Kentucky Earns No. 1 Seed in NCAA Tournament

March 15, 2015

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the 12th time in program history, the Kentucky men's basketball team earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats earned the top seed in the Midwest Region and will open tournament action on Thursday in the second round against the winner of the first-round matchup between Manhattan/Hampton at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET. The game will air live on CBS.

Kentucky enters NCAA play with a perfect 34-0 record after the Wildcats claimed their 28th Southeastern Conference Tournament title Sunday with a 78-63 win over Arkansas.

The UK-Manhattan/Hampton matchup in the Second Round will take place Thursday, March 19 in Louisville's KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky's game will be the last of the evening session, scheduled to tip 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Cincinnati-Purdue game, which will start at 7:10 p.m. The UK game is tentatively scheduled to begin at 9:40 p.m.

The game will air on CBS with Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce on the call.

"It's a good bracket," UK head coach John Calipari said. "I didn't get to see it all and I haven't really studied it but you kind of wanted to know who those four were with us ... My concern right now is making sure we're in a great frame of mind. And this team right now is."

Tickets for the second and third round games in Louisville are sold out with the exception of a very limited number of All-Session packages available through Ticketmaster. Fans may also check the NCAA Ticket Exchange, the official secondary marketplace for authentic NCAA Tournament tickets. Complete ticket information for all NCAA sites can be found on the NCAA website.

UK will hold a student lottery on Monday, March 16 at 5:00 pm at Memorial Coliseum for the second and third round games in Louisville.Students should refer to the student basketball website for complete details.

"Our fans would still travel even if we played in California," SEC Tournament most valuable player Willie Cauley-Stein said of playing UK's opening game in Louisville. "They would still be there. It just makes it a lot easier on them, I guess. It's good.

"We're still in the state of Kentucky and everything like that. Being an hour away is good too. Like I said, it really doesn't matter where we play. You've still got to throw the ball up."

Should Kentucky win its opening contest vs. Manhattan or Hampton, UK will face the winner of the No. 8 Cincinnati - No. 9 Purdue Second Round game.

The Wildcats earned their record 54th NCAA Tournament berth in program history. They own the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2012, when Kentucky won its eighth national title. The 2012 title run also saw UK open the tournament in the Derby City, with wins over WKU and Iowa State.

Kentucky is 43-10 in tournament openers and has won 21 of its last 22 second round (previously first-round) tournament games. UK owns a 116-47 record all-time in NCAA action, with its .712 winning percentage the fourth-best in NCAA history.

The Wildcats have never played Hampton or Manhattan, while UK leads the all-time series vs. Purdue, 6-2. Kentucky is 27-10 vs. Cincinnati, and UK owns a 1-0 mark vs. the Bearcats in the NCAA Tournament, with a 69-60 win in 2005's Round of 32.

Manhattan enters the tournament with a 19-13 record and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after it claimed the MAAC title with a 79-69 win over Iona on March 9. Hampton is 16-17 and earned an automatic bid after beating Delaware State in the MEAC Tournament, 82-61. The Jaspers and Pirates square off in the First Round on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Tournament Bracket

Media Opportunity - March 15, 2015

Head coach John Calipari

On Kentucky not having a NBA team in its bracket ...
"It's a good bracket. I didn't get to see it all and I haven't really studied it but you kind of wanted to know who those four were with us. But when you look at all four brackets, the West may be a little lighter than the others, but not much. Is the West Arizona and those guys? That one's pretty hard. My concern right now is making sure were in a great frame of mind. And this team right now is. We will take tomorrow completely off from basketball. We may watch some tape late tomorrow night and that tape is going to be our Arkansas game. And it won't even be with me it will be with the staff. Let those guys go over the tape with them. We will come back Tuesday, practice and we probably won't leave until Wednesday to go to Louisville."

On playing close to home ...
"It is helpful. If we had to go west and leave tomorrow, that is a tough deal. If you can take a day off, practice and not have to travel until Wednesday that's a big plus for us. And you're talking an hour and 15 minutes down the road."

On evaluating Hampton and Manhattan ...
"Manhattan is good. I watched them play the (MAAC) championship game. I watched some of that. I think they play hard, they pick up, they're aggressive and they're not going to back away. They're not going to be afraid. Steve (Masiello) has done a great job with that team. They struggled early so they are at their best right now, but they have to beat Hampton. That's the greatest thing about this tournament. And I've coached a bunch of teams in here and anytime you get ahead of yourself, you hurt yourself. And it's usually a waste of time because the team you think is going to advance loses. They didn't even win, so the best thing you can do is stay in your little pocket of those teams that we have to play. The 8-9 in our region--we've got to (win) the first game. Just worry about those two games. "

On Steve Masiello saying Calipari has helped him along the way ...
"He and I have always been good because I think he's crazy like I am. I've seen some stuff and I tease him all the time. But I think he's a terrific coach. He's a great recruiter, gets after it, coaches his kids, not afraid to coach his kids. The stuff that happened here, I reached out to him and I called our people, 'Let's help him make this right.' Shoot, I even told him, 'Hell, you can stay there (points at pool house). If you need to be on campus, stay in the back. I'm fine with that.' But he got done what he had to get done. I was really proud of our school that there was no -- everybody just said, 'How do we help this?'. He's bounced back and took all responsibility. 'I had to do this.' So I'm happy for him."

On inviting the media to his house to watch the Selection Show ...
"Well, no one stole the students' transcripts so I had to leave them out. I've just always done it. We've always invited media and the players and let you guys see these guys and be a part of this with us."

