Winningest Teams Collide in Rupp Arena

Dec. 3, 2009

Winningest Teams Collide in Rupp Arena

The two winningest teams in college basketball face off Saturday when the Wildcats (1,995 wins) take on the Tar Heels (1,991 wins) in Rupp Arena in a nationally televised contest on CBS.

Kentucky North Carolina
Gameday Information
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UNC Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sat., Dec. 5, 12:30 p.m
Coverage TV: CBS
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker GameTracker
Online Audio listen
Live Blog
Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
North Carolina Tar Heels at a Glance
Head Coach Roy Williams
Record at School 183-34
2009 Record 7-1, 0-0 ACC
Ranking No. 10 AP/No. 11 Coaches
Series Record North Carolina leads 21-10
Last Meeting North Carolina defeated Kentucky 77-58 in Chapel Hill, N.C. last season
2009 Team Stats UK UNC
Scoring Offense 83.0 84.4
Scoring Defense 65.0 72.2
FG Percentage 51.5% 52.3%
3-point FG Percentage 37.9% 37.5%
FT Percentage 66.8% 64.9%
Rebound Margin +12.4 +9.8
Assists 16.9 21.1
Turnovers 17.1 17.3
2009 Stat Leaders
Scoring UK: John Wall (18.5)
UNC: Deon Thompson (17.3)
Rebounding UK: Patrick Patterson (10.6)
UNC: Ed Davis (9.4)
Assists UK: John Wall (7.8)
UNC: Larry Drew II (6.6)
3-point FG Percentage UK: Eric Bledsoe (52.2%)
UNC: Larry Drew II (47.4%)
Blocks UK: DeMarcus Cousins (2.6)
UNC: Ed Davis (2.4)
Steals UK: John Wall (2.5)
UNC: Marcus Ginyard (2.0)

Kentucky enters the game on a seven-game winning streak to open the year, its best start since the 2004 season. In its most recent outing, UK claimed a 94-57 win over UNC Asheville at Freedom Hall in Louisville.

DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall led the Cats with a pair of double-doubles. Cousins led all scorers with 24 and all rebounders with 10 while John Wall scored 12 points and dished out 14 assists, a fresman record and the most by a Wildcat since Travis Ford recorded 15 in the 1993-94 season.

Scouting the Tar Heels

Cat Scratches will host a scouting preview this week for the Kentucky-North Carolina game by bringing in Brett Dawson of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Robbi Pickeral of the Raleigh News & Observer.

On Friday at 3:00 p.m. Dawson and Pickeral will join us for a live chat to give their thoughts on the matchup, what the keys are to the game, who fans should look out for and more. The 30 to 40 minute chat with the reporters will offer fans an inside look at the game from the people who are closest to the teams.

Fans are encouraged to join the interactive blog and send in questions. The last 15 minutes of the chat will be dedicated to fans' questions. If you can't join us and would like to have a question submitted, please send your question to catscratches@email.uky.edu and we'll try to fit it in.

Pregame Quotes

Head Coach John Calipari

On North Carolina...

"I told them we are going to practice like we are 4-3 because we could be 4-3, so let's practice that way. Let's not get arrogant or stretched out, because we aren't very good right now. We have to really settle in and get better. We are playing a team that lost some players, yet their starting five is all players that played in the national title game a year ago. Ed Davis may have been one of their best, if not the best player last year. (Larry) Drew is pretty good and Marcus Ginyard is pretty good. (Will) Graves played. Now, all of the sudden, they have five McDonald's All-Americans to play along with those guys. They aren't playing much, but they are on the bench. They are five McDonald's All-Americans. We are playing a team that is very talented, very big, very well coached and more experienced than us. We are not bigger, we are not more talented and we are inexperienced. The one hope we have is that they will be intimidated by Rupp Arena. But, they have played in Cameron Indoor and some other places, so they will not be intimidated by Rupp. We know what we are in for and it will be a hard game. It will be a hard game for us to win.

"They watched (North Carolina's game against) Michigan State and went from, `They're all right, to oh my gosh.' They watched the game together, so they understand we're talking about a juggernaut that rebounds. Yes, they went to the Madison Square Garden and lost to a team that played them in a 2-3 zone and they missed a bunch of shots, but they had a kid on the other team that made about seven three's in a row. He just went nuts. He went Tony Delk on them. Then, North Carolina beat a Michigan State team who was No. 2 in the country, and always known for tough play and roughness. North Carolina beat them to every ball and roughed them. They are a team of veteran players. They have all been to the highest level and played in the greatest arenas.

"They are fast, they are very aggressive and they are just as long. They are going to aggressively come into your body. We had teams like Cleveland State play that way. Initially, it stuns us because they feel like it's an AAU game. We don't understand until the game keeps going on that it's not an AAU game and they are playing for their lives. That is what we are trying to learn through all of this. These next ten days, we are going to learn about our team. Would you like to win every game? Yes, you want to win every game. But, the more important thing is learning about your team, and the only way you learn is playing the next level of teams. We need to say, where are we now? Can we play the way we want to play against better teams?

