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Kentucky Advances to Second Straight Final Four




March 28, 2012

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Kentucky advanced to its second-straight Final Four on the heels of an 82-70 win over Baylor in the Elite 8 on Sunday.

Gameday
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NCAA Tournament - Final Four
Kentucky vs. Louisville
Sat., Mar. 31 - 6:09 p.m. ET
New Orleans, La.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UL Get Acrobat Reader
UK Postseason Guide
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TV: CBS
Radio: UK IMG
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Anthony Davis notched his 19th double-double of the season and fifth during the postseason. He finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while adding six blocks and two steals.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the Cats in scoring with a team-high 19 points. Doron Lamb (14) and Terrence Jones (12) also scored in double-figures with all of Lamb's points coming in the second half. Jones also added nine rebounds and a career-high six assists.

Kentucky is averaging 88.0 ppg in its four NCAA games.

Series History

Kentucky owns a 29-14 record in the all-time series and has won six of the last eight against Louisville including three straight.

This is the sixth post-season meeting between the teams and the first since the 1984 NCAA Tournament.

The series began in 1913 with UK winning seven of the first nine contests. The teams then met three times in the NCAA Tournament between 1948-59. After a 24-year absence, the series was renewed at the 1983 NCAA Mideast Region title game in Knoxville, with Louisville winning the "Dream Game," 80-68 in overtime to advance to the Final Four.

UK coach John Calipari is 9-5 versus Louisville. UofL head coach Rick Pitino is 4-7 against the Cats. Pitino was 6-2 against the Cards while coaching at Kentucky.

Bluegrass Success

Kentucky is 163-68 (.706) all-time against in-state teams, with most of the action coming against Georgetown College, against whom, the Cats are 35-15 (.700). However, all of those meetings came prior to 1940. UK's most common, modern-day opponent is Louisville, against whom the Cats are 29-14 (.674).

Kentucky-Louisville Connections

  • Current UK assistant coach Kenny Payne played his college ball at Louisville. A four-year letterwinner at UL from 1985-89, he helped lead the Cardinals to the 1986 national championship. He finished his career scoring 1,083 points and shooting 40 pct. from 3-point range.
  • UofL head coach Rick Pitino spent eight seasons (1990-97) as head coach of the Wildcats, leading UK to a 219-50 record, two SEC championships, five SEC Tournament titles, three Final Fours and the 1996 National Championship.
  • UofL executive assistant Vince Tatum served as a UK student manager under former UK equipment manager Bill Keightley from 1990-93.

Pre-Final Four Media Opportunity - March 27, 2012

Head Coach John Calipari

On treating the game as if it’s just another opponent…
“When you are playing at this stage of the season, a win or a loss doesn’t matter if it is against a school that is 12 miles from you or a thousand miles it really does not matter. We are playing a terrific basketball team that has terrific players that play a style that is aggressive and fast, they are really good. It doesn’t matter how close they are to us, they are a very, very good team and it is going to be a hard game for us.”

On handling the distractions that go along with the Final Four…
“Well we are going to talk a little bit about it with my team especially the three, four returning players that played in the Final Four last year and just say something got us off kilter because we didn’t play very well. What happened that we went out, I don’t want to say gun shy, but we just weren’t the same team that left New Jersey so we’ll talk about that. But the reality of it is I dealt with tickets Sunday night, now I’m done. Tickets are done. The kids get x-amount of tickets, that’s all they get and that’s done. We’ll get down there, we’ve done a good job, we’ve got security with us, a better job than we did last year; we’ll probably have five security guys with us if they want to leave the hotel. No one is on their floor, no one except our players, no one, friends, family no one, if they want to meet friends and family they’ll need to go down to the lobby. You need to go out for something, go with a player take a security person with you. We’re handling it like we should be.”

On how soon he noticed the team wasn’t the same in the Final Four last year …
“Five minutes in, something just isn’t, we had some guys that weren’t the same but that’s OK, first time for those guys; now we’re going in for a second time for those guys. Obviously they’ll be fine. It’s how are they going to teach these young kids to watch the landmines.”

