Kentucky Meets Mississippi State in Starkville

Feb. 24, 2015

Kentucky travels to Starkville to face Mississippi State on Wednesday, February 25. The game will be carried by the SEC Network and tip is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky at Mississippi State
Wednesday, Feb. 25 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Starkville, Miss.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | MSU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via SEC Network+
Live Audio
Live Stats
Text Updates
UK Team Stats MSU
74.7 Points 62.1
52.6 Opp. Points 62.7
.469 FG .428
.342 Opp. FG .410
.342 3-FG .307
.275 Opp. 3-FG .315
.704 FT .698
38.7 Rebs 35.7
30.9 Opp. Rebs. 31.5
15.4 Assists 8.4
11.2 Turnovers 15.1
7.0 Blocks 2.9
6.9 Steals 6.7

This Week’s News:

Towns Sparks Offensive Eruption in 110-75 Rout of Auburn

  • Led by one of Karl-Anthony Towns’ most complete performances of his young career, the Wildcats routed Auburn 110-75 on Saturday.
    • Towns scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double and his third in the last six games.
    • The 19 points tied his season high set on two previous occasions.
    • He was 8 for 9 form the field and 3 for 3 at the foul line.
    • The Piscataway, N.J., native also added four blocks and two assists.
  • Kentucky is 27-0 to start the season for the first time in the history of the program, bettering the the 1953- 54 group’s 25-0 start.
  • UK is the only team in Southeastern Conference history to begin a season 27-0.
  • It’s also the Wildcats’ best start to a conference season since the 2011-12 team went 16-0 in league play.
  • Kentucky’s 27-game winning streak is tied for the second longest in school history.
  • The streak is tied for the longest over the course of a single season, matching the 1995-96 Wildcats.
  • The 27-0 start is the best of any John Calipari team he has ever coached.
  • The 27 straight wins ties the longest winning streak of Calipari’s career, tying his 2008-09 Memphis team’s 27 consecutive wins.
  • UK has won 49 of its last 51 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
    • John Calipari has a 93-9 all-time record when coaching the nation’s No. 1 team, including a 52-4 mark at Kentucky.
  • Calipari won his 100th game at Rupp Arena and is now 100-4 (.962) in the venue.
  • UK led the entire game and has trailed for only 146:01 of a possible 1,095 minutes this season.
  • Kentucky hit the century mark for the first time since a 105-76 win vs. UT Arlington on Nov. 19, 2013.
  • It’s the most points for the Wildcats since a 115-87 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 30, 2002.
  • It’s the most points for the Wildcats against an SEC opponent since a 120-81 win over Vanderbilt on Feb. 7, 1996.
  • Kentucky shot a season-high 64.7 percent from the field, the ninth time this season the Wildcats have made at least half their shots in a game.
  • UK dominated on the boards (44-22), in second- chance points (21-7), in points in the paint (62- 24) and in bench points (43-10).
  • Kentucky had 25 assists, tying the season high set earlier vs. UCLA.
  • UK had balanced scoring with six players in double figures, the first time that has happened since the win over UT Arlington on Nov. 25.
  • The Wildcats jumped out to a 30-4 lead and never looked back.
  • Aaron Harrison pumped in 18 points, his fourth-highest total of the season.
  • Dakari Johnson had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
  • Andrew Harrison contributed 12 points and a career-high-tying nine assists.
  • Devin Booker scored 11 points, his 15th double- figure game of the season.
  • Tyler Ulis notched 10 points, the most for him since scoring 11 points at Alabama on Jan.17.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein had nine points, making all four of his field-goal attempts.
  • Marcus Lee tallied six points, making all three field goal attempts, along with a career-high-tying eight rebounds.
  • Tod Lanter’s trey were his first points as a Cat.

