Kentucky, UCLA Meet in Chicago for CBS Sports Classic

Dec. 18, 2014

Kentucky travels to Chicago to face UCLA on Saturday, December 20 as part of the CBS Sports Classic. Tip is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and the game will be televised by CBS.

Gameday
Gameday Information
CBS Sports Classic
Kentucky vs. UCLA
Saturday, Dec. 20 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Chicago, Ill.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UCLA Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: CBS
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via CBS
Live Audio
Live Stats
Text Updates
UK Team Stats UCLA
76.2 Points 80.8
48.0 Opp. Points 71.0
.473 FG% .459
.304 Opp. FG% .402
.293 3-FG% .373
.267 Opp. 3-FG% .315
.663 FT% .661
41.1 Rebs 41.9
30.5 Opp. Rebs. 35.0
16.6 Assist 16.1
11.2 Turnovers 12.8
8.3 Blocks 4.7
8.5 Steals 7.5

Cat Scratches: Cats focused on themselves with historic UK-UCLA matchup looming

Kentucky and UCLA have long been parallel programs.

There have been occasional run-ins, namely the 1975 national championship game and a spat of meetings in the 1990s and 2000s, but the two teams with the most national championships in the history of the game have had separate existences.

For the next three years, that's changing.

UK and UCLA will have their first of three December matchups in as many seasons this weekend, starting a relationship John Calipari believes will be mutually beneficial.

"We want a tie to programs like that," Coach Cal said. "That's what we want."

The first game comes in the inaugural CBS Sports Classic at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, capping a doubleheader kicked off by North Carolina and Ohio State at Chicago's United Center. The next two matchups will be at Pauley Pavilion and Rupp Arena, respectively, but the first one is the focus for now. ... Read the full story

This Week's News:

Cats `Roar for 22' in Rout of North Carolina

  • Playing its first game without junior forward Alex Poythress, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee just days earlier, Kentucky pulled away early and never looked back in an 84-70 victory over No. 21/18 North Carolina.
    • UK never trailed in the game.
  • The victory marked Kentucky's fourth win over a ranked opponent this season.
    • The Cats have won those four games by an average of 19.5 points.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein led the effort with 15 points, his fifth straight game in double-figure scoring. He also added six rebounds, tying for game-high honors, and snagged four steals.
  • Aaron Harrison tallied 14 points, his fifth double-figure game this season, and made a season-best three 3-point shots.
  • After missing the previous game with a minor injury, freshman guard Devin Booker returned to score 15 points, his fifth game in double figures.
  • Tyler Ulis dished out eight assists in the win, most by a Wildcat this season.
  • Marcus Lee was efficient in the victory, making all four of his field-goal attempts for eight points, adding two assists and two rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
  • Andrew Harrison posted 11 points and five assists, including a 9-of-10 day at the free-throw line.
  • Kentucky shot 56.3 percent from the field, the third time this season UK has made at least 56 percent.
  • By shooting 45.0 percent from the field, North Carolina snapped Kentucky's 10-game streak to start the season of holding the opponent to less than 40-percent shooting.
    • It was also just the second time this season that UK did not hold its opponent to its season-low point total.
  • After making a combined six 3-pointers in the previous three games, the Cats found their stroke from the outside against UNC, making 7 of 15 from long range.
  • The Cats made 74.2 percent at the foul line, the second-best game of the season in that category.
  • UK tied a season high for steals with 12.
  • In beating UNC by 14, the current Wildcats joined the 1946-47 team as the only two squads in school history to begin the season with 11 straight wins by double digits.

Briscoe Named to Naismith Watch List

  • Kentucky signee Isaiah Briscoe was named to the Naismith Trophy High School Player of the Year Watch List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday.
  • Briscoe was one of three early signing period signees for the Cats and was named the No. 1 point guard in the country by 247Sports and ESPN.
  • The only Kentucky signee to win the Naismith Trophy High School Player of the Year award was Ron Mercer in 1995.
  • The last Coach Calipari commit to win the award was Dajuan Wagner in 2001.

Alex Poythress Out for the Season

  • Junior forward will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in practice on Thursday, Dec. 11.
  • A date for surgery has not been set.
  • A junior from Clarksville, Tenn., he was averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in his third season for Kentucky. He has played in a team-high 81 career games with 39 starts.

Media Opportunity - December 18, 2014

Head Coach John Calipari

On how the current team ranks with other teams he has coached ...
"It'll be interesting to see how we finish, but the best teams I've had, like just unbelievable teams -  I'm not saying the most talented teams - but I'm telling you the best basketball teams we had were when I was playing five and six guys."

On Tyler Ulis' health ...
"He's got to make sure he takes care of himself. It's like when you go in an NBA locker room. Every one of them, I think 75 percent of the NBA has tendonitis so you can figure out how to play with it or don't play. Get another job."

