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Kentucky Faces Arkansas in SEC Rematch




Feb. 26, 2014

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Arkansas
Thursday, Feb. 27 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader (Supplement Get Acrobat Reader) | UA Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: ESPN
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Gameday Live: Live stats, audio, blog, and social media
Text Updates

Cat Scratches: Cats finding the joy as work pays off

Since he arrived in Lexington over the summer, Julius Randle has gotten used to his surroundings.

He knows the short walk from his dorm to the Joe Craft Center quite well. The same goes for the path from the training room to the men's practice gym.

This week, something new stopped Randle caught him by surprise after John Calipari had a photograph from the wild celebration following UK's win over LSU plastered on the wall under the word "FAMILY."

"He didn't tell us anything," Randle said. "It's just right there, a big picture."

The photo shows Randle on his back, smiling from ear to ear. His teammates are mobbing him after he hit a game winner in the final five seconds to take down the Tigers for their sixth win in seven games.

Read the full preview

UK to Release Third of Four Collective Posters Prior to Arkansas Game

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky will unveil the third of a four-part men’s basketball poster series tonight at the Kentucky-Arkansas game at Rupp Arena.

The four-poster series features current Wildcats on the men’s basketball roster throughout the remainder of the home schedule.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early. Doors open 90 minutes prior to tip-off.

The first 7,000 fans in attendance at tonight’s game will be able to pick up the poster in the Rupp Arena lobby upon entry.

Pregame Media Opportunity - February 26, 2014

Assistant Coach Orlando Antigua

On the importance of the players having fun …
“It’s very important, especially towards the end of the year. You want them to have fun. They have been through the trials and tribulations of the season, they’ve put in a lot of hard work, and you want them to go out there and enjoy their rewards for working that hard.”

On the players hitting a wall mentally …
“I don’t know if it’s hitting a wall. These guys are playing so much basketball throughout the year that I don’t know if you could say it’s a wall. It’s just a matter of if it clicks and they are enjoying the fact that they are competing together, working together, and seeing results. To see that pure joy for one another is what the coaching staff has been working to try and get them to.”

On the coaches putting a picture on the wall to constantly remind players of that joy …
“Absolutely. I think that is part of, as coaches, we want them to understand. That that’s what it feels like. That’s what it’s supposed to be about.”

On what they need to do differently against Arkansas this time around …
“Rebound. I think we need to take care of the ball a little bit better. I think we had 17 turnovers that game, but we competed and played hard. Arkansas comes out and plays really hard. Coach Anderson does a great job of getting those guys to play the way they want to play and speeding up the game. I think we handled it pretty good. Just a couple mistakes in closing out the game and that obviously happened to be rebounding and making a couple free throws.”

On what he has seen out of Alex Poythress recently …
“Alex has continued to work and that’s the only way. Willie (Cauley-Stein) got himself out of his couple game rut by working through it. Now, Alex is doing the same. We hope that he will continue to put that work in and that he’ll see the results of the work that he previously had done and he was having success with. So it’s a little bit up and down, and the season is that way. You just have to kind of manage those. You can’t be too high and you can’t be too low, you just have to keep working through the process in between.”

On the importance of instilling confidence in the players …
“I think we are doing a lot of it, but we’re identifying what they’re putting in and what they’re doing. That’s really what we are doing. Those guys are putting in a lot of extra time and a lot of extra work and we are identifying that they are doing it and having success. Keep doing that, because as you get better, the team gets better. It allows us to be at the right side of the column at the end of the day.”

On the players slapping the floor on defense …
“I think it’s a byproduct of that. I think they know that they can ignite each other in that way. You can see one does it and it leads to someone else doing it and clapping and getting engaged. For a staff, that’s fun. For the fans, it’s fun because you know they are out there competing. That’s what we are asking of them, is to give us that kind of effort, that kind of focus. It gets them out of themselves and into each other. When you have that kind of passion and energy, it sparks each other.”

On the importance of the post season being so close …
“I don’t know if they are looking into it that far ahead. I think they are really enjoying the moment and playing the game the way that we have asked them to play for one another. They are seeing results of that and I think they are getting enjoyment from that. I don’t know if they are looking down the stretch.”

On where the passion on the court comes from …
“You pull it from working and knowing that you have invested time in your craft, in yourself, and you know your teammates are doing the same thing. The game is a lot of up and down. The team that manages the load better is usually the team that comes out on top. We are playing teams that are really talented, that have veteran guys on the team that have been in situations. The way that you can overcome some of that is with passion and energy and communicating. They are doing a much better job of that.”

On players working things out by themselves on the court …
“That’s what it’s about. Those guys are on the court and as coaches, all we try to do is put them in the best position to go out there and compete and win. When they get to the point when they are empowered that way and they communicate to one another, that’s where we try to get them. When Coach Calipari is talking about this being their team, those are moments that it becomes their team and not a coach driven team.”

On if a guy has four fouls and wants to make decisions…
“Well then that becomes a judgment call on the staff. It depends on the timing of the four fouls.”

On keeping an eye on Coach Calipari during games…
“I don’t think that is something that is conversed or talked about. Cal is very passionate and he is coaching like he is 35, which is great. At the same time, as a staff we have to help him at times if that’s the case. Like making sure he is staying in the coaching box, which is hard.”

On if they have reviewed film of the last play against Arkansas from the last meeting …
“We look at all the film. We view how we played them first, the things that they did against us, things that we did well, things that we need to correct.  So we have seen that a couple times.”

