Kentucky, Arkansas Meet in Penultimate Home Game
Kentucky welcomes Arkansas to Rupp Arena on Saturday, February 28. Tip is set for 4 p.m. ET and the game will be carried by CBS.
|Kentucky vs. Arkansas
Saturday, Feb. 28 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UA
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via CBS
This Week's News
Trey Lyles scored a career-high 18 points and classmate Karl-Anthony Towns had his sixth double- double of the season to lead UK to a 74-56 on the road at Mississippi State.
- It was the most points Lyles has scored since pouring in 12 against Buffalo in the second game of the season.
- Towns scored 12 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double, his second consecutive and fourth in last seven games.
- Kentucky is 28-0 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 28-0.
- It's also the Wildcats' best start to a conference season since the 2011-12 team went 16-0 in league play.
- Kentucky's 28-game winning streak is the second longest in school history.
- The streak is the longest over the course of a single season, besting the 1995-96 Wildcats.
- The 28-0 start is the best of any John Calipari team he has ever coached.
- The 28 straight wins is the longest winning streak of Calipari's career, bettering his 2008-09 Memphis team's 27 consecutive wins.
- UK has won 50 of its last 52 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
- John Calipari has a 94-9 all-time record when coaching the nation's No. 1 team, including a 53-4 mark at Kentucky.
- UK led the entire game and has trailed for only 149:01 of a possible 1,135 minutes this season.
- Kentucky shot 28 of 57 from the field (49 percent). The Wildcats just missed out on shooting 50 percent or better from the field for the 10th time this season.
- UK outscored MSU 38-26 in the paint.
- Kentucky had 15 assists, compared with six by Mississippi State.
- Kentucky was 12 of 13 from the free-throw line (92 percent), the second time this season the team shot 92 percent or better from the charity stripe (95.5 at Florida).
- Kentucky's streak of 927 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Aaron Harrison connected from the perimeter at the 13:46 mark in the first half.
- Kentucky had balanced scoring with four players in double figures.
- 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.
- Calipari won his 100th game at Rupp Arena and is now 100-4 (.962) in the venue.
- 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.
- The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has named Kentucky junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein a finalist for the 2015 Oscar Robertson Trophy.
- Cauley-Stein is one of 14 finalists for the national player of the year award, which will be presented at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on April 14.
- Cauley-Stein, a junior, is averaging 9.4 points - the second most of any UK frontcourt player - and 6.4 rebounds. The Olathe, Kan., native has recorded 12 double-figure scoring games this season, including a 21-point, 12-rebound performance against then-No. 6 Texas in December.
Cat Scratches: UK accepting unique challenge presented by Arkansas
As much as John Calipari tells them to avoid it, the Wildcats can't help but hear.
They don't seek it out, but they hear the talk about their unbeaten run and pursuit of perfection. They hear how many fans throughout the country want them to lose and how Arkansas, Kentucky's next opponent, could be the team to finally make it happen.
They hear and they respond.
"When we hear that a team is going to challenge us, you know, could beat us, in some aspects we take it personally," Trey Lyles said. "We want to go out there and show those people who said that differently and just go out there and compete."
The top-ranked Cats (28-0, 15-0 Southeastern Conference) can be sure the No. 18/16 Razorbacks (23-5, 12-3 SEC) will do the same on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in Rupp Arena. Needing a win to prevent Kentucky from clinching the conference regular-season title outright, Arkansas - UK's first ranked opponent in two months - will be ready. ... read the full preview
Media Opportunity - February 27, 2015
Kentucky Associate Head Coach Kenny Payne
On the style and play of Arkansas ...
"I think Arkansas is the type of team that creates a lot of turnovers. They've played well against us. It'll be a great game tomorrow. We have to handle their pressure, keep them off the boards and dominate in rebounds. I think they're style will be similar to Louisville's - constant pressure. They' do a great job on the boards. They're active. They switch and trap a lot. Their zone is similar to man principles with the way they get after the ball in their zone. We've seen it before. We just have to go out there and handle it."
On the players rising to the challenge ...
"We tell them every game that they're playing a good team. When they win, they say, `I thought you said they were good.' Tomorrow will be a very good team that will come in here and they're capable of beating us. We will have to play well to beat them."
On Arkansas beating UK twice last year and if it motivates ...
"I think our guys will have fire, to answer your question. I just think they have a competitive edge about them. The freshmen know that this team has beaten us twice."
On if Bobby Portis is the best big man that UK has faced to this point ...
"I wouldn't rank him. I will say that he is a very good player. I don't know where he falls in terms of the big guys that we've played. We'll be facing really good players, and he's one of them. He can really shoot the ball to be that size. He's good around the basket and can shoot 3s. He's excellent from the post and shooting turnaround jumpers. He's a really good player."
On how opposing players' performances can affect their NBA draft stock when playing UK ...
"Every guy that comes in that's a pretty good player in our conference or an opponent that's not in our conference, if they played well against Kentucky, then they think, `I'm a pro.' (Portis) is really a good player and possibly is."
On Trey Lyles's performance against Mississippi State ...
