Kentucky Opens 2014-15 Campaign with Grand Canyon

Nov. 13, 2014

Kentucky welcomes Grand Canyon to Rupp Arena on Friday, November 14 to open the 2014-15 season. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and tip is set for 8 p.m. ET.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Grand Canyon
Friday, Nov. 14 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | GC Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via SEC Network+
Live Audio
Live Blog
Live Stats
Text Updates
UK Team Stats GC
118.5 Points 74.0
60.0 Opp. Points 47.0
.646 FG% .449
.314 Opp. FG% .352
.356 3-FG% .350
.366 Opp. 3-FG% .250
.689 FT% .657
51.5 Rebs 49.0
25.5 Opp. Rebs. 26.0
61 Assist 25
25 Turnovers 14
19 Blocks 3
17 Steals 6

Cat Scratches: UK in need of adversity regular season will bring

John Calipari the competitor wants to jump out to a big early and win every game by double digits. John Calipari the realist knows that’s not happening.

That’s why he’s saying things like this.

“We need adversity so bad,” Calipari said. “We need to get hit in the mouth as soon as we can.”

If you didn’t know any better, you might think John Calipari is rooting against his own team.

“We need to be down 10, and let's figure out what we are,” Calipari said.

On the eve of Kentucky’s season opener, it’s just a matter of time before he gets his wish. ... read the full preview

This Week's News

Georgetown Game Recap

  • Kentucky captured a 121-52 win over Georgetown in the season’s final exhibtion contest.
  • UK improved to 53-4 all-time in preseason exhibition games and has won 24 in a row.
  • The Wildcats’ platoon system continued to shine:
    • No player logged more than 20 minutes
    • Seven players reached double-figure scoring
    • UK shot 73 percent from the field in the second half
    • Team assisted on 32 of 46 made field goals, and 14 of 16 players registered at least one assist
    • 46.3 percent of UK’s made field goals were either layups or dunks
    • UK was sparked by two 16-0 runs late in the first half
    • The Wildcats hit the century mark with 8:10 remaining in the game
    • Kentucky won the battle of the boards 54-26

Kentucky in Season Openers

  • Kentucky has totaled a 91-19 all-time record during season lid-lifters.
  • UK is a perfect 5-0 under the direction of John Calipari in such contests.
  • The Wildcats last opened at home with an 89-57 victory over UNC Asheville last season.

Five Wildcats on Coaches’ Preseason Teams

Duo on Lute Olson Award Watch List

  • Junior Willie Cauley-Stein and sophomore Aaron Harrison were named to the Lute Olson Award Watch List on Wednesday.
  • The Lute Olson Award is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I player who has played at least two seasons with his respective team.
  • Incoming freshmen and transfers are not eligible for the Player of the Year award.
  • The 2015 recipient will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 3 in Indianapolis, site of the 2015 Final Four.

Media Opportunity - November 13, 2014

Head Coach John Calipari

On Bahamas trip making season longer…
“Well, I didn't coach down there. It was funny, before our last game, Aaron (Harrison) was like – or two games ago – 'Wow, he hasn't coached us in a long time.' He said, 'Wait 'til these freshmen really seem him start getting on us.' So I think it's okay, and I think what's happened is, we got a lot of guys that have really gotten better. And the question becomes, ‘How do we keep that rolling?’ I mean, how do we (make) the continuous improvement that you need if your team is to play its best down the stretch. Now, I've seen teams play unbelievable in November and December, and everybody thinks they're gonna do this and this. And they peter out. And normally when I see a team like that, I say 'They're too good too early. They're too good too early. You're playing like it's March, and the only thing you can do is come back.' So hopefully we have a real upside to this team. Playing four freshmen and a couple kids that didn't play much last year should do that for us."

On if there’s an area he thinks this team isn’t great yet but could be by March …
“If we’re to do what we’d all like us to do – or most of us in the room – it would be defensively. We’d be really, really good. Why (do) you laugh? I say stuff and guys think they know what my mind means, what I mean by everything. Why is that?”

