Kentucky Returns Home, Faces Boston on Friday
After a convincing 72-40 win over No. 5 Kansas, Kentucky returns home to Rupp Arena to face Boston University on Friday, November 21. The game will be televised on FSN and tip is set for 7 p.m. ET.
|Kentucky vs. Boston
Friday, Nov. 21 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | BU
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via ESPN3
Cat Scratches: Cats keeping things in perspective before Boston U. matchup
The talk was out there before, but it's intensified in recent days.
Since the Wildcats' dominance of Kansas in the Champions Classic, more columns about their prospects of going unbeaten have been written than even Kentucky fans care to read. The "can UK beat an NBA team?" debate has been kicked up a notch too, with Eric Bledsoe confidently answering yes and ESPN running a poll on the topic with close to 200,000 votes, 52 percent of which were cast for the Cats.
But inside the Joe Craft Center, the mood is different. For the team that did the dominating, it's still November and the victory over Kansas was just that: one victory.
"We just have to keep working," Andrew Harrison said. "We played really hard. A lot of their shots didn't fall and stuff like that, so we know we still have a lot to improve on. It's just the third game of the season. It really doesn't mean anything." ... read the full preview
This Week's News
- Kentucky defeated No. 5 Kansas 72-40 on Nov. 18, 2014 and in the process made history.
- UK limited the Jayhawks to 19.6 percent shooting for the game.
- That's the lowest shooting percentage by an opponent since UK limited Central Michigan to 20 percent on Nov. 6, 2007.
- It's the first sub-.200 clip since Morehead State was limited to a 13.8 percent day on Dec. 16, 1995.
- Kansas averaged 0.635 points per possession.
- With 40 points scored, UK yielded one point for every minute played in the game.
- Kentucky prevented Kansas from scoring on 44 of 63 possessions.
- It was the third-lowest points per possession in the Calipari era and the lowest for a top 25 opponent.
- Kansas' 40 points were the fewest the Jayhawks have scored since Jan. 20, 1982 when they lost 41-35 to Missouri.
- It was the fewest points Kansas has scored in the 3-point shot era.
- Kansas was last held to 50 or fewer points on Feb. 28, 1999 when Iowa State won 52-50.
- The Jayhawks' posted just 11 made field goals, marking the fewest field goals in the 3-point era. It was the fewest field goals for Kansas since UK limited the Jayhawks to 15 on Dec. 1, 1998.
- The 32-point margin of victory for the Cats marked the second largest margin against an AP top five team in school history.
- UK defated No. 2 St. John's (81-40) by 41 on Dec. 17, 1951
- The margin of victory was the largest over a top 25 opponent since UK won by 34 (99-65) over No. 4 Indiana on Dec. 7, 1996.
- It was the third time in program history that UK has held a top-five team to 40 points or less and the first since the Dec. 17, 1951 win over St. John's.
- UK has played a top-five opponent 117 times in program history, and only No. 1 Oklahoma A&M was held to fewer points in a 46-36 win on March 26, 1949.
- The six turnovers by the Cats was tied for the fourth fewest in the Calipari era.
- Twelve different Wildcats scored in the game and no player logged more than 21 minutes of action.
- Kentucky blocked (11) an equal number of shots as the Jayhawks had made field goals (11).
- No Kansas played reached double-figure scoring.
- Kansas only scored 12 points on three made field goals in the second half.
Calipari Claims 600th On-Court Victory
- With a win over No. 5 Kansas on Nov. 18, 2014, John Calipari claimed his 600th on-court victory as a Division I head coach and is the 13th active Division I coach to achieve the feat.
- Trey Lyles won SEC Freshman of the Week honors after averaging 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in two UK victories.
- Was the lone UK player to reach double-figure scoring in both wins.
- Poured in 14 points vs. Grand Canyon
- Had a team-high 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in the win over Buffalo.
- Scored the first five points of the second half to spark the Wildcats vs. the Bulls.
- The Kentucky men's basketball team has added three of the top players from the class of 2015, as Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews have signed with Kentucky in the early signing period.