On wanting to win this year to get his first championship …
“It’s nice but my friends and family probably feel that way more than I do. For me, there is (nothing), when Gene Keady or John Chaney have never won a national title, I can name 50 coaches that have not been in this situation and haven’t won it. I’m at Kentucky, one way or another we are going to play the best we can every year. I’m not looking at it like validation, I’m just not, my wife will tell you. I’m concerned about our team playing great and those guys getting all those accolades and that stuff happening. My friends now, ‘I’m just hoping so they stop…,’ I’m just coaching my team. (I want it) for these fans, for these players, for this program. The Big Blue Nation shows up in Atlanta, I bet if we played in Sioux City we would pack an arena. I don’t know how they would get there but they would get there. You want to do it for these fans, I’ve never in my life been in a place that they are so passionate but yet they have a soft heart, they’re not mean and nasty, they’re not the ‘miserables.’ They just want this thing to go well and they worry, they can’t sleep at night, I’ve slept like a baby, these people are up all night and can’t sleep. You want to do something for them, but reality of it is we can’t even get in to that, this is about our team playing at their best; we’ll deal with the result. As long as we’re our best, we’re prepared to go battle and we’re aggressive and we’re at our best and we all look at each other and say, ‘we couldn’t play much better,’ we’ll take the result from there and we’ll deal with it.”

On the disappointment of last year…
“That team lost six road games in our league, by the end of the season for them to put themselves in that position I was ecstatic. When they dropped the ball in that last game and we all dropped it, obviously preparation was bad, there was something that was not right. I felt bad for them, I wasn’t mad, I was so proud of what they were able to do with that season I can’t even begin to tell you. I kept saying all along, I like my team, I like my team, I know we lost some but this year let me say this, I really like my team. I’m glad I am coaching these guys but the other teams that are in the Final Four, they all have good players or they would not be here. You are not coaching guys up, you have guys that have potential and they are playing to that potential. They are talented, talented players, every team that is left.”

On asking players how they can help other than scoring…
“What it does is it gets them to examine their game. Are you just here trying to score points or are you here trying to help us win. When you are not making a basket you tell me. It is an answer that is left unanswered, yet in their mind they are sitting there thinking, ‘what do I do?’ That’s what I want them to think, that’s how I want them to be. They have done fine; these guys have taken on all comers. We are playing a team coming up that will probably press us, it may be a man press it may be something else, they may press us the whole game. A team that is going to try to fly up and down the court if they can and if they don’t have it they are going to run a lot of pick and roll stuff and try to get (Peyton) Siva in the lane, they’ve done it, that’s how they are playing and they will play great. Unless no one can make a shot this is going to be a game that will be up and down I would imagine.”

On the team playing against NBA players last summer …
“Obviously it helped the Thunder being here too because they are doing pretty good. I would tell you, when I saw a group of NBA players with no guidance except within their team, spending four days on a college campus together, every one of them, including the star who wouldn’t leave campus and working out three times a day. What it showed our team is, you want to be a professional someday, that’s how you work. I think the guys were taken back, ‘three times a day?’ Yeah, they go work out in the morning, lift in the afternoon and they play in the evening. That’s what they do and that’s why the Thunder are what they are right now.”

On the date to declare for the NBA draft …
“We’re not going to worry about the date; our guys will tell me when they want to tell me. They have ‘til (March 29th), whatever the day is to make a decision by the NBA standards and that is the only one we are going to think about. If they want to make a decision by the (29th) when they have to by NBA, that’s when they’ll make it, I don’t even know the other date nor do I care.”

On being ‘hungry’ this weekend …
“I want my team to play well; I want to make sure we are prepared for all that is being thrown at us. Again, there may be some bold things done in these games now. People may step out and say there is no tomorrow so let’s go triangle and two, let’s go box and one, let’s just go trap and press and crazy, lets space the court and just beat them, you don’t know, you want to be prepared. The good news is for the first one you have some time. Funky zones and the freak defense, no one ever figured out what it was but I think it was just a name, I say that and I’m a good friend of Dale Brown’s. That stuff happens now and you just want to make sure your team, you are ready to be the attacking team, you are ready to play through bumps and grinds and grabs. You cannot expect the officials to help you, you have to be tough and strong now; we’ll work on it for a few days.”

