UK Returns From Holiday Break

Dec. 27, 2011

The Wildcats return to action following their Holiday break and an 11-1 start to the season including an 87-63 win over Loyola Maryland in their last outing.

Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Lamar
Weds., Dec. 28 - 8:30 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Rupp Arena
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | LU Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Live video via ESPN3
Live Audio
Live Blog
Text Updates
Live Postgame Press Conference

Freshman Kyle Wiltjer led all scorers with a career and game-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers. Fellow freshman Anthony Davis tallied his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with three blocks.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (15) and Darius Miller (13) were the other Cats in double-figures. The Wildcats hit a season-high 28 free throws, going 28-of-37 from the charity stripe.

UK ran the nation's longest home winning-streak to 42-straight games (41 at Rupp; one at Memorial).

Scouting Report

Located in Beaumont, Texas, (986 miles southwest of Lexington), Lamar is a member of the Southland Conference.

Few, if any other, teams this season will face a two-game stretch equal to what the Cardinals are going through now. Prior to playing the third ranked Wildcats, Lamar traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Lamar has four players averaging double-digits led by Anthony Miles' 15.1 ppg average. Devon Lamb (no relation to UK's Doron Lamb), who ranks third in scoring leads the Cardinals in rebounding (8.7) and steals (23).

Lamar is coached by Pat Knight who is in his first year in Beaumont. Knight came to Lamar after 10 seasons at Texas Tech, including the final three plus years as head coach. Named head coach designate at Tech prior to the 2005-06 season, Knight took over for his Hall-of-Fame father, Bob Knight, toward the end of the 2007-08 season.

In three plus seasons as head coach of the Red Raiders, Knight compiled a 50-61 record. His 2009-10 squad posted a 19-16 overall record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the postseason National Invitation Tournament before falling at Mississippi in double overtime.

Series History

This is the third meeting between Kentucky and Lamar, and first since the 2008-09 season.

The Wildcats won both previous meetings, 71-56 (1987-88) and 103-61 (2008-09).

Pre-Lamar Media Opportunity - Dec. 27, 2011

Head Coach John Calipari

On the challenge of Lamar …
“They’ve got mostly seniors. They’re playing four seniors and a junior off the bench. The games that I’ve watched, they’ve been in every game, including Ohio State and Louisville. The game with Texas Christian, they had them beat. Rice on the road they won. At Rice they made every shot. I watched the game and thought, ‘We can’t win this game.’ They are very good. Pat (Knight) does a great job. I’ve always had great respect for them, not only as a person, but also as a coach. He’s got them playing. They are playing hard and they’re a good team.”

On Terrence Jones
“He went through practice with the gold jersey on, so no one was really allowed to touch him. How many of you watched the practice? Some of you, your toes up eating Christmas cookies versus going to the computer and watching us practice. But, I’ll see today. We are going to practice twice today so we’ll figure out whether he’ll be able to go or not tomorrow. Kyle (Wiltjer) was sick yesterday. He’s one of those kids who knows his body. He came in and saw me and I said if you need out, step out, I trust you. That’s why he didn’t practice.”

On the growth of the ‘breakfast club’ to eight guys…
“Wow. I didn’t know that. You’re the first to tell me. Here’s what’s great for me as a coach. Josh Harrelson is in a New York Knicks uniform. Not only is he in a New York Knicks’ uniform, he’s on the court. Not only is he on the court, he had a rebound and an assist. Not only did he have a rebound and an assist, the coach after the game said he was going to play more minutes on the road when (they) get to the West Coast. Now for me, there’s nothing better. Then I stay up last night late, one o’clock, and I watch Sacramento (Kings) play and I see my two children, Demarcus (Cousins), who’s growing up, and Tyreke Evans play well. You get to see Chuck (Hayes) play. You see Derrick (Rose) not score a point in the first quarter, not a point, and make the game-winner over Pau Gasol because he wants to win. DeMarcus Cousins is only talking about winning. So you’re seeing Brandon Knight do well for a rookie. You’re watching Patrick (Patterson). It just makes you proud.

“We’re not quite there yet, we’re still not getting them to talk enough, they’re still into their own thing defensively at times, and they stop playing a lot. When they figure out the pace and how they’ve got to play, this team is going to be really good. I like my team but we’re not there yet, but I’m happy. That was a weave around to an answer.”

