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Wildcats Return Home for Four Straight

Jodie Meeks was named tournament MVP of the Las Vegas Invitational

Jodie Meeks was named tournament MVP of the Las Vegas Invitational

Dec. 2, 2008

Complete Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Dec. 1 Press Conference Quotes | Dec. 2 Press Conference Quotes

The Wildcats return home to Rupp Arena for four straight home games, fresh off a 54-43 win over West Virginia in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational.

Meeks was named the tournament MVP after averaging 23.8 ppg including a game-high 19 points in the championship. Patrick Patterson and Josh Harrellson were both named to the All-Tournament team after contributing double-doubles in the final game.

For Patterson (15p, 10r) it was his third consecutive double-double, and fourth of the season, while Harrellson recorded his first double-double as a Wildcat with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

After falling behind by 12 early in the second half, UK used clutch shooting from the free throw line, where they were 17-for-17 in the second half, to earn its first regular season tournament championship since 1996.

Cat Scratches

  • Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
  • Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,970.
  • Jodie Meeks’ is averaging 25.5 ppg through the first six games of the season, the best six-game start by a Wildcat since Jamal Mashburn averaged 25.3 through the first six games of the 1992-93 season.
  • Meeks leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks sixth nationally in scoring (25.5 ppg) while Patrick Patterson leads the league and ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.709).
  • The Wildcats won the battle in the paint for the fifth time in six games, outscoring West Virginia 24- 22 in the paint, while also recording 12 second chance points to the Mountaineers’ eight.
  • Kentucky has outrebounded five of their six opponents this season.
  • Kentucky ranks first in the SEC in field goal percentage (.503) and third in the league in free throw percentage (.757).
  • UK has held its last four opponents to 36 percent or less from the field.

Billy Gillispie Quotes

On the multiple games this week…
“It is a little different in how we go about preparing this week because of travel. We were off on Sunday after flying back from Las Vegas. Normally, we would have a game then take a day off but we will not have the luxury of doing that this weekend. Practice will be a little different this week because we have back-to-back games this weekend.”

On Lamar…
“They are undefeated. It is the third team in a row that we have played that is undefeated. I know people sometimes think that unless it is a big conference school then they don’t give a team the amount of respect that they deserve. Lamar is a very good team. They have really good experience. They were a good team last year and they have returned most of their guys, I think nine out of 10 from last season. The reason why they are good is because they have their roles defined already since they know each other so well already. They have two little guards that are very good off the dribble and pass, and those are the kind of guys we have had trouble with. They have two interior players that can put it on the floor while scoring inside and outside. It will be hard to match-up. Every game is tough but these guys will make it tough because they all make opportunities for other teammates.”

On Kenny Dawkins…
“Well, he is quick and he is really good with the ball. He can score off the bounce and off the pass. He is smaller and wedges his way around the court. He is very good at setting up his very capable and willing teammates. If you try to get to close to him he can go by you and make a basket, but if you lay off he can hit from the outside and make 14 threes and you find yourself in trouble.”

On quickness on the court…
“Quickness is a major, major thing. One of the things that you look for when you go recruit is size, skill and knowledge, but you always want some kind of advantage at your particular position whether it is size, skill, knowledge or quickness. I think when it comes down to it, no matter what sport you are playing, then quickness is always a big difference maker.”

On deciding on the line-up…
“Just because a guy is smaller doesn’t mean he is not a really good player. I think the hardest guys for people like Perry Stevenson or Josh Harrellson to guard would be a 6’4 or 6’5 guy that is very aggressive or quick. They would have less success, probably, of keeping them from catching the ball or pressing them once they have caught the ball. If you can get close to the basket and keep the ball high then you will have a major advantage. That is why people always recruit size. Size alone is end all to be all.”

Player Quotes

#55 Josh Harrellson, So.