On the elevated court …
“We’ve got a court in here that is six feet off the ground. We built one, only Kentucky can do that. I’m not sure if we’re allowed to do that, I didn’t ask anybody, but we are playing on an elevated court right now in our practice facility. I think the other teams played in arenas didn’t they and we played in a stadium. The stadium floor wasn’t raised and it makes it slightly different but I’m good with our team, raised floor, one that is down in there, let’s just play.”

On the team being steady throughout the season with a largely freshman group …
“They’ve come every day to practice and they have come every day with great focus, we’re not burying them. We don’t have three-hour practices; we don’t have four-hour film sessions. We don’t do all the morning individuals; we’re practicing in our allotted time. We get our work done, they go hard, they’re consistent and then they are free. I want guys at this time of the year to say that while we are bigger and stronger and we work harder, well at this time of the year it is about being at your best; that means fresh legs, fresh minds and then go for it. Again, deal with the result, if you are at your best, like Indiana, played great, (IU coach Tom Crean) knew they played great. Tommy (Crean) said we played great and then you deal with the result, we happened to play a little bit better that game.”

On recruiting (Louisville freshman) Chane Behanan …
“I love him, I loved him. I loved his skill set for a guy his size. I thought he was a three-man in the making. I love (Peyton) Siva, see Siva and Eric Bledsoe went nose to nose over in Louisville and everybody watched that and everybody was like wow. I’ve always liked Siva, I think he is really good and they’ve got shooters and (Gorgui) Dieng has played better. They’ve got the (Chris and Russ) Smith’s; they’ve got a terrific team which is why they are still playing. They’ve got terrific players.”

On if the Louisville aspect of the game scares him …
“I’ll say this again. Whether you win or you lose, it does not matter if the school is 10 miles from you or 1,000 miles. It really does not matter now. For our fans, Louisville fans and Kentucky fans ‘Oh my Gosh,’ but the teams? Louisville wants to win the game because they want to advance. We want to win the game because we want to advance. We are preparing and they are preparing. But, literally, I am telling you I am not worried about it. It didn’t matter to me who won, Florida or Louisville, but think about having to beat Florida four times. And they made no 3s against us. Every game they played us better. The last game, they thought they should have had more fouls called on us. Now we have to go play Louisville who won their tournament, won their last 12 games or whatever they have won. They are all hard. They are the last four standing.”

On if he will feed the hype of the rivalry …
“I am not. Our fans may be. Our fans feed everything. Let me just say this. Our fans eat everything. They are piranhas. If you have an agenda, and you write a story that is agenda-driven, they will take out everything you have written and prove it wrong and then look at your background and look at what you’ve done. If you are going to attack Kentucky, just be right. If you have an agenda for another coach, to create something, I’m just telling you they are piranhas. They will come and eat your yard, your house. These people are nuts.”

On if this Louisville team reminds him of the 2010-11 UK team …
“Yeah. They stuck together, man, they stuck together. The winds were blowing, and the ship was rocking and the water was coming and they stuck together and they held their ground. That’s why it is going to be a very hard game for us to win. Look, the challenge of it is that they have terrific players that are competitors that play tough and rough and physical. They are coached by a guy that has been there before. They are going to be prepared. They have been there before. If you don’t think they are going to be prepared, then you are not thinking right. They will be. It will be a hard game and hopefully they will come in at their best, and we will come in at our best and let’s see what happens.”

On Louisville’s infrared jerseys … 
“They outlawed those for the Final Four, I don’t know if you read that. So, they are not allowed to wear those. As a matter of fact, the higher seed has a choice of color and we picked blue.”

On what Louisville has improved on from December meeting …
“They have really done a terrific job with the big guy staying home, blocking shots around the rim, making a couple of 3s a matter of fact. I don’t know how many he has made on the year, but I have seen two of them today. He is active, he is confident right now and the zone has been good.  The team that did a pretty good job with it was Florida. Florida challenged them to go man-to-man and they won that game. I don’t really think it matters what they play. I think they are going to be aggressive, they are going to be tough, they are going to be up in you, and you have to withstand that. If you can’t you can whine to the officials or not. You have to withstand them attacking you and being aggressive both on offense and defense. If you can do that, now let’s play basketball. If you can’t, it is a hard game to win.”

