UK Plays UConn in DirecTV SEC/Big East Invitational

Dec. 8, 2009

UK Plays UConn in DirecTV SEC/Big East Invitational

Two of the most successfull coaches in college basketball square off in historic Madison Square Garden in the DirecTV SEC/Big East Invitational. UK's John Calipari ranks fourth among active coaches with a .764 winning percentage while UConn's Jim Calhoun ranks second among active coaches in wins (811).

Kentucky Connecticut
Gameday Information
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UConn Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Weds., Dec. 9, 9:30 p.m
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
Online Video via ESPN360
Location Madison Square Garden
New York, N.Y.
Connecticut Huskies at a Glance
Head Coach Jim Calhoun
Record at School 563-206
2009 Record 6-1, 0-0 Big East
Ranking No. 14 (AP)/No. 12 (Coaches)
Series Record Connecticut has won the only previous matchup
Last Meeting UConn defeated Kentucky 87-83 in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament
2009 Team Stats UK UConn
Scoring Offense 81.1 77.0
Scoring Defense 65.1 65.1
FG Percentage 50.7% 46.3%
3-point FG Percentage 37.9% 35.1%
FT Percentage 66.8% 69.6%
Rebound Margin +11.1 +4.6
Assists 16.4 16.3
Turnovers 17.6 12.9
2009 Stat Leaders
Scoring UK: John Wall (18.1)
UConn: Jerome Dyson (20.1)
Rebounding UK: Patrick Patterson (10.1)
UConn: Alex Oriakhi (9.7)
Assists UK: John Wall (7.7)
UConn: Kemba Walker (5.7)
3-point FG Percentage UK: Eric Bledsoe (48.0%)
UConn: Kemba Walker (55.6%)
Blocks UK: DeMarcus Cousins (2.4)
UConn: Gavin Edwards (3.3)
Steals UK: John Wall (2.6)
UConn: Kemba Walker (2.6)

The Wildcats claimed a 68-66 win over Nov. 10 North Carolina in their most recent outing led by Patrick Patterson's 19 points and John Wall's seven assists.

Kentucky used a 28-2 run in the first half to take a 19-point lead. UK then held off a furious Carolina rally for win. UK hit 7-of-8 free-throws down the stretch, including a 5-for-6 effort from Eric Bledsoe.

Scouting the Huskies

Cat Scratches will host a scouting preview this week for the Kentucky-Connecticut game by bringing in Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger and Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant.

On Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. Vaught and Anthony 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 the game against Connecticut...

"Hard game. I wouldn't be surprised if we went up there and got knocked in the mouth. It wouldn't surprise me at all because they are going to come out playing like it's the Super Bowl, and we better do the same. We better come with the same intensity after I made substitutions against North Carolina. The same kind of intensity. I've made many mistakes in recruiting, and one was Kemba Walker. I saw him in a gym in Pittsburgh and I said, `I'm not sure about him.' So, we didn't recruit him and that was a big mistake, because he is tremendous. He is great with the ball, crafty, one of the kinds of guards I like. If I remember, (Jerome) Dyson hurt [Memphis] two years ago when we played them in The Garden. Stanley Robinson, I tried to recruit out of Alabama. Obviously, I didn't get him and he is a good player. They are talented, a good team, and they have a veteran backcourt. Anytime you have a veteran backcourt against an inexperienced backcourt, there is trouble. They are going to try to take away John (Wall). They are going to try to take him away on rebounds or quick inbounds. It is good for us, because we'll see how we play. They'll throw a two-three zone at us, but they'll play it different. They'll play the wings really high. They will play a little two-two-one to slow us down. They are a good team."

On Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun...

"He gets his team to play with toughness and he lets them play. It's not like he is calling every play down the court. He gives them space and he lets them play. They have been a great shot-blocking team and great rebounding team for years. It's that sustained level of what they have done. He has done a great job with that program."

On John Wall after cramping against North Carolina...

"He was great in practice. He may be our hardest worker in practice, and he brought it yesterday the same way. He was fine. We played without him. We started off shaky, but kept the lead at 11 without him, which was a good sign. He went back in, and they came back on us. Obviously, he wasn't 100 percent. But, I will tell you his energy is contagious, if you want it to be. If you choose to look at him and feed off him, it is contagious. "

On Kentucky's performance against North Carolina...

"I showed the players the highlights from Daniel (Orton) and Perry (Stevenson) yesterday. Those two won the game for us. Patrick (Patterson) did his thing, John (Wall) did his thing, and the other guys did OK. Darnell (Dodson) and Darius (Miller) gave up a few rebounds, but they got a few rebounds. But, with Perry and Daniel Orton, their effort and energy was unbelievable. They ran, blocked shots, made themselves big, and did everything you have to do for us to win. What I mentioned about Perry is, it has to be consistent. What you saw this game, has got to be the next game. You have to bring it every day, not just this game. That's not how you win. He was terrific and we need him. Playing him and Patrick together is not hard because they know each other. I put those two in the game and we were fine. We let Perry play inside and Patrick play where he plays."

