Kentucky Travels to Gainesville to Face Florida
Kentucky kicks off a two-game road swing with a trip to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators on Saturday, February 7. Tip is set for 9 p.m. and the game will be carried by ESPN.
|Kentucky at Florida |
Saturday, Feb. 7 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UF
| TV: ESPN |
Radio: UK Sports Network
Game Feed via WatchESPN
Multicam Feed via WatchESPN
Cat Scratches: Cauley-Stein searching for return to fun form
Willie Cauley-Stein is the veteran leader and arguably the top player on the nation's top-ranked team.
His defense has drawn praise from all corners, with Grantland.com saying he might be the best defender in America both inside and outside.
On a Kentucky squad with unprecedented talent and depth, he's the one player who's cracked the national player of the year conversation.
Cauley-Stein, however, has a critic: himself.
"I just haven't been playing like I should be playing," Cauley-Stein said.
Cauley-Stein set that high standard for himself with his own play early in the season. With outings like his 21-point, 12-rebound, five-steal, three-block performance against Texas, Cauley-Stein showed everyone what his ceiling is, but he hasn't reached those heights in recent weeks.
He's scored in double figures just twice in Southeastern Conference play, including back-to-back two-point games at South Carolina and Missouri. He's continued to flummox opponents with his versatility, but his gaudy defensive numbers have taken a dip. He has only two combined blocks and steals in his last three games entering a trip for UK (22-0, 9-0 SEC) to Florida (12-10, 5-4 SEC) at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday.
"It's just like, just the same stuff I've always been doing, I just got away from it," Cauley-Stein said. "As the season goes on you just start to get like wear and tear and you stop doing what got you there, so now I'm just trying to do what got me so high up and then just keep on building off of it." ... Read the full story
This Week's News:
- Kentucky improved to 22-0 and 9-0 in Southeastern Conference action with a 69-58 win over visiting Georgia on Tuesday.
- It was the 18th double-digit win of the year.
- UK is off to the third-best start in program history.
- The 22-game winning streak is the ninth-longest in program history.
- UK has won 45 of its last 47 games played as the AP top-ranked team.
- Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison led the way with 23 points and seven assists.
- Harrison scored the game's opening basket and UK never trailed in the contest.
- It marked the first game in Harrison's career where he posted 20 or more points and five or mor assists in the same game.
- He also knocked down a career-best three 3-pointers.
- Kentucky has now only trailed for 103:43 of the possible 895 minutes played this season.
- Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his team-leading third double-double of the year with 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
- Kentucky earned a lead as large as 18, but Georgia charged back and came within five as late as 2:06 remaining.
- Towns tallied a jumper with 1:33 remaining and Tyler Ulis and Harrison each sunk a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
- UK was out-rebounded (36-24) despite the career- day for Towns.
- Playing without freshman forward Trey Lyles, who was sidelined with an illness, UK got a balanced effort in a 70-55 win over Alabama, the second victory over the Crimson Tide this season.
- Four players scored in double figures and eight players scored at least five points
- Kentucky was behind for only 20 seconds in the win. UK has trailed for 103:43 of a possible 855 minutes this season.
- Sparked by inside players, UK shot a season-best 58.5 percent from the field.
- Kentucky had only five turnovers, just one shy from the season low of four miscues.
- Alabama scored on the game's opening possession but Kentucky responded with the next seven points and the Wildcats never trailed again.
- UK led by as many as 17 points at 37-20 and took a 37-24 lead into halftime.
- The lead stayed between 12 and 21 points during the second half.
- UK improved to 54-0 under Calipari when holding its opponent to 55 points or less, including a school shot-clock record (1985-86) 16 wins this season.
- Towns had a perfect shooting night, making all four field-goal attempts and all four foul shots for a total of 12 points. All of his points came in the first half.
- Cauley-Stein tallied 12 points, making all four of his field-goal attempts.
- Devin Booker had 11 points, including 3 of 4 3-pointers. He's now made 25 of his last 38 long shots (65.8 percent).
- Aaron Harrison chipped in 10 points, the 10th time in the last 12 games he has tallied in double figures.
- Marcus Lee led the Wildcats in rebounding with five boards and also scored eight points, the most for him since scoring eight vs. North Carolina on Dec. 13.