On if the rumors about himself and Rick Pitino have him petered …
“I haven’t heard them, and I haven’t listened to them, so I don’t really care. I mean, it is not about he or I, it is about these players. Hopefully we both have our teams ready to play, and I think we will and we go at it. I mean, I don’t listen to it.”

On if Rick Pitino will be in the Hall of Fame …
“Well, if he doesn’t now he will. What he has done over his career and building programs and all the things he has done, yes I think he will. I don’t even look at who is in the class. Eventually he will be, even if it’s not now. He deserves it now.”

On if there is someone he would like to lose too less than Rick Pitino …
“Anybody. You don’t want to lose to anybody, like anybody. It doesn’t matter him, them, you just don’t want to lose, but someone is going too. You just want to be playing at your best. The whole thing with my team is let’s play our best. Let’s prepare to play great, and we will deal with the results. Let’s not worry about anything else let’s just worry about us. I have on my wall ‘Coach Your Team’. I am shutting down the phones. I did my two media things yesterday, I am doing this now and I’m done. That’s it. I’m going to relax. I am still a little tired from this last weekend. I am trying to catch up on some sleep to get my senses back. It should be interesting down there.”

On the team’s mindset …
“They have been pretty good. I had one guy come in my office, so we have a little work to do because he said ‘I just got back to thinking about it. Man, we really want to win that national title.’ Well you can’t think that way. You have to think about playing basketball games. Forget about the tournament; forget about the title, we have a basketball game to play Saturday so just think about that. So, I have to get these guys in that frame of mind because you just want them letting loose and playing. When you watch my team, I want you to say they are having a ball playing. They are having a ball. Look at how they pass it to each other, they fly up and down the court, they are having a ball. If that is the case, then I like our chances.”

On Russ Smith for Louisville …
“What did he have on us last time, 30? Whoever guarded him last time probably won’t be guarding him this time. It will be somebody different. Not only can he get 30, (Peyton) Siva can get 30. They’ve got guys; (Gorgui) Dieng can hurt you, (Chane) Behanan hurt you. What they are doing is they are playing mush mouth with him inside. He is doing a heck of a game. I mean the baskets he made late against Florida, and you have to box him out. If you don’t box him out, he is going to wedge you right into the cheerleaders. The shot goes up, find him early and wedge with him, or you’re going to ask for the pom-poms because you are going to be underneath the basket. He does a great job if it. (Kyle) Kuric could go for 30. They are probably going to take 20 3s. If they are making 3s it’s a hard game for us.”

On Darius Miller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stepping up …
“More importantly is they take the fourth and fifth-most shots on our team. That is the bigger deal. They are worried about winning. It is hard for anyone to be selfish when those two are not. If you are, probably someone else on this team will say something and I don’t even have to say it. Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) has been just fabulous as of late. Darius (Miller) is playing now like he did at the SEC Tournament a year ago. You know where it all started? Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) saying ‘let him start in my place, we need him to start.’ How about that? You are talking about a young freshman doing that. This team has been there for each other and I think they are excited about this, but we have a lot of preparation to do. We have work today, we have work tomorrow, and then we travel. We have a practice day down in New Orleans, which is going to be a lot to our advantage since we have a court here built up five feet off the ground, but, we will see.”

On what he learned from the 2010-11 team at the Final Four to help this year …
“Doron Lamb played really good in that game last year. Like, Doron Lamb was outstanding. Terrence (Jones) couldn’t make a free throw, but he had 15 rebounds. Now if you told me he is getting 15 rebounds, I am really happy. He just didn’t make any free throws. I thought Brandon (Knight) played OK, just a little bit wore down in that game, but he played okay. I am just looking for all of us to get in there. It is nothing else other than a basketball game on a raised court. Let’s go. Let’s play the game. We are going to play against a team that is going to be aggressive, press us, man-to-man, and get up in us. Sometimes trap, don’t trap, rebound, fly, if it’s not there put us in pick and rolls.  It’s going to be an aggressive game. We want to fly at them, and if it’s not there, then we will run our stuff. It should be an interesting game. Defensively we are both doing the same thing. How do we tweak, what do we tweak, looking at their tapes. I have a bunch of tape still to watch. I’m going to start to look at Big East tapes because they probably knew them the best. You can watch the NCAA Tournament, but some of those teams don’t know them as well as the teams in the league. See what they did and how they played them. It should be interesting.”