Kentucky Pulls Away from Tennessee

  • Kentucky traveled to another hostile environment and survived a fight from Tennessee, before going on a 10-0 run late in the second half to pull away for a 66-48 win.
    • UK is 56-0 in the Calipari era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 18 times this season.
  • UK hit 81 percent (17 of 21) at the free-throw line. It is the 11th time in the last 14 games that the Cats have made at least 70 percent from the line.
  • Tennessee made two 3-point shots, tying Texas A&M and the game at South Carolina for the second fewest made 3s by a UK opponent this season. Missouri made just one 3 in the Jan. 13 game.
  • Devin Booker grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end. His previous best was four boards. Booker just missed out on a career-high point total with 18 points.
  • Tyler Ulis dished out six assists, his highest assist total since dropping six dimes at South Carolina on Jan. 24. Ulis added eight points with seven of them coming in the first half.
  • Andrew Harrison continued his recent strong play with 14 points.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein just missed out on his third double-double of the season with nine points and seven rebounds.

UK Retires Delk’s Jersey

  • UK Athletics Hall of Famer Tony Delk had his jersey retired to the rafters at Rupp Arena on Saturday night during the UK-Auburn game.
  • Delk’s jersey was the 43rd associated with men’s basketball to join the legends in the Rupp Arena Rafters.
    • It was the first jersey retirement since Sam Bowie on Feb. 23, 2002.
  • There is a five-year waiting period – after leaving UK – to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Famers are eligible for jersey retirement five years after they have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
  • The Most Outstanding Player of the 1996 NCAA Final Four and the Midwest Regional in leading UK to the national championship, he arned firstteam All-America and SEC Player of the Year honors as a senior. He is UK’s career leader in 3-pointers (283), while ranking second in career steals (201) and fifth in scoring (1,890 points).

Media Opportunity - February 23, 2015

Assistant Coach Barry ‘Slice’ Rohrssen

On Andrew Harrison’s play the last few weeks …
“He’s really done a tremendous job. He and Coach Cal have a very good relationship. They speak a lot one-on-one. One of the things Cal has told him is he wants him to be aggressive. He’s not worried about Andrew making poor decisions. Andrew is going to do well. He just wants him to play fast, pick up the pace, get everybody involved. The other day he probably tied his career high for assists with nine.”

On Andrew Harrison’s experience as a sophomore helping him …
“I can only speak for this year being that this is the year I’m here. What I witness on a day-to-day basis is a very good interaction between a head coach and his point guard.”

On if he saw Andrew Harrison much when he was in high school …
“I saw him a little bit. Very good player. But it’s just good to see him leading this team right now and accepting a lot of the challenges that come along with the demands that are placed on him.”

On if his style of play in high school made him have to adjust when he got to UK …
“No, just play aggressive. Play fast. Take it to the rim. Shoot when it’s open. Find your teammates, which he is doing right now. He has had a bunch of really good games for us.”

On what has been important in Devin Booker’s development this season …
“His defense has gotten a lot better, which we might have mentioned earlier. It’s one of the parts of his game where he knew he wanted to work on – needed to work on. So he has stepped up to that. Obviously he puts a lot of time in with his shooting, both before practice and post-practice. Even on game days and shoot arounds he puts in a lot of extra work perfecting his shot. And it’s nice to see that work that he’s putting in be rewarded because he’s really shooting the ball very well.”

On who came up with Karl-Anthony Towns’ “Karlito” nickname …
”Yeah, I know who came up with it. I think it was me.”

On coming up with the name Karlito …
“Hey, it’s just, Karl is as good of a guy as you are ever going to want to coach. If they were all like Karl Towns, more people would want to get into coaching. He’s just a wonderful guy and somebody who is as talented as he is and likes to work. He’s doing a lot especially for a freshman. It’s usually a year where you have to transition and learn a lot of things you know being on a college campus for the first time, but he’s doing well.”

