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Kentucky Makes Record 53rd NCAA Appearance

For the 53rd time in program history the Kentucky Wildcats are among the field for the NCAA Tournament.

For the 53rd time in program history the Kentucky Wildcats are among the field for the NCAA Tournament.

March 16, 2014

Tourney Central | Printable Bracket

LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the 53rd time in program history the Kentucky Wildcats are among the field for the NCAA Tournament, it was announced Sunday evening. UK will open the tournament against Kansas State Friday, March 21st at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET in St. Louis, Mo.

The contest will air on CBS, with Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Tracy Wolfson on the call. Opening tip will occur 30 minutes after the session's first game, which begins at 7:10 p.m. in the Scottrade Center.

Kentucky (24-10), seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, will take on ninth-seeded Kansas State (20-12) in the second round of NCAA Tournament. The winner of the UK-KSU matchup will play the winner of No. 1-seeded Wichita State (34-0) and the winner of the 16-seed First Round play-in game between Cal Poly (13-19) and Texas Southern (18-14).

Series History

Kentucky is 8-0 all-time against Kansas State, with two postseason meetings. UK downed KSU 68-58 in the national championship game in Minneapolis, Minn., to claim the program's third NCAA title. The two schools also met in the 1976 NIT, where UK pulled out an 81-78 win.

UK has never played Wichita State, but the Wildcats own an 11-4 record all-time against Missouri Valley opponents. Kentucky has also never played Cal Poly and is 1-0 against Texas Southern, with an 83-35 win in 2007.

NCAA Tournament History

  • Kentucky is 42-10 in tournament openers and has won 20 of its last 21 second round (previously first-round) tournament games. The Cats won their opener during the 2012 title run against Western Kentucky, 81-66.
  • UK has claimed a 14-5 record in the second round since 1992.
  • Since 1992, UK is 107-31 (.781) in postseason play (SEC, NIT and NCAA).
     

Media Opportunity - March 16, 2014

Head Coach John Calipari

On UK's NCAA Tournament seeding ...
"Did we get a nine or an eight? (Eight.) We'd have been an eight if we had won this game. Why are you laughing? No, it's the truth. We would have been eight. They made their minds up that that's what this team was. The only way you can prove `em wrong is go play ball. And we played today and I'm proud of the guys. We'll go play. We'll go to St. Louis and play."

On if they can keep the momentum ...
"I hope so. That's the plan. That's why we did what we did."

On how familiar he is with Kansas State ...
"No idea. I haven't watched them one second. I'll probably watch them on the plane."

On what seed he thinks they should be if he called the shots ...
"I called an eight seed to the team. I said eight. They said there's no way. I said we're going to be an eight seed. You just watch."

On why he thought they would be an eight seed and if he has inside information ...
"No."

On what seed he thought they'd played to today ...
"I have no idea. We lost. We lost the game. But it didn't matter. The seed was done before the game was played. They were not moving us around. That's who we were going to be."

On how the players reacted to it ...
"They were kind of like, `What?! OK.' I think they're still disappointed we lost this game so they're still not thinking. We've got a couple guys still almost despondent. I'm just telling you, I'm not thinking about this we just played right now. None of it's even entered in my mind. I won't even watch the tape. Let's move on. We've got to play Kansas State."

On how they played today ...
"We played good. We played good. We get down against the No. 1 team that many points and you fight and claw back and you have your chance to win the game. You have the ball. We had the ball with a chance to win."

On how much the weekend gives them good feelings going forward ...
"I'm good. We didn't play great. We still got some guys that are kind of in a funk right now and (I'm) trying to make the game simple for them. They just got to listen. Trying to make it real simple so you can just go play harder than the other guy. And that's all I'm asking them to do. But we've got a couple guys who just got to get them on the same page with everybody else and this thing is on. Even with that being the case, we had the ball with our chance down one. Get fouled, bump it in, offensive tip-in, you know, something like that."

On how important that surge was to keep the momentum they had gained the previous two days ...
"Yeah, it was good. I was proud of the guys. I really was."

On Andrew Harrison saying you put the ball in his hands and he should have taken it ...
"No, there's two things. You guys know I never call a timeout (late in games). And I was mad that I did. `Call one, call one.' And I called it, and as soon as I called it I was angry because I don't call timeouts. Now you're going against a set defense. They were spread out and scrambling. I could have stopped them and talked them through what we were going to do and let them play, but I didn't. I called a timeout. He did exactly what I wanted. A little bit too late, but he did what I wanted him to do. And James (Young) slipped. James would have probably got something up off the backboard. I don't know if we would have had enough time to tip it in, but it's what we wanted him to do. He did what we wanted."

On how much they need to get Julius Randle going ...
"Julius has got to play better, Alex (Poythress) has got to play better. You know what I'm saying? Jarrod's (Polson) got to play better. But like I said, we're one of those teams. We just got to go play now. It's what it is. It doesn't matter what other seeds are now. It's over. I can be mad about it, you can be mad, everybody can be (mad). Explain yourself. They had the fourth strength of schedule. Are you telling people they don't have to play anybody? Explain it. But they don't have to explain it. They said what we did. So, we just got to go play. We got to play basketball in St. Louis."

On how much a difference Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein made ...
"It was good. That's where we made our run and I kind of rode with it."

