UK Hosts Georgia To Open Three-Game Homestand
vs. Georgia Bulldogs (12-11, 3-7 SEC)
Tuesday, Feb. 19 ? 9:00 p.m.
Lexington, Ky. - Rupp Arena (23,000)
Having played four of its last five away from Rupp Arena, Kentucky begins a three-game homestand Tuesday by hosting Georgia. The Cats, who enter the week second in the SEC East, follow up the game against the Bulldogs by playing Arkansas and Ole Miss at Rupp.
UK has won six of its last seven, including a 67-63 win at LSU on Saturday. Joe Crawford led the Cats with 21 points, while Ramel Bradley recorded 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals in the win.
The Wildcats are looking for a series sweep of the Bulldogs, having posted a 63-58 win in Athens 17 days ago. Georgia has lost six of its last seven games, including a 74-71 home loss to Tennessee Saturday.
Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie
Opening Statement ?
?We are really excited about playing tomorrow. It was a big win for us on Saturday. We play a team that?s drastically improved offensively and playing with a great deal of confidence, with a guy (Sundiata Gaines) that is playing as well as anyone in the conference at the point guard spot. They present a lot of different challenges because when they shoot it well, like they did against South Carolina and Tennessee, then they can beat anyone in the league and we lucked out at Georgia. It was a great win for us (there), but we face a major challenge tomorrow night.?
On Georgia's play lately ?
?They just consistently score. They are shooting the basketball really well. I forgot what they shot against South Carolina, but they played lights-out and made shots from close and shots from far away. (Sundiata) Gaines is playing (really well) right now and his teammates are playing really well with him, especially without (Billy) Humphrey. He?ll back and that gives them another perimeter shooter, but it is a team that has a couple of seniors. They also have a bunch of young players and they are definitely maturing.?
On being 4-0 in SEC home games ?
?You always want to try to win all your conference games no matter where you play, but you have to understand that we have the best home-court advantage in college basketball. We get a big boost from our home crowd and when we played well enough for the crowd to make a difference on the game they definitely have made differences in the game. We just have to do a better job of playing.?
On slowing Sundiata Gaines' scoring ?
?He is a hard guy to guard because he is so good with the basketball. He dribbles the ball so close to the floor and he really understands how to defeat traps. He is a guy that can split traps like the pros can, because he is really fast and really strong with the ball. No one has been able to figure him out lately. He makes hard shots, and he has made three or four shots when there was no time left on the clock that no one would ever think he could make these shots. He?s just a hard guy to deal with. The best way, if you could do it, would be to not let him catch the basketball, but he?s so athletic and strong that it?s very difficult to keep him from catching the ball. We?re going to have everyone one him. I don?t think you?re going to have very much success guarding him for forty minutes with one guy.?
On success by controlling the tempo ?
?I think it?s always important to try and play the best way you think that will lead to the greatest chance of success. This particular year because of the injuries that we?ve had, it?s been important for us, even more so than possibly what the future may hold for us, to limit possessions. And I think we?ve done a fairly good job of it. I think everybody has a game plan that they want to execute when they go into each particular game and we definitely need to limit possession most of the time.?
On guarding Sundiata Gaines ?
