vs No. 1/2 North Carolina (6-0)
Saturday, Dec. 1 ? 2:00 p.m.
Lexington, Ky. - (23,000)
Kentucky hosts top-ranked North Carolina Saturday in a matchup of college basketball?s two winningest programs. The Wildcats (1,952 wins) and Tar Heels (1,920) are in a race to become the first school with 2,000 all-time victories.
Carolina leads the all-time series between the two schools, 19-10, and has won the last three meetings. This is the eighth-straight year UK and UNC have played, with UK holding a 4-3 edge in that time. The two have split 10 previous games in Lexington.
UK, 4-1, is led offensively by senior Joe Crawford (17.8, 7th in the SEC) and freshman Patrick Patterson (15.8, tied for 8th in SEC). Patterson, who also leads UK in rebounding at 8.8 rpg (3rd in SEC), is one of just two players to rank among the SEC?s top 10 in both points and rebounds.
UNC is led by Tyler Hansbrough (21.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg).
CAT SCRATCHES Kentucky is in its 105th season of basketball. Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,952. UK is 2-1 against North Carolina in Rupp Arena; 5-5 against the Heels in Lexington. The Wildcats lead the SEC in scoring defense (53.0), field goal percentage defense (.324) and threepoint field goal defense (.234). Kentucky is shooting 75 percent (64-85) from the free throw line, which leads the SEC. Patrick Patterson has three double-doubles, the second-highest total in the SEC. Joe Crawford needs 11 points to become UK?s 54th member of the 1,000-point club, while Ramel Bradley is 87 points shy of 1,000. Once again, every Wildcat basketball game will be televised live, including UK?s two exhibition games. UK is on CBS seven times, ESPN/ESPN2 nine times, ESPNU twice, FSN South five times and Lincoln Financial Sports six times.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES - NOV. 30
Head Coach Billy Gillispie
?Just looking forward to tomorrow. It?s going to be a very, very tough contest. Hopefully we will be able to meet the challenge. They have great players, a great program, and great tradition. Two of the greatest traditions going at it. Hopefully we will play with the same intensity that they do.?
On limiting Tyler Hansbrough ?
?He?s just so good. They have so many good players and do such a good job putting them in the right positions to get them an opportunity to be successful. As talented as he is, he plays so hard and that?s what you love to see as a basketball person and as a fan. But not as an opponent. He plays really smart. He knows how to get fouls. He shoots 10 foul shots a game. He knows how to rebound and use his body to defend well. He?s just an all-around player. He?ll be a load tomorrow but he?s got a great future ahead of him. He?s going to be aggressive. You just have to compete like crazy ? that?s about all you can do. He?s a great shot guy. When he does miss, he jumps twice before most people can jump once. So you have to try to get him off of his spot a little bit. Once he shoots you want to beat him to the ball.?
On the challenges of having young guys in the post ?
?I just hope every one of our guys competes at the highest level ? much higher than they have competed so far. That?s all you can hope for. Patrick (Patterson) is going to do what he can. He?s played extremely well for the first five games of his college career. I don?t know how anyone could have played much better. The competition is much greater. He?s not always going to dominate like he has, but there?s no guesswork with him. Sometimes the ball doesn?t go in the basket, but you always know the effort is going to be there and the preparation is going to be there. He gives himself a great chance each and every time because of those things.?
On preparation for younger players to play on a big stage?
?They?re going to play hard. I don?t think that is something that anybody at this level would concern themselves with. That?s what you come to Kentucky for, that?s what you come to Carolina for, that?s why you go there to play on the biggest stage. It will be a big stage tomorrow, one of many this year. That?s part of the growing process. Sometimes you get a little nervous or whatever. So those guys will be fine.?
On preparation for the Tar Heels?
?We?ve watched the games we?ve played in the past. But they?re playing a little bit different, but do a lot of the same things. We?re a totally different team in personnel and style. The thing about great players like Hansbrough is that they make adjustments. He definitely knows how to make adjustments. He was really good last year. But in my opinion, he?s a lot better this year. His work ethic, I?m sure, has a lot to do with his development. On a great team like Carolina he is not by himself. They?re really good at everything. They may be the best team in the country, only time will tell. They really perform their duties. Everyone on their team rebounds exceptionally well. Their shooters shoot it, they make them and they?re consistent. Their guys that come off of the bench really understand the roles they play. They perform those roles and that?s why they have such a great team. Those two guys inside playing with Hansbrough are athletic, rebound and are very defensive. They go after every single rebound. Every time that Carolina shoots it they have six feet in the paint. That?s another sign of a great team is the offensive rebounding. They force you to play 40 minutes, that?s what good teams do. ?