- Devin Booker averaged 10 points and 1.5 rebounds in wins over Missouri and Alabama last week and earned his fourth straight SEC Freshman of the Week honor.
- Booker is shooting 65.8 percent behind the arc over his last 11 games.
- Only two other players in league history earned the accolade in four straight weeks: UK's Nerlens Noel and John Wall.
Media Opportunity - February 5, 2015
Head Coach John Calipari
On Trey Lyles' status ...
"He looks good. I don't know if he will travel with us. I don't know, but he looked good. Weight is fine, which was what my worry was."
On if last year's games against Florida will factor into the returning players' minds ...
"I don't think so. No. We played well enough to win the last one. The other games, well we played well enough to win the one at home. The one down there we got smashed. No I don't think so. You would have to ask them though."
On what he has seen from Florida on film ...
"When you're watching them you're trying to figure out, OK, what are they going to do against us? How are they going to play against us? You would think well let's play some zone, but we've been at our best when we play against zone. Maybe they throw in that 1-3-1, try that. Their press has been really effective. The games that I've watched, it has kept them in games. Will it be effective against us? I don't know. I hope not. And then offensively they do a lot of screening and slipping. They're trying to create avenues for drives. That's basically what they're doing in their stuff."
On if Florida this season, reminds him of UK in 2013-14 ...
"I didn't look at it that way."
On Willie Cauley-Stein saying he isn't playing well right now ...
"He's a little hurt. Ankle is bothering him a little bit, but there's no reason for him not to have the numbers. Double-digit scoring and rebounding, even with the minutes, because he is probably one of the guys that's getting a little more minutes."
On if the ankle that is bothering Cauley-Stein is the same that he had surgery on ...
"Yeah. But it has been scanned, double-scanned and triple-scanned and MRI'd and it was sent to (Dr.) Anderson to make sure. May be scar tissue."
On Cauley-Stein having fun when he plays well ...
"It's kind of like you're in a boxing match. You walk in and the other dude is knocking you around. It's just not fun. If you're moving and sticking and in and out, talking, you say, `Man, am I having fun.' Yeah, because you're being the aggressor and you're beating him up. If you're standing there and you're not the aggressor it's not fun. It's hard. I remember John Wall coming in when everyone said we're going after John Wall. And he said, `I'm not having fun.' No kidding. This stuff is hard. It's hard. But that's world-class athletes figure out how to enjoy all of this. We're trying to get these guys to know that."
On which players seem to enjoy everything regardless of circumstance ...
"They've all. This is kind of like 2012. We haven't had a bad practice. They have not all been at high-water marks, but they have all been good. There has not been what I would say is a bad practice, so I can go every day knowing `alright what are we doing today?' Very smart team. I mean, I can do stuff on the fly. We can do different things."
On the post players being more physical under the basket ...
"You just have to be committed to, I'm going to offensive rebound. When you're two to three inches bigger than the other guy you're playing against, you just have to be committed to that. You can't tip balls and if you can't block out, then let somebody else play. You're out. You either fight or let someone else in there."
On if Trey Lyles will practice today ...
"I doubt it. He looked good though and I told him."
On in what context Lyles looked good ...
"He's pretty. He walked in and had a big smile on his face. Then there's the other pretty guy - Coach Hall. He's pretty too."
On Willie Cauley-Stein putting in extra time in the gym ...
"He's been a little bit beat up with that ankle. He's been staying after and shooting free throws and doing those things. What we have to figure out is we're not shooting the ball well. Last game we were one out of ten between Devin (Booker) and Aaron (Harrison). Who picks up the slack? Is it always going to be Andrew (Harrison) and Tyler (Ulis) do a little bit more and Karl(-Anthony Towns) do his thing? Well, the other guy that can do that is Willie, but you have to have that mentality. `You can't guard me. I know they're going to push so I'm going to be on balance. I'm not going to take a shot where people think I'm falling down.' He's getting better. He knows what he has to do. This is a good group of guys. It's not easy. We try to talk to them, but they may feel the weight of the world on their shoulders and they really shouldn't because they have each other. I've kept telling everybody, `You don't even have to play great every night. I just need five guys to play well. I don't need nine. We need five.' You're not forced to think, `If I don't play well, then we lose.' That's not the case for one player on this team. You play to play great, but you're not a machine. You're not a computer. It doesn't happen all the time."