?(Joe) Crawford started on him the last time a little bit and Derrick Jasper will guard him and Ramel will guard him some. And if Jodie is able, he?ll guard him some; Ramon will guard him some, or attempt to guard him. But Joe?s been guarding a lot of really good players and he?s been doing a fine job of it. I really believe that Joe is doing what we?re asking, not that he wasn?t before; we?re trying to help him make his man catch the ball further outside the scoring area. I think it?s important when you do that if you?re going to try to play pressure man-to-man defense; we play semi-pressure this year because we can?t guard the ball as well as we need to, but we?re getting better at it. I think it?s always important to make sure they catch the ball outside the NBA three-point line, that way you know they aren?t going to shoot it; you know they?re a driver. Once they catch it and become a driver then you?ve eliminated 50% of what they?re able to hurt you with. Also it is a big deal with how you?re able to guard the post. And in my opinion, (Crawford) has done a good job of making his man catch the basketball outside their most comfortable scoring area. Crawford?s tried hard on defense all year long. I?ve seen a big change in him because we?ve been trying to play a little bit different. I mean his attitude has been good and he?s really developed leadership skills and I?d doubt he?s ever been defiant as to not wanting to play defense. He does not like for his team to lose, he doesn?t like for his man to catch the ball anymore and he doesn?t like for his man to score on him even though it?s a team defense. He takes a great deal of pride in it. It is nice to see all of them to try to be that way for the most part. He definitely takes it personal when someone scores a basket on him.?
#3 Ramel Bradley, Senior
On playing Georgia ?
?I remember the last time we played Georgia, but I don?t have anything to say to anyone about it. What happened is in the past. Things like my fall happen in basketball everyday, it?s no big deal.?
On how the team is playing now ?
?You are only as good as your last game and we won our last game. What happened at Vanderbilt is way in the past. I was upset with the end of the LSU game. I should have made a lot better decisions than what I did. I have to watch film and learn from my mistakes and move on.?
On returning home to Rupp Arena ?
?I think it is great to be home, I love coming back to play in Rupp Arena. We are more comfortable here with our shots and our fans. Our fans give us a great energy boost when things are not going well. It is always great to play at home. It is a big game for us, we are excited to come back home. I?m going to have a lot in me and remember to smile through it all.?
#21 Perry Stevenson, Sophomore
On the remainder of the season ?
?We remember what happened last November and we all agreed that is what we were not going to let happen again. We came out played hard and got a win. I am still having fun. It is a dream just being here and getting to play for Kentucky.?
On being tough ?
?Coach Gillispie always says to be tough all the time. Being tough in practice carries over and helps us to get wins. We have come a long way from where we started. We started with hard practices in pre-season, practices now and becoming closer as a team and now we are much tougher than when we started.?
On winning ?
?We have to do whatever we can within the rules to get a win. We have to always remember to help each other out. We are better now as a team. I am tougher now then when I first came to Kentucky. Physically, I am about 15 pounds heavier and I have matured a lot. You get a lot tougher going through practices and getting older. I thought I was tough last year but adding another year I know I continue to get tougher.?
#32 Joe Crawford, Senior
On being a defensive player ?
?It?s something (Coach Gillispie) has really been stressing and something I want to prove I can do. I?ve taken pride in defense really ever since Billy came here. I was a good defensive player in high school, but when I came to college I struggled a little bit and forgot what made me good, what got me going. I think Coach Gillispie kind of got me to that. He is constantly on me; it?s the way I get minutes."
On playing time at the beginning of the season ?
?I was just getting back; I wasn?t in the best shape. I had a lot to work on. I didn?t earn the position; those guys had been working since the summer and I had just been getting back. It wasn?t time for me to have that spot. (Coach Gillispie) wanted me to play defense, but he also wants me to play offense and I think he just wanted me to be in the best possible shape so I could do both those things.?
On defense ?
?At this level it?s almost impossible to stop someone once they get the ball. You just have to make sure you can guard them and put them in the worst possible position. You can?t let them get to the spot that they like. It?s a mental toughness and learning thing to do that. Early on, I just thought I could guard anyone wherever they got it, but you have to make it tough on them. Learning that though helped me out, I get in the passing lanes a bit more. Mostly, I just stop the person from getting comfortable. I think we are all taking pride in defense and really want to win.?
On the challenge of guarding players ?
?The toughest person was (Shan) Foster (from Vanderbilt), because he knew where he wanted to get and bait me one way and went back door, (he is a) great shooter. (Sundiata) Gaines (from Georgia) is a hard driver; you have to guard him with the ball, without the ball, and once the ball goes up because he?s going to rebound.?