- Briscoe, a 6-foot-3 guard from Newark, N.J., won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2014 FIBA Americans U18 Championships. He averaged 22.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game during his junior season at Roselle Catholic High School.
- Labissiere is a 6-11 forward from Haiti. A consensus five-star recruit who now calls Memphis, Tenn., home, he is the No. 1 overall center in the 2015 class by both Rivals and Scout and the No. 2 center by 247Sports.
- Matthews, a 6-5 guard, hails from Chicago. He is tabbed as the No. 12 shooting guard in the 2015 class by ESPN, 15th by 247Sports and the 20th-rated shooter by Scout.
Media Opportunity - November 20, 2014
Assistant Coach John Robic
On what he learned in the Kansas game ...
"That's probably the biggest thing is how they were going to react to a high-level game against a very good top-ranked opponent. We obviously played really well and I thought everyone responded very, very well in that game. Even towards the end of the first half when Kansas made a little run at us to cut it at halftime, guys just grouped together at halftime and really answered the challenge coming out of halftime and scoring the first six points and bumping that lead back up."
On freshmen having the returners ...
"Well, it's nice for those freshmen that they have a bunch of guys that came that are sophomores and juniors that were able to help them get through it, but, again, some of those freshmen are showing everyone else that they deserve to be out there by the defensive intensity. I think it's helping both groups, and we get that every day in practice, so it's not abnormal for us to see that in a game situation."
On the guys cheering on their teammates ...
"This group genuinely likes each other. I think we really, really benefited by our summer trip. For them to get six real games in, even though, you know, they didn't count, it showed. They really came together. They've been that way every day in practice and we have great kids that, you're right, they've given up some of their game but they're just -- they want to win. I think they're doing what it takes to win when they're on the floor and when they're not on the floor. It takes a special player and a special person when you're not in the game to be actively involved and they are every time they, you know, go in and out."
On the good defensive numbers ...
"I think it's a combination of the both. Part of this platoon system, you see as it goes - the numbers, as you go along. And we keep score. We have a scoring breakdown of each segment, if you want to call it that, and you can see where you do start to get in their legs. It's something that the guys know we chart. It's important, especially on the defensive end. With our length and our athletic ability, there's no reason why we can't be a really good defensive team because of our size. And size with athleticism equals, you know - it can be a problem for an opponent, and that's what it was, so we can pressure the ball a little bit more. We're doing a much better job of guarding the dribble. It's a little bit easier for us with bigger teams. You get into the exhibition games and some of your other nonconference games where you have small lineups (and it can be tougher). It's pretty tough for a 6-10, 7-footer to keep in front of a 5-11, 6 feet, but we still have a game plan, and the guys are doing really well with it."
On what is the most entertaining matchup in practice ...
"There's a lot of them. I'll answer it, but I think at each position they're challenging one another. It's making each of them better in different ways. I like to see the big guys go at each other and different combinations because you can go from quick to a Willie to a strength force with Dakari. Marcus Lee is active. I mean, and Karl, so we've intertwined matchups. Right now we're sticking with what we have until we think it needs to be changed, but the other thing about it is that each group feels really comfortable with playing one another. And why change it?"
On more defensive pressure on 3-point shooters this season ...
"I mean, we are so big, that if we can keep them off the foul line and keep them off the 3-point line it is going to be tough to score. Teams are going to come in with a theory that we have to beat them from the 3-point line. If we can do a good job of that and make them drive into our bigs, we like what our bigs do defensively. And it is an important stat. We just can't give away free points away from the 3-point line."
On if he was surprised Kansas kept driving without having any success ...
"I think probably what their game plan was, was to drive the ball. They didn't differ from that. You would have to ask Bill (Self) that question. Each game we have gotten better of defending straight line drives and that was the best we have done in three games. So from the first game with Grand Canyon until the Kansas game we have gotten better each and every game."
On coaching players that have not played that much this year...
