Cats and Commodores Battle for SEC Lead

Feb. 19, 2010

Cats and Commodores Battle for SEC Lead

Jumping out to its best start in the SEC since the 2005 season, Kentucky travels to Nashville for an all important match-up against Vanderbilt. UK enters the game on a six-game winning streak, including an exciting 81-75 overtime win at Mississippi State on Tuesday that saw 14 ties and 11 lead changes.

Kentucky Vanderbilt 
Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Vanderbilt Game Notes
Date & Time Sat., Feb. 20, 6:00 p.m
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
Live Video via ESPN360
Live Blog
Location Memorial Gym
Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt Commodores at a Glance
Head Coach Kevin Stallings
Overall Record 332-196
2009-10 Record 20-5, 9-2 SEC
Ranking No. 17 (AP)/No. 19 (Coaches)
Series Record Kentucky leads 132-43
Last Meeting Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 85-72 earlier this season in Lexington, Ky.
2009-10 Team Stats UK VU
Scoring Offense 81.3 78.6
Scoring Defense 65.7 68.8
FG Percentage 48.4% 48.4%
3-point FG Percentage 36.6% 36.5%
FT Percentage 67.8% 70.8%
Rebound Margin +10.3 +0.9
Assists 15.6 13.4
Turnovers 15.2 14.0
2009-10 Stat Leaders
Scoring UK: John Wall (17.0)
VU: Jermaine Beal (14.7)
Rebounding UK: DeMarcus Cousins (10.3)
VU: A.J. Ogilvy (6.1)
Assists UK: John Wall (6.5)
VU: Jermaine Beal (2.9)
3-point FG Percentage UK: Patrick Patterson (40.9%)
VU: John Jenkins (45.4%)
Blocks UK: DeMarcus Cousins (1.7)
VU: A.J. Ogilvy (1.6)
Steals UK: John Wall (1.9)
VU: Jeffery Taylor (1.3)

The Wildcats got double-doubles from DeMarcus Cousins (19p-14r), Patrick Patterson (19p-10r) and John Wall (18p-10r), marking the first time Kentucky has had three players tally double-doubles in the same since the 1978 season. Wall just missed a triple-double with eight assists.

UK also held the league's leading shot-blocking team to two swats, while the Cats recorded 12 blocks of their own.

Cat Scratches: Vandy thrives in quirky gymnasium

John Calipari wouldn't go as far as to call himself a "master psychologist" with this year's freshman-laden team, but there's no doubt he's had to put together one of his most interesting coaching jobs in his 21-year tenure.

With the spotlight continually centered on a team full of personalities and youth, he's had to play the role of nurturer, babysitter, disciplinarian and psychiatrist in addition to the Xs and Os of coaching.

But like any proud papa, there comes a time when one has to let his kids go and fight on their own. Saturday at Vanderbilt will be that day, even if it's only for 20 minutes.

Read the full story...

Kentucky Pregame Quotes

Head Coach John Calipari

On Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium...

"I talked to one coach in the league and he said it is really hard because in the first half you aren't able to speak to your team, and if they turn around to look at you, they get the ball stolen. I'm telling John Wall and Eric (Bledsoe) they are going to have to run the team. They are just going to have to do it. I told them they won't be able to hear me in the first half and they said, `Really? Good.' They were happy.

"Every other team is going through the same thing when they play there. (Kevin Stallings) can't really communicate with his team, so it is what it is. You go play the game and see what we learn from it. But, they play well. I watched the tape of their game (Thursday) and the big boy was really good. So, I would imagine he is psyched about playing us and getting after our big people, because he played really well."

On A.J. Ogilvy and facing tough opponents...

"It's not that he didn't play really well (at Kentucky), it's that DeMarcus (Cousins) played well. I imagine there is a challenge there for him, but that's these games. There is not a game that we don't go into that there is not a player on the other team not challenged. So, it's not just him, their whole team is that way. But, it is everybody we play. One of the reasons I believe my teams historically have done well in March, because we have gone through minefields like this. Every game we play is a high-energy, high-charged game. So, we walk into March and we know no one is going to stun us with their effort."

On facing Vanderbilt...

