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UK Opens SEC Slate on Road at Georgia




Cat Scratches: Battle-tested Wildcats ready for next challenge in SEC play

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Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Georgia Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sat., Jan. 8, 4:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: SEC Network
Radio: BBSN
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Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
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Location Stegeman Coliseum
Athens, Ga.

The Wildcats closed out the pre-conference portion of its schedule with an impressive second half, defeating the Penn Quakers 86-62.

After trailing all but the final 1:05 of the first half, the Wildcats came out of halftime and shot 81.8 pct. (18-22) from the field including 66.7 pct. (6-9) from the 3-point line and 91.7 pct. (11-12) from the free-throw line en route to the victory.

The Wildcats dominated the Quakers on the boards as well, 37-17, grabbing nearly as many offensive rebounds (15) as Penn did total rebounds.

UK was led by Brandon Knight's game-high 22 points, while Josh Harrellson tallied his second-straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds to go along with six blocks.

Doron Lamb (16), Darius Miller (11) and Terrence Jones (10) also scored in double-digits for UK.

Pregame Press Conference Quotes

Transcripts will be available after the conclusion of the press conference.

Head Coach John Calipari

On Georgia...
"Georgia is one of the best teams in our league and playing like one of the best teams in our league. Vandy won, the way Tennessee played their last game I would say them, Florida the way they played Xavier I would say them, but Georgia's right there. They haven't lost at home; I think we were one of the few games they lost at home last year. They have their guys back. (Trey) Thompkins is the preseason player of the year and rightfully so. They have two other big guys, big-bodied guys, and their guards, (Travis) Leslie is as good an athlete as we'll face all year. It's a tough challenge for us on the road, a really tough challenge."

On what he's doing in practice to work with freshman forward Terrence Jones...
"We're just holding him accountable in practice. We have a treadmill over there - that's heavy duty, best treadmill made - that if a guy stands up out of his stance, or doesn't go hard, he goes at 16 miles per hour for 30 seconds, or you can be George Jetson, one of the two. You're going to run or you're going to be flipping under it. It's not just him. It's Terrence, it's Darius (Miller), and it's Eloy (Vargas). Yesterday Eloy caught it and instead of catching it and shooting it, he caught, stepped - treadmill. That's it. I'm just trying to hold all of them to a higher level of what's acceptable and what's not."

On how prepared his team is for conference play...
"As prepared as a team can be with their three leading scorers being freshman. (We're) not playing with a deep bench, but like I said I'm pleased with where we are at this date. Now we're just trying to get better. We've got to sure-up Doron (Lamb), (he's) got to play with more of a motor. You can't walk in a game and not (play with more of a motor). Yesterday he was rebounding above the rim. Why don't you do that all the time? So, you choose to do it when you feel like doing it, but other times I'm just going to reach with one hand? That's freshman things that we're dealing with. But I'm spending times with the other guys, myself. Yesterday I went a half-hour with those three or four guys and I'm going to do it today. I'm going to do it every day. Every day we go to practice I'll come a half-hour early and I'm going to get those guys out there and torture them a little bit, it's a little bit of both. It's like, you're going to hurt when you're done with this, yet you're going to go hard. I told one of them who kind of was going through the motions, `I don't have time for you. If that's how you're going to go then I'm not working with you. I'm going to work with guys who are dying to be here and really want me to work with them.' So, I almost sent one off the court, I gave him another chance. I said, `If that's how you're going to go for me, then I'm not working you out. I could be upstairs in my office, I have stuff to do.' They're all learning. We are what we are. I like my team, I said it before, I wish we had a little more of this, I wish we had a little more of that, but so does every coach in the country. Same thing."

On what freshman guard Brandon Knight is doing better now than he was earlier in the season...
"He's playing for his teammates instead of himself. That's just simply put; he's playing for them now. He's making plays for our team and his teammates. When he's scoring he should be scoring. Before he was playing for him, he was trying to get his own shots, every time he got it he was trying to make a fabulous play. He was breaking off the offense, so (he had) high turnovers, bad shot selection that led to dunks down on the other end. But you see now he's playing for his teammates. When I had the other point guards I had, they did the same thing. It's what they do in school, it's how they played. How do you tell them to just change overnight and do it this way? He's got to get comfortable with it, just in the last three weeks to a month, his total change of his game has been phenomenal. He's talking, he never talked."
On where winning the conference ranks in what he wants to get out of a season...
"We never talk about league, we never talk about league tournaments. I hate league tournaments, don't think we should have them, you miss school, we don't need to be out three more games, but we play them. Our issue is getting better. Our issue is games that are important for seeding in that NCAA Tournament. That's the way I've always coached. So yeah, we want to win the league because it gives you a better seed. If winning the league is going to help us get the best seed possible then let's go win the league. But the reality of it is that the picture that I've always painted for every team - Massachusetts, Memphis and now Kentucky - our picture is bigger than league. That may be wrong, but I don't know. That's just how I've done it."

On what the freshmen will experience in conference play that they haven't experienced already...
"It will be rougher and it will be higher intensity and the other teams will know us better. Now the hard thing about us, at least the first two years, is we've totally changed. So, to say the other team would know us and know our stuff, that's out the window. Their team has never seen any of my team. But vice versa, we've never seen them, we don't know how good they are, you can just tell (the players) how good they are. That's the challenge it is. League play it comes up a notch. It did last year. Georgia had us at our place; they had a chance to beat us here. We came in acting like, `OK we got this.' And then they had us beat. (Trey) Thompkins I think went for 40 or whatever he went for. He went nuts. This is the long haul for us. We have eight road games. It's going to be hard to win eight road games. We didn't win eight road games last year. You're going to struggle a few of these games simply because the other team is going to be so hyped, and they're going to play so well, and their fans are going to be so into it, they're going to have all the momentum, and if you dip at all you lose the game. It's what happened to us twice last year."

Doron Lamb

On Coach Calipari saying he was trying to get his motor going ...
"He said that it is a problem, so it is a problem. He said that he thinks I should be playing better defense and he has been getting on me at practice to play better defense during the game and at practice."

On what Coach Calipari has talked to the team about heading into SEC play ...
"He has just said that every team wants to beat us and it is like their Super Bowl. He wants us to go out there and go hard and play aggressive before they get a run and stuff. He has just said to get prepared for conference play."

On Coach Calipari asking him to rebound the ball above the rim ...
"Yeah, that was in practice. He told me to throw the ball up above the rim and I went and got it and he said if I could do it in practice I could do it in a game. I am just going do it in the games now."

Josh Harrellson

On how this week has been ...
"It has definitely been a long week. We played Monday and it has been a long four days of practice. We are ready to play more games. It has been a long week of practice and preparing and getting our team ready to play. Hopefully, we come out with a victory."

On what they have been working on ...
"Just everybody playing hard all the time and playing up-tempo and not taking plays off. If you are tired come out. We have just wanted to get everybody playing on the same page."

Jon Hood

On the Georgia game ...
"Going down to Georgia is going to be a tough one for us. They always pack the house for us and it seems like everyone always does. It will be a tough test but I think that we are ready."

On what the team has been working on in practice ...
"We have just been working on finishing out games and grinding out on people. Mainly we just have been working on executing."

On the non-conference schedule preparing them for SEC play ...
"I think that helped us. Playing Penn and some other teams that really slowed the ball down and passed it 20 times before taking a shot and then playing some other teams that just run up and down really prepares you for SEC play. There are a lot of different teams in the SEC."


 

 

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