"Dominique went through it last year and came through in the NCAA Tournament and played really well. And I think any player can look at what Marcus Lee did last year and was patient, patient, patient and really stepped up for us. And that has just carried over into this year for him. His confidence has grown immensely. And foul trouble, they've got to be ready. That is one luxury we have with having 12 guys that can really play. And those guys know that whatever group, if we need a guard sub or we need a forward sub, it would be one of those guys."
On preparing for the next three games ...
"We were off yesterday. We are getting ready to head to practice right now. I think you have to keep building on what we did. I thought our communication was really, really good in the Kansas game. They followed the game plan perfectly and they paid attention to detail in a quick turnaround time. That is like a NCAA Tournament time turnaround so I was pleased with that. And I just think getting better. The score might not be indicative of getting better, but we can see it as coaches. But the first step to that is today's practice and just carrying on the things we think we need improvement in."
On the challenge of reaching higher after a 32 point win over the No. 5 team ...
"We're not expecting to be perfect right now. We don't expect to be at our peak right now. Obviously we're happy where we are, but we want to peak in February. We're striving for that. It's a thing where these kinds got to understand where we are now and what they have to do individually and what we have to do as a team to keep coming together as a unit to perform."
On if there is anything he tells them to make that point with them ...
"The score was the score. Very happy with our defense. We made them take a lot of tough shots. We blocked 11 shots. We need to get better offensively for sure. We have to get out in transition a little bit more. The message for these guys is just, each and every day we have to get better at what we need to do as a team, whether it's defensively or offensively. And if we do that, we know that we're going to give our best effort when we go out there, and hopefully tomorrow it shows improvement for us. And that's why I said earlier the score may not be indicative of did we get better. But in our eyes, did we see it. We'll see tomorrow."
Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison
On the opposing teams getting worn down because of the platoons switching ...
"Definitely. It's definitely to our advantage having 10 guys that can all play. And we take pride in defense and wearing people down, so I think it's working."
On what the team reviewed after the game against Kansas ...
"He said he wanted me to be more aggressive on offense. And he said we were just sloppy offensively at the beginning of the game, which we definitely were. I think we were all just catching our breath and things like that. But other than that, I think we played a really good game defensively."
On how hard it is to be aggressive offensively when there's so many good scorers on the team ...
"I don't think they need an individual (to be the lead scorer). I just think Coach wants to keep it going and just for the team's sake. But other than that, I think we won the game on the defensive end, and I think that's what's important."
On Coach Cal trying to find more plays for him ...
"I don't know. He just said he wanted me to get more touches and things like that. So I mean, we won pretty handily, so I'm not worried about it that much."
On if he could tell the Kansas players were getting frustrated not being able to get a shot ...
"I mean, I know how they feel. I practice with these guys every day and it's really hard to get a shot off in the lane. So I just think you have to hit a lot of 3's to be able to beat us and they had a rough shooting night. But they're a good team. I can tell they'll be OK down the road."
On what the line of defense allows him to do ...
"It just gives me more confidence just to know that the big guys have my back and I can play aggressively."
On how much the team has talked about 3-point defense ...
"Oh yeah, it's been the biggest thing, I think, because we're so big and so long that we know teams are going to have to hit a lot of 3's to beat us. So we try to run teams off the 3-point line and make them take tough 2's."
On how that's changed from last year ...
"I don't know think we emphasized running them off the 3-point line as much last year, so that's a big factor in our game plan and every game we play."
On Boston being a good 3-point shooting team ...
"Yeah, they're a pretty good team, a pretty good shooting team, and I think that's going to be a big, big factor in the game."
On Coach Cal trying to diminish the hype around the team after Tuesday's win ...
"He knows, we all know we have a long way to go. We didn't play well offensively. We offensive rebounded really well, but I think we can execute on the offensive end a lot better."
On what would have happened if the team was playing offense the way they want to ...
"I mean, I don't know. I think we would just be more fluid in our half-court offense. I think we did settle down once the game got going and did get it more efficient, but I think we should start off like that. We just need to start off better on offense."
On the game against Kansas showing how well the platoon system can work defensively ...