On Coach Calipari’s comments about Towns needing to improve physically …
“Well, he’s maturing, you know, physically, emotionally demands that come along with this. You know, he came in here wide-eyed wanting to learn, which is good and those are some of the things that every player (does), but especially freshmen need to learn. A lot of times (with) post guys, it’s uncomfortable to play low, but the better balance you have, the closer you are to the basket really helps you fortify your position down there. Gives you explosion, gives you some strength. So he’s learning all that day by day.”

On what you have to do to keep his excitement down and focused …
“Well, he’s a very enthusiastic young man, which you probably already picked up. He has a wonderful personality, very outgoing. But with him, the more you give him the more he absorbs. He’s a sponge in that he wants to get better. He’s always asking you stuff every day, each practice, from game to game. And that’s one of the things about Karl that you just love to coach. It is really across the board with a lot of our guys this year.”

On if it’s difficult to recruit players with a talented team …
“Well, you know, recruiting is a daily process. Someone once said it’s like shaving: If you miss a day, it gets ugly, so you just keep have to keep on top of it every day.”

On how well the team has stayed focused for each game …
“This group is so pleasant when you see them come out to practice each day and even in games. It’s amazing that you can get a group of guys on one team that care about each other so much, that like each other so much, that are selfless. We probably have over 400 assists on 700 made field goals – somewhere in that number. Probably goes far to say it’s probably the highest assist average per game during the Calipari era, and that says a lot about these guys.”

On keeping the players engaged …
“You know, one of the best things that’s been noticeable to myself is just the team building and team bonding. You know, with our group, everybody is being their brother’s keepers and looking out for each other and pulling them along each game.”

On Tyler Ulis playing through pain …
“Well, a lot of teams at this point in the year are going through a lot of injuries. You know, you get nicked up. Tyler’s a guy that leaves it all out on the floor. I mean, you just love to watch him play. He’s fearless, he’s reckless, he gives it everything he has every minute he’s out on the floor, and you’re going to catch some injuries along the way there. But he’s a fighter, he battles through it and he may go from one injury to another injury, but he still comes back.”

On playing Mississippi State …
“They look much improved from last year. They have been in a lot of close games and recently beat LSU at home. They have some good inside players there and we have to be ready for a conference road game.”

On focusing on the team more so than the opponents …
“That goes more so with every team. It starts within and you have to be confident and prepared. There are no stones that are going to be unturned with Coach Cal and Coach Robic and their scouting. In that regard, keeping everything that you need to improve on as a team is always a priority.”

On how the ride has been with this team …
“Unbelievable. Exceptionally unbelievable and I hope it keeps going. I certainly feel blessed to be here around such a good group of guys, staff, community and fan base.”

#2, Aaron Harrison, So., G

On Andrew Harrison being more aggressive now …
“He’s just loosening up and starting to play and starting to have fun.”

On if that’s a surprise to him …
“No, not really.”

On what the 27-0 run has been like …
“I mean, we’re just excited to get into the tournaments, and excited about just making a run in the postseason. Just getting prepared for that really.”

On if it’s hard staying focused to close out the regular season with no losses …
“No, I mean we’re playing some top teams. We got Mississippi State and Arkansas up next, and it’s not really hard to get up for games like that.”

On if he remembers last year’s game in Starkville and if he thinks the Bulldogs will give them a tough game Wednesday …
“Yeah, of course they’re going to give us a good game. Played a little sloppy there last year and I don’t think we defended really well, so we have some making up to do.”

On if it seems like March is taking a long time to get here …
“Definitely. I’m definitely excited for March and just the atmosphere. Just can’t wait for it to get here.”

On how much further along the team is this year compared to March 1, 2014, when they played South Carolina …
“Oh yeah, we’re much further along. We bought in a lot earlier this year, and it’s just a lot easier.”

On what his predictions are for this year …
“I mean, it’s been a great story so far, so we’ll see.”

On if it feels good to have a good game alongside his brother …
“Yeah, I guess so. I’ve been a little inconsistent lately and just gotta work on that really. He’s been playing well for the last month now really. Just gotta get myself together.”