On his and the team’s confidence levels after the Las Vegas tournament…
“We’re feeling really confident right now. I think we came together as a team playing against West Virginia. We were down early in the game and we all got fired up in the locker room and we were able to come together and just rally up points and get ahead and keep it up. I had my mindset straight that I was going to be the best man out there and play hard the whole time I was in and show coach that I really can do something different and finish from the basket. Lately my mind was set on that I wasn’t good enough to play, and now I’ve changed it around and hopefully I can just keep on going. Everybody is gelling now and hopefully everyone can keep their confidence up.”

On the team gelling…
“We are clicking a little bit, but we’re still turning the ball over a lot as a team. We’re trying to contain that, but we are coming together as a team and starting to get a feel for each other now. Even though we were together all summer, playing games is a lot different than just playing pick-up. I guess after six games we are finally starting to get a real feel for each other.”

On Lamar…
“They have two really good guards and are going to be a lot like VMI because they’re really quick and it’s going to be hard for the big guys to guard the perimeter. But we are going to do our best and hopefully come out with a victory. We should be able to block a lot of shots and post-up. I don’t think they have many big guys and we have size to our advantage and a big weight advantage over them with a lot more strength down low. We just have to post up hard and play good help defense.”

On giving smaller schools respect…
“Anybody can beat anybody any given night. You can’t overlook anybody in the next game; you have to go game-by-game.”

On the stretch of games…
“It’s kind of overwhelming when you look at the schedule, but that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to play basketball and to approach it with a good attitude. We’re going to welcome it with open arms and just go at it.”

#23 Jodie Meeks, Jr.

On Lamar…
“We watched a couple games that they played. I think they do a really good job of penetrating, spreading teams out and getting to the lane. I think it’s going to be a challenge for us to keep up, but I think we can do a good job. We learned some lessons from the VMI game; we really have get down and guard, that’s one big thing. I think there will be some problems for our big guys, but we’re tough enough to handle it and that will make the difference.”

On playing against a quick team…
“It’s kind of tough sometimes. But once you get in the flow of the game and get warmed up, it’s still pretty tough the whole game, but our guys are tough and our big guys are quick enough to stay in front and play without fouling. I think they’re obviously going to be quicker than us because they are shorter.”

On looking at teams differently…
“I don’t think we look at any team differently; we take it one game at a time. Going into the VMI game we were all confident, but I don’t think we thought it was going to be an easy win. They are a very good team and led the nation in scoring the past couple years. It was just a fact of us not getting out to a good start.”

On the effect the VMI loss has on other small schools…
“I think it’s important to them because it gives them a lot of confidence coming in and if they get a few shots off, they feel like they can play that way the whole game. VMI played that way the whole game. Our defense is going to be the key for us to try to get some stops and disrupt their offense.”

#54 Patrick Patterson, So.

On the importance of how you start the game…
“It’s really important. We were able to watch some tape on them and they’re similar to VMI. They have two guards and pretty good post play with good people on the bench. So from the films we saw, they’ve been able to get off to quick starts and if they got of to a slow start, they were able to pick it up in the second half. We believe we have to come out like we did against Longwood, and just put points up on the board and really defend and help each other out. We can’t get off to a slow start like we have been.”

On each team’s size…
“It’s not that difficult, but it has its problems and issues. We’re a lot longer this year, but I think last year we were a lot quicker. With what we have this year, we have a lot longer and more athletic people, but again we should be to pass more and move our feet a lot more. With the people this year, we should be able to spread out on the perimeter more.”

On the West Virginia game…
“In the second half we were just able to execute. Everybody was on the same page. The first half was sloppy, but the second half we all picked it up. Coach started running plays that were working and we just started running harder and cutting harder and our big guys were able to post up and get the ball over the top. With Josh [Harrelson] down low, he was able to put his man on the south side and overpower him down low and finish around the basket.”

On how the Las Vegas games prepare them for this week…
“I don’t think they prepare us for this week. They prepare us for ourselves. We had a bunch of fans out there, and when we went out there, we played to get Kentucky back on the map. We were 2-2 at the time and everyone else who came in there was undefeated and we just wanted to go out there and get two wins and no losses.”


 

 

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