UK Looks to Extend Home Streak vs. USC

Feb. 18, 2011

Gameday

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Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sat., Feb. 19, 4:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: SEC Network
Radio: BBSN
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Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.

The Wildcats look to extend the nation's second longest home-winning streak to 32 on Saturday when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks.

UK ran its streak to 31 with an 85-79 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday. The Bulldogs shot lights out from 3-point range (12-22, 54.5%) and the free throw line (17-19, 89.5%), however the Cats were able to counter with Brandon Knight's game-high 24 points and SEC career-high seven assists.

Doron Lamb tallied his fifth 20-point game this season with 20 points and Terrence Jones notched his league-leading ninth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He also added five assists and two blocks.

The Wildcats also ran their record in bounce-back games to 7-1.

Pregame Press Conference Quotes

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On how the team needs to address closing out games …
“We talked about it a little bit yesterday. We showed them the end of the game and I think it is more of the mindset more than anything else. I have a young, inexperienced team. Understand that not one of those players on the floor had been in the game late if it really mattered. And if they were in the game late, they were told to run to a corner and get away from the ball. This is all new to them. We are working on it, which is what we have to do. The issue right now is that we need to finish some games up in the last four or five minutes.”

On if he is seeing some signs of production out of the players …
“Yeah, they have not been consistent, but they are getting their stuff done and are playing.”

On if he has talked to the team yet about possible seeds in the NCAA tournament …
“Not yet, we have enough issues that we are dealing with that we haven’t talked about. One thing that I told them before this last game, and I was worried about our last game, is that I told our staff that we just have to take care of business. Our RPI was up around 14 and our strength of schedule was around 10. It has moved a little bit but not much, but we are fine, we just need to take care of business and figure out what our weaknesses are. We are getting better rebounding attempts at both ends. We are executing better, now we need to finish the last four minutes of the game. The start of the game the last game was a little shaky, and we have not had many of those, but we have had a few.”

On what needs to be corrected about the team’s 3-point defense …
“If you look at it, they are making tough shots. We have played teams in the past where I have told them they are going to shoot 30 3s. If they make twenty of them with us hanging on them, then we go onto the next game. It seems like guys who never make shots, make contested shots falling down against us. Some of them bank in, some of them bounce off the scoreboard and come down and go in. That is just how it is when you play us. Our team knows that. I told these guys that we are playing a team that is going to shoot 30 3s. What do you think they will do against us? They will make the five man step out and make them. Guys get excited about playing against us. If guys are making hard, contested 3s then you have to live with that.”

On what the growth of a kid like Josh Harrellson means to him as a coach …
“It is satisfying. Obviously what we want to see out of every one of these young people is that they are growing on and off the court, and you are seeing that with these guys. We are always asking them for more, and we may be asking them for more than they should give. I always say that I am not ever downplaying my team. Everybody is looking at them and saying they need to do this and that. That is because it is led by us. These guys are good players, they are as good as anybody, and they should be as good as anybody in the league. He is the best guard, he’s this, and he’s that. Maybe that is when we are asking them to do a lot more than what they are really comfortable doing. We are dragging them out of a comfort level. Everyone’s expectations may be beyond where it should be, but that is how I have done it in the past and that is how I will continue to do it.”

On whom the one player is that he wants at the free throw line at the end of a game…
“It depends on the game, but obviously Brandon (Knight) or Doron (Lamb) are going to be one of the two, but I have no problem with Darius (Miller), Terrence (Jones), and even DeAndre (Liggins) who made some during the Tennessee game. We are a good free throw shooting team. Now if you have a choice between a guy who just made five in a row, and a guy who missed the front end of one, throw it to the guy who just made five in a row. That kind of stuff we need to get better at, as well as not driving into traffic, not messing around with the ball, all things they are capable of changing.”

On some of the things he hopes to continue to do well against South Carolina’s 3-point shooting …
“Well they are shooting more of them now than they did then. They are truly shooting 30 something 3s a game. They are doing them in transition, they are doing them off screens, off of pick and rolls, if you go zone. They are shooting a lot more 3s. The guys that they are playing, almost all of them including the four and five can shoot 3s. They go pick and pop and shoot 3s.”

On how close Darius (Miller) is to being 100% on his injured groin …
“I think he was okay last game and shot well yesterday in practice.”

