Cats Look for Sweep of Commodores
Feb. 24, 2012
The Wildcats continued their winning ways, pushing the nation's longest active winning streak to 19 games, with a 73-64 win over Mississippi State in Starkville, while also putting themselves in position to claim their 45th SEC Championship outright with their next victory.
|Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt
Sat., Feb. 25 - 12:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | VU
Radio: UK IMG
Senior Darius Miller came through in the clutch for Kentucky knocking down three free throws to cut a seven-point MSU lead to four with under seven minutes left. Miller followed that with a 3-pointer cutting the MSU lead to one and gave UK an insurmountable seven-point lead with a minute and a half left, hitting his third 3-pointer of the night.
Located in Nashville, Tenn. (216 miles southwest of Lexington), Vanderbilt enters the weekend in third place in the SEC standings.
The Commodores enter Saturday's contest off a 59-48 win against South Carolina on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt has three players scoring in double figures led by SEC-scoring leader John Jenkins at 20.1 ppg. Jeffery Taylor (17.3) and Festus Ezeli (10.1) are also scoring in double-figures. Lance Goulbourne leads the team in rebounding at 7.0 rpg., while Tinsley is the catalyst for the Commodores, with a team-best 123 assists.
Kevin Stallings is in his 13th season as head coach of the Commodores. He has amassed a 256-156 record in Nashville, while tallying an overall mark of 379-219. Stallings has led Vanderbilt to the NCAA Regional Semifinals twice and a total of nine postseason appearances.
Kentucky owns a 135-44 record in the all-time series, including a 75-14 mark against the Commodores in Lexington.
The Wildcats are looking for a regular season sweep of the 'Dores after posting a 69-63 win against Vandy in Nashville two weeks ago.
Kentucky and Vanderbilt split last season and have done so in three of the last four years.
The last time UK swept VU was in the 2010 season.
The 179 meetings make Vandy UK's second most common opponent behind Tennessee (210).
The Kentucky-Vanderbilt series ranks as the eighth-longest series in SEC history.
Pre-Vanderbilt Media Opportunity - Feb. 24, 2012
Head Coach John Calipari
On the technical fouls against Mississippi State ...
“I guess (Anthony Davis) held on to the rim, I just moved on. My point is, he is running so fast he needs to hold on to the rim. If anybody touched him and don’t say you should know if the guy is behind you because you don’t. If you are running that fast you should have the right to hold on to the rim and he was. They called it, it’s too bad, it didn’t affect the game, it almost did but it didn’t. We move on. All I’m telling you is when you are running that fast, let go, the guy clips him and he breaks his head open to never play basketball again or he can hold on to the rim. If there is any doubt you should let it go.”
On Marquis Teague ...
“He did OK, he made some shots, he made some lay-ups, he had a couple turnovers at some inopportune times but the only reason he didn’t play the last six, seven minutes is how we played, it had nothing to do with him. The greatest part of it is how he cheered. He was in to every possession down the stretch, cheering his team on. Here is a guy that has been out there in every one of those situations all year and in this situation we didn’t need him out there because the team was playing well and he did great and was great about it. I told the team right after the game, he wasn’t out because of him, he was out because you all played well. But that’s happened to Terrence (Jones), Doron (Lamb), Darius (Miller), it’s happened to Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). It’s good.”
On Vanderbilt ...
“They’re good, Vandy is good. I watched their game with Mississippi, they were up by 40. (Jeffery) Taylor was unbelievable, (John) Jenkins did his thing, they all did, (Festus) Ezeli did his thing. They are a good team; they are a really good team. They dropped one or two that they shouldn’t have but everybody does that, they are not machines. It’s like Mississippi State, after our game they said, if we play like this we will be fine. Vandy, believe me, they are coming here with one thought, they are winning this game, they are going to beat the team that is leading the league. We are just going to come in and play as hard as we can and hopefully play well.”
On if it would be good to suffer a loss before the NCAA Tournament ...
“It depends on how you lose, if another team comes in and plays out of their minds and you play well and they beat you then its fine and you just move on. Now if it’s because you were flat and you weren’t ready to play and you got sand kicked in your face and that’s how you lost then no it’s not a good loss. But to have somebody come play really well and we play really well and they squeeze a game out somehow it is not that big of a deal. We’d move on to the next game. This is about my team getting better, that’s all we need to deal with, that’s all I’m having them deal with.”
On peaking too soon ...
“No, we’re doing fine. Our numbers the last six games are ridiculous. So from the beginning of the season to that frame to this frame, now we have three games left so let’s see if we can edge it up a little bit more.”
On learning from the comeback against Mississippi State ...
“No, what has been interesting thinking about it is Darius has been a big part of those finishes. When we’re down he has been making shots, making plays, making defensive plays and I think he is more calm than anyone else out there. He did the thing offensively that we needed to have done; they were in a zone and sagging in and he made those shots. The other thing I liked in that is if we have to go with Doron (Lamb) extended minutes at point guard we’re fine. Again, Terrence (Jones) in the second half, we showed tape to the team of him just absolutely aggressive, vicious, clapping. Play like that all the time, why do you choose not to? Because it is easier to stand there. Hard to do that and for 28-30 minutes; I’ll be really tired after the game. He laughed and we all laughed and when they see him that way they are looking like, you know how good you are, you are as good as anyone in the country, just play like that. The great lesson on the tape is the tape never lies, the stats indict, the tape convicts.”