On preparation for Carolina playing with or without Ty Lawson?
?They?re good either way. He?s a great player. When he didn?t play, they still beat some really good teams not in their own building. They have good guys no matter who plays, but we?re expecting him to play.?
On his relationship with North Carolina head coach Roy Williams?
?I know Coach Roy Williams pretty well, not real well. I have admired him for a long time. He?s a hall of fame coach. I really appreciate the way he goes about things. He really knows how to do things right in the profession. I like to watch his teams play. They play every single possession both defensively and offensively. I really appreciate the simplicity by how he teaches the game. That?s why he is in the hall of fame and has the winning percentage he has as a head coach.?
On the style of game he would like to play Saturday?
?The way we have rebounded up to this point, the more shots that are taken, probably the worse it?s going to be for us. They have been a much better rebounding team up to this point. I think we have a long ways to go in that area. If there are 200 shots and you are not the best rebounding team, you?d rather have fewer shots taken. We won?t be worse rebounding. We will get better at it. We?re going to play like we are supposed to play. I don?t think you change from each game to the next.?
On what a win would mean to his team?
?It would mean a lot against a great team. We?re going to play our hearts out. Hopefully we will continue to get better. But it?s not the last day of the season. We?re going to try to keep on getting better. This game shouldn?t be a reason for us to compete harder but I hope it is. I think every time you lace it up, it should make no difference who you are playing or if it is on national television. I don?t depend a lot on hope; I like to know every time on the floor what we are getting. ?
On the team?s transition defense?
?Well when you play their team, that?s one of the first things you have to address. Hopefully we?ll be ready to perform and do a much better job of getting back. Lately we?ve still had some breakdowns, but we haven?t played anyone that has really pressed the pace. And we haven?t played anyone nearly as good as they are in putting the pressure on. You have to get back against any good teams. That?s one of the things they are known for; we have to do a better job of talking. I think our transition defense has improved quite a bit.?
#3 Ramel Bradley
Difference between this year and the last few years?
?North Carolina had been playing better basketball than us. This year we have a good team, and we need to show it tomorrow on national television.?
Game plan for tomorrow?
?North Carolina is a very good fast break team, so we need to make sure that we get back on defense and make them play half court offense. We need to play team defense, box out, and most importantly rebound.?
What this game means to Coach Gillispie?
?Coach just wants us to get the win. This game is just like all the others. The game plan never changes, he just wants us to play hard and win.?
Excitement playing North Carolina?
?They are a very good team, and this is a big game. That?s why you come to Kentucky, to play these types of teams. We will do our best and hopefully come out with a victory.?
On the young players?
?They need to come out and be relaxed. If they will just play their game, they will be fine. Our freshmen are very mature and I think that they will be during the game.?
#32 Joe Crawford
On what they need to do to win?
?We can?t get too high on ourselves. We need to stay balanced and play our game. It?s going to take a lot of effort because they?re a great team. We need to play with heart and confidence.?
On what a win would do for the team psyche?
?It would be a huge win mentally for us. We need to go out there and compete for all 40 minutes, if not more. We just need to match their intensity and stay together.?
On the game plan?
?They have a lot of good athletes and talent, so we?re going to have to make it tough on them by grinding it out and wearing them down. They want to play fast, but hopefully we can stay in our game.?
#54 Patrick Patterson
On playing the number one team in the country?
?It?s great. It should be a good challenge for us. I?m amped and I think the team?s just anxious to get out there and play.
On matching up against UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough?
?He?s one of the best post players in America, so I?m looking forward to the challenge. He loves to bang and get into people to try and get to the foul line. He averages almost ten points a game at the foul line alone, so he loves contact. He?s an all-around hauler.?
On the keys to winning?
?Just rebounding, staying out of foul trouble and our overall defense. I think if we can do those three things, along with finishing our shots, we?ll have a great chance to win.?
On being nervous about the game and his matchup with Hansbrough?
?No, I?m not nervous at all; it?s just going to be fun. We have to play tough and match their intensity. I?ll probably get some butterflies before the game and at the beginning, but it should wear off quickly. I?m looking forward to it.?