Kentucky, Tennessee Tussle in Knoxville
Kentucky travels down to Knoxville to face Tennessee on Tuesday, February 17. The game will be carried by ESPN and tip is set for 7 p.m. ET.
|Kentucky at Tennessee
Tuesday, Feb. 17 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UT
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via WatchESPN
This Week’s News:
- Kentucky’s typically dominant defense returned in a 77-43 rout of South Carolina on Saturday.
- At 25-0 to start the season, UK has tied the 1953- 54 team for the best start in school history.
- UK’s 25-game winning streak is tied for the fifth-longest overall winning streak in Kentucky history and tied for the third longest over a single season.
- UK has won 47 of its last 49 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
- John Calipari has a 91-9 all-time record when coaching the nation’s No. 1 team, including a 50-4 mark at Kentucky.
- Kentucky held South Carolina to 23.6 percent from the field.
- It is the 11th game this season that the Wildcats have held a team to less than 30 percent.
- South Carolina had only three assists on the 13 made baskets. It is the second-lowest opponent assist total of the season, next to one assist by Louisville in that game.
- UK won rebounding 45-21. The plus-24 margin is the second largest of the season and highest margin vs. an SEC opponent.
- The rebounding helped UK to a 14-3 advantage in second-chance points and 34-16 lead in points in the paint.
- Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field, 27 of 54. It is the eighth game this season that the Wildcats made at least half their shots.
- UK hit 75 percent (18 of 24) at the free-throw line. It is the 10th time in the last 13 games that the Cats have made at least 70 percent from the line.
- Balanced scoring featured seven Wildcats with at least eight points.
- UK is 55-0 in the Calipari era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 17 times this season.
- Kentucky scored the first four points of the game and jumped out to an 18-3 lead.
- UK led by as many as 27 points on two occasions before going to intermission with a 43-18 lead.
- It is the 15th time this season that UK has held an opponent to less than 20 points in a half.
- Dakari Johnson collected his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds.
- Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting day from the field, making 3 of 3 field-goal attempts. He totaled nine points and is averaging 13.4 points over the last five games.
- Willie Cauley-Stein led the Wildcats with 14 points, his third consecutive game in double figures. He’s averaging 14 points over those three games.
- Aaron Harrison chipped in 11 points, equaling his team-high average for the season.
- Andrew Harrison contributed nine points and a game-high six assists.
- UK survived a game-winning shot by LSU to hang on for a 71-69 win on the road at LSU on Tuesday to improve to 24-0 and 11-0 in league play.
- LSU began the game on a 10-2 run and also led 14-6. LSU led by eight points twice, which were Tigers’ largest leads of the first half.
- Kentucky led by as many as 13 points with 12:46 to go in the second half.
- LSU went on a 21-2 run from between the 12:46 and the 7:29 mark in the second half.
- LSU took a lead 62-60 lead with 8:18 remaining in the game.
- Karl-Anthony Towns snapped LSU’s 16-0 run with a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line after LSU had taken a 66-60 lead.
- The Cats took the lead for good when Towns kept the possession alive with an offensive rebound and then scored with 1:30 left to take a 70-69 lead.
- Devin Booker scored the final point of the game on a free throw with 15 seconds left. LSU missed a 3 just before the buzzer to secure the UK win.
- Nine Wildcats scored in the game. Just five Wildcats scored in UK’s previous game, on Saturday against Florida.
- Kentucky attempted 68 field goals, which was its second-highest total this season (70 vs. Grand Canyon).
- Four Wildcats scored in double figures: Willie Cauley-Stein (15), Booker (14), Andrew Harrison (13) and Towns (12).
- Towns logged his second double-double in three games with 12 points and a career-best 13 boards.
- UK had its best blocking night with nine swats since recording nine at South Carolina on Jan. 24. Towns and Cauley-Stein combined for seven of the rejections.
Towns, Cauley-Stein Named National POY Finalists
- Willie Cauley-Stein was tabbed a top-20 finalist for the Wooden Award and a top-30 finalist for the Naismith Trophy.
- Karl-Anthony Towns was selected as one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Trophy.
- Both awards will be presented during the Final Four weekend to the nation’s top player as chosen by the committees of each award.
- Kentucky signee Isaiah Briscoe has been named a semifinalist for the 2015 Naismith Boy’s High School Player of the Year award.
- He is one of 10 semifinalists up for the award, which is given annually to the top high school player in the country. The finalists will be named on Feb. 24 and a winner will be announced on March 12.
- A 6-foot-3 guard from Newark, N.J., Briscoe is averaging 22.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 16 games for Roselle Catholic High School.
Media Opportunity - February 15, 2015
Associate Head Coach Kenny Payne
On how UK plans to deal with the expected winter weather …
“Well DeWayne Peevy and Chris Woolard and Coach Cal got together and decided that the best action to take is to leave before the storm gets in here. So we’re leaving in about an hour or so.”
On if Coach Calipari is still in New York for the NBA All-Star game …
“Cal is still in New York, and he will be leaving some time tonight and meet us in Knoxville, Tenn.”
On how disruptive changing travel plans is for players …
“No big deal. We will get there. We will practice there tomorrow. Get prepared for a very good team that’s going to play out of their minds. It’s what we face every game."