On who in the room he thinks doesn’t want to do well …
“I didn’t even know what you’re laughing at. Why would you bring that up? I don’t think anybody. Except the guy that chases the coaches down the hallway.”

On if the practices have been what he wants them to be from a competitive standpoint …
“Yeah, they have been. And I had to turn it up the last few practices. We made them really ultra-competitive and everything was a win and a loss and they really got after it. But now, starting today until the (November) 27th, I don’t think we’ll have any more contact, because we’re gonna have six games in 11 days. So we will have no contact. It’ll just be sharp, hard practices, no five-on-five, no body (contact). Now, I told them if we don’t compete in a game, then we’ll go back and I’m not worried about it. We’ll practice full body-to-body. But as long as we’re competing and playing, asking them to play six games in 11 days – the good news is, they’re not playing full games. You’re not playing 35 minutes. And so you should be able to do it. Basically you’re talking three and a half games in 11 days.”

On how to avoid having two different teams when he splits the team into platoons …
“They’ve been really good. We’re doing a lot of stuff off the court together. The leadership of the team has been good. The competitiveness has gotten – they’re tough, but they’re not nasty about it. They want to win and they take great pride in it, but it’s been good. I mean, it’s gonna be a season-long thing that we (deal with). Everything we’re doing here, whether it works the first week or two weeks of the season doesn’t mean that we’re not gonna have to make adjustments. And there are things that are gonna happen as the season goes on, and we’ll just deal with them. Right now, I know this is what’s best for our individual players. No question. Right now they’ve all bought in, right now they’re taking pride in this, but going forward it’s going to be the challenge. No one’s ever done it this way. Now I’m hearing of all the guys. ‘Geeze, there are 55 teams that have done it this way.’ Really? And that’s fine. I didn’t do this so that I’m a genius. I told you, ‘I’d rather not do this.’ I hope I never have to do this again, but right now with this team this is the fairest way of getting every one of these kids an opportunity and letting things play out on the court that dictate where we go.”

On how the freshmen have changed their bodies …
“Yeah. I mean, Devin Booker has really improved, and Trey (Lyles) now is starting to step up. Karl-(Anthony Towns) has gotten better. But they’ve all got a ways to go. I mean, Tyler (Ulis) – you know we can all say what we want but he’s in our practice and he’s going against 7-foot, 7-foot, 7-foot, 6-10, 6-10, 6-9, 6-8, 6-6, 6-7, 6-6. He’s not looking as good in practice as he does in the game. He looks good, but he’s not like – you know, this is a different deal. That’s why they’re all getting better, because the competition is forcing you. And then Andrew (Harrison), he’s not even the same player. I mean his mindset is totally different. He pushes himself. He’s not stopping. If he’s hurt, he comes back in because he wants to finish. Two days ago he shot too much. Shoot too much because the other three guys weren’t ready to play, and he wanted to win so he scored himself. Yesterday he didn’t shoot at all. He must have had 10 assists. So what’s happened is he’s challenged by Tyler. Tyler is up in him and it’s making him play better, and he has to guard a little guy. So, what’s happened for all of it? Dakari (Johnson) going right at Karl. You know, Trey going right at Alex (Poythress) or Alex going right at Trey. It’s been great stuff.”

On how much he’s going to have to change his own habits in terms of substitution patterns …
“Well, the only thing I’m going to have to do is keep an eye on individual guys, and if they’re not performing, you know, they’re out and let that group stay. Or if I want to make them hold each other accountable I’ll take the whole group out and let them deal with it. How we play down the stretch, I have a good idea of how I’m going to do it. The last two days we’ve had a finishing team out there. The first day I had five guys, they stunk. So yesterday I did something different. Andrew and Willie (Cauley-Stein) hit me today and told me what they thought, which was good. You know, we’re starting to come together. It’s really early. We need adversity so bad. We need to get hit in the mouth as soon as we can. We need to be down 10, and let’s figure out what we are. We need to get these freshmen into heated games where a basket matters. Can you make shots? Can you make fouls now? We don’t know. I mean, until we get some adversity. You know, are we big? Whew, we’re really big. Do we have five Anthony Davises? Absolutely not. We have not one John Wall. Not one. But we’re really good players who, you know, are not that far apart from each other, playing together and doing pretty good.”

