Gameday: Kentucky at South Carolina
Kentucky and South Carolina Meet for the 50th Time
Two of the SEC East Division leaders get together Wednesday when Kentucky travels to South Carolina for a regionally televised match-up on Raycom.
The Wildcats enter the game off a 77-58 win over Tennessee on Saturday in Rupp Arena. UK held the Volunteers scoreless for the first 8:05 of the game, and went on to shoot 59.6 percent from the field.
Darius Miller had a career game with 17 points and six assists, both personal best. Patrick Patterson returned action after missing two games with a sprained ankle. Patterson recorded a game-high 19 points and five rebounds. UK All-American candidate Jodie Meeks finished with 14 points, three assists and three steals.
South Carolina comes into the game off an 82-78 overtime win against Arkansas on Saturday.
- Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
- Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,985.
- The Wildcats are 41-8 all-time against South Carolina, including a 16-4 mark in Columbia.
- Jodie Meeks leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fourth nationally in scoring (25.4 ppg).
- Meeks, the SEC Player of the Week, is averaging 26.6 ppg in SEC games.
- Patrick Patterson is tied for second in the nation in FG percentage (64.7) and 36th in rebounding (9.0).
- Patterson is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top six in scoring (6th - 17.9) and rebounding (4th - 9.0).
- UK ranks third in the country in blocked shots per game (7.0), fifth in free throw percentage (78.1), sixth in FG pct. defense (.376), sixth in field goal percentage (49.0) and 17th in assists/game (16.4).
- Perry Stevenson ranks ninth on UK's all-time blocked shots list (130).
- Jodie Meeks (1,077) became the 56th member of Kentucky's prestigious 1,000 point club. He currently ranks 46th on UK's all-time scoring list.
- Patrick Patterson (858) is also approaching the 1,000-point mark.
Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie
On playing for first place in the SEC...
"You always want to win first place. There are only four games left. There is still 25 percent of our conference's schedule left. So, it's quite a bit, but we are very fortunate to be where we are. We know we have a lot left to do. We have a great deal of improvement to make if we are going to do what we want to do before it's all over."
On areas where the team can improve...
"Really, our decision making could get a lot better for this point of the season. We hold onto the ball for way too long and sometimes that happens. But it's been happening since November and December and we really need to start moving the ball better. We need to pass the ball on time and on target. That's one of the greatest things that we need to improve on offensively."
On last Saturday's game against Tennessee...
"Well, they chose not to guard some guys so; it was a little easier to move the ball on time and on target. Some of those guys were having some trouble making some shots and sometimes you have to make them beat you. Fortunately, it went our way."
On South Carolina's style of play...
"They have two very good decision-making and talented guards. They can make baskets, make plays and t hey understand how to make plays for others. They have a bunch of other very good players. ( Dominique) Archie is a pro in my opinion. (Mike) Holmes and (Sam) Muldrow have played as well as any big-guy combo in the league in my opinion, because they carry out their assignments. They go to the offensive glass every single time and they help on defense. As far as production goes, they are getting a great deal of production. And if you would go back to the beginning of the year, there would have been a lot of big-guy duos that were a lot better than them. (Sam) Muldrow got eight offensive rebounds against us. As a team they had 18, so those guys are really respected in that area. Those big guys do a fantastic job. They are a really good team. They have a good, sound defense and sometimes that doesn't show up in numbers. They rebound in a timely fashion and because of their experience in play-making ability they have won a lot of close games."
On whether Kentucky's players know their rolls...
"We are very far away from that. They have been defiant. Every single person has to defensive rebound much better. We have to help defend much better. We have to offensive rebound much better. We have to reverse the basketball better. We have to feed the post better. And when you talk about those things that need improving as a team, those are the things that individuals must do to improve as a team and we are not doing that right now."
On defensive rebounding...
"I don't know if its personnel. I don't know if it's coaching, but something is not happening. It's not like it's something that just popped up on its own, it's been happening all year. This team should be a great rebounding team. If you look at the guys' numbers- if they have a really good offensive night, then they may not get a lot of rebounds. Unfortunately, that shouldn't be happening exactly that way, but we have a lot to do if we are going to get better. Perry (Stevenson) and Patrick (Patterson) should each be getting seven or eight defensive rebounds a game. And then by having a great offensive game they should be pulling three of four offensive rebounds. Josh (Harrellson) has been good by the numbers; he just hasn't played many minutes. Our guards, in my opinion, have been horrendous. They are just totally inconsistent. DeAndre (Liggins), Darius (Miller) and Jodie (Meeks) should all be great defensive rebounders. Mike (Porter) should pull down two or three a game too. But, we are all standing around and watching way too much."
On South Carolina's offense...
"They penetrate very well. Sometimes they will pass it out for an easy basket or sometimes they will put it up for a possible basket and a foul. Or if they don't get a basket, they will put up a shot and sometimes a bad shot is a very effective play, because that forces the defense to have to rotate. A big guy might have to help and that could lead to an opposite side offensive rebound put-back and that's the largest part of their offense."
On DeAndre Liggins...
"He needs to stop trying to force too much stuff. He needs to make the easy plays. I was watching film with the guys the other day. We watched about three games. I asked him how many big plays he thought he made. He told me one- he made a really big shot against Kansas State. Then I asked him how many bad plays he thought he made. We agreed that there were about a hundred of them with offensive and defensive rebounding and things like that. That's where most young players may not understand. The understanding to make easier plays usually comes with experience. But as a team, we are really trying to force things way too much as that position. If he starts doing the easier stuff, then really big things are going to happen."
On Jodie Meeks being a possible candidate for "National Player of the Year"...
"I look at what a guy does for his team. When you look at the way that we play around Jodie, I doubt that anyone has had more offensive and defensive responsibility than Jodie Meeks. I have not been around a guy that has won more games for us than him. I mean, everybody has to do their part and it's not just a one man show, but if he didn't have some of those really big games we would have had no chance to win without him. And as far as Patrick goes, he does the same amount that Jodie does, but his play is more dictated by other players because it is so hard to get the ball in there to him on time and on target. Jodie doesn't play around other people. As far as penetrating and pitching goes, I bet Jodie hasn't had five of them this year. Recently, we have done a really good job on our transition. Unfortunately, the defense has just taken everything away from him. But, he has still figured ways out to help us win. I doubt that anyone has had such an impact on a team that isn't in first place at this point being in the position that it is. So, I would think that as far as numbers go it's great, but as far as outstanding impact on a team it's much greater than any number that he could put up in my opinion."