On if Ulis has tendonitis ...
"No, but it's the same idea. There are certain things you have that you have to deal with. You have to learn to play with."

On the common characteristics between players who played for him that are from Chicago ...
"They were all different. I mean Derrick (Rose) played at one of the best high schools as far as the tradition of the program. Anthony (Davis) played at one of the worst high schools traditionally. Tyler played at a private school so it's all different. What they all had in common is a desire to improve, a comfort-level in their skin, which made them very good teammates, great guys to be around. It's funny how they won't ever change. The injury that Derrick has, his team fully supports him because they know what a great guy he is and that he's there for them. The same with Anthony. I mean, I've watched him play where Tyreke Evans - he played for me too - had like 35, and he (Davis) was fine with it. It never bothered him. He'd just keep feeding him the ball, chesting him. He's one of those guys. This kid (Ulis) is the same way. I mean he's cheering for Andrew (Harrison) to do well. And he knows how good Andrew is. And even though they run the different teams and they go at each other, he has great respect and he's a great teammate."

On how well he knows UCLA head coach Steve Alford ...
"I've known him for years and years. We've become close, but I knew him when he was at Southwest Missouri State. I did things for him. My wife grew up an hour and a half from there on a dirt farm. You guys didn't catch that. That's what I told her. She grew up on a dirt farm. He and I have been close when he went to Iowa. I think we played. They beat us when I was at Memphis one of my first years, but he's a terrific coach. Just a great guy. Great family. Tanya (Alford) is a great lady. His kids are great kids. And he now has that opportunity to be there in that job, which is one of the premier jobs."

On the idea of a grace period in a new coaching job ...
"There are two things. The kids remember the last three years. The families remember the last 30. The kids remember when they were 13 and 14 and before that they don't have any idea.  I think what Steve (Alford) did last year I think they won 30 games or 29 games or whatever it was. Walked right in and developed guys that people did not think would be able to go right to the NBA, and they did. Three of them after one year, one of them the (a high) pick in the draft. He's also now done it with Kevon Looney. I mean, they're telling me he's the fourth or fifth pick in the draft. So he has developed players, but I think in our case we were prepared to lose a bunch of guys. I don't think they knew that that many guys would leave them. And so that one guy missing has made it so they're playing five and six guys. They would have played seven and they would have been fine. But I think he's done a great job. He's on the West Coast. He's rebuilding the image of what they want there. We want to tie to programs like that. That's what we want, both of us. Does that answer it?"

On coaches like Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Larry Brown this team to some of the all-time greats ...
"For a minute there I thought you were going to say all-time coaches.  I understand that's not going to be said. What were we talking about? No, I'm just kidding. What I really like is Willie (Cauley-Stein) has taken on a different persona. I sat him down about a month ago and said, `Why don't you want to be the number one pick in the draft?' He asked me what I meant. `Well it's obvious you don't want to be the number one pick. Why wouldn't you? You have this team around you. All you have to do is perform and improve and improve in a couple areas and you're on the page.' He said, `I do want to.' Then do more. Come into practice longer. Come in here at night. Spend more time at this - the sport. He has been. I think when you start talking about the teams that were the great teams, they had hall-of-fame players. We have yet to prove where we are in that regard. I think we're a terrific team. I think what we've been doing to keep reinforcements coming has made us even better and made it easier for each guy to perform at a higher level. Let this season play out before they talk in terms of those teams because again some of them had three hall of famers on their team. In Springfield, their college team had three and to compare us to those teams. Come on. Maybe they're looking at us compared to the other college teams in the last couple years. I don't know."

On lessons taken from North Carolina game ...
"Toughness, rebounding, breakdowns defensively, and not sprinting back. Those are things that will cost you basketball games and we've focused on that now this week and for the next three. We're the 13th best defensive rebounding team out of 14 in our league. Really? The tallest bad defensive rebounding team in the history of the game. There are things that I look at right now and I'm like, `Come on.' We turn it over with just a little bit of pressure like token traps. We threw the ball all over the place. I would say if you watched our game, you have teams licking their chops saying, `We're going to run, press, and trap these dudes. Try to get free baskets early and when we shoot it we're sending four the glass. Forget about them.' If you watched that game, then that's what you'd do. Teams that will push you in the back on shots so they can get and edge and teams that just crash and bang and grab are looking at this and licking their chops."

