Wildcats Travel to Georgia for Final Road Test
March 6, 2013
Kentucky hits the road for the final time in regular season action with a match up against Georgia on Thursday. UK has won three of its last four games behind the stellar play of freshman Willie Cauley-Stein. The Olathe, Kan., native is averaging 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game in his last five outings. He's reached double-figure scoring in three of four games including a career-high 20-point total vs. Vanderbilt.
|Kentucky at Georgia
Thurs., March 7 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UGA
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Fellow freshman Archie Goodwin is leading the team at 13.8 points per game for the season and has reached double-figure scoring in 21 games this year. He posted a team-high 14 points at Arkansas on Saturday .
UK leads the all-time series with Georgia by a 115-25 mark. That record includes a 40-16 clip when the game is played in Athens. The Wildcats have won three-straight in the series and have won five of the last six overall.
Georgia enters the game with UK owning a 14-15 overall record, but an 8-8 mark in Southeastern Conference action that includes two wins over Tennessee. The Bulldogs are led in scoring by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who averages 18.0 per game. Caldwell-Pope also leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game and 74 made 3-pointers on the year.
Media Opportunity - March 6, 2013
Head Coach John Calipari
On what kind of operation he had …
"I had double knee replacement, but I bounced back pretty quickly. No, I had a procedure done on a tooth and I was out of town Sunday, so I had to do it Sunday night and then Monday. It is (painful). But it will be fine."
On teams with "Fs" heading into the NCAA Tournament …
"A lot of teams have Fs. Again, we are playing on the road. It is a hard game to win, but what I am worried about is us being the best version of ourselves and we weren't at Arkansas. We weren't. They wanted it more. They played more physical and played tougher. They came at us and we kind of backed away. You have to go out and ball and you have to go out and compete. You have to go out and battle. If we do that, we will be fine. I don't know if that means you are winning, but I know my team will be fine. That is what we have talked about and trying to stress."
On playing on the road with a young team …
"I don't know. I would like to tell you we are a pretty good road team. It is just the last two road games we have been abysmal and it has been all about physical play. Our guard play has to be better. It just has to be. You watch Arkansas last night, they get beat by 30 and (that) didn't faze Missouri's guard play. For us, it took us completely out of the game. The crazy thing is, that being said, holding them to 34 percent, 25 percent from the 3, if we would have just rebounded the ball and didn't turn it over (we win). Because of the physical play, we turned it over, or I think we would have been fine. It is something that we are still learning and trying to figure out. Like I said, at some point the lights have to go on and when it does you are going to see a team, and you have seen it at times, but we now don't have a whole lot of time. You are pressed now for time."
On how confident he is that this will be the best version of Kentucky against Georgia …
"I still have the same vision. I told them, I believe in the team and I am going out with the whole idea that we are going to write a heck of a story, 'This is going to be a heck of a story when we get done if you want it to be.' My other comment to them is that it is time to empower them and if anyone is letting go of the rope you have to get them off the floor. If anybody (thinks) the game is too rough or too tough, you as players, get them off. Just tell him, 'Man, you can't be out here.' I don't think we have one player that is not capable of being physical and doing the things you have to do. But sometimes when the game gets crazy we get guys that just let go of the rope and we can't do that, especially at this point. Like I said, I think our team, whatever they want to be, 'Where do you want to go with this? How do you want to do this? Whatever you want it to be, it is going to be.' I think we have a bunch of good guys that are still learning and when still gets a little ragged. They are not at their best and that is where we have to learn."
On how the team has practiced the past few days …
"They've been fine. Today was pretty good. This is more, forget about how you practice. Go into games, the game is going to get rough, battle back. If you're supposed to be handling the ball, handle the ball. Go get it. If you're supposed to rebound the ball guess what? Go rebound. 'Well that guy is working really hard.' Well then work harder than him. Go get balls. Beat them to balls. Beat them to 50-50 balls. It's not schemes. We're still shooting a very high percentage from both the 3-point line and the 2-point line. Our free throw shooting is okay. Our assist to turnover ratio, only when the games get rough does it go the wrong way because we have got guys that don't want the ball because the game is too rough. We've got to get to where we want the ball in a rough game. The only way that happens is demonstrated performance during games. It's good that we've got another good game, and it's another tough game. They're (Georgia) good at home. They're 8-and-8 in our league. They play well in that building. We're going to have play a good basketball game to have a chance to win."
On game planning for Georgia's defense …
"I think they'll be aggressive. They may not spread the court like Arkansas, but they're still going to be aggressive and physical. They're going to pressure us when they have the opportunity to. (Georgia Head Coach) Mark (Fox) has done a great job. I called him early in the year. I just though the job he's doing with his team to get them in a position to win games, which he's done, (has been) a phenomenal job. We've got our work cut out for us, but look we're a good team. Let's go do what we do. Let's go on the road. It's going to be a tough environment. Where do we want the season to go? Well fight like heck. Fight. Battle. None of the other stuff is going to work. The only thing that's going to work is you go in and want this thing badly. We can't control how Georgia's going to play. Arkansas did not play that well, and they beat us. Come on man you've got to play better than we played. It wasn't running an offense or schemes on defense, it was just 20 offensive rebounds, 19 turnovers and it wasn't against the press. It was right there when we started driving, or in the half court or that kind of stuff. We're better than that. I know the team's better than that. Now we're just going to have to go prove it on the court."
#4, Jon Hood, G
What was the tipping point two years ago allowing that team to become better …
"I don't know. Two years ago something happened. Darius (Miller) began to play like a man. Josh (Harrellson) started picking it up. Everybody just started to play well. Everybody came together."
On if this team can come together in the end …
"Well, I believe that any team can do that if they come together. You see all these Cinderella teams in the tournament that are playing their best at the end of the year. Any team can do it, so why can't we? We just need to come together, play like a team and play tough and we will be fine."
#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F
On Coach Calipari's statements that winning is a conscience choice …
"You practice and you work out to win. But none of that matters unless you have the mentality to win. If you don't want to hustle around, get 50/50 balls, or match the intensity of your man, then it just goes out the window. That's what he means by you have the choice to win or lose."
On where this team goes after the Arkansas loss …
"You grind through it. Watch film, obviously you have to see what you did wrong. During the game you don't feel like you were playing the way everybody said you were. But when you go back on film you can definitely see that they [Arkansas] were playing with more intensity. They were playing tougher. They were punking us. Then you see that in film and you don't want to let that ever happen again. You just have to approach it like that."
On being concerned about the end of the season ending too soon …
"Yes, you think about that. But at the end of the day you have to get past that point where you are running out of time, and you just have to go day by day and get your work in. Approach the game like it is your last game. That is exactly what we have to do. This is going to be our last game. You have to think about it like that. You could potentially have three more games. Our games are limited and if you want to end it that fast, that is the choice he [Calipari] is talking about."