"Trey has all the ability in the world to have an outstanding game and outstanding season. We need Trey at his best. I thought we saw him do the things that we need him to do - the way he attacked the rim and rebounded the ball. There were four or five shots that he passed up and he didn't feel comfortable shooting them. Trey Lyles is an excellent basketball player, and if you forget about him, then he'll burn you."
On Arkansas guard Michael Qualls' athletic ability ...
"Qualls is very athletic, very fast, very good off the dribble, driving the ball. I haven't seen him miss a shot in the left corner. He shoots the ball really well from that area. He is a guy that we're going to have to deal with."
On Arkansas point guard Anton Beard ...
"He can really shoot the ball. Very smart, very heady. Last game they played Ole Miss, I watched him, and he didn't miss a shot. He shot it really well."
On if the team feel the spotlight getting warmer ...
"Not at all. The great thing about coaching these kids, they're in the moment. They're not worrying about the spotlight, the heat, the pressure, the perfect season. All of that doesn't come into play. They want to win every game, of course. They go out and compete. But, we keep this one game at a time."
On team always being in the spotlight ...
"Yeah, it's constant. I think this year more than most, there's been more TV coverage of it. But, I think we do a good job of keeping this in-house and keeping this focused on what we have to do: not looking ahead to people, working on the things we have to do in practice for us, concentrating on us and what makes us a great team. Then, going out and performing against opponents."
What last season's sweep of Kentucky means for Arkansas players ...
"They will not be in awe of us. They won't be intimidated. They'll come in with some confidence. But, we will, too. We'll come in knowing that we're a different team, that we're going to get after them, just like they're going to try to get after us."
On whether depth becomes more of a factor because of Arkansas' ability to run ...
"I think so. I think this team is a little different. They play a bunch of guys, as well. It will come down to-- one of their strategies is that they feel like they are in better condition than us. Well, we'll see."
On team's multiple "X-factors" ...
"We have a lot of X's. I think that Trey (Lyles) has demonstrated how good he can be for us. We need Trey to play like he played last game to finish this year out. Dakari (Johnson) is big, strong, brings a physical presence to our team. We need him to be that. So, we do have numerous guys that can be X-factors. That's a good problem to have."
On whether Arkansas' unique style of play calls for additional preparation ...
"What it does it, defensively, they're style is making you play basketball. So, if you think you're going to just catch the ball, hold the ball, run the offense, set offensive plays, not happening. They will force you to attack. Hopefully, teams that handle it have success. Be strong."
Freshman forward Trey Lyles
On how things have been going since he was sick ...
"Just putting in extra work, doing what Coach (Cal) asks me to do and just going out there and trying to execute."
On what it was like having someone checking his weight and making him eat ...
"I wouldn't say they were force-feeding me. I was eating regular food and stuff like that. But they were making sure that I was maintaining my weight and just staying at a weight where I'd be able to play on it."
On what Cal means by calling him the X-factor ...
"Just that if I go out there and do what he's asking me to do, I'm just going to help the team out overall and just, you know, push us to be able to win more games."
On how that makes him feel or if it puts more weight on him ...
"No not really, `cause I've heard coaches say, you know, other players are X-factors. But we all just gotta go out there and play together. And, you know, if we're all playing well with one another, there's no reason why we shouldn't be winning."
On if playing a ranked opponent changes anything about it going into the game ...
"I think there'll be more energy in the building, but we prepare for every game the same way. You know, guys might have a little more for this game since they lost to them last year, but we're going to go out there and compete as a team and play with one another and just try to win."
On if it's hard trying to take more shots when he's got other talented teammates to help score too ...
"Definitely. You know, if I see a teammate with a better shot than me I'm going to give him the ball. But, you know, all those wide-open shots, I had to take those, so I'm just trying to do whatever (Coach Cal) is asking of me."
On if Cal is trying to get him to be more aggressive ...
"Yeah, I'd say he just wants me to be more aggressive."
On if he can sense this game is personal for some of the veterans since Arkansas has won three of last four matchups ...
"Definitely. You know, nobody wants to lose to them again - the players or the coaches - so they've been talking about it the past couple days and everybody's pretty much getting energized for it. I think they definitely remember. They talk about it quite a lot now since the game is coming up, so I think they're going to have a little bit more energy and passion going out there tomorrow night."
On the challenge Arkansas presents ...
"They come out and play hard all the time, very aggressive offensively and defensively, so we're just going to have to match and exceed their energy and their aggression, and just go out there and play with one another."
On Arkansas having one McDonalds All-American compared to UK's nine ...
"I don't think that really matters. Just gotta go out there and compete and just, you know, go out there and play harder than they do."
On if he knows Bobby Portis at all ...
"I played against him a couple times when we were younger, but I don't know him personally."
On his thoughts on Portis' game ...
"No, I haven't got a chance to watch him play, so I can't comment on that."
On watching film on Arkansas ...
"We have watched a couple clips and we're going to watch some more today, but not too many. Highlights, ESPN, stuff like that, but, no, I haven't watched too much film on them. Coach (Cal) is definitely going to have us watch them today and tomorrow and before the game starts."