On the team's reaction after learning its NCAA Tournament seed and region ...
"I wasn't in here. I didn't see it. We all knew we were going to be the (top) one seed. There was no surprise. I think they were trying to figure out who was going to be the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 (seeds). Who is it? West Virginia. Let me just tell you, West Virginia - Bob Huggins - probably got more out of their team than any team in the country, and here they are. You win a couple of games and you may be facing them. And we know now they beat us in 2010. We beat them pretty good in 2011. It's always a good game. I think these guys wanted to see who was in there."

On not being in the same region as Wisconsin ...
"I didn't think they could. How could you do it and then get in front of cameras and explain yourself. In this era of social media and transparency you couldn't go in there and say, `Kentucky is going to play Wisconsin in a regional final.' You couldn't do it. And I didn't think they would do it. There is no way unless they were ready to take the grief that's going to follow it. Wisconsin is playing good. There are a lot of good teams. I mean, Arizona is playing out of their minds right now. Villanova is playing great. Virginia, they're a little bit beat up, but they're still (good). I mean, you've got eight teams. From that eight, in my opinion, someone's going to win the thing out of those eight. After that there are some teams that have a chance to advance and do some stuff, but those eight teams are really good. From those eight - and it's not just us. Let me tell you, it's a one-game shot. Foul trouble, struggle, injury, have a bad game, someone else play out of their minds, which we have seen happen with us. The kid from Texas AM had 40. We have seen it. Like, who is this guy? It's not the best of five. It's one and done. I am telling you that my message will be and will not change. Let's be the best version of each individual player. Let's be at our best, and if that's not good enough I will live with the consequences. I will live with it. And I told them you would have to live with it. It's not `OK, nine out of 10 they'd have beat them. But they didn't beat them that time.' I'll live with it. I already lived with one in 2008. I did fine, I was good."

On Willie Cauley-Stein saying Kentucky didn't have their "minds right" before the SEC Tournament ...
"Today that showed a lot because that game was physical. I watched the tape on the plane back and that was a physical game that we withstood. I thought we played strong. We played in balance. We had three turnovers that there was no reason for. So when you start talking about a 10-turnover game against a team like that, that's pretty good. Willie (Cauley-Stein) made the best statement in regards to getting himself going offensively. He said, `Coach put me on that guard, the (KT) Harrell kid, 6-3 guard.' Willie had to get in a stance and play like a guard. He said, `It made my motor go. I played with more energy and it helped me on offense.' I didn't say it; Willie said it. I told all of them, `If you think in those terms -- I'm going to get myself going defensively and the offense will happen -- you will see this thing go to another level.' But that is hard because doing what Willie said you have to be on point, you have to have high energy. You have to be really focused. You have to be in an attack mode. And it's hard. They're not robots and they're not machines. It just doesn't happen all the time."

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F

On the team's reaction to learning their NCAA seed and bracket ...
"I feel like last year was more like we didn't know what we were going to get. This year we knew what region we're in, where we're going to play."

On if there's an advantage in playing close to Lexington in Louisville ...
"Honestly it wouldn't matter. Our fans would still travel even if we played in California. They would still be there. It just makes it a lot easier on them, I guess. It's good. We're still in the state of Kentucky and everything like that. Being an hour away is good too. Like I said, it really doesn't matter where we play. You've still got to throw the ball up."

On Kentucky not worrying about opponents ...
"Any team that we're playing against we're just going to play anyways."

On being exciting to start the NCAA Tournament ...
"It's going to come fast probably. We play Thursday. It's going to come really fast. Hopefully we'll get a little break, get our legs back."

On the mental state of Kentucky ...
"Especially at this time, you've got to be really good in the mental part of your game because if you come in there and you're not, you can get beat. So you've got to be on your P's and Q's."

#5, Andrew Harrison, G

On the key to making a run in the NCAA Tournament ...
"Take it one game. That's really all there is to it. Just playing as hard as you can, playing with energy every possession."

On what he gets out of watching the Selection Show ...
"It's part of the season really. You can't worry about who they're giving people and who they gave you. (People saying),`If you win this and they lose,' you just have to play."

On the bracket and UK's draw ...
"It's good, it's what they gave us. It's the hand we are dealt. We just gotta play."

On what he thinks of UK's draw ...
"All I know is we play the winner out of Manhattan and Hampton, our first game. I really couldn't tell you who's on the other side, which region or anything like that."

On if he has a life outside of basketball during the tournament ...
"You just have to have fun with your teammates. Really just relax, not think about basketball when you're not on the court and go out and have fun."

On playing in Louisville ...
"It'll be fun. We have the greatest fans in the country."

#2, Aaron Harrison, G

On Kentucky's draw in the NCAA Tournament ...
"I like it. It is going to be tough either way."

On if he was surprised by anything in the NCAA Selection Show ...
"There are no surprises. I knew we were going to have a tough road. It has to be tough; it is the tournament."

On playing in Louisville ...
"I'm excited. We are going to have a lot of fans there. We are playing in a familiar arena so it should be fun. "

On playing if there's an advantage in playing in a familiar Arena ...
"A little bit, I think. It won't have much impact on the game. We still have to come out and play as hard as we can."

On having reached the NCAA Tournament ...
"I'm excited. Just to get out there and play in the tournament and enjoy it."

On being able to play at a higher level since it is tournament time ...
"I think we have a couple more gears actually. We have a lot to improve on and we are going to practice this week and continue to improve."

On being motivated by the loss in last season's National Championship game ...
"Definitely. I think still puts a chip on our shoulder. And we still have that in the back of our minds."

On being able to make a run in the tournament because of last year's run ...
"Just have to keep fighting until the end and play as hard as you can and leave it all on the court and see what happens."