On academics …
And I’m happy academically. I’ve got this question for you. And again, I don’t see much stuff but if I’m on an airplane I’ll read something. Because I have guys leaving after one year, if it is a question about academics, you’re only going to promote when they do poorly? You’re not going to promote when they do well? Even with Brandon Knight? Or do you want to prove if you’re only there one year you don’t care about school? You ask the question, but you only promote one when they do poorly. I don’t know, maybe we are going to prove if you’re a one-and-done player you do not care about academics. I don’t know. These kids do. That’s out there but it’s not true, these kids do. They don’t always have great semesters but they do care. I’m proud of these kids academically. I’m proud of what they do under the circumstances. They walk out of Wildcat Lodge in the morning there are people in cars asking them for autographs, people who have stayed out there all night asking for balls. Every game we play is a super bowl, every game we play there is something going on, and these kids who are looking at lists and have them rated all this they don’t have to do anything. It’s their choice what they want to do academically but they’re loyal to us, they’re loyal to themselves and they’re loyal to their families so I’m proud of them.”

On why they find academic’s important if they only stay a year …
“Part of it is that they can come back. They know they have the opportunity to come back and finish up and do it in pieces or do it in the summers. The other part of it is they are being loyal to the program. In other words, by doing what they’re supposed to, we in no way get penalized when they leave because they take care of business. Then they find out what I try and tell them, an educated man doesn’t get robbed or fooled; educate yourself and read. Learn to get into reading and enjoy it. When you’re in school here, take advantage, educate yourself. Take financial planning courses. Why? You’re going to come across some money. You want to know what you are supposed to do. You want to be able to read contracts and understand what they say. We tell them it’s important. We tell them this, if I can’t count on you in the classroom, how in the world can I count on you on the basketball court? Classes are checked. If you don’t go to class, you don’t play here. It’s from the President’s office; it’s not from the athletics department. This is handled differently here. These kids know it’s their responsibility. You want to play here; part of your responsibility is academically. It doesn’t mean they always have great terms. They’ll have some bad terms, but the reality of it is they know what they are supposed to do and in most cases they do well.”

On mental toughness …
“You build that through how you practice, how much time you spend, and then demonstration and performance on the court. You build that. If you don’t work real hard, and you don’t spend the extra time, and you don’t come in here and fight and absolutely devour practices, you’ll get in the game and it will get real hard. You don’t want any part of that roughness. If you do that in practice it’s a habit you’ll do it in the game. The second part of it is you know something good is going to happen because of how much time you’ve spent. The guys that I’ve coached that have spent the most time with this game have benefitted the most by and large. It doesn’t always mean they become the MVP of the NBA, even though Derrick Rose worked harder than any player I’ve ever coached and I’m talking about extra time, spending more than he needed to spend. Those guys that work hard and really spend time benefit when they leave and get out of basketball. They understand that in anything, ‘if I really work, I can become good at it.’ I’ve had a bunch of them. Lou Roe was a killer when I was at UMass; so was Harper Williams. I mean those guys were absolute warriors. It started in years of practice. The last twenty minutes of every practice those two dominated. (Former Memphis Tiger) Joey Dorsey had that mental toughness. He couldn’t make a free throw, but it didn’t matter. He’d come up with a block, a defensive stop or something late that would help us win. He had a mental toughness to him. The guys that finish those last twenty minutes of practice usually are those guys.”

On Saturday’s match-up with Louisville …
“We haven’t talked about this weekend at all. They may have been looking at it or seen it but I don’t think so. We’re still trying to get better. We’re going to play a well-coached (Lamar) team that’s going to come in and play to beat us and are not going to be intimidated as seniors. If we don’t play well, we lose. Our focus is us getting better.”

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

On having a couple days away from basketball …
“It was good, I’m just ready to go now; I’m ready to get it going.” On playing the (Loyola) game knowing his mother was sick …
“It was a tough time; she’s my mother so of course it was a tough time. I fought through it. I considered not playing but I had to fight through it.”

“It was hard, I mean, it was my mother. But she’s fine now so it’s all good.”

On Christmas…
“I spent it at my house. I was with my mom and that’s all that matters.”

#33 Kyle Wiltjer, F, Fr.

On the upcoming Louisville game …
“I’ve been here a while now and know there’s a big hatred between the fans; it’s definitely a big game. We have a game tomorrow we have to focus on first, don’t want to overlook Lamar they’re a good team, so we want to focus on that today.”

On making sure to be focused on Lamar …
“We have to be ready every game because every team we’re going to get their best shot, so we have to be ready mentally and physically every game.”

On what he needs to do to improve…
“Knowing angles on defense. We have really good team defense so I just need to be there for my teammates. Get in there and help with charges. Continue to listen to Coach (Calipari) on what he has to say defensively.”

On his confidence level…
“I’m just trying to learn and get better. On offense he told me to be confident so that’s what I did. I just want to be confident on defense and continue to listen to things he has to tell me.”