On what has changed helping Darius Miller gain confidence ...
“There was one shot he passed and I subbed him. So I think now he understands if I don’t shoot the ball I’m going to get my head ripped off and I might as well shoot it and if I miss it, I miss it. It’s a lot easier to make it if you know whether I make it or not, I must shoot this ball. It takes time for some guys; they have never been in this situation. It is amazing our freshmen are reacting the way they are but we still don’t know how they are going to react in tournament play when you lose it’s over. We think we know, but we really don’t. I’m not satisfied to this point, I’m happy with (Miller’s) growth but I’m not satisfied. I’m going to tell you, I think he is an NBA player when he plays with aggressiveness; he dunks balls, he plays hard, he gets in there and rebounds in traffic. When he plays that way, that guy is an NBA player, the other guy is not, he’s just not. He’s shown us that he can do it, it’s just harder to do that, it is rougher, it is more taxing. You have to focus and concentrate every possession; it is hard for players to play that way.”
On the seniors at Vanderbilt having not won at Kentucky ...
“It doesn’t matter, they are playing, come on now, everybody we play after the game says my team played good, now if we continue to play like this we are going to be good. You’ve heard it over and over. This game is going to be the same, they are going to play out of their minds, it is going to be a hard game for us to win. I don’t care that we are at home; they are a senior-dominated team. They make nine or 10 3s a game, if they do that against us we lose the game, we go on to Thursday. Ezeli is a physical guy, last time he was in this building I think he had over 20 points and must have had 10 dunks. We have a challenge ahead of us and our guys, hopefully by the time the game starts at noon hopefully our guys will realize they have a challenge ahead of them.”
#1 Darius Miller, G, Sr.
On his thoughts coming into this game ...
“It’s going to be a tough game. They played us really well last time and we have to come out ready to go.”
On what he knows about Vandy having played them already ...
“I know they’re going to be ready to go. They can shoot the ball extremely well, so we’re going to try and take that away from them and we’re going to have to keep them off the glass too.”
On if they continue to use that Indiana loss as motivation when games get close ...
“Definitely. That was a tough loss for us, especially at the end like that when we thought we had a chance to win. We felt like we battled towards the end of the game to get in position to win, so we don’t want to feel that again. I know we don’t need another loss for us to stay motivated. We stay motivated each and every day in practice going up against each other. So I don’t feel like we need a loss - hopefully we can keep it going.”
On what it means to have that will to win especially with so many young guys on the team ...
“It means a lot for us especially how you said with how young the team is; for them to want that bad and be hungry for wins, it helps us a lot. We all feed off of each other and it seems like towards the end of the game, we all focus in on what we need to do to get a win.”
On where Vanderbilt ranks among the top teams in the SEC after having played everyone this year ...
“Definitely one of the top teams. They shoot the ball extremely well. We can’t allow them to be comfortable or they’ll continue to knock down shots which is where they are going to hurt us. We also have to do a better job of keeping them off the glass.”
#23 Anthony Davis, F, Fr.
On what they can expect from Vanderbilt ...
“Physicality. The same way we went in there making shots and being physical around the rim, rebounding. Same way we played down there the same way it’s going to be here. We’ll just have our crowd instead of theirs.”
On what he knows now about Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli ...
“He’ll try to use his strength to get around the rim. When you double team the post, it’s hard for him to score from the outside - he has to be near the rim. So that’s what we did the whole game when we went down there. Just trying to keep him away from the basket and keep him outside the paint.”
On how they deal with all the expectations they’re facing individually and as a team ...
“Just keep working. There are a lot of expectations for me and for this team, so we just have to keep working. You can never take days off, that’s why we’re always in here before practice getting work in.”
On if their mind is “National Title or Bust” at this point in the season ...
“I mean, we have a chance of doing it. We’re playing excellent right now. We just have to keep coming out and playing the way we know how to play.”
#25 Marquis Teague, G, Fr.
On how well opponents play against Kentucky ...
“We know every team that we play is going to hit a lot shots that they normally don’t make because they’re pumped to play us. They’re going to play out of their minds and we know that’s coming. Some games a team might do like Mississippi State and do more than normal. Some other games, they might not go in. We’ve just got to be prepared for whatever happens.”
On fighting through stretches where opponents are making difficult shots ...
“That’s what Coach Cal says before every game, ‘See if they can do it for 40 minutes.’ We’re going to defend and make it tough on them. If they make tough shots, we got another game next week.”
On whether John Calipari’s message of UK being a big game for every opponent helps prepare the team to face it ...
“We know what to expect every game. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. Everybody’s going to come pumped to play us and wanting to knock us off. We’ve got to come prepared every game.”