Kentucky Goes for Share of SEC Title Against South Carolina

Feb. 24, 2010

Kentucky Goes for Share of SEC Title Against South Carolina

The Wildcats set their sights on their 44th SEC championship when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday. UK took control of the SEC on the strength of a 58-56 win at No. 17/19 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Kentucky South Carolina 
Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sat., Feb. 25, 9:00 p.m
Coverage TV: ESPN2
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
Live Video via ESPN360
Live Blog
Text Updates
Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
South Carolina Gamecocks at a Glance
Head Coach Darrin Horn
Overall Record 146-70
2009-10 Record 14-12, 5-7 SEC
Ranking NR
Series Record UK leads 41-10
Last Meeting South Carolina beat Kentucky 68-62 in Columbia, S.C. earlier this season
2009-10 Team Stats UK USC
Scoring Offense 80.4 72.8
Scoring Defense 65.3 10.0
FG Percentage 48.0% 41.7%
3-point FG Percentage 36.0% 32.8%
FT Percentage 67.3% 64.9%
Rebound Margin +9.8 -4.3
Assists 15.3 9.9
Turnovers 15.1 12.5
2009-10 Stat Leaders
Scoring UK: John Wall (16.8)
USC: Devan Downey (22.7)
Rebounding UK: DeMarcus Cousins (10.1)
USC: Sam Muldrow (6.4)
Assists UK: John Wall (6.3)
USC: Devan Downey (3.5)
3-point FG Percentage UK: DeAndre Liggins (42.9%)
USC: Brandis Raley-Ross (38.6%)
Blocks UK: DeMarcus Cousins (1.7)
USC: Sam Muldrow (3.2)
Steals UK: John Wall (1.9)
USC: Devan Downey (2.9)

Led by Patrick Patterson's second straight double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins' 19 points, Kentucky ended its four-game losing streak at Memorial Gym in Nashville.

UK capitalized on 15 Vanderbilt turnovers, converting them into 19 points, outscoring the Commodores 19-8 in that category.

Cat Scratches: The one that got away: Cats ready to atone for lone loss

It sits there in the back of their minds, gnawing, nudging, poking and most of all reminding. That South Carolina loss one month ago is still very much there in the back of the players' minds, one subtle reminder of how close they were to perfection.

Thursday night at 9 in Rupp Arena, the UK men's basketball team will have its shot at redemption in a classic revenge game.

Last time these two teams met, South Carolina let the air out of a No. 1 ranking, a 19-0 start and a call from President Barack Obama. To make matters worse, the Gamecocks made the most of their opportunity and rubbed every grain of salt in the open wound of the Cats.

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Kentucky Pregame Quotes

Head Coach John Calipari

On the loss to South Carolina and the rematch...

"We just want to see if we got better from the last time we played them. They played us great last time; they shortened the game, they made tough shots at the end of the clock and they got 20 offensive rebounds. They were more physical than us, they played harder than we played, they did late-clock stuff better than we did. Our shot selection and toughness around the basket, we probably missed five layups, most of them because we got bumped a little bit. You have got to give them credit for what they did. When I watched the game, they deserved to win.

"Downey is going to take 30 shots, that is what he is going to do. What was happening to us, because he was driving, we were ball watching. When he shot a ball, their man went around and rebounded. That's the issue of the game. But, the other guys hurt us. Guys made shots and different players made tough shots at a tough time in the game.

"There were four of five things we talked about that we had to get better from in that game. You just look at that game and say it was a point for us to say, `These are the areas we have to get better,' and I think most of those areas we have."

"In most cases, when you want to hold the ball against a good defensive team, you aren't going to score a whole lot. Then, it comes down to us offensively making the layups, making a few extra jumpers, making free throws, and then you create a gap. Then they have to make a choice. If I don't like what's happening or they are way sharper than we are, then maybe we'll go into some other things that we have. Trapping, pressing more or trying to speed up play.

"I'm going to tell you, they could beat us. They are good enough to beat us; they have already beaten us once. They play hard, they play really physical. Did they win last year in this building? So, they aren't intimidated by this building. They could easily come in and beat us. We're not walking in this game and I'm certainly not saying, `This is a W.' If we win it on a half court bank shot, I'll be happy; it will be a hard game for us."

On Eric Bledsoe...

"He's played fine. The best thing that happened for Eric, and I told the team this in front of him, he didn't play great while at Vandy. His offensive decision making wasn't good, he didn't shoot the ball like he had been. But, after the game when I walked in that locker room, there was no one happier than him. He missed the two free throws that could have cost us the game. The second thing that was great about it was when John Wall blocked the shot-if you watch-John Wall went up to Eric to say, `I've got your back.' Eric thought he lost the game and we won. He was so happy that we won."

On managing emotions on the court...

"You talk to the team about it, not just [DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe]. My issue to them was, we have to be mature and we don't want to put ourselves in a position to lose a national championship opportunity because a 30-second decision you couldn't keep your wits about you. But, it's not just those two. We are just so young. These kids listen, they know. The point being, would you want to be the guy that cost us that opportunity?"

On the win at Vanderbilt...

"I liked their desire to win the game and do whatever they had to do down the stretch. But, we did some stuff down the stretch and we should have put them away. We gave them a chance, so there are things we have to learn from it. The environment, the physicality of the game, a team that will grind it and say, `We don't care if we win 42-40. We just want to win.' That's the NCAA Tournament. You aren't worried about the score or blowing people out, you are worried about advancing."  

#33, Daniel Orton, Fr., F

On the game against South Carolina...

"Of course we want to beat them because they beat us before, but also to keep our good record. It is like every other game, and we are going to try to keep it that way."

On what the team needs to do better...

"Play better defensively. We all need to guard the pick and roll better, and do a better job getting offensive rebounds."

#34, DeAndre Liggins, So., G

On playing South Carolina the second time and if it will be a little bit tougher the second time...

"I think we have a new game plan this time and we have to be ready to come out and compete."

On if coach Calipari has stressed more on rebounding since they outrebounded the team last time...

"Yes, he has. We did a lot of boxing out drills yesterday and I am sure we will do it again today."

On how to stop Devan Downey...

"He is a good player; we just have to use defensive schemes to try to stop him. He is really short, but if I can get lower while guarding him, I think I will be fine."

On what the team didn't do last time that they have to do this time to win...

"They outrebounded us and we broke down defensively. We have to make up for it and not do that again."