"Yeah, of course. I think the platoon system did help us, `cause last year in the same game we were a little worn down. And we weren't used to that intensity and we needed a couple of breaks that we didn't get."
On how good it is to know that they're going to get a break after three or four minutes ...
"It's good. We're all in great condition and put in a lot of work this summer. And I think it helps us because we can wear teams down and there's a lot of guys coming at you, so it's hard to handle."
On the change in Andrew as a leader ...
"He's just playing more loose and more relaxed. He's just having more fun, and I think that's the biggest thing."
On Andrew being more comfortable to take charge on the court ...
"Yeah, I think it's just all about being more comfortable and having the green light to do, to know that you can do what you need to do while he has to get us involved."
On the team locking down defensively in the last two second halves ...
"I think we just, once we've focused on the defensive end we're a really tough team to score on and we take pride in our defensive. We're going to be a defensive team this year.
On how the freshmen handled their first big moment ...
"I mean, it was fun to see them in that atmosphere. I remember my first big game like that and I was real nervous. And I think they handled it really well."
On how different it is this year with the freshman able to lean on him and the other veterans ...
"It's really different. I mean, just going out, and not even starting a game, just knowing that the game's on you and you have to play the whole game, and it's on you to win or lose. But for them, I think it's less stressful to be in their situation."
Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison
On what it says that there's room for improvement after blowing out Kansas ...
"We just have to keep working. We played really hard. A lot of their shots didn't fall and stuff like that, so we know we still have a lot to improve on. It's just the third game of the season. It really doesn't mean anything."
On what the Kansas game showed them about the way they are playing ...
"You just have to play D and listen to what Coach is saying and be unselfish, and I think everybody on this team is like that. Everyone wants to win."
On the reason for UK's strong second-half defense ...
"It's just determination and practicing, practicing hard. It's being a leader, making sure everyone is still practicing hard and don't be satisfied with a win."
On whether UK's strong second-half defense is a result of depth ...
"Yeah, I think so. Especially when you have so much talent on a team and there's no drop-off, it's great."
On how the offense needs to improve ...
"It's just better execution in the first half, and that's on me. I think we were a little tired the first little segment the blue team had or whatever, but it started working out. You get your second wind and I just tried to make sure the freshmen weren't that nervous and stuff like that."
On whether they refer to the platoons as blue and white ...
"No, not really. Actually we just get it from seeing what everyone else says, to be honest. We just think of it as one team and we just take turns."
On who wins in scrimmages ...
"Um, I don't really want to say. Usually my team though."
On whether chemistry is even more important with the way UK is playing ...
"Oh, definitely. Coach knows that we're sacrificing. We might not be getting the numbers that we planned on getting and stuff like that, but when we win and we're playing like that together as a team and everyone is shining and everyone is seeing what we can do, it's great."
On whether playing fewer minutes is as satisfying when you're winning ...
"When you're winning like that, definitely. But Coach also (says) anybody can see how good you are in 20 minutes just like they can in 35 minutes. It's not like you can't see the talent or you can't see how good you are."
On being more comfortable being aggressive ...
"I'm just trying to be a leader and I'm just trying to get better every day. I have a long way to go."
On what he's doing to be a leader ...
"Just talking. Make sure everyone's loose, make sure the pressure's not on them and just trying to help out any way I can."
On being more comfortable talking ...
"Yeah, I have the experience and I feel like we've been through a lot as a team and as an individual. I feel like I can help."
On how the freshmen handled their first big game ...
"That was good. Like I said, it's good because the pressure's not really on them so they can just go out there relaxed and play. I'm sure they had fun and they played great."
On whether trusting teammates more quickly is because they have experience playing together ...
"Yeah, I think so. Just because some of us have been through it and we know how hard it is to try to win on individual play. We're just trying to play as a team."
On what Willie Cauley-Stein was talking about when he said trust is what makes this work ...
"We just all believe that--you just have to trust in every player on the team that you're going to stop your team or if you get beat Willie's going to come help you or Karl's going to help Willie. Just stuff like that."