Cats Streak Into Game Against Rebels

Feb. 17, 2012

Kentucky continued its season-best 17-game winning streak, posting a 69-63 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.

Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss
Sat., Feb. 18 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UM Get Acrobat Reader
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
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The Wildcats got an all-around defensive effort, holding the Commodores to 36.5 pct. from the field and just 38.1 pct. from 3-point range, despite Vanderbilt entering the game as the top 3-point shooting team in the SEC.

Doron Lamb led all scorers with a game-high 16 points. Anthony Davis finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks, while Terrence Jones added 14 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Freshman Marquis Teague finshed with 13 points to go along with a game-high eight assists while committing just one turnover.

Scouting Report

Located in Oxford, Miss. (503 miles southwest of Lexington), Ole Miss enters the weekend with a 5-6 mark in league play and are ninth in the standings.

The Rebels have four players averaging double-figures, led by Terrance Henry's 11.5 per game average. Murphy Hollow is second on the team in scoring (10.8), but leads Ole Miss in rebounding pulling down 9.0 rpg. Jarvis Summers (10.2) and Nick Williams (10.1) round out the double-digit scoreres.

Andy Kennedy is in his sixth season as head coach of the Rebels. He has recorded a 120-74 record in Oxford, while amassing an overall 141-87 record in his sixth season as a head coach. Kennedy led the Rebels to the 2007 SEC Western Division championship, and was named the AP's SEC Coach of the Year that season.

Series History

This will be the 112th meeting between the Wildcats and Rebels. Kentucky owns a 98-13 advantage in the series and has won 12 of the last 14 in the series. The .883 winning percentage is the highest UK has against any opponent in the league.

The Rebels won the regular season match-up between the two teams in Oxford last year, but Kentucky exactly its revenge in the SEC tournament, eliminating the Rebels 75-66.

Pre-Ole Miss Media Opportunity - Feb. 17, 2012

Head Coach John Calipari

On seeing Vanderbilt beating Ole Miss last night …
“We’ll talk about it. My man (Jeffery Taylor) went crazy, he had 20 at half, 21 or 24 whatever he had. If Vandy, if Taylor had done that to us, we would have been down big down at Vandy. You face a team and one of their guys goes nuts that is what happens, you get beat and you get beat good. Plus they made every jump shot too, it was a combination.”

On Darius Miller as a teammate …
“He’s a wonderful young man; there is no question about that. I’m just really proud of the strides he has taken as far as being assertive as a leader. It’s hard, you tell someone to lead, it’s hard you have to almost coach them through it. Teaching guys to lead is part of what we are supposed to do as coaches because if you think they know how to lead they don’t; they know how to lead for themselves but not lead a team. He’s done it in a quiet way. Aside from that, I’m proud of what he has become as a basketball player.”

On the reaction to the open practice …
“It’s been pretty good. I know it rated; they were really surprised at how strong it rated. You’re talking about three o’clock in the afternoon and it rated stronger than anything they have had in there and it rated as high as some basketball games that they played in primetime. That’s kind of crazy. I know, it makes you laugh. I haven’t talked to any recruits (about watching the practice); I’ve been doing this stuff here. But it was hard because it was three o’clock; they were all in school or in practice. If you’re talking about out west it’s noon now. I don’t know, it wasn’t done for that, it was done for our team and it was done to change up a week. Who knows if it helps or not, we’ll see.”

On Darius Miller being a no-brainer to keep when he first took the Kentucky job …
“There were two things that happened, I walked in that gym without an assistant coach, and I had a football team out there. I had like 21 players on a team that I had never seen in my life. They started playing and the one that impressed me the most was Darius. Then I came in this room on the side where they have couches and I cried. I called the AD at Memphis and asked, ‘Will you take me back?’ But I was really impressed with him because he just had a feel for the game. He had that middle game, he could shoot the ball a little bit, he was a good handler, I knew he had to get in shape and do all those kind of things. The way I coach and the way he plays, the only thing I had to get out of him was the eye of the tiger, a little bit of viciousness, an aggressive intensity which has been a process, that doesn’t happen overnight. Yes he is (an NBA player).”

On why it is difficult to bring out viciousness of players …
“Because they have their own personalities. It’s kind of like, you want a football player to be a vicious player on the field but off the field with his family, you don’t want that. And as a basketball player, you want them to have the kind of temperament and demeanor that Darius has but when they step on the court you want to see something different. That’s hard to transfer that. The great ones do, the others don’t. They either transfer their stuff on the court which is not enough or they transfer the stuff from the court back home which turns out bad.”

On what he has seen over the last five games …
“We’re getting better, which is all we want. I told you guys last week that I am happy but I am not satisfied. Yesterday’s practice was really good like I hope today’s practice is really good. What I am trying to explain to them, the way you create a swagger versus arrogance is a swagger is developed during practice where you are very comfortable and calm going in to the game because you know you are ultra-prepared and ready to do battle. You have a swagger in the lay-up line; you have a swagger going to the locker room. If you are fooling everybody, the minute you get punched in the game, ‘what happened here?’ You create a swagger in there, now. I am trying to explain those things to them but you know all this stuff is new to this team. Every time I speak on some subject they are all looking at me like, ‘wow, that’s interesting.’ They had never heard it before, when you are dealing with a bunch of freshman and sophomores that is what happens.”