On how having depth can help with injuries or soreness and not having to ride guys ...
"Sometimes you will because you're down a number or two and two guys aren't playing well and not into it. They're missing assignments left and right, then they can't play. One guy can't get a ball because he's just behind the action. Now he's out. Now you're down to five guys playing 35 minutes. It's OK because before we'd be down to three and playing two walk-ons. That was a problem."
On Cauley-Stein's ankle ...
"He's sore. I don't know. It's sore. He has a sore ankle."
On how Florida is different from last year ...
"They still have a bunch of guys from that team. They'll get after you, especially in that building. They're gonna press. Again, how much zone will they play? They've got their 2-3, they've got their 1-3-1. Will they trap the post? They've trapped off of passers. They've trapped big to big. Will they not trap? I mean, those are things when you watch them, it's not just watching; it's like, how are they gonna do this against us now? So that we're prepared for it. This team, as long as they're not surprised by anything, they're in an attack mode. You know a friend called me this morning and said, `Womeone went on one of the shows and said you have to understand now Kentucky is not that good offensively.' Really? We're like ninth in the country in efficiency. We have 100 more assists than turnovers. We're leading our league in 3-point shooting, or were. We have great post presence. Not always great. But here's the thing that's hard for people to deal with: We're not perfect. We're not shooting 88 percent, 99 from the free-throw line. We don't rebound every missed shot, which is crazy. I don't know why we don't. I'm on these guys about it. You need to be perfect. You're Kentucky. Be perfect. We're ninth in offense efficiency and that's our issue. Wow, I'm happy if that's our issue: we're ninth in offense. We need to score a few more points, for all you basketball bennies. Even people that chase people in hallways. Why would I want us to score a few more points than we're scoring? (It might be easier to win) Why would it be easier to win? Because we're really good on (defense). And it gives them more of a barrier they have to jump. I know you're better at chasing people than you are at answering questions. That's OK."
On what's different about Towns the last couple of games offensively ...
"Not fading away, he's fighting for position, he's playing down, sitting in the post. He's flying up and down. Instead of shooting the left hooks he's going to a jump shot, which he can make. More confident at the foul line. But I told our bigs, `You can't say we don't throw you the ball because if a guy doesn't throw it to the post he comes out. So don't say that. I mean, catch it tight, make your play and if they double team, figure it out.' They're getting better. He's young. The kid's a freshman. It's funny what we're doing right now with the fifth-youngest team in the country. Again, people got to pick it apart, figure out why. It's like our league right now. One guy said, `Your league's awful.' What? We've got six teams on the board right now to be in and three on the bubble. Like, nine of our 14 teams. Again, if you say it enough it's true, so just keep saying it. That's the agenda. Just keep saying it. I mean, this league, I told you how good Vanderbilt is. Mississippi State. You're saying those are the teams that are, well, they're good. The balance of this league, everybody is beating each other up a little bit. It doesn't mean that everybody's weak it means that this is a really good league."
On if Towns has a professional approach ...
"He's like my son. He's about 14-years old. So he does not have a professional approach. He and Brad's TV in their heads move together (gestures from left to right), about 14."
Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein
On what he remembers about going to Florida last year ...
"They've got really good fans, their fans are crazy."
On how much the team will be thinking about the three games Florida beat them last season ...
"I don't even think that's in anybody's head, for real. I just thought about it now, just with you saying it, but honestly it's about going and playing against ourselves. We're not really playing against nobody else. We're trying to compete against ourselves and do what our team goals are and stuff."
On if he's been happy with the way he's been playing ...
On why not ...
"I just haven't been playing like I should be playing."
On if he can figure out why ...
"Just not scoring, not playing defense like normal. Stuff happens, I don't know. You just gotta get back to it."
On playing Florida really close in the SEC Tournament last season and if that was where it clicked for the team that they could beat anyone ...
"I think we figured it out before that. Like the Georgia game, I think we figured out that we could really play with anybody. We (were) together then and Florida just added to the fire."
On if Florida fans are like other fans or if they're crazier ...
"I mean, they're like everybody else, but the way their gym is setup, it's just different. Like, they're on top of you. It's loud, yelling on top of you. They're really into it."
On if he can hear what they're saying ...
"You can always hear what they're saying. It doesn't matter where you're at (laughter)."
On if he has bad memories in the O'Connell Center ...
