UK Welcomes Mississippi State to Rupp Tuesday
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Wildcats Look to Stop Two-Game Skid
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Wildcats look to put an end to their current two-game losing streak when they host Mississippi State in a regionally televised game on Raycom Tuesday.
Kentucky's most recent loss came in the form of a 78-77 loss at the hands of South Carolina in Rupp Arena on Saturday. Despite shooting 52.1 percent from the field, UK couldn't overcome 21 turnovers which led to 26 South Carolina points.
Patrick Patterson led all scorers with 28 points and seven rebounds while Jodie Meeks chipped in 20 points. Perry Stevenson pulled down 11 rebounds, his third double-digit rebound effort in the last four games.
The loss snapped UK's 12-game home SEC winning streak.
- Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
- Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,982.
- The Wildcats are 84-19 all-time against Mississippi State, including a 43-4 mark in Lexington.
- Jodie Meeks leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fourth nationally in scoring (25.5 ppg).
- Meeks is averaging 28.0 ppg in SEC games.
- Patrick Patterson ranks fifth in the nation in FG percentage (66.1) and 30th in rebounding (9.2).
- Patterson is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in scoring (5th - 18.5) and rebounding (3rd - 9.2).
- UK is tied for second in the country in blocked shots per game (7.4), second in free throw percentage (79.2), fifth field goal percentage (49.7) and 14th in assists/game (17.0).
- Perry Stevenson ranks 10th on UK's all-time blocked shots list (122).
- Jodie Meeks (954) and Patrick Patterson (817) are quickly approaching the 1,000-point mark which would make them the 56th and 57th members of the prestigious club at UK.
Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie Quotes
On how key Jarvis Varnado is for Mississippi State ...
"He is great. I have talked to a lot of NBA guys and they really love him. He has improved so much and Coach (Rick) Stansbury has really done a great job with his development. He is a guy that can shoot it and score and he knows how to post and posts up hard. He has a couple more moves than he has had in the past and defensively he has great defensive presence. He dictates everything they do on both ends of the court."
On what game plan you come up with when you face a shot-blocker as good as Varnado ...
"I don't really know. That is the way we are supposed to play (take it right at them) regardless of who the other team has in there. The last thing that we need to do is take step backwards. I think that he had ten blocks against us last year and played great against us and we still had a chance to win the game. We are supposed to be aggressive to the rim and we have to finish more plays than we have been finishing around the rim. We have to be tougher offensively and defensively. He is a big challenge in there, but again he is not the only player that they have on their team. They are a well balanced team and have done a great job of changing the way that they have played after the season began. They are playing well right now and had a tough time on Saturday because they didn't shoot the ball very well in the second half. They just have a really nice team."
On why he thinks that losing two games really isn't facing adversity ...
"It can be, but it doesn't mean that it is. Nobody hates losing more than me, but adversity can happen when you're winning or when you're losing. The end result of the game is not the only thing that a coach looks at, but it's the most important factor for all of us. If we won the last two games doing the same things that doesn't mean that we don't have things to work on. I don't think that we have any adversity; I think that we have been in adverse situations in the game and didn't respond nearly as well as we needed to in order to win."
On if he feels like it is the little things that are holding this team back ...
"That is what usually determines conference championships and advancing in the post season and having a really good team instead of a good team. Not only us in particular, but everyone in general knows that the little things are what is going to help you be good. We have been doing a lot of good things all year long, but we haven't taken care of the basketball and that should be improving by now. Here lately we haven't done a good job of rebounding the ball defensively. You can play as (well) as you want to for 30- or 25-seconds and be in perfect position for every single pass or dribble and when they shoot it the most important part of defense is getting the defensive rebound and we have been poor at it the last few games and we have to change that."
On if Patrick Patterson and Perry Stevenson are leaving the board exposed when they both go for a block ...
"It would make sense and I don't have a problem with that because I want them to be aggressive, but I don't think that the numbers indicate that we are going after that many blocked shots at the same time. That would make sense and would tell you that we are allowing too much penetration in the lane and not rotating the way that we need to. I'm not talking about those two guys in particular, but when they go then someone else is responsible for different rotation like the play I was talking about when they drove baseline. That was a time out and we came over to rotate and made a bounce pass to make a basket and we should have had someone to take that pass. That happened twice in the game and penetration forces rotation and rotation is what we should be good at this point in the season and we weren't very good at it Saturday."
On if he has seen improvement in the players' toughness in practice and if you can see that sort of thing in practice ...
"Yeah, you can and you have to take it personal and sometimes we don't take it personal. That is the thing that makes you go from being a good team to being a really good team and so on and so forth. It has to be real personal, like `you are not scoring on me, you're not keeping me from getting to the basket and you can do whatever you want, but I am going to get this offensive rebound. The next time we miss you're not getting another offensive rebound.' I think that playing hard and competing are two different thing and I don't think that people really differentiate and say `well, we really play hard,' but it's different competing every single possession and playing hard. Our team has played hard and will continue to play hard. They are great young men and have competed hard in a lot of situations, but we have to play hard more consistently especially when that ball goes up on the backboard."