#1 Darius Miller, G, Sr.

On if he will feels any of the hype of playing against in-state foe Louisville …
“No, it’s just another game it just happens to be against Louisville. We are going to prepare the same way that we have all season.”

On what he learned from the Final Four last season that he could use this season …
“Really, it will be the same as any other game we have had this tournament. They are going to be a good team and a talented team. We are going to have to prepare the way we have been all season. It has been successful so far, so we are going to try to keep everything the same.”

On the format of the Final Four with off the court schedules and if it will help that he has been through that schedule before …
“Yeah, it will probably help that we have experienced it before and know how it is going to be. We are going to have to do a good job of managing our time, especially getting rest. Other than that it just comes down to playing basketball.”

On how the freshmen have handled playing in the tournament …
“Of course we are excited about being here. It is an honor to be a part of something like this and it’s a blessing. We are still just taking everything as if its basketball. Our main goal is to win championships and we feel like we aren’t done yet … They still have the same goals and aren’t satisfied with just going to the Final Four.”

On Louisville’s defense …
“I think it will be a really good defensive game. They play defense just as well as we do and play extremely hard and we do too. I think that it will be exciting to watch.”

#20 Doron Lamb, G, So.

On how they’re playing right now compared to the rest of the year …
“We’re playing very well right now. Everybody’s playing their roles to the best they can do, especially Darius (Miller) – he’s playing great off the bench leading us in points sometimes. So he’s playing well.”

On what it’s like shooting in the environment with the staged-type floor and if that’s an advantage for them having played in that environment before …
“It’ll be a big advantage. It didn’t really affect my jumper really since we played there last year, so I was used to it. But I think we have an advantage though.”

On playing Louisville …
“We’re not going to take it as a rivalry game. We’re just going to take it as the next game we play and it’s Louisville, so we have to get prepared for that. We know what they’re going to do to try and beat us, so we’re going to get ready for that today and tomorrow.”

On what he remembers from the first meeting …
“It was a hard game. They pressed the whole game. They’ve got great players and they came out there and played hard for 40 minutes. We just ended up winning the game.”

#25 Marquis Teague, G, Fr.

On if he is ready for the game …
“Yeah, we are excited, just ready to get the games started.”

On how he ignores the outside influences …
“It’s been kind of hard with all the fans outside, waiting for us to come out cheering, asking for autographs and telling us to beat Louisville. We just are trying to downplay it and take it like we normally do.”

On if this game with Louisville will be more intense than the last meeting …
“It is a lot more intense now. It’s the Final Four, so it means that much more with this big rivalry.”

On Louisville fans being disappointed he didn’t become a Cardinal …
“I am not really worried about it. I am just trying to focus on this and the team so we can do what we got to do to win.”

On critics saying winning a title can’t be done with freshmen and the style of play this team plays with …
“I think you can win this way. You just give people opportunities to do what they do. He (Coach Calipari) lets us play and we have had success with it all year, and I feel like it is good enough to win a championship.”

#33 Kyle Wiltjer, F, Fr.

On what it means to be in the Final Four …
“You know it’s a great honor. We’re just very fortunate to be here. We’re looking forward to the next game and just preparing for the next couple of days.”

On playing Louisville and the rivalry …
“I know it’s a huge rivalry even though I’m not from here. We just want to look at it as just another game and not hype up the rivalry too much. We just want to go out there and play our game.”

On what he’s seen in Louisville since the first meeting …
“They’re definitely a lot better because it was such a long time ago. But we’re also better as well, so we’re just looking forward to playing them again.”

On if the players who had been here before (Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb) had talked to the younger guys about what it was like …
“They’ve said it’s very exciting, and we’re just looking forward to the opportunity. They lost last year, so they want to get one step further and get to the championship. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”


 

 

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