On what he thinks of South Carolina now that they have lost six out of their last seven games …
“It is kind of like what I tried to tell you about Mississippi. I said listen, I just watched the games they lost and they could easily flip the schedule. Now has Mississippi lost since they played us? I don’t think they have lost since they played us. This team is the same. Yes, they have lost games. But they are not getting buried. Florida went into their building and played out of their minds and shot ridiculously well guarded 3s. They just made them. Vanderbilt was a close game, until one spurt. One spurt gave them a ten point lead. Until then, the game was even. A four-point, three-minute spurt, they went 3, steal, 3, basket, basket and had a couple of turns and all of a sudden it was a 12-point game and it just stayed there. Look, they are good enough to beat us. We are going to have to come out and perform. They have good players; (Sam) Muldrow is as good as it gets. I love their little point. They have shooters; they have size and can block shots. They are the leading shot blocking team in the league. They are going to shoot 30 to 35 3s. That being said, if they are making them, what is the next game that we play? But they are going to shoot them.”

On how key (Bruce) Ellington is for South Carolina to get whatever they need to get done …
“It doesn’t matter who it is. You have guys coming into Rupp Arena or playing Kentucky, it is the game that they zero in on and cannot wait to do it. You don’t need to look at tape or stats; that is not going to tell how they will play. Mississippi State played out of their minds. They made some errors and let us back in it, but the way they played, you saw their talent, you saw how big they are and everybody saw that we didn’t bury them. South Carolina has some good players, too.”

On if he has talked to the team on how important these last few games are as far as conference tournament seeding in Atlanta …
“No, we are worried about the last five minutes of the game right now. If we can get that right, the other stuff will take care of itself. We are just worried about South Carolina, we just have to try to win a game, try to get better, try to finish a game off and just walk in and say okay let’s try to figure this out. If we struggle again at the end of the game, let’s go back and see where we are struggling and what we can do. I have a good team and good players, now let’s try to keep this thing rolling.”

#1, Darius Miller, G, Jr.

On playing South Carolina …
“They’re a tough team, they will play the whole 40 minutes so we’ll have to as well.  They definitely have a chance to beat us, and they’re a really talented team.”

On Kentucky’s 3-point defense …
“I think we’ve been playing good defense, but the other teams have started to knock down shots. We need to make the shots tougher and make them uncomfortable.  We can’t give teams as many open looks.”

#12, Brandon Knight, G, Fr.

On Kentucky’s last meeting with South Carolina …
“We came out with intensity that game, played pretty hard and we focused.  We need to make sure we play hard and definitely rebound the basketball.”

On what Kentucky learned from the end of the Mississippi State game …
“We took from it that we need to play to win and not worry about the score. Things like knowing time and clock and knowing when we’re up double digits.  We don’t need to score a lot under four minutes if we have a double-digit lead.  At that point, we need to make sure we’re running the clock and taking good shots.”

On the upper classmen’s leadership …
“It helps a lot having those guys come in and contribute.  The more we can get from them, the better we are.  When they play hard and add to the team, it just makes us better overall.”

On having fun in games …
“That’s part of the game of basketball. When you work hard, you should be able to come out and have fun.  You should be able to show your talents and show how hard you work.”

#55, Josh Harrellson, F, Sr.

On Kentucky’s confidence during games down the stretch …
“I don’t think we’re less confident now.  If we play our game we’ll be all right.  The last couple of games we got riled up when we don’t know what’s going to happen.  We stop playing our basketball and play for the score I guess.”

On what the season has meant to him on a personal level …
“It’s been great.  When the opportunity came and Enes (Kanter) couldn’t play, I took the opportunity and ran with it. I worked hard and just did a lot for the team - I do what they need me to do.  I just try to be that player that doesn’t always have to score, just try to be the garbage man.  I’ll do the little things that nobody else wants to do.  We’ve got enough talent one through four where they can score at any time during the game.  I’m not worried about that.  If I get a couple garbage points a game, that’s going to help us out.  If I have a good game like you saw in the Louisville and Tennessee games, we’re going to beat people by 15 or 20.  It just all depends, but I feel confident about this year and feel great for what I’ve done.”

On how he got to this point in his basketball career …
“I never really thought about what was going to happen.  Coach Cal always said opportunity would come, and when it comes, be ready for it.  He tells everybody that.  My opportunity finally came after sitting for two-and-a-half years waiting for it. When it finally came, I was ready for it.”