On what’s helped him find that comfort zone …
“You just gotta come into every game with energy really. If you bring the energy I think everything else takes care of itself, so if you have that, that’s the biggest thing.”

On why Coach Cal is emphasizing for he and Andrew to drive to the basket more …
“Because we’re big guards and just our ability to get in the lane is a big thing.”

On what that does for the team …
“It just creates shots for other guys and just really helps us be a more aggressive team.”

On if he sees the relationship between Andrew and Cal …
“Yeah of course. Obviously it gets rough sometimes, but they always go to each other. If Coach (Cal) wants to know something about the team he goes to Andrew. If Andrew has a question it’s easy to approach Coach (Cal). So it’s a good relationship.”

On if that’s something that’s grown …
“Yeah, I think so. I mean, every relationship grows with time, so.”

On how much this season has followed his initial vision for it …
“Yeah, I mean, no one would ever expect us to be 27-0, really, and having a good time really, just being on the best team in the country and just going out winning games. Just been fun really.”

On what kind of mentality it takes for him to go get his own on the court …
“It’s just, you just have to be aggressive really. Just be in attack mode really, that’s what (Coach Cal) says.”

On if it’s hard to do that with so many talented players on the team …
“It is really tough to do that sometimes with so many guys on the floor, so much talent.”

On what it does for the team to have a smaller player like Tyler Ulis come in and hold his own and if that motivates the team …
“I mean, I don’t think it’s motivating because we know what he can do. He’s here for a reason and of course he’s a great player, so we expect that out of him.”

On what Ulis contributes to the mix of personalities …
“Just a great team player, a great point guard and he’s just a great kid.”

On what Andrew is doing differently …
“He’s just playing more loose really, being more aggressive, just doing his thing really.”

On if it’s tough to stay loose with all of the talent around him …
“Yeah, of course it’s tough to stay loose, but you just gotta have enough confidence to do that and I think he’s just building it, just doing his thing, like I said.”

On if he thinks Andrew is having more fun …
“Yeah, definitely.”

On how Karl-Anthony Towns’ enthusiasm rubs off on the team …
“Karl’s a real, like, outwardly guy. He’s real outspoken, so we feed off it sometimes, get a little laugh out of it, of course, sometimes. But it’s fun to be around.”

On if they have to rein Towns in sometimes …
“I mean, yeah, of course. He’s a young kid. Just, he has so much emotion playing the game and sometimes we have to calm him down a little bit, but, I mean, I think that’s a good thing.” 

#5, Andrew Harrison, So., G

On how he’s been playing the last few weeks …
“I’m playing a little better. Just getting back to my old self.”

On Calipari constantly telling him to drive the ball …
“I mean, that’s exciting. I feel like I’m the best player on the court when I’m doing that, so it’s fun.”

On if he was upset at Marcus Lee for dropping a pass in the first half that could have given him 10 assists instead of nine …
“It was a tough pass. Tough catch. I wasn’t mad at him.”

On how in control he felt …
“I mean, that’s how I’m supposed to be playing. That’s how I should have been playing all year. I just struggled a little bit in there right in the middle.”

On why he struggled …
“I have no idea. I mean, it’s all on me though. It’s about having confidence in yourself and remembering how good you are.”

On having his dad in town and if that helped …
“Yeah, I think it’s helped some. Anytime you put extra work in it’s going to pay off.”

If his slump could be compared to that of a baseball player …
“Yeah, all great players go through slumps, no matter who you are. It just shows what kind of person and man you are to persevere and get through it.”

On if he’s having more fun now …
“I’m trying to. Trying to get better as a team and as a player every day.”

On why he wasn’t as aggressive earlier in the season …
“I’m not sure how to answer that. I have no idea.”

On why it’s hard to be aggressive all the time …
“Because you have to be in attack mode. You can’t relax at any point in the game. Even when you do throw the ball ahead or anything like that, you still have to be ready to get the ball back and attack. In that way, it is really hard to play that way.”