"It's not a big game because it's February. If we win, it will be a huge game. But, it's a game that's not one-and-done, it's not the end of your tournament, it's not the NCAA Tournament. It's still trying to learn about yourself in an environment where they are undefeated. They have yet to lose in that building. I bet you in the last two years their numbers in that building are 90 percent, they are going to win. We know what we are up against. This will be a really hard game for our team to win.

"Their bench is good and there have been a couple of kids who were injured, which means they are rested. Now, all of the sudden, their best shooter on their team is coming at us and I would imagine he'll try to go crazy tomorrow. But, they have two guys who haven't played which means they are rested and ready to go against us. Bottom line, it is going to be a very difficult game for us to win. We are going to go in and play, and do what we can do. Learn from the environment."

On Kentucky...

"We are good enough to beat anybody and we play a way where anybody is good enough to beat us. There are inopportune times where we are breaking down defensively and we are stopping. What we did against Mississippi State, with three minutes to go, we locked down and that five just locked down and played. They got no real opportunities. We aren't able to do that for 40 minutes and sometimes it's when we sub guys or they lose a man. It's just that we aren't ready for that yet. But, we make plays to keep everybody in games. We aren't afraid, I like that. We are on the road and we aren't afraid to make plays."

On Patrick Patterson's play against Mississippi State...

"Patrick Patterson made the short jumper, the free throws, and blocks, which is what we want from him. That should be him every night out, he is capable of that. He rebounded the ball. It makes us that much better."

On the final portion of the Southeastern Conference schedule...

"Having four of your last six on the road is a bear. Travel, your team is tired anyway, you are going in and it's someone's Super Bowl. All of that stuff that makes it hard. The challenge for these guys, they are so young, they don't know better. They are just next game."

Kentucky Players

#1, Darius Miller, So., G

On the most different thing about playing at Vanderbilt...

"It is like playing on a stage. The floor is elevated and the coaches are far away from you, so it is kind of hard to hear what they want you to do."

On his reaction the first time he walked into Memorial Gymnasium...

"I just thought it was weird. It is set up pretty weird; I was not really expecting the elevated floor."

On what makes Vanderbilt a good home team...

"Like I said it is set up pretty weird, so I am sure they are used to it. Plus they have a really good atmosphere, and I think their fans do a really good job of getting them into the game."

On what he thinks was the difference in their win the first time they played Vanderbilt...

"I think we just played a really good game, and our big men did a good job of dominating the game. They (UK's big men) played good, and we just have to keep getting the ball to them."

#5, Ramon Harris, Sr., G/F

On Vanderbilt's court ...

"It's very different. It's definitely something that, I think, gives Vandy a little advantage because they are used to playing in that type of setting. It's fun though. It makes the game a little more fun and a little more interesting."

On being able to hear Coach Cal ...

"You just have to figure out what the defense is doing and figure out the best play for that situation. It's definitely going to be an advantage when the coaches are on the opposite end of the court but I think that's what makes it a little more fun too."

On whether the freshmen will be affected ...

"It's different. I remember my freshman year there. It was definitely a change and something you had to adapt to real quick. I think we'll be alright though."

On shooting in the gym ...

"We have shoot around tonight and shoot around tomorrow so that gives us some time to get some shots up and get use to the rims and how the gym is placed."

On the confidence of winning a close game away ...

"It helped our confidence a lot, especially with the type of environment that Mississippi State has. They are a good team and an even harder team to play at home. Their crowd is behind them 100 percent and us going in there and getting a win just shows that we can play in tough environments and come out with a win. We just showed that we could win and showed improvement. I think that's one thing we focus on, trying to get better every day and showing that we can get better every day. I think we showed that at Mississippi State even though we were down with three minutes to go, we showed that we're not going to quit."

On the way teams play UK the second time in a season ...

"The teams know you a little better. They know your calls a little better and they know personnel a whole lot better, as well. I'm sure with them being at home they are going to have a lot more confidence, especially having a deeper idea of how we're going to play and how they are going to play against us. It's going to be interesting. They're very good. You saw that they went to Ole Miss last night and won in a tough environment. Ole Miss is a hard place to play too and they came out with a W, so it's going to be fun."

On what they know about Vanderbilt ...

"We know a lot about them. Jermaine Beal has improved his jump shot a lot; you can't go under on the ball screens on him. They open their offense a little more. They have backdoors now. They have guys spotting up on the wing."