"It's just games, man. I don't want to say awful memories. (They're) just memories period. (We) just play everywhere. It's just another game."
On what he's been doing to play better ...
"I've been in the gym after every practice, before practice, trying to get to back to the stuff that I was doing at the beginning of the year I got away from."
On if there are certain drills or if people are saying things to him to bring him around ...
"It's just like, just the same stuff I've always been doing; I just got away from it. As the season goes on you just start to get like wear and tear and you stop doing what got you there, so now I'm just trying to do what got me so high up and then just keep on building off of it."
On what it looks and feels like when he's playing at his best ...
"It just feels fun. I feel like I'm having fun, I look like I'm having fun. If I'm not playing then I don't look like I'm having fun. That's the biggest part about it."
On if he can tell when he's not having fun ...
"I don't know, sometimes. I mean, other times you're just not having a good day. I mean, you're not just, getting beat off the dribble that you never get beat off the dribble on or you're missing shots that you hit 63 percent of the time."
On if teams are trying to be more physical with him ...
"They've always done that. That's been the game plan for three years now. I mean, you get used to it. It doesn't really bother you, you just play through it. It's more mental than anything."
On if he misses Alex Poythress on the court ...
"Yeah, I mean, he just picks up slack that you (don't get). Like, that's the biggest part. He just picks up stuff that you don't have to do every time. Like, I could do something every time - every time - and the one time you don't do it, Alex probably did it, so then it doesn't look bad on you. So you just miss him in areas that like freak athletes can do and that's where we really miss him at."
On if Poythress could have helped with rebounding against Georgia ...
On if he misses Poythress as a friend because he's not around as much ...
"He's still around. His room is right by my room. They're always in there playing (video games) and stuff. He's on the bench and stuff and like in practice he stands on the sideline or he's on the bike or something, so you still feel him there, you still go talk to him."
Freshman guard Tyler Ulis
On if the older guys have said much about Florida ...
"No, not at all."
On what he expects going down to Florida ...
"I don't know what to expect. I've never played there. I just can't wait for the game."
On how he thinks they are playing ...
"I feel like we're playing good in the first half. I feel like we're playing great half the game. We just have to extend that and try to do our best for both halves of the game and don't come out the second half slowing the game down, backing it off a little bit. We just have to do a great job of not looking at the scoreboard and just try to play."
On if answering their second half woes is on being more aggressive ...
"I don't know. I don't know what it is. I feel like when we go into halftime and we're up with a big lead we just come out like we've won the game or something like that. We just have to work on that."
On Willie Cauley-Stein saying he's not happy with his own game right now ...
"Willie is going to play like Willie. He's a great defensive player. Offensively, he's doing a lot better I feel like. If he feels like that then that's great. He's going to put more work in. he's not complacent. With him, he's just a great asset to our team, blocking shots defensively, being able to guard 1-5. Having him is great."
On if they're starting to see more of Trey Lyles ...
"Yeah, I saw Trey in class today. Doesn't seem like he's sick. He's regular Trey. That's good to see. Hopefully he's back soon."
On what he expects to get from Florida ...
"I expect them to come out playing the best they've ever played, hitting shots, making 3s and stuff like that. We just have to come out ready to play no matter what their record is and just come out and play."
On getting Willie Cauley-Stein involved ...
"I feel like Willie has been playing good offensively. We fed him in the post the past couple games. He's made some turnaround shots, some hook shots. So, he feels like he's not playing that well right now, which is good for us - that's telling us he's not complacent with his game, he's going to come out ready to play and we can't wait to see what he does."
On plays where they miss Alex Poythress ...
"Yeah. Well, Alex didn't play with us much this year, but from watching last year and playing with him in practice and stuff, he just made incredible plays, like blocks you would never see, tip dunks, stuff like that. Plays that are not normal that nobody expects Alex or anyone else to make. That's something we're also missing in him."
On having Poythress around with the team ...
"Yeah, it's good to have him around, knowing he's back with us and that his spirits are up. I feel like he's taking everything great right now. I feel like if I were in his position I would be still upset or something like that. I feel like it's great that he's around us and we're seeing him back walking and stuff. It's just great for him to be around the team."
On if College GameDay being at this game hypes them up at all ...
"No, not really. Just like any other game, we're just going to come out ready to play."