On if it’s easier to deal with Coach Cal being in his second year in the system …
“Yeah. Sometimes you don’t feel like it, but you know he’s not going to change. He does what he thinks is best for you, so that’s all you can ask for.”

On Coach Rohrssen saying Andrew Harrison and Coach Cal have a good relationship …
“I do think we have good communication between each other. It’s just understanding. I feel like he trusts me more and wants me to be a leader.”

On what tells him that Coach Cal trusts him more ….
“I mean, just telling me to make plays – plays I can make. I’m trying to do it.”

On if there has been a moment or a situation this year where Coach Cal listened to his thought or belief …
“Yeah, sometimes. Small things. When I think someone on my team has a mismatch or something like that. That’s all a part of knowing the game of basketball, really.”

On playing for a coach who always wants him to attack and doesn’t mind if he turns it over …
“It’s exciting, like I said, but at the same time you have to stay focused throughout the game and stay in attack mode the whole game.”

On if he maybe he turns it over less when he plays where he doesn’t care if he turns it over …
“That’s just how I used to play. Kind of with a reckless abandon. Playing as hard as I can.”

On how much he tries to sell the calls with the referees …
“I just play basketball.”

On his relationship with Coach Cal and how it’s grown …
“I just think we’re starting to trust each other more. He believes in my ability and I just have to go out there and play.”

On how his game has changed from last year …
“I think I’m just playing with more speed, finding people I wouldn’t have found last year.”

On if he thought he’d finally hit that 10 assists number on Saturday …
“I thought I had it, but I just missed it. It’s not really about that. We’re just trying to get better as a team and me as a player.”

On what we should make of him shooting more accurately from 3-point range than his brother, Aaron …
“Not much. You see when he gets on a roll he can pretty much do whatever he wants. He’s just struggling from shooting right now, but when we need a big shot, he’ll make it. So, I’m not worried about it.”

On if he saw his Sports Illustrated for Kids cover with he and his brother …
“Yeah, I saw it. It was pretty funny.”

On if he liked the cover …
“Yeah, I liked it. It’s different.”

On if he got SI for Kids when he was little …
“Oh, definitely. I can remember getting those. Excited to get them.”

On how much further along he and his brother are now, than this time last year …
“Having confidence, really. When you have people who have been there before you can’t really go wrong as long as you stay hungry and have confidence in yourself.”

On if it seems like March cannot come soon enough …
“I’m just enjoying being a college student right now and taking it one game at a time. Just having fun with it.”

On what Tyler Ulis adds to the team …
“He’s a great kid. His personality fits in with everyone else’s. He brings a lot of defensive intensity to the game and puts pressure on the ball.”

On if he ever thinks about what it would be like to play at that size …
“He has his advantages. He’s quick and low to the ground and stuff. He takes what he has.”

On it being a difficult trip at Mississippi State last year …
“I’m not sure how their record reflects how good they are, because they’re pretty good. They have guards who can drive the ball, stuff like that, so it’s going to be a tough game.”

On what it’s like to be part of such a special season …
“It’s fun. Like I said, you have to take it one game at a time, or anybody can be beat. It’s not like we’re so cocky or anything like that. We just believe in ourselves and we work hard or harder than anyone in the country.”

On if he will be reflective on this season at the end of the year …
“As long as we finish it the right way. Like I said, we’re just taking it one game at a time and enjoying ourselves right now.”

On what his process has been like in developing into a floor leader …
“It’s just basketball, really. It’s up and down, and as a man you’re going to go through some struggles. It’s how you struggle, the great players, how you get through it and persevere.”

On how hard the low points were to figure out …
“It was tough, but being able to keep that confidence in yourself, just praying and stuff like that, it’s not bad. I got through it.”

On if there was a certain point he knew he’d found it …
“Yeah, I think so. Just listening to coach and making sure I’m pushing the ball up the court and stuff like that.”