"I want to have fun coaching the game, I want my team to have fun playing the game, and the only way to do that is to play harder than they play. The only other way you do it is to do your job, whatever it is, do your job. Don't break down plays and try to do it yourself. Do your job. Come out together and make this easy on defense by talking. On offense, it's making easy plays and making sure you get open so you can make plays. All of that kind of stuff is where you have fun."

On preparing for North Carolina...

"I told them there are things you do prior to a big game and you make sure there are three or four things you know you are going to do well in that game. I talked to some of them about how they will specifically have to play. I said, `You have two, three days to get that in your mind. Do it in practice, and do it every time in practice, not just when you feel like it.'"

On Kentucky's defense against North Carolina...

"We are going to defend how we defend. A lot of it is going to be matchups, and guys are being challenged. They have to play someone, and if they can't play them, I'll have to try someone else. They play fast and our transition defense better be good, because if it's not, they will shoot layups. They get it in quick, and they go on misses and makes. We are zeroed in on a couple of those things. The biggest thing is, will we go in and fight for rebounds."

On John Wall...

"Everybody is trying to make their name at his expense. Every player he plays, and every guard he plays. They are writing stories about him prior to the game and kids are talking about it if they are the point guard on the other team. He understands that. I'm more concerned about some other guys. It's not John Wall against North Carolina, it's our team against their team. It's our big guys against their big guys."

#5, Ramon Harris, G/F

On if the meeting between UK and UNC means more this season ...

"I think so. There have been a few changes on our side. They lost some players from last year, when they are coming off the national championship. So, the stakes are a little higher this time."

On if this is UK's best chance to prove it is a contender ...

"I think this is one of the chances. Hopefully you win (Saturday), but if you do not, you still have some chances against some really good teams."

On staying with the team for his senior year ...  

"When you have a new coach say that some guys may not be here, you just want to fulfill your role. I think he was impressed by some of the skills that I had and he felt like I could fit in his type of style. It just shows that hard work pays off. This is probably the most fun team that I have ever been on. When it is time to work though, everyone puts in work."

#11, John Wall, G

On North Carolina ...

"They are good, they are pretty good. They've got key big men that score in the post for them and they look to get the ball to them as much as they can. Everybody just plays from there. If you can't stop their big men, then it is going to be tough. Coach Roy Williams is doing a great job of coaching them and preparing them for the season."

On the pace of the game ...

"I think it is going to get up and down but at the end, like the last four or eight minutes it is going to be about who can get a key defensive stop. That is what I think the game is going to come down to. It is about getting key stops and scoring when you need to at the end. "

On what mindset coach Calipari is taking into the game ...

"He is just saying that we need to be prepared. This is our first test. This is probably going to be the most talented team we are going to play this year. They have big men and guards that can play. We are just working on everything we can to prepare for them. We are still working on our stuff and getting better every day at practice. We have to take time to see what they are doing and see what we have to do to try and stop them."

On if coach Calipari thinks the team is "overrated" ...

"I think he does still think we are overrated and we do too. That is something that is still motivating us. People say we are overrated; we've just got to keep working harder in the gym and in the classroom."

On where the team stands entering the game ...

"We are nowhere near to where we are supposed to be. We are doing fine and winning games but we are not where coach wants us to be, we know that too. We have to keep coming and working hard every day."

On if Saturday is an opportunity to make a statement ...

"It is just another basketball game, but on a bigger stage and a bigger level. It is going to be great competition for us to see where we are at and where we stand this season."

On playing his home-state school North Carolina ...

"I think I might have a little bit of an edge but I can't let it overwhelm me and try get out of control and do stuff that I'm not supposed to do or try to do too much while I'm playing on Saturday. I've got to keep doing what I've been doing and get my teammates involved. If I have the opportunity to score that's what I do, but I think if I get out of control it's going to mess us up."

On the game with UNC ...

"I am looking forward to it a lot. I think it is going to be a great game. It is going to be our first time really being challenged this year, but a great team that is coached by a great coach in Roy Williams. They have a great freshman class that came in and a lot of people that came back from last year."

#15, DeMarcus Cousins, C

On the game Saturday with North Carolina ...

"I think it is going to be great. It is going to be my first big game."

On if he is worried about being too excited ...

"You can get so hyped before a game that it can wear you out. I just need to stay relaxed and calm."

On if being overly excited has been a problem ...

"It is a problem. My first three games I was too hyped and worn out. It is a problem, but I will be okay."

On North Carolina's win over Michigan State ...

"They looked good out there. They are a good team and they have a great post game. They have size and they are fast. It is going to be a game."

On what they have been working on ...

"Working a lot on defense, getting back and transition defense. They like to push it so that is my main focus right now."

On if a win would mean UK is not "overrated" ...

"This is a start, but people are going to have their opinions regardless, win or lose. I think we are overrated. We do have some work to do still. A lot of the hype is just because of our recruiting class, but we have a lot of work to do."