On if having an older team means it is better prepared to handle the hype …
“We’re going to see, because we’ve got six games in 11 days. Their practice, I mean Aaron, the last couple days, he’s been, whew. He’s just gotta rebound more. Alex, there are shots of him that are like, ‘Whew,’ but then he reverts a little bit and he’s gotta keep stepping up. Trey’s now trying to do the things we’re asking him to do. Dakari’s been so steady. Willie, the last couple days – from the exhibition through the last couple days – has been crazy. So my whole concern right now is watching each individual, making sure guys are getting better. If each individual gets better, our ceiling as a team grows. If I worry just about running plays and our system of play and all that, it limits what you can do eventually. And eventually, we’ve got to get guys as good as we can get them, and then let’s make this team that kind of team, which is what we did a year ago. This thing is going to take time and it’s going to be a process just like last year’s team. It can be all the hype we want. Won’t matter. Gotta do it on the court.”

On what he wanted out of so many games this early when he made the schedule …
“Well, part of it is because of what we’re doing with those four games (Cawood Ledford Classic); we had to shove them in a two-week period. Then we’re shoved into – the Kansas game was shoved in because of the timing of it, and then you got a Providence and all the sudden you look around … Those four had to be in the first two weeks, and then you have the Kansas – all the sudden you’re like, ‘What just happened?’ And so, you know – but it’ll be fine. Like I said, we need to – tomorrow’s game, let’s panic a little bit, let them make their first three shots. ‘Here we go,’ we try to press, they get a dunk. ‘All right, let’s settle down and play.’ We need – we need some teams, and every team is going to be inspired. See, these guys are crazy; Why would you want to be in the starting five? ‘Oh, they’re going to name me and …’ Yeah, those first four minutes, that team is on fire. So now you’re the second five; they’re a little settled down and here we come and now we’re jacked up. The good news is if you’re the third five, that’s the one that should be able to go at them a little bit.”

On his opinion of high school players skipping college to go play overseas …
“If there are academic issues, I wouldn’t blame them. I don’t think kids are going to do it unless they have academic issues. Why would you do it? I know what’s happened for the kids that stayed for me. I think that number is 820 – well, in the last 14 months it’s $355 million of created wealth. That doesn’t count shoe contracts or endorsements. You check that out now. I want you to run it down. So it’s proven. Now maybe that works over there, maybe it doesn’t. If you have academic issues, I’d do it. If you don’t have academic issues, I’m not sure that’ll happen.”

#00, Marcus Lee, Soph., F

On being ready for games to count …
“I think we’ve been ready for that. I mean, our wins and losses matter here. We gotta run every time we lose, so it means a lot to win or lose no matter who you’re playing right now. But it’s a big thing right now where we’re finally able to play somebody else and it’s actually going to count. So we’re excited.”

On how much the losing team has to run …
“A lot of running. I won’t even go into how much running that is. Just know you’re tired after it. You’re tired just watching us run.”

On avoiding being two different teams in the same locker room …
“I mean, with this team it’s pretty hard to be two different (teams) because we’re with each other nonstop. We’re just so cohesive as a family, not even just as a team. We flow with each other so well. So even if we get mad at each other—like me and Karl (-Anthony Towns) were arguing during practice and after practice we were totally laughing about it and just going on about our business.”

On how much they are working on specialty teams in practice …
“He (Coach Calipari) doesn’t really tell us when he does it. He kind of just—he’ll switch the teams up and he’ll go with it and that’s just something he’ll do. We’ll just have to go through the pickup games like we always do.”

On why Calipari divided the platoons the way he did …
“I think he was just looking for people who came together on the court the best way they could. I think he’s found two great groups that work well together and they kind of—they go back and forth, which is good. With me and Tyler (Ulis), we’re really good on the press because we both have a lot of energy to go through it. So we work really well together. He’s just looking for those things that put everybody together.”