On where he feels like he's come the farthest this season in his development ...
"Probably just playing hard all the time throughout the whole game, not taking breaks or stuff like that."
On how much the Indiana schools were in the mix for his recruitment ...
"Yeah, they were. At an early age (I) committed to IU, of course, but I had IU and Purdue looking at me when I was in eighth grade and stuff like that. So they were around for a while."
On if he feels like the attention is getting crazier ...
"I think more people are looking into it. Like Coach (Cal) says, it's outside clutter that we need to push to the side and just worry about what we can control and go out there and play our hardest all the time."
On if he feels like being undefeated isn't as dramatic at UK as it is at other places ...
"Somewhat, but we really try not to pay attention. Coach (Cal) tries to keep us away from that kind of stuff and we just gotta go out there and compete. Any given day is somebody else's day, so we just gotta go out there and make sure that if we're out there playing, we're playing to the best of our abilities."
On if he feels like this team rises to the challenge when they hear a game is a marquee matchup ...
"Definitely. You know, when we hear that a team is going to challenge us, you know, could beat us, in some aspects we take it personally. We want to go out there and show those people who said that differently and just go out there and compete."
On if anything stands out from what he's watched on Arkansas ...
"They just play with a lot of energy, very aggressive offensively, defensively."
On if it feels differently playing in a marquee matchup ...
"I just think there's more energy from the crowd and from the team, and, you know, we just try to go out there and make a statement every time we play ranked opponents, and stuff like that."
On if he feels the buzz surrounding this game and that Arkansas is one of the teams that could get them ...
"Definitely. You know, that, and then guys talking about the two losses that they took last year. You know for us there's a lot more energy and passion that's going to be in this game, I think."
Freshman guard Devin Booker
On playing a top-25 team and if it feels like a big deal ...
"I wouldn't say it's a big deal. Every game we're playing against ourselves. So, I think Arkansas, we know they're going to bring it. We just have to go out there and be more focused and I'd say come out to a better start."
On if their style is one that can challenge Kentucky ...
"I guess we'll see tomorrow."
On his relationship with Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, who was the head coach at Missouri and recruited Booker at a younger age ...
"He was recruiting me. I was really young then, so it wasn't really heavy, but I made a visit up to Columbia when he was coaching there. I met the coaching staff and everything, but he ended up going to Arkansas and he recruited me a little bit there, but kind of fell off."
On what he thought of Coach Anderson ...
"It was a long time ago. I don't really remember. But I know he was a cool guy. I was so young, I don't think he was on me that hard. It really wasn't that big of a deal."
On if it would benefit him, personally, if Arkansas chose to run against Kentucky ...
"I feel like our team can adjust to any type of playing style with so many different types of weapons that we have. I feel like it will be good for us and a good challenge for us."
On Arkansas potentially trapping and pressing ...
"I'm sure Coach will prepare us for whatever they're doing. That's their job. They study on how they'll play, so they'll just let us know. They've done a good job of every game getting us prepared for each opponent."
On if UK's depth comes in handy if Arkansas decides to play fast ...
"Yeah, like I said, I feel like we can slow it down or we can play fast paced. With so many weapons that we have, we can just adjust to any type of game play. I think it will be a good challenge for us because we haven't really played an up-tempo game like they play in a while."
On if he's gotten to see Arkansas play much ...
"Not yet. We usually watch film today or the day of the game so I haven't seen much, but I've watched a little bit, highlights on TV. They're having a great season. I think they're second in the SEC or whatever, so I'm sure they'll come out and try to prove a point."
On how aware they are of the perception by many is that Arkansas is the team that can challenge UK ...
"We're aware. Every game we know that we're going to get a team's best. They're going to come in and try to beat us. We just have to, like I said, prepare for that game and play against ourselves each and every game."
On if they can feel the attention continuing to grow as the season progresses ...
"I don't know about that, because when you first get to Kentucky the spotlight is on you. That's the reason a lot of us came here is to be on that big stage. I kind of see what you're talking about, how it's become more and more each and every game we win, but we just have to focus on what's at hand, and that's to get a win."
On if he thinks the older guys remember that Arkansas beat them twice last year ...
"I think they remember it most definitely, but we're a whole different team this year. ... That's what we're going to focus on."
On if it's human nature to want a little revenge ...
On if it feels different on the court in games like this ...
"I think everybody else makes it a bigger game for us and it's like, I don't know why it is, but we lock in when we hear that. Like, all the big games we come out and perform, and that's what we're going to try to do tomorrow. But, like I said, we need to take every game with an approach like that, that we're going to go in and just get them out of the way."
On how fun it is to play in a game where the tempo is up and down ...
"It's fun. With our team, I feel like we have so many different weapons that we can adjust to any type of playing style. I know Arkansas is going to bring that up-tempo game and I think it will be a fun little challenge for us."
On Arkansas wanting to get teams out of patterns they run and just play basketball, more or less ...
"I feel like we have good enough players to play basketball, so it'll be a good time."