On how he feels being in St. Louis and close to Kentucky fans ...
"It's good. Yeah, it'll be good. But it's close to Wichita (State), it's close to Kansas State. Everybody's going to have fans. I bet you everybody uses up their allotment."

On how many teams the SEC got in ...
"Yeah, one of them was a play-in. I mean, Tennessee is a play-in game? I mean, again, I don't know where this image of our league is right now, but what we just did with Florida, does that mean they're not very good? I mean, I guess if you say it enough and say it enough it becomes real. But, you know, we'll have to see."

On if he was coaching Wichita State, how mad he would be to see Kentucky possibly in the next round ...
"He's not worried about anybody. I've had that team when I was at UMass and we weren't worried about anybody else. It didn't matter who we played, we were comfortable. And if it's an eight or nine seed, they're like, `I don't care who they are, they're still an eight or nine seed.' And we've got to win. I'm not worried about Wichita and they're not worried about us. We've got to win our first game and that's all our focus will be on: trying to play a really good team, a very physical team. So they kind of threw that out: Who's the most physical team out there? Boom! It's a physical game and a tough game."

#44 Dakari Johnson, C

On being in a stacked region ...
"Yeah, it's a stacked region. But I think we showed today that we can compete with anybody in the country so as long as we do that, I think we'll be fine."

On chance of taking on undefeated Wichita State in second round and it being motivation ...
"Not really, we haven't thought about it yet. We, of course, see them as the next game if we beat Kansas State. But we have to look at Kansas State first before anything."

On what it's going to take to beat "anybody in the country" ...
"Just have a great week at practice this week and just go out there and everybody compete well together. As long as we do that, we'll be fine."

On being an 8-seed ...
"We thought we would get a little higher seed than that but we're fine with it. We just have to go out there and compete with anybody."

On looking forward to the tournament ...
"Yeah, just being a freshman and watching it, being a part of it should be really exciting."

On him already looking ahead ...
"Not really, we have to take it one game at a time."

On mood in the room while watching Selection Sunday ...
"It was good. We just know that we have to play everybody the same. We can't take anyone for granted. We have to take it one game at a time."

On realizing that this is one and done ...
"We know it's our last straw so we just have to go out every game and just compete."

On pushing momentum from this tournament forward ...
"Just keep it up. We now know we can compete with anybody in the country."

#1 James Young, G

On reaction to matchup with Kansas State ...
"I just thought it was a good matchup for us I guess. We are just ready for the tournament."

On thinking an 8 seed was fair ...
"I guess. I mean, it's whatever they did and there's not much we can do about it. We're just going to play every game like it's our last and keep fighting."

On getting robbed as an 8-seed because of the team they play for ...
"Yeah, I guess. I guess everybody is against us, we just gotta keep everybody quiet and keep winning."

On being surprised by the 8 seed ...
"We were expecting it. We thought we could have gotten a little higher but we kind of expected that's what would happen. It's whatever, we're just going to keep going out to play every game."

On importance to not think ahead to Wichita State ...
"We are just not going to think about the final game. We're just going to play like it's our last and keep getting better. Take it game by game and every practice just get better."

#2 Aaron Harrison, G

On being an 8 seed ...
"Coach told us the exact number actually. I don't know what we deserved and I don't know who does the brackets or whatever but we really don't care."

On having a close friend on Kansas State ...
"Yeah, Wesley Iwundu. I've known him since I was in second grade, he played on my AAU team for years, since the third grade."

On being in touch with him this season ...
"We talked a few times."

On playing him in the first round ...
"I saw him play a couple times. But we have a great staff so I know we'll have everything we need to go out and win."

On guys seeming down based on seeding ...
"I don't know what we deserve. If we deserve an eight seed, I guess that's what they wanted to give us. That's what we're going to take and we're just going to keep it."

#15 Willie Cauley-Stein, F

On if Kansas State didn't think he was a good enough prospect ...
"I don't know, I live like two hours from there but, I mean I probably got like a letter here and there but I wasn't like - I wasn't serious about going there."

On how much they've built this week ...
"You know, it was good just to see here we're at, you know what I'm saying I like where we're at. You got a chance to change a few things and try to make this run."

On thinking about it as if you beat the one seed then you have their path from there on out ...
"I mean put it like that, yeah. I really haven't thought about it. Honestly, I'm just thinking about playing one game at a time and you just chip away at the bracket."

On how they get from playing with the best teams in the country to beating the best teams ...
"You know there is just little points in the game here maybe you get a rebound or a put back or a couple more free throws and win the game, you know what I'm saying. When you don't, you've got to rely on a last-second shot or last-second play."

#5 Andrew Harrison, G

On how difficult it is to try to pick themselves up ...
"I mean, it's pretty hard. I mean, tonight is going to be pretty tough but tomorrow you have to go in the gym and focus on our next opponent."

On how he feels about being an eight seed ...
"We got what we got. It doesn't really matter at this point, you have to go play. You're going to have to play anybody eventually so it doesn't really matter."

On the opportunity ahead of them ...
"I mean, it's good. It was a good confidence builder, we're starting to play as a team now and it's going to be thought to beat us in the tournament.

On if the tournament gives them new confidence ...
"Yeah, definitely. A lot of the people didn't think we were going to get this far so we're going to go to practice tomorrow and try to get better."


 

 

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