Wildcats Return Home for Two Straight

Feb. 14, 2011

Gameday

Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Mississippi State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Tues., Feb. 15, 7:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
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Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.

The Wildcats return to the comfy confines of Rupp Arena where they've won 29-straight games. UK enters the game after its third straight road loss, 81-77, at Vanderbilt.

Terrence Jones scored 25 and Brandon Knight had 20 in leading Kentucky offensively. Jones added nine rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. DeAndre Liggins was the only other Wildcat in double-figures with 10 points.

Josh Harrellson pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds while UK grabbed 12 offensive boards and committed only eight turnovers.

However the Wildcats couldn't overcome Vandy's John Jenkins' career-high 32 points and the Commodores' torrid shooing from outside, as the Dores hit 11-of-20 (55 pct.) 3-pointers.

Pregame Press Conference Quotes

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On the players meeting ...
"I didn't know they had one. They had a players meeting? I hope it brings about change. We have to have a team full of guys playing. We can't have one guy that's not doing absolutely everything he can to get ready for the game. They know it."

On the biggest challenge facing them ...
"There has got to be a sense of urgency about this game. The thing about this game is it is at home. So now you think the other team is going away. This will be Mississippi State's breakout party from (Dee) Bost to (Ravern) Johnson to all of them. I'm watching them open up against Florida and the four man hits his first four shots by stepping out and shooting. I mean this is a talented team that is going to come and play us. If you don't come in here and give it some fight and compete we get beat. I'm telling you. It's every game. It's four or five points between us and every team in our league. That's how it is."

On the status of Darius Miller ...
"I don't have any idea. We would like him to play, but if he can't play, he can't play. It gives someone else to step in and get an opportunity and show they should be playing more."

On making the same points over again and again ...
"This team is 14th in the RPI and tenth in strength of schedule. We lost five games, and we could have won them all. We are going on the road, and are not quite finishing games and making some errors. That's what a young team does. At the end of the day, I'm worried about where this team finishes, not where we are right now. Other than the top five or six, seven teams (in the country), every team has hit a lull in their season. Either by schedule, or just by...I don't know. But, everybody does. We have hit ours, now we have to bust through. Are we through it? I don't know yet. We will see Tuesday. We will see Saturday. But, I still like my team. You know, I wish we were winning all of these games, but the one thing I told my staff this morning was when you are winning, you put your head in the sand. So, what if Brandon (Knight) would have made that shot (at Florida)? What if Darius (Miller) would have shot the ball (at Ole Miss)? What if we don't leave the guy in the corner and he hits a three (at Vandy)? What if we win all of those three games? You know what? I am sitting here telling you that all is good in Candyland. In reality, we still would have made the same mistakes that would have cost us down the road, so this is bringing them to life, and this is bringing individuals to life and getting them really focused in. I'd much rather win from close wins than close losses any day, but sometimes it takes losses to wake me up some and get these guys thinking right. They fight like heck. They do what they are supposed to. Again, at Vandy we had six defensive breakdowns in the last five minutes and we had three turnovers. And wait a minute, it was a two-point game with 40-50 seconds to go and we have a chance to win. Think about what I just said. And they fought, and came out of some timeouts and executed, and made shots, but we are still there."

On if this team is out of crisis mode ...
"No. To lose at Florida, and to lose at Vanderbilt, most teams in the country are going to go in there and lose. To lose at Alabama doesn't look so bad. It did at the time, but now it doesn't look so bad. We had a couple of other games. Georgia is a tough place to play, especially when we played them. They had won 11 in a row. But, at the end of the day, you have to be able to nip a couple of those, and we didn't. But, you just move on. I mean, what are you going to do? I like my team. I believe in the team. Some guys have got to change. We have to do some things different. We have to look at ourselves and take some responsibility with no excuses. We have got some excuse-makers right now. But, they are changing."

On when seeding for the NCAA Tournament becomes crucial ...
"Well, again where our RPI and strength of schedule is, all we have to do is take care of business and we are fine. Our strength of schedule and our RPI is fine. We just have to take care of business. It doesn't mean you have to win every game. I have been in those leagues. Let me explain how hard that is. Why didn't you lose a game? `Because we couldn't lose any games.' We are 5-5 in our league, and we are number 14 in the RPI. Think about that. We are a pretty good team, but we have some things to figure out. Some of it will be mentally just with these guys getting by it. They are so young. Again, when you look at it, it wasn't just the veterans that let us down. Some of it was the younger kids defensively that let us down a little bit."

#3, Terrence Jones, F, Fr.

On what he is trying to do to get better ...
"I am just trying to take it more serious off the court and on the court. I am trying to be prepared more in practice and just staying focused."

On Josh (Harrellson) calling the team meeting ...
"No it isn't out of character for him to call a team meeting. He is the senior leader of the team and talking and being vocal is usually what happens when there is more than one person talking."

On what he said in the team meeting ...
"We can't make excuses for why we are losing on the road when it comes down to pretty much the last five minutes. We had a will to go up by three points. We can't just let three plays take us down. It felt like everybody's energy just went away and we already lost just because they took the lead back."

On if there is anything they can do against Mississippi State to address the issue or if they will have to wait until they go on the road again ...
"Yeah, it just has to do with being nervous and losing when the game is so close and there is so little time left. That is when mainly I think we have problems. It is something that we just have to overcome by playing without looking at the score and being nervous. We need to quit thinking that little plays matter more than they do and just keep playing basketball."

#5, Jarrod Polson, G, Fr.

On his overall feeling on how he performed against Vanderbilt ...
"I thought that I did pretty well. I think that coach was pleased with how I played. I just try to go out there and not make any mistakes and try to keep the offense going and playing defense."

On the team's woes on the road ...
"Yeah, we are sick of losing on the road. We had a team meeting the other day to just talk about how we need to get better in these few games and how the last five or six minutes of a game is gut check time."

On if he is surprised when Coach Cal calls his name to go in ...
"I am not surprised anymore. He keeps telling us that he needs someone from the bench besides Doron (Lamb) to step up. He is giving that chance to whomever shows they can play the best."

On what came out of the team meeting ...
"I think that we are all on the same page. We just told each other that from here on we just need to focus on basketball; nothing else besides academics."

#20, Doron Lamb, G, Fr.

On if they are getting closer to figuring out what is going on at the end of games ...
"Yeah, we are getting closer. We are still working hard in practice and have to learn how to close games out and finish them."

On  what he said in the team meeting ...
"I told my team that I was going to change and work harder and dig in for the last couple games this season."

On what kind of things he needs to work on ...
"I just have to step my game up on the court. More scoring, more defense and we want more energy on the court because it will help us win."

On what benefits does he hope to see from the meeting for tomorrow's game ...
"Just that everybody has a lot of energy on the court and playing hard and talking on defense."