Cats Host St. John's in Big East/SEC Challenge

Nov. 30, 2011

Kentucky ran its winning-streak in Rupp Arena to 36 games after an 87-63 victory over the Portland Pilots on Saturday.

Gameday
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Kentucky vs. St. John's
SEC/Big East Challenge
Thurs., Dec. 1 - 7:30 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Rupp Arena
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | SJU

Game Program
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TV: ESPN2
Radio: UK IMG
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The Wildcats received double-figure efforts from Terrence Jones (19), Darius Miller (19), Marquis Teague (14), Anthony Davis (13) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11).

Davis added a personal-best 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, while also blocking four shots. He has swatted three or more shots in all six of UK's wins this season.

Teague dished out a career-high eight assists and tallied a career-high four steals while not turning the ball over in the victory.

Scouting Report

A member of the Big East Conference, St. John's hails from Queens, N.Y.

The Red Storm are a very freshmen-laden team, sporting seven rookies on its 11-man roster.

Offensively, St. John's is led by sophomore Nurideen Lindsey (14.4 ppg), but freshman D'Angelo Harrison isn't far behind at 14.3 ppg, while fellow freshman Moe Harkless leads the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and blocks (13) and is second in steals (13) and third in scoring (14.1 ppg).

Steve Lavin is in his second season as coach of the Red Storm, posting a 25-15 mark in Queens and an overall record of 170-93 in his eight-plus years of coaching.

During Lavin's seven-year tenure as the head coach at UCLA, he compiled a 145-78 overall record (.650) and an 81-48 mark (.628) in regular season Pacific-10 conference play. During his first six campaigns as head coach, UCLA averaged nearly 23 wins per year, advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1997, made five trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 (1997, '98, `00, '01, `02), won the Pacific-10 title (1997) and assembled the nation's No. 1 (1998, 2001) and No. 2 (1997) recruiting classes. Under Lavin, the Bruins were granted six consecutive NCAA Tournament bids and recorded six-straight seasons of 21 or more victories.

Series History

The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the Red Storm, 10-5, but the two teams have split the last six meetings dating back to 1952. Kentucky and St. John's haven't met since the 2001 season.

Pre-St. John's Media Opportunity Quotes

UK Head Coach John Calipari

On what he tells his young team after becoming number one in the rankings …
“First of all, I said obviously not everyone thought we should be number one. Thirty percent of the voters voted for someone else, which is really unusual. Normally, whoever ascends gets the majority of the votes. That didn’t happen. I said, ‘We’ll see if they’re right. How we practice, how we approach this. I want you to understand that this is not a burden. It’s a badge of honor. That’s what this is. Playing here, this is what you’re trying to attain.’ Now, this isn’t when we want this, but we’re there so let’s see how we perform.”

On whether the freshmen understand what it means to be number one …
“They’re oblivious to all of this. They don’t have any idea.”

On this team being able to handle the number one ranking … 
“We have a lot of people saying that last night’s game determined the number one for next week. The greatest thing is that I don’t even have to say stuff. In the world that we live in right now, if anyone says anything it’s out there in cyberspace. They read it all. I don’t even have to tell them. We have a very young team. We start three freshmen and two sophomores. We’re a very young team. We haven’t been really good offensively. We’ve got to get better. I like my team; I wouldn’t want to have anybody else’s team. But, I will tell you that we have a long way to go, as individual players and as a team.”

On whether Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s comment that (Darius) Miller deserves to start is true …
“I don’t know. We’ll just see how that goes. The way he’s playing, he’s our best player.”