On the competitiveness of practice …
“Even without the running, the competition during practice is insane. We have a drill called the ‘Perfect Stop.’ Once Coach Cal calls ‘Perfect Stop,’ it’s probably the best part of practice because we’re trying to kill each other. It’s probably the most fun, but it’s the most work we do during practice.”

On what the drill is …
“It’s when you have to have a perfect stop, where no one can get inside the lane, you can take a charge and you have to go all of 35 seconds and get a perfect stop each time.”

On how going into this season feels different after a busy offseason …
“As you guys can see, we’re a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident with each other and we don’t feel like we’re stressed or we have to do anything early or show anybody anything. We’re just like—we’re just ready to play and there’s nothing really to it.”

On whether he and Dakari Johnson feel pressure as veterans on the second platoon …
“I don’t really know. Sometimes I know when it’s me—sometimes it’ll be me and all four freshmen and I kind of stress a little. I just try to find ways to lead them knowing that they’re so high-level, just as we all are. Knowing that I know a lot more than they do, coming with UK, I can help them just with going through practices and when Cal tries to trick us and go through plays that we already know from last year but they don’t. I just try to help everybody out so we can figure it out easier.”

On whether starting the season is a relaxing feeling …
“Oh yeah. It’s definitely very relaxing knowing that we are finally here at the start of the season. It’s something that we’ve all been looking forward to since the end of last season. So for it to finally be here is kind of a good feeling.”

On which of the freshmen have changed the most …
“I mean, they’ve all changed tremendously. With Trey (Lyles) and his leg, he’s just killing it right now. So he’s doing really well. You honestly don’t know that he was hurt a couple months ago. I think it’s really good. You see Karl and his whole body has just changed. He used to be bigger. Now he’s more lean. And so our freshmen have worked their butts off and it’s helped tremendously.”

On the feeling of getting a stop in the Perfect Stop drill …
“I can’t really explain the Perfect Stop. The Perfect Stop, it’s exciting. It’s really competitive.”

On whether they celebrate when it’s over …
“Oh, yeah. It’s probably the noisiest point of our practice because we’re yelling, we’re screaming, we’re talking because you only have so much time to try to talk with your team to get things done.”

On whether they talk trash to the other team during the drill …
“Oh yeah. When you’re on defense, we try to make it as (bad) as possible.”

#22 Alex Poythress, Jr., F

On being ready for the regular season …
“Yeah, I’m ready for the season to get here. I’m excited that it’s finally here. I’m ready to play against other people different from ourselves in practice. So you know just ready to go out there and have fun.”

On some of the things the team has gotten better at since practice started …
“We’re continuing to mesh with each other you know with the different groups we’ve got. You know flipping people and what not, we’re just learning to play with each other and be each other’s brother’s keepers and stuff like that.”

On what he thinks the team is improving on the most during the preseason …
“We’re playing good defense I think. We can always improve our defense, help out out there, and once everyone starts beating their defensive partners everybody will be good.”

On how much farther along the team is currently than last year’s team …
“I’m not really sure, it’s tough to compare two different teams. You know it’s a new year and we’re going to try to take care of business this year, just try to start fresh.”

On team chemistry …
“Chemistry feels good, you know, since we played in the Bahamas. That was a real big help for us.”

On if this is the most talented team he’s been on at Kentucky …
“You know we’ve had some great talent. Nerlens (Noel), Archie (Goodwin), last year we had Julius (Randle) and James (Young), so it’s been a lot of talent come through. So I mean it’s one of them, but we’ve had a lot of talent come through here so far.”

On buying into the hype …
“No we don’t buy into the hype. You know there’s going to be expectations here. We just can’t buy into all that.”

On if shooting around extra with Trey Lyles has helped his game this season …
“Yeah, it’s helped a lot. You know me and Trey always shoot around, either we come in at night, after practice, before practice, whenever we have time to.”

On if he struggled with the hype when he first got to UK …
“Yeah, I mean everyone’s going to struggle with it. Being a freshman, you know, it’s hard to not buy into it, to not like listen to everything you know. Once you’re mature and everything it’s easy to put it behind you and put it to the side.”