On what he sees on that last play in the last meeting …
“You see a phenomenal athlete make a great play. I also see that we are a much different team than we were in January. We’ve grown. We have matured, we’ve grown, and we’re focused on every possession a lot better than we were early on. Even though that was one of the better games that we played, there were still things that we could improve on and we have.”

On if that last play was a block out play…
“It was a block out play. Shot goes up and the tendency is to watch the ball instead of find a body. If you find a body, then he doesn’t have the opportunity to go up and go get that ball.”

On how much better Arkansas is now …
“They’re better. They are right in the middle of the pack with the rest of the teams in the conference and we know that they are going to come out and compete, play hard, and we are excited about the challenge.”

#00, Marcus Lee, F, Fr.

On the Arkansas game being different this time …
“This time we will box out. This time, I guess, we’re just coming out with more fire because last time they came out with more intensity. They were just more ready for the game. We were just kind of nonchalant.”

On preparing for the start of games better …
“I think we’re definitely preparing for the game and the start of the game better than we have in the beginning of the year.”

On if it’s important to be ready from the start against a team like Arkansas …
“Just going throughout the end of the season, that’s just something we needed to learn and get better because that’s one of our strong points.”

On why they haven’t exploited some of their strong points more …
“We just haven’t really thought about it, I guess. We were just trying to figure out how to get all our players together. Once we got that together, we could finally start figuring out strong points.”

On how much the group needed a moment like the end of the LSU game …
“I think it was severely needed. We really needed that moment where we all just came together and needed that moment of passion. That’s the only thing I really talk about with you guys is passion and energy. So that was a real big main point of the hump we needed to get over.”

On why the passion was lacking early in the season …
“It was just the fact that—where to grab it from. We didn’t really know where to grab all this passion and how to use it as a team.”

On much that moment of having fun helps during this time of the year when everything is a grind …
“Oh yeah. Having fun helps everything out no matter what you’re doing, so finally seeing that fun sight in everybody’s face and eyes really helps.”

On if they are doing anything in practice and games to manufacture fun …
“It just has to come out of people. It’s starting to come out a lot more in practice. We’re starting to have a lot more fun. Just seeing it in practice is really good.”

On if it’s been hard to have fun this season …
“No, it’s just trying to figure out where to pull it, where to bring it in from, where to have fun and where to be serious is the things that we’ve lacked at, and that’s the things we’re learning real fast.”

On how much the scrutiny affects their ability to have fun …
“I guess at first it’s kind of hard, but once you’re used to it you kind of forget about it, you kind of just start having fun.”

On how much he pays attention to the scrutiny …
“For me, not so much anymore. I’m not really on Twitter anymore because we don’t really have time to look at all that stuff.”

On knocking the Arkansas player to the floor in the first meeting …
“That was a total accident. It was the way I box out.”

On if he looked at the replay of that play …
“I watched it while they were reviewing it at that time. It was up on the big screen so we were all just watching it. I was just as surprised as everybody else when they called it on me. It didn’t matter.”

#30, Julius Randle, F, Fr.

On the first game against Arkansas …
“At Arkansas? Fast-paced game, really physical game. It was a tough environment to play, but I do remember that being kind of a little bit of a breakout game for us. It was learning how to fight, not stopping, just playing hard.”

On whether the coaches have shown the final play on tape …
“No, they haven’t. They haven’t.”

On how they have improved since that game …
“We’re just a better team overall. Just little things. We’ve watched film of how we played at the end and the difference between then and now, it’s a tremendous difference. We play harder. We play more as a team. We care about each other more. It’s little things we do on defense. We’ve made adjustments since that game. We’ve gotten better each game.”

On whether the LSU win was an emotional breakthrough …
“Uh, you could say so. We needed to win one of those games. Everybody did their job, contributed and we just needed to be in a dogfight. LSU, despite what their record is, is a really good team, has a lot of talent and we just needed a dogfight game like that. Keep fighting, keep fighting, things don’t go our way, keep fighting, eventually break through and we ended up winning.”

On where they are finding passion …
“For one, we’re all getting better individually. We see we’re getting better as a team and once you see the results things start to become more fun. You may not see the results for a while but you gotta stick with, stick with it, stick with it and just keep fighting, keep getting better. We see that we’re getting better. This is the fun part, the last couple games. We’ve got tournament play and it’s what we’ve been working on all year.”

On needing an emotional moment like LSU …
“Sure, I guess. I’ve never played in a tournament-type game but it can’t be too much crazier than that.”

On Calipari putting the picture of the celebration up …
“He didn’t tell us anything. It’s just right there, a big picture. I walked in and it was pretty cool. I’ve taken visits here. You see all the guys that have come through, to see them on the wall and you’ve got a picture of all us on the wall, it’s a pretty cool thing.”

On asking to guard Johnny O’Bryant …
“Yeah, it was true. He was just making a couple tough baskets in the overtime period and I wanted to win. So I wanted to do whatever I could to help my team. On offense, every time I caught the ball they were crowding me, trapping and stuff like that so the biggest thing Coach has really been getting on me about is affecting the game in different ways. It’s not about scoring and that’s how I wanted to affect the game.”

On whether he went to Calipari about it …
“No, it was during the game. I was just trying to tell them, ‘Let me switch.’ That’s how it happened.”

On slapping the floor on defense and whether that’s done by design …
“Heat of the moment. Just having fun. It’s all it really is.”

On how much of a difference things like that can make …
“It’s just energy. Energy. We’re feeding off each other’s energy. It makes chemistry within the team. The biggest thing is just energy. You see a teammate slap the floor, you know he’s ready to go. You have no choice but to be ready to go.”


 

 

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