On what he wants to learn about his team after these next couple of preseason games …
“All of these kinds of games and the mistakes we make are learning opportunities for the team and our coaches. That’s what it becomes. You want to play these kinds of games. You can’t afford not to when you’re Kentucky and you’re in the SEC. People forget that we were 10-6 last year in the SEC. You can’t play all of these kinds of games and put your program at risk. You need to play these kinds of games to figure out, where are we before January hits. I even told the players, ‘Go do what you think is right. You know how I want you to play. There are things that we haven’t talked about. Choose what you think you should do in those situations.’ It’s a learning experience. I don’t want anybody to play tentative. (Former UK) Coach (Joe B.) Hall was in here yesterday and we did a trap drill. You would think every player would understand how to play against a trap. When I sat down, Coach Hall laughed and said, ‘Can you imagine? You’d think they know. They don’t.” They just don’t know it and you can’t cover it all until you see it in a game and see that we don’t know how to play a three-point shooter when he comes off the screen. You’d think, ‘Well yeah, you have to know!’ No. You don’t know. So now, we’re trying to cover that a little bit. There are things that we’ll hit every game.”

On having a senior that’s willing to start on the bench and a freshman that will come off …
“I think it tells you that we have a pretty good team that likes each other and respects each other. But, it’s not just Darius (Miller) or Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). It could be Doron (Lamb), or it could be Marquis Teague. I’d say the other two are pretty well squared away in there, but it may be one of those. The reality of it is, we can talk all we want but we have six starters. We have six starters; that’s what we have. Some of it may be game to game. I decide I want Michael guarding somebody different or I want a bigger line-up, we can do that.”

On being in the third year of the SEC-Big East Challenge…
“It’s a good thing for both leagues. The issue for us is adding too many games and then going to 18 league games. My job isn’t to try to entertain. My job is to keep this program where it is and not put it at risk. Based on the fact that it’s going to stay at one year, for college players before they can move into the NBA, we’re going to have to turn over our staff and players, which mean that we don’t know who we’re going to have year to year. This isn’t a football schedule where you have to schedule it 12 years in advance. We could have three games to schedule and it’s August. We’re Kentucky. People will drop teams off of their schedule to play us. We don’t have to be that far out in advance of our schedule. That’s why this is a great game that’s great for both leagues but my concern is always going to be my players and this program, nothing else.”

#14, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G, Fr.

On how the team is playing compared to what he expected …
“On a scale from one to 10, I’d say about a four. I’m not disappointed at all; we are just a young group that is still learning. I expect us to get a lot better. We can be a 10, I expect everyone to get better.”

On offering his starting spot to Darius Miller
“It’s a mixture (of his relationship with Darius and just being a team player). That’s just me. It doesn’t matter who starts.”

On playing against St. John’s being from the Northeast …
“It does (carry a little more weight). I just want to win the game and I’ll be fine. I don’t put much into the name. If we just have fun, we’ll win the game.”

#23, Anthony Davis, F, Fr.

On whether UK has an advantage since St. John’s is such a young team …
“Not really. They’re really scrappy and they like to come out and play hard and fast. Basically, we’re playing just another college basketball team since they play hard as well. It’s going to be another game where we really have to come out and play.”

On staying focused on St. John’s even though UNC is only two days later …
“We’re not even talking about Saturday’s game right now. We’re worrying about St. John’s since that’s tomorrow. They’re a great team and we have to get prepared for them.”

On how it feels to be number one in the rankings …
“It’s an honor but it’s only November. We still have a whole college season ahead of us.”

On whether the team feels they can’t go any higher since they’re number one …
“Not at all. Everybody is playing with a chip on their shoulder. Everybody is coming out to beat us. Even if we weren’t number one, people would still want to come out and beat us”

#25, Marquis Teague, G, Fr.

On St. John’s …
“I think they are a real talented team, young guys that will come in with a lot of energy and they are going to come in hungry.”

On the No. 1 ranking …
“It’s an honor, but it is still early in the season, we aren’t really worried about it, we are just going to come out and play hard.”

On the next 10 days of the schedule …
“We are playing some of the best teams in the country so we have to come out and be ready and show people what we are made of. It is going to be a big test for us to come out and prove we are one of the best teams. I just want to come out and be a leader on the floor, run the show pretty much, be the coach on the floor and make sure my team is doing everything they are supposed to be doing and everyone is playing hard to get the win.”

On his confidence increasing in the past two games …
“I am confident in my game, I am just going to come out and compete.”