KENTUCKY WILDCATS (6-7, 0-0 SEC)
vs. No. 13/12 Vanderbilt Commodores (16-0, 1-0 SEC)
Saturday, Jan. 12 • 1:30 p.m.
Lexington, Ky. - (23,000)
TV: CBS - Gus Johnson and Clark Kellogg
Kentucky begins SEC play by hosting Vanderbilt this Saturday in Rupp Arena. The game will be televised regionally by CBS. This is the 171st meeting between the two schools, with Kentucky holding a 129-41 advantage. However, the Commodores have claimed the last four meetings, equaling Vandy’s longest winning streak in the series.
The Commodores have begun the season 16-0 and are currently ranked 13th (AP) and 12th (USA Today). They opened conference action by defeating South Carolina, 80-73, at home Wednesday.
The Wildcats lost to Louisville, 89-75, last Saturday. Seniors Ramel Bradley (27 points) and Joe Crawford (19) led Kentucky offensively, but UK continued to be plagued by the turnover bug, coughing the ball up 22 times, the second-highest turnover total for UK this season. The Cats are last in the SEC with 17.4 turnovers a game.
CAT SCRATCHES Kentucky is in its 105th season of basketball. Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,954. Kentucky is 57-17 in SEC openers and has won 18 of its last 20. Kentucky leads the SEC from the foul line, shooting 76 percent (195-257). The Wildcats rank second in the SEC in field goal percentage defense (.374). Patrick Patterson ranks in the SEC’s top 10 in both scoring (8th, 16.8) and rebounding (6th, 8.1). Patterson is the first UK freshman to record three consecutive 20-point games since Keith Bogans posted three straight 20-point games in the 2000 season. Kentucky has used 11 different starting line-ups through the first 13 games of the season. Freshman Patrick Patterson and sophomore Mark Coury have started 11 games apiece. Joe Crawford (1,109 career points) and Ramel Bradley (1,041) have become UK’s 54th and 55th members of the 1,000-point club, respectively, this season. Crawford is currently in 43rd place on UK’s all-time points list, while Bradley is tied for 50th place. UK has posted a remarkable 230-34 (.871) record in regular season SEC games played in Rupp.
Located in Nashville, Tenn. (216 miles southwest of Lexington), Vanderbilt is in the SEC’s East Division.
The Commodores’ 16-0 start is the best ever for a Vanderbilt basketball team. In addition, at 16-0, the Commodores are one of only five teams in the nation (North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, and Washington State are the others) with an unblemished record this far into the season.
Vanderbilt is led by senior wing Shan Foster. Foster, who became the school’s all-time leader for three pointers made in a career (298), leads the SEC in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. Freshman A.J. Ogilvy is the team leader and ranks 11th in the league in rebounding, averaging 7.3 rpg.
Kevin Stallings is in his ninth season as head coach of the Commodores. He has amassed a 160-108 (.597) record in Nashville, while tallying an overall mark of 283-171 (.623). Stallings has led Vanderbilt to the NCAA Regional Semifinals twice and a total of six postseason appearances.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES - JAN. 11
Head Coach Billy Gillispie
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Our guys are excited and I’m excited to play against a very, very good Vanderbilt team. I’m ready to start Southeastern Conference action.”
On defending Vanderbilt…
“I think if you concentrate on taking away from just one person you’re going to get hurt big time. They’re very well coached. They run one of the best offenses I’ve seen and studied as a coach. They have good pieces, so I think if you concentrate too much on trying to take one thing away you’re going to get burned. That’s what others have tried to do and failed. This is why Vanderbilt is 16-0.”
On playing well together…
“I like the way our guys are coming together. As we get these guys back and healthy, I really like the cohesion of our team. Vanderbilt plays well together and they’ve done a great job. They have four seniors that play real prominent rolls for them. They are very experienced and very talented. Overall, they play well together both offensively and defensively.”
On the importance of a good win…
“Our guys are really practicing hard. They’re practicing with eagerness. They’ve embraced challenges; they’ve embraced trying to get better defensively and they’ve embraced carrying out responsibilities. It takes time.”
On which player has improved the most…
“I think Patrick Patterson has surprised everyone. He’s a very talented player. He’s averaging more here than he did in high school. He’s had a fantastic start to this season and he’s going to have a fantastic career.”
On Vanderbilt’s offense…
“Being number one in three-point shooting, they have many guys who can shoot the ball. They have some players that aren’t good shooters, but they make important shots. That’s what really good teams do and that’s why they are 16-0. They do a great job in spreading the floor and carrying out responsibilities. One of the most important things they do is play 40 minutes. Whether they’re up or down, they continue to play very well offensively and defensively together. You have to be good in very aspect if you want to play with them right now.”
On preparing for the game…
“We have to develop a way to play and a style for ourselves. Then when we play an opponent, we need to figure out how those things work in the framework of that particular game. But we’re not going to change, game to game, based on how our opponent plays. We need to get to the point where we have a certain style, offensively and defensively, to where people need to make some adjustments to us. And we’re getting closer to that point.”
On what determines who starts…
“Whoever earns it, gets it. That’s always been a principle I’ve believed strongly in. It’s importance to be fair to the guy that’s considered to be the best and I’m not going to sell short on any of those things. I believe this principle will allow us to reach the greatest heights. Starting may be important to some players but the most important situation is to be a finisher. If you are the best player and the toughest player, you should be out there in the last five minutes.”
#3 Ramel Bradley, Senior
On being a leader…
“We have to toughen up and start working on getting some more wins. We totally believe in Coach Gillispie and we buy into what he wants. Right now we are working to get that break-through game.”
“I think there has been a big difference this week. Everyone is very focused and everyone knows SEC play is starting. It is time to turn it up if we want to continue to play in the postseason. Everyone is tuned in and ready to play tomorrow.”
On winning a big game…
“We are missing that big win to get our momentum going for the season. Tomorrow can be a great opportunity for us to get a big win against a big team and get some momentum going.”
On the rest of the season…
“We have a great opportunity to become a great story. We want to finish the year strong and make a run in the post-season and that would be a great story after starting 6-7. We have a big opportunity to send Vanderbilt home with a loss and get a big win for us.”
#34 Ramon Harris, Sophomore
On getting ready for the game…
“The team is doing very good. We have been working hard all week long and focusing on getting better and get ready for SEC play. Everyone practiced today and we are getting better everyday. We are ready to compete and make our stand in the SEC.”
“Vanderbilt is a very good team. They played a great game at DePaul earlier this season and came back to beat them. They have a very legit game inside and outside with some very good shooters. We are going to have to contest every shot. You can’t lay off guys on a team like them. It is going to be a great game tomorrow.” On starting conference play… “We just try to focus on the next task at hand and that next task is against Vanderbilt tomorrow. We have to get tougher and not make the same mistakes we have made in the past. We have to take one game at a time and I know we are a good team that will play well in SEC play.”