On the Ole Miss struggles leading up to this game …
“Well they are probably going to come in here ready to go to war. They are playing in Rupp Arena; you know they are going to play well. They are the best offensive rebounding team in our league. As I watched the tape, if they have their way on the backboard they’ll beat us. If we can control that the game swings a little bit in our direction. If they do what they have been doing it is going to be a really hard game for us.”

On whether he or the players think about their current winning streak …
“I know we haven’t lost in a while but it’s not about that. It’s about getting better. I also said that one of the things you have to do with kids like this and players like this when you’re trying to achieve greatness and try to separate, is that they’ve got to feel comfortable letting it go, which means when things go south, as a coach, you have to take responsibility for them.  When things go good, it’s all about how they’re playing. And, when it doesn’t go good, you know what? We didn’t have a great week of preparation. You do whatever you can so that they’ll continue. You don’t blame a player, ‘If he’d made a better decision then …’ No. If you want them to fly and not be afraid to make mistakes. Not be afraid to miss a game winner. The only way you’re going to miss it is if you’re not afraid to shoot it and every once in a while you will miss it, and that’s okay. We’re just trying to keep this ship going in the right direction and Terrence [Jones] has been great in practice, talking and doing terrific stuff. Doron [Lamb] was ridiculous yesterday. I don’t know if he missed a shot. I think Michael [Kidd-Gilchrist] made 62 3s in a 5-minute drill. There was some really good stuff yesterday. That Anthony Davis kid, he was alright too.”

On how much it helps his team that they’re unselfish …
“It makes it hard for another team to come in and say, ‘Shut this guy down, shut that guy down.’ The other thing is, I got a great call from a former college coach who’s in the NBA who said, ‘It’s hard coaching the best players.’ It’s hard coaching the best players. He said, ‘Your team, when I see it, I’m amazed. I’m amazed at a guy that could shoot 30 times a game is shooting 11 and happy.’ He’s in the NBA now with guys saying, ‘I’ve got to get my shots. I’ve got to get my minutes,’ and he’s looking around saying, ‘Wow.’ I was happy to hear that. He said, ‘I’ve watched you five times,’ which is good. You’ve got a lot of people watching. You’ve got a lot of [professional] players watching. These guys aren’t worried about any of it. They’re just zeroed in on me, saying, ‘Tell us how to get better. What do we have to do?’ It’s a neat thing. This is a unique team now. This is a unique team to have this many guys and have them get along like they do and have the skill set that we have. We’re winning all the games. It means its fun to come to work every day. It’s fun to try to teach because they want to learn. There’s not a whole lot of back and forth and I’m still getting on guys. There was a recruit’s dad that asked one of our assistants, ’You know with [Calipari], he really gets on those guys.’ He said, ‘Yeah, he wants those guys to get better. He’s trying to stretch them out. He’s trying to get them to another level.’ I told him, ‘I’m not changing. I’m not backing up. We’re stepping forward and hopefully you’ll do it with me cheering. If you have to do it with me dragging, I’ll drag.’ Right now I’ve been cheering so it’s been fun.”

#20 Doron Lamb, G, So.

On what he knows about Ole Miss …
“(I have) heard they have a great small forward that’s solid. That’s all I know so far.”

On how they’re playing right now …
“We’re playing great so far as a team. We’re all coming together, closing games out very well. We’re all (playing) our role, and I think if we keep doing that, then it’s hard to beat us.”

On if their goal is to go undefeated in the conference …
“We’re trying to do that, but we just have to keep fighting and keep playing how we’re playing so far and see what happens.”

On if Ole Miss could be a “trap game” …
“We take every game seriously and we take every game like it’s a big game. We’re not worried if they lost at home last game, we’re worried about how we’re going play and worried about beating them.”

#25 Marquis Teague, G, Fr.

On the goals for the team …
“We just want to finish out strong, keep continuing to win, and keep getting better as a team.”

On why he thinks this team will not have a letdown …
“We are all dedicated and hard working. People are working out every day in the gym, getting extra shots up, and extra time in the weight room. We just continue to work hard every day and we all have a will to win.”

On having this past week off from games …
“We wanted to play another game, but it was good to give our bodies a little break. It gave us time to work in the gym, get some shots up, and get in the weight room to get a little stronger. It helped us out to get a little rest.”

On being referred to as a “pit bull” by Coach Calipari …
“I always like to take pride in my defense and not allow my man to score on me. I like to try and make it tough on the opponent offensively.”

On his teammates pushing one another to improve …
“We push each other in practice all of the time. We go at each other as hard as we can and make it competitive and try and make each other better. Coach Cal wants us to push each other.”

#33 Kyle Wiltjer, F, Fr.

On his thoughts about the open practice …
“It was a lot of fun. It just shows how great the fans are here. Having a practice and having people interested in coming to watch. It’s just great to be part of such a great fan base here and I’m honored to play for Kentucky.”

On whether he ever imagined he’d have the chance to practice in front of 2,000 people …
“No, and it was televised too which is pretty crazy. I’m just blessed to be here and have such great people around us.”

On how calm he seems about everything …
“I’m just trying to enjoy it. This is a first time for me, being in college. I’ve always wanted to play college basketball and I’m here so I’m just trying to have fun and get better.”