On if some believe the hype this year …
“Yeah and no, but we’re trying to teach our freshmen here, you know, you’re kind of spoiled with us coming back. So it’s a great point for us to teach them.”

On how his game is going to be better this year …
“I’m just getting better each day, trying to focus on my game, and working out in the gym.”

On waiting for the regular season …
“Yeah it’s been long, the wait’s been long when you’re really excited to start playing other people for a chance.”

On what he’s trying to improve on …
“Just trying to get better as a player, win games, get a national championship, you know that’s the number one goal at the end of the day.”

On blending in with the team and quietly scoring double-digit points the past couple games …
“I wouldn’t say blending it, I would just say everybody’s got a role to play, and just doing their job.”

On what his role is …
“Just being a leader, stepping up for the young guys, playing defense, doing whatever I need to do.”

On how anxious the team is to get started in the regular season …
“We’re real anxious, ready for the season to actually be here, and ready for these games to start counting. That’s what we’ve been working hard for this summer, this preseason, so we’re really excited.”

On if the platoon system is what he thought it would be …
“Yeah I feel like it is. We got a taste of it in the Bahamas so we knew what to expect already.”

On the best part of the platoon system …
“You can go as hard as you can for four or five minutes and you know you’re getting a little break. So that’s the good thing. You can go hard knowing you’re going to get a little break afterwards.”

On how the guys avoid being two separate teams in the same locker room …
“We’re not. I mean we’re always hanging around each other. We’re so close, at the movies with each other, playing pool with each other downstairs at the (Wildcat Coal) Lodge room, just being a family and always hanging out with each other.”

On if the team knows when Coach Cal is trying to focus on finding his finishing five …
“I’m not really sure, but at that point, whoever’s playing best at the end of the game will probably be in the game at the end of the game. You know we have such a great group of talented guys and it really doesn’t matter who’s in at the end of the game.”

On if he thinks it’ll be Coach Cal going with who’s got the hot hand …
“I mean I would think so but I’m not the coach so I couldn’t speak for him. So I have no idea.”

On how different this season feels, with all the preseason work, compared to the last two years …
“I mean it feels like we got a jump start on everything. You know we played in the Bahamas, played a couple games down there, had practices, preseason, and all that stuff, so it feels like we got a little bit of an advantage.”

On if they know what they are as a team going into this season …
“I feel like our roles are more defined this year, people know what to do, people know what to expect, we know who our leaders are, we know what people are so we just know what to do out there.”

On who are the leaders …
“I feel like everybody can be a leader sometimes. I feel like me, Willie (Cauley-Stein), and the (Harrison) twins stepped up for the most part.”

On what they do to lead the other guys …
“We lead by example. If they’re messing up we just talk to them. I mean that’s what we really need to do.”

On if the regular season is a tranquil type of thing …
“I wouldn’t say it’s tranquil. We’re all excited for it. That’s what we’ve been working hard for is the real season. Everything else is nice, but that’s what we really want to do is play games.”

On if he really thinks the platoon system is something long-term …
“I feel like it’ll work. It’s worked so far. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

On what he wants out of these early season games …
“Just for everybody to play hard, do what you need to do, and don’t take your opponent lightly. Every Division I school is Division I for a reason. They all have good players, you know, just got to come in and play hard and play defense.”

On how competitive the practices are …
“Oh real competitive, you know always going against somebody at your position at all times. Even in drills it’s competitive. Just bringing the competitive spirit out of everybody out there.”

On the perfect stop drill and how excited everyone gets at the end of it …
“Yeah, because people started taking pride in defense, stopping people, or on offense you take pride in scoring on people, you know, it’s just a pride thing in that drill.”

On what they’ve learned about each other in these first few games …
“We learned that everybody’s fighters, everybody’s real competitive, everybody likes to play, that’s what we can expect form people out there.”

On if he feels more comfortable with his shot this year …
“Yeah, I feel real comfortable with it. I’m shooting when I’m open, taking the shots, going through with my follow through. I feel real comfortable out there.”