Gameday: Kentucky vs. Tennessee

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Wildcats Return Home to Host Volunteers


CBS - Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner

Big Blue Sports Network - Tom Leach and Mike Pratt

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Cat Scratches starting around Noon

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After a short two-game road stretch, the Wildcats return home to host the Tennessee Volunteers in a nationally televised contest on CBS Saturday.

The last time these two teams got together, Jodie Meeks produced a game for the ages, recording a school record and Thompson-Boling Arena record 54 points en route to a 90-72 victory in Knoxville. Most recently, the Wildcats split a two-game road stretch picking up a 79-63 win at Arkansas followed by a 77-64 loss at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

Meeks scored a game high 26 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome 13 offensive rebounds by the Commodores which led to 18 second chance points.

The Volunteers enter the game following an 81-65 loss at Ole Miss on Wednesday.

Cat Scratches

  • Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
  • Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,984.
  • The Wildcats are 141-65 all-time against Tennessee, including a 84-16 in Lexington.
  • Jodie Meeks leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks third nationally in scoring (25.8 ppg).
  • Meeks, the SEC Player of the Week, is averaging 27.7 ppg in SEC games.
  • Patrick Patterson is tied for second in the nation in FG percentage (64.3) and 33rd in rebounding (9.1).
  • Patterson is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top six in scoring (6th - 17.8) and rebounding (4th - 9.1).
  • UK ranks third in the country in blocked shots per game (7.1), fifth in free throw percentage (77.9), 11th in field goal percentage (48.7) and 21st in assists/game (16.1).
  • Perry Stevenson ranks ninth on UK’s all-time blocked shots list (130).
  • Jodie Meeks (1,063) became the 56th member of Kentucky’s prestigious 1,000 point club. He currently ranks 50th on UK’s all-time scoring list.
  • Patrick Patterson (839) is also approaching the 1,000-point mark.

Head Coach Billy Gillispie

On Patrick Patterson's ankle …
“He is doing better. He practiced yesterday and did well early, but not so good late in the practice. He practiced again today and we weren't out there quite as long so he did a little bit better. I would expect that he would play tomorrow, but I haven't talked to the trainers since practice ended today.”

On Tennessee's defense …
“They have some great athletes so that helps them out a lot. They are very competitive and they have been coached really well on how to be in the right position. They do a good job of not giving up to many offensive rebounds because they are long and athletic at every single position. More importantly, you can be in the right position and not get it done, but they get it done because they are very competitive.”

On being tied for the SEC East title …
“We have not talked about it. We have Tennessee tomorrow and we are going to try and play as well as we can against them. We will have to play really well. It should be a very fun game and a high-intensity game. Everyone needs to win games right now at this point in the season. I'm not trying to figure what has to happen or what needs to happen in order to win the East title. I don't want to waste my time on that kind of stuff.”

On NCAA selection committee …
“They aren't going to ask me to be on the selection committee. Number one I would not want to be on that committee. They do a remarkable job figuring all that stuff out. Every year there will be several teams that will make the tournament and some will not. If you have 24 teams make the tournament then the 25 th team will be disappointed. Obviously, it is a very tough job. There are a lot of teams trying to get a few spots. It seems like the committee is very thorough and no matter what the committee member's background is, they have great leadership. They have great objectives and they usually get the best teams that meet the objectives that they set out. There will always be teams that get left out and other teams that barely scrape by to get in. It seems like an impossible task and they do about as good of a job as they possibly can in my opinion.”

On finishing plays in the paint …
“That is part of the problem we have had lately. We have not executed very well and finish plays. When we did get down in the paint, we would make some poor decisions. We weren't tough enough in the paint on either end against Vanderbilt. We really helped each other defensively for about 28 minutes of the game. Vanderbilt played very well; they made some shots and rebounded very well. They (Vanderbilt) also defended very well and we didn't have much going on except for what Jodie (Meeks) did. I thought Vanderbilt was quite a bit tougher in the paint than we were.”

On the last time against Tennessee …

“We gave up seven offensive rebounds to Wayne Chism, who is a hard guy to block out. We gave up five to Terrance Williams who is another hard guy to block out. Last time Tennessee had 19 total offensive rebounds and we can't do that. We got lucky that Jodie had such a great night that night to bail us out. We can't give up 19 offensive rebounds and expect to win. We have to vastly improve in that area. They have a very good system and they are very athletic. Their system creates opportunities to get offensive rebounds. They do about the best job I have ever seen on offensive rebounds and playing in transition.  

Player Quotes

#1 Darius Miller, Fr.

On coach Gillispie saying that Kentucky was lucky last time they played Tennessee because Jodie Meeks scored 54 points …
“That was a big reason why we won, because Jodie had so many points. We really didn't play very well, so this time we are going to have to come out and stay focused and be ready to play.”

On Patrick Patterson's status …
“We didn't prepare any differently. Coach has been sticking to the same plan and everything. We are not 100 percent sure that Patrick will be back, so we don't want to get our hopes up and then he doesn't get to play and we are not prepared. He is looking good in practice. He is battling really hard and playing really good. Like I said, he is probably just not 100 percent.”

On how much difference Patterson can have on a game …
“He can make a big difference. Pat is a great player and is one of our main players, so him being back would be a big difference in the game.”

On what he remembers about the first game with Tennessee …
“Jodie scoring 54. They are a good team and we are going to have to come out and stop them in transition because they do a good job of pushing you in transition. We have to keep them off the offensive glass as well because it seemed like they had a lot of offensive rebounds in the last game. We are really going to have to work on rebounding and stopping them in transition.”

#3 Kevin Galloway, Jr.

On how the team plays Jodie in practice …
“We try to get him prepared and get physical with him. We try to not let him catch the ball and make him work for everything. That's the way they have been playing him in the game, not letting him catch the ball and things. So if he works hard in practice it will make it a little easier during the game.”

On if Tennessee will have a chip on their shoulder heading into this game …
“We are just going to play our game and let the game come to us. I imagine that it will be pretty physical for Jodie. They are probably going to try to get after him hard.”

On how he played against Tennessee in Knoxville …
“I think that I played well. That is when I first got my confidence, when I got to play there. I believe that I got around eight or 10 minutes, something like that. That game helped me get out of my comfort zone and get some confidence a little bit.” 
On what he needs to improve on …
“I just have to be more patient and let the game come to me more. Sometimes I try to force things and I need to just make the simple plays. I feel like I have been playing great defensively and I have been working hard in practice. I have taken that role upon myself to get better. I am very confident defensively.”

#5 Ramon Harris, Jr.

On getting through Tennessee's pressure …
“We are going to have to play our type of game and our way. We have plays and designs for the type of pressure that they do have and they are a good pressure team. They really guard you on defense and force teams to turn the ball over. We have to protect the ball and make good safe and hard passes.”

On the mood of the team right now …
“Right now, like I have said, we have games that we feel like we should have won but we let go and didn't win. At the same time, there is nothing else that you can do about that. We are tied with three other teams in first place right now and we have a chance to set our own destiny. Our guys know that and we are trying to work hard because we know how important these last few games are.'

On how Patrick Patterson looked today …
“Pat looked really good today. He was running hard, posting hard and he is starting to get more confidence in his moves and everything. He just really looked good today.”

On other teams defending Jodie …
“I think that Vanderbilt did a really good job on Jodie. They pressured him full court and whenever he touched the ball they had guys on him and when he didn't they had guys near him. They really made sure they knew where he was on the court at all times.”