On how big the rebounding aspect is with a guy like Kevon Looney on their team ...
"It's more than just him. I'm talking about my team. Our guards right now, we may have the worst group of rebounding guards in the country, too. So we're doing stuff to hold them accountable. We started two days ago. Yesterday was an individual work day because we're in finals, but we're going to go back at it today. And I told them, `From here and through what we call Camp Cal, we're doing this stuff every day.' I said, `The stuff we're not doing - the physical play, we get bumped, we hit the ground, we start throwing balls to a guy next to us, we throw it - well, we're going to be playing in games where they grab, they hold, they kick, they push, they bite. Can you play in that type of game? If you can't play in that type of game, you can't win that game.' "

On how Alex Poythress is doing ...
"He and I met today. He's doing good. He has a great frame of mind. He and I talked a little bit about Derrick Rose's mental approach when it happened to him. He's going to have the surgery after Christmas, so he has time. We talked about what his options could be and some things that we should think about."

On how Poythress can still make it to the NBA Draft even though he's going to miss the season and workouts ...
"He has more time than Nerlens (Noel) had, so he's going to have an extra two months, really a month and a half. I would tell you that there will be an option for him if he chooses to (go). But we only talked (about it) slightly. We talked a little bit. I said, `The other side of it is being mentally tougher. Why? Because you'll never get through the rehab (if you're not). Pushing through a comfort level, which you struggle with. Well, you'll have to through the rehab. You have no choice. Coming back with that increased motor. And then we'll work on some skills.' I told him about getting his wrist back on every shot. No more of this (hand straight up and down). Now we have time. Wrist is going to be back. You're going to be up and off instead of that (straight up and down). I said, `We have time now.' "

On what it would be like to have him back as a senior ...
"A young man that they all respect and a young man that's a straight-A student and a guy that can do things that normal players can't do, it would be nice. But, if it's in his best interest to put his name in the draft, I would support it and help it along and do that. He's going to do what's right for him. It's tough. But he was really good today. I mean, I think he's coming back to the reality of this happened, it's not a dream, it's real, now I've got to deal with it. He looked like was at ease with what was going forward."

On if his hip is still bothering him ...
"I'm fine. The biggest thing is I'm sleeping at night. I'm working out every day. I still need to lose 20 pounds, which I gained - very happily - when I couldn't do anything last year. But it's a little harder getting it off. But like I told my team, I'm not supposed to have a six-pack. I'm 55. You're supposed to have a little belly when you're 65. Now I don't want to have a big belly, but a little one."

On if he was a "root for UCLA" kid when he was growing up a "root against UCLA" kid growing up ...
"I liked North Carolina growing up. I liked UCLA. I watched more basketball that way. I didn't have a (team). Pitt, because Pitt wasn't when I was younger the Pitt is now, but we had some guys from our high-school team play on that team so you followed Pitt and some of that stuff. West Virginia and all that because of where I grew up. UCLA, they were like faraway lands. I mean, I didn't even go on vacation until I was 19, and that was to Maryland. Maryland. We drove to the Maryland shore. I was not on an airplane until I was 20. So when you start talking UCLA, `Where in the world? Is that in our country?' Yeah. `Like, near Youngstown? Where is it?' It's just different than it was. So I wasn't (a huge fan), but I liked them, respected them."

Freshman forward Trey Lyles

On playing against a historic team like UCLA ...
"It's going to be a great experience to play against them, and being able to play at a neutral site is going to be fun. Hopefully we go out there and get the win."

On if he followed UCLA's title run as a kid ...
"Definitely. All the years with John Wooden as a coach, Bill Walton and all the great players they had."

On what changes for him with Poythress out ...
"Definitely hurts, but we have to approach practice the same way and try to get better every day."

On if there's more pressure on him now ...
"I don't see it as pressure. I see it as just got to step up and continue to do what I'm doing to help the team."

On if he's in a better spot as a starter ...
"I feel comfortable in both ways I was playing. Coach (Cal) believes in me and he's putting me out there, so I'm definitely comfortable on the first platoon."

On if it changes anything defensively for him ...
"No, not really. Defensively, coming in, was my main thing I wanted to work on and I believe I'm getting better at it, but I still have a ways to go."

On if staying on the floor with the second platoon against North Carolina was a reward ...
"I just had to go out there and continue to play hard. Coach (Cal) kept me in there for a reason, and I just had to keep trying to play hard."

On Cal saying he's going to keep whoever is playing better between him and the Harrison twins ...
"Yeah, he told us that at halftime during the game last Saturday. He's doing it, so he's going to keep it up I guess."

On if that's added incentive ...
"I just think we've got to continue to go out there and play hard no matter what it's for, and just go out and play hard. If he keeps us in, he keeps us in."

On if he knows any of the guys for UCLA ...
"I played against a couple of them, Kevon Looney, the main one I played against, and then their big center, (Tony) Parker, I played with him. There's another guy they have, I played with him at the McDonald's All-American game. A few people."

On what type of player Looney is ...
"He's just a very versatile player - rebounder, he can score and stuff like that. He's very talented."

On what he's getting used to with a chunk of the season over with ...
"It goes by fast and you've got to take advantage of all of it as much as you can. Don't take it for granted, and just continue to go out there and play hard."