On the weather possibly impacting fans’ travel …
“We need our fans. That’s a big part of us on the road. Everywhere we have been other than one or two places our fan support has been great.”
On why UK is taking a bus to Tennessee …
“I don’t know. That’s way over my head.”
On Willie Cauley-Stein playing well in the past week …
“I think sharing a little time with Anthony Davis has helped him to understand the mentality. Willie’s issue isn’t anything physical. It’s all mental. When Willie Cauley plays instinctively and strong he’s as good as there is in the country. That’s it.”
On if Cauley-Stein spoke to Davis …
“They did talk, yes. Anthony basically talked to him about the mental preparation to be great. Go out and prepare to be great. That starts in your workouts, it starts in your practices and then when you get in the way just play instinctively and confident.”
On if Cauley-Stein and Davis spoke when UK was in Baton Rouge …
On if messages from someone like Davis have added weight for Cauley-Stein …
“No question. Anthony Davis is if-not the hottest player in the NBA right now he’s one of two. So I think instant credibility. Willie wants to do what Anthony is doing, so why not hear from him?”
On what he remembers about the loss at Tennessee in 2013 …
“I just remember it being more of us not playing particularly well. That’s about it. For us it is over. Every game it is a battle so we expect them to play well and for it to be a dog fight.”
On Cauley-Stein saying it was special for him to be on this team, after having been on the 2012-13 team …
“I think him and Alex (Poythress) have shared some of the toughest times in Kentucky basketball and also some of the brightest times. You know to break that record – it is unbelievable. What Adolph Rupp did here, in that time and age of what basketball was to this program. For us to surpass that or tie that says a lot. Says a lot about Coach Cal, says a lot about the program, it’s unbelievable.”
On how Karl-Anthony Towns’ game as changed in the last month…
“I just think he is playing confidently, I think he is more focused. Typically, when Karl is struggling he loses focus some. I think he is playing lower, and once he is low, he is tough to deal with. If he fights for low-post position and makes strong moves and confident moves, he is going to be tough to deal with. Offensively he’s offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding. Just doing the things that it takes for us to be a great team. “
On if the players are thinking about the historic significance of a possible 26-0 start to the season …
“I don’t think so. I just think we are focusing on one game at a time. We have to beat Tennessee and the rest will fall in place.”
On what the team will do in Knoxville for the entire day tomorrow …
“I know we will practice. Pretty sure we will do some film work of the last game. Do some stretching to keep them loose and ready to go.”
On the key to keeping Dakari Johnson playing like has been recently…
“So proud of Dakari. Dakari went through a little bit of a spell where he lost some confidence. Lost his fire, lost the fight part of the game, and it was a struggle for him to get it back. Conditioning-wise Coach Rock has spent a lot of time with him getting him back to pushing the way he pushed earlier in the year. And he went out and he performed. I’ll say it again. In order for us to be a great team, Dakari Johnson is the X-factor. He brings a physical play to the game that we sorely need. And he brought it last game and hopefully he’s back for a while.”
On what he expects from Tennessee…
“They have been playing zone – tough zone. They mix it up, they press some out of it. It is going to be tough for us to deal with because they trap out of the post and react, scramble all around the court. So we just have to be patient, move the ball, get it inside out like we typically have been doing against zones. And our shooters have been shooting well so we play inside out and go at them.”
On Tennessee trying to redeem itself after losing to LSU …
“Again, the LSU game will have no factor in how they play against us. They will play well. We’re expecting them to play well.”
On how personal he takes it when the big guys go through ups and downs since he works with them so much …
“Very personal. I spend a lot of time, not just with the bigs. All these kids coming into this program, they look to us for guidance. When they struggle, we struggle. It’s not just on them; it’s on us as well.”
On what they were looking at from Karl-Anthony Towns when they recruited him since he didn’t play on the AAU circuit as much as other recruits …
“I think the time he spent with the Dominican team made up for the games. He played against better competition. But again, he was a child playing with grown men – professionals. They had another element of maturity. Coming in here, he was with younger guys than he was with the Dominican team. I think that’s the biggest thing is just him being a young man and being comfortable in his own skin, being around other players, and the growth of it all. He’s grown a lot since he’s been here. He works hard. He’s a confident young man. He has big dreams. And he’s a talented kid.”
On how eager Towns is to please others …
“I think the biggest thing to the point of what you’re saying is that Karl Towns—Cal has been really hard on Karl – pushing Karl to be great – for a 17-year-old kid or 18-year-old kid who’s really 13. That’s hard. But out of all the kids, he’s probably made the easiest adjustment to it. He wants to please Cal. He wants to please all of us. He plays hard. He’s going to make mistakes. But we’ll have to live with what he’s doing right now.”
On if they sensed what Towns is doing right now was coming …
“No question. No question. He’s a talented, big, 6-11, 7-footer that really shoots the ball, that’s active. His body has changed since he’s walked in these doors. It’s just a matter of time. And I think there’s even more in him.”
On the key to Towns battling foul trouble …
“Just being disciplined. People are going to come at him and try to get him off his feet and shot fake and attack into his body, but he’ll make that adjustment, and he has.”