 2:00 a.m. We’re going to work out later today, show them some film, and get ready for Alabama. But, these kids are used to playing AAU basketball, playing four or five times a day. That’s a good thing about playing as many players as we’re playing. They should be somewhat okay physically.”