On how he's changed ...
"(I'm) just trying to become a better player, trying to play hard all the time and live up to the expectation coaches want from us."

On how easy or difficult that is ...
"It's both. You have to push yourself and be confident in who you are, and just go out there and work hard."

On his experience playing at the United Center ...
"I played there for the McDonald's All-American Game, so I'm used to it a little bit. It'll be fun to go back there and play again. Hopefully we can come out with another win."

On if he likes the rims there ...
"They're alright. Hopefully they treat me better than Indiana's did."

On going through finals week and preparing for a game ...
"It just comes along with it. You've got to take everything head on and you have to neutralize time so you can study, and then neutralize time for practice and individual workouts. Academics comes first for us. Coach (Cal) understands that. So if we tell him we have to study he understands that."

On if he's helping out Tyler Ulis with tickets ...
"It's pretty close to home, so I have my family coming to that one. I wasn't able to help him out, but I'm pretty sure a lot of the other guys were."

On if Ulis is excited to play back in his hometown ...
"He definitely is. We've talked about it from the beginning of the year. I know him. He's going to go out there and play hard and play to the best of his ability and do what he always does, which is lead the team as a point guard and really step up into that leadership."

On if he uses Poythress being out as an opportunity to prove that he should play more minutes ...
"I think everybody just has to go out there and continue doing what they're doing, which is playing hard and doing what Coach (Cal) asks of them, and whoever he wants to keep in the game he'll keep in the game."

On how he processes the praise from other coaches ...
"I think all of us let it go in one ear and out the other, because it really doesn't matter if we don't go out there and perform, so we need to go out there and play to the best of our abilities, and play as a team and continue to win. So once the season is said and done, they can say that then."

On if he sees this team as a potentially historic team ...
"If we continue to play the way that we have been, and guys keep stepping up and stepping into leadership roles, and playing to the best of their abilities, I definitely think so."

On UCLA lacking depth ...
"That may be true, but they have guys who can make plays and score the ball and do other things. We're not going to look down on them because of that. We're going to accept the challenge and go out there and play to the best of our ability and play as a team."

On if Poythress has said anything to him, since he's taken the starting spot ...
"He just tells me to continue playing hard. Seeing him go down was really tough for all of us, so we want to continue to play for him."

On what he's said to Poythress ...
"Anytime he needs anything from any of us, just we're going to be there for him. For him to stay strong because he's going to be all right. God has a plan for him." 

Freshman guard Tyler Ulis

On the wrap around his right leg ...
"Just precautionary. I'm trying to get warm before practice so I put a heat pack on before so I don't go out there tight."

On going back to Chicago ...
"I can't wait to get back home, play in front of the home crowd. Everybody's there. My family is going to be there watching, lots of my hometown friends and stuff like that. It's going to be exciting."

On if there is added pressure playing in his hometown of Chicago ...
"Not really because I've been playing around them my whole life. It's just another game."

On if he'll go to the Michael Jordan statue on this trip ...
"I probably won't go to the statue. I've seen it enough."

On if the McDonald's All-America game was the only other time he has played in this gym ...
"Yeah, this will be my second time playing there. It's going to be a great atmosphere and I can't wait to get there."

On if it will be hard to not do too much to try to impress his family and friends ...
"No, it won't be because I'm just going to come out and play like any other game, try to do what I have to do, and get the win."

On if he could use some more tickets for this game ...
"Yeah, I could. I think a couple teammates are going to help me out on the tickets and try to make sure I can get people who want to be there in the stands."

On UCLA's lack of depth and what that means to them ...
"I don't know anything about UCLA yet. We haven't watched anything on them so I can't comment on that."

On if they sort of "smell blood in the water" when facing a team that is only five or six deep ...
"That's the whole idea of the platoon system is to try to bring in fresh bodies and wear the other team down. I feel like every game we're coming in with the same attitude to try to attack them and get after it."

On if they can tell if the opposing team is getting tired in the second half ...
"Yeah, most of the teams we play with the platooning coming in and out, they get worn down by the time the second half comes around, or even earlier in the first half, because we're bringing in fresh bodies every time and everyone is playing as hard as they can."

On what he sees in an opponent that indicates they are getting tired ...
"I just see as a team that we're doing our job and we're coming out playing like how Cal wants us to play. We're just giving it our all out there."

On if he enjoys seeing the opposition get tired being a guy who likes to pester opposing offenses ...
"Yeah, when guys get tired that will give me my opportunities to create steals and make defensive plays."

On if he considers himself a Chicago player ...
"Well, I consider myself a Chicago player, an Ohio player. I'm from both. I just grew up playing with a lot of guys out of Chicago and in Ohio and it made me who I am today. Growing up, playing on the playgrounds, having to play against older guys, just having to be tough."

On what the reputation of a Chicago player is ...
"Tough, will do anything to get the job done and wants to win."