On Kentucky's inexperience...

"We are not ready to sustain effort. We play casual at times. Other times we aren't even casual. We just stop playing, stand straight and flat-footed, and we get screened. Ramon (Harris) has given us a great lift, yet he is turning the ball over too much. Don't try to do stuff you can't do. Defend, rebound, make the easy plays and feed the post. Our post players are playing like heck, but they have to get the ball when they're open. But, there are some interesting things that this team is going to do that we have to be prepared for. We can learn how to respond when a team does that to us. They'll try to slow us down, trap and make John (Wall) give the ball up. I like my team, we have good guys, but we are inexperienced. We turn it over, take bad shots, stop playing, don't understand intensity, take off on possessions, walk out of timeouts and don't run what we're supposed to; we break down on plays left and right, and the execution is not there."

On building stamina...

"There was an anxiety in this (North Carolina) game and if you go as hard as we did in the first half, you are going to get gassed. But, then again, it shows us how are we going to do this for 40 minutes? It shows that you have to do it in practice. The last hour of practice has to be the strongest half you play. You have to keep building energy so you can do it, because you can't just guess. Every day we meet with them and talk and that is what we talk about. When you choose to come to Kentucky, you are everyone's Super Bowl, which means you have to play every possession. If you want to play casual, why would you come here? There are 25,000 (fans) at every game, you are on national television and the other team is playing like they are going to die if they lose."

#3, Darnell Dodson, So., G

On getting the win over North Carolina Saturday ...

"I think it is a great feeling to beat North Carolina, especially them being the program that they are. It was a good learning experience for us, I think. We came together more as a team and we will see where we stand with UConn coming up Wednesday."

On the things coach Calipari is working on him with ...

"It is really about getting to the right spot on the floor, and going to the glass more and rebounding."

On UConn ...

"I think they are a great team. They have a lot of size as well and they are pretty fast. I think it will be a pretty good matchup."

#11, John Wall, Fr., G

On playing at Madison Square Garden Wednesday against UConn ...

"I think it is special, it is very special. That is the mecca of basketball. To get a chance to play in an arena like that, it is great. A lot of great players have played there: Michael Jordan, set records, Kobe Bryant, set records, LeBron James, set records. That is where all the stars come out and you just have to come out with your best performance. It is going to be great, to have a chance to play there."

On Connecticut ...

"They are pretty good. They have a team that is very loaded with guards. They have Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to push the tempo and score for them. Then they have guys down low like Alex Oriakhi and Stanley Robinson. It is going to be a pretty tough matchup; it is not going to be an easy game so we have to be prepared for a good game."

On playing in Madison Square Garden ...

"I played there last year, so it is pretty big. It is just like going to New York and playing at Rucker Park, where a lot of great names have played there. To have a chance to play in an arena like Madison Square Garden means a lot to me. A lot of great players have been through there since Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and all those guys."

On if the team is confident after the win over North Carolina ...

"We are pretty confident, but we still have work to do. Yesterday in practice and today in practice, we are just trying to go over everything and get better. It is going to be another tough game for us, so we can't celebrate that win too much; we just have to prepare for the next game."

On if the team will have a let-down after a big game Saturday ...

"That is something we are going to find out tomorrow. We just had a tough game and we are going to come out and see if we are as prepared as we were against North Carolina. I feel like if we let down at the beginning it is going to be a tough haul because they are a pretty good team. They might get away with a lead like we did against (North) Carolina and that would make it hard to come back. We just have to wait until tomorrow and see how we are going to come back against them."

On if his knee and cramps are getting better ...

"Yes sir. My knee is getting better. And about the cramps, I just didn't eat enough food that day."

On if his knee injury is tendonitis ...

"Yes sir that is what it is (tendonitis). I have had it since 11th grade, I don't know where it came from, just that it is a terrible pain to have. It doesn't affect me that much, although it can slow you down because you can't really jump like you want to, or move like you want to."

#33, Daniel Orton, Fr., F

On the UConn game ...

"It is going to be a great game, just like UNC. That was a real fun and exciting game for us, we brought a lot of emotion and really just had a great game."

On playing at historic Madison Square Garden ...

"I have played there before, it is a great setting. There are always a lot of celebrities there, so it is just going to be really fun."

On if having played at MSG as a prep athlete will help him Wednesday ...

"I really don't think it is going to help anything at all. It is a game, just like any other game, just played in a historic arena."

On if his role on the team is to bring intensity off the bench ...

"Right now, it is a role of mine. I really don't have much of a leadership role, but I kind of felt like a leader out there. It helped us get on the roll that we got on (in the first half against UNC)."