Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cats OUTLAST Georgia 72-64



SON OF A.......... So far this season,  I have not been worried about a single game until tonight and a lot of that has to do with Josh Hopkins' comments on Matt Jones' Kentucky Sports Radio show saying that he was nervous about this being a trap game. As it turns out, it was close to being a trap game....

In the first half, Kentucky looked as bad as they had all season long on both offense and defense. It was beyond frustrating to say the least. The reason being, you and everyone else (even if they won't admit it) thought that this WAS the game that Kentucky was going to lose...... Thanks a lot Josh Hopkins... No matter what the Cats did, Georgia and the white guy who happened to hit every single shot he put up had an answer, even when it came to the last second shot to end the first half that basically bounced off the shot clock and went in by said white guy.

The second half started with Aaron Harrison scoring seven straight points only to see UGA stretch their lead to as much as nine. No matter what Kentucky did, it seemed to be written in the stars for the Cats to lose this game. I actually started to believe that this was THE game that was going to end the dream of 40-0. But, came the last five minutes. I won't ruin it for those poor folks who work midnights, but it ends AWESOME...

I won't have anymore updates until tomorrow afternoon, so, enjoy the game and the fact that the Cats move on to 30-0... I'm sorry, I couldn't keep that to myself.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Trey Lyles Tabbed SEC Freshman of The Week



Trey Lyles was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday after a breakout week in which he led top-ranked Kentucky to a pair of wins, including a Southeastern Conference championship-clinching win over No. 18/16 Arkansas.

Lyles picked up the honor for the second time this season. Lyles and the Wildcats have now hauled in 11 SEC Freshman of the Week accolades in the last 16 weeks.
                                 
Devin Booker has won the award a league-high five times – including four straight from Jan. 12 to Feb. 2 – Karl-Anthony Towns has earned the honor three times, and teammate Tyler Ulis has garnered the award once this season.

Lyles had arguably his finest week as a Wildcat in leading UK to a pair of wins, including a victory over No. 18/16 Arkansas to clinch the outright SEC championship. 

The freshman forward opened the week by scoring a career-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. It marked just the second double-figure scoring effort of the season in league competition. It was also the most points he had scored since totaling 12 in the second game of the season.

Lyles also hauled in six rebounds and had a pair of assists. The Indianapolis native followed that performance with another 18-point performance in the win over the Razorbacks. He was UK's leading scorer in both contests.

It was the first time Lyles strung together consecutive games in double figures since the opening two games of the season. Lyles was 8 of 10 from the floor against the Razorbacks, including the game's opening points.

For the week, Lyles was UK's leading scorer and shot an impressive 68.2 percent from the field. He was perfect on all six free-throw attempts while registering 10 rebounds, three assists, and a block and a steal.

The Wildcats return to action Tuesday when they travel to Georgia for 9 p.m. ET tip at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will air live on ESPN.


Kentucky Pre-Georgia Press Conference QUOTES



Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari:
page1image2120

On Georgia being different with Marcus Thornton in the lineup ...
“They’re a better team. And they’re playing better. Hopefully we’re playing better. We have Trey (Lyles) now. They played us a lot of zone last game. I just don’t know what they’ll do. Mark (Fox) will come up with something. They run their stuff. They’re making shots. They’re going to try to beat us down the floor. They’re an NCAA Tournament team we’re playing on the road. It’s going to be a hard game for us.”

On Georgia’s ability to get to the free-throw line ...
“They do a great job of shuffling inside and putting you at bad angles and getting balls to the rim. They also fly up and down the court and just get it to the rim. Their guards have a way of getting their shoulders by you and creating fouls. Like I said, they went through a stretch where their little kid had a concussion, the other kid had a concussion. They’re trying to survive. They lost a couple of games that you would say, ‘What in the world happened?’ They were hurt. Now all of a sudden they go to Mississippi and they were up 10-15. They were up. Win that game and go and now play Missouri, probably play their best game of the year against Missouri both defensively and offensively. Now they’re coming with us on Senior Night. Gonna be a hard game.”

On Georgia playing as a unit ...
“They run their stuff. They do their stuff. They know how they’re supposed to play and they play that way. They create the kind of shots they’re trying to create. They put you in situations they know where they’re going to find their shots. They do a good job.”

On getting individual UK players to reach their peaks ...
“They’re coming close. We’re still working on it. Dakari (Johnson). I thought Tyler (Ulis) made strides last game. I told him you’ve got to score the ball some. You can’t just go out there and be a passer because then you can’t make any passes. You’ve got to score. Marcus Lee has to catch us a little bit. Aaron (Harrison) and Devin (Booker), I want them to be players who can make 3s. Not 3-point shooters. I want them driving. I want them making plays. So we’re getting closer. We’re no there right now.”

On how this team rises to the occasion ...
“We’ve had a lot of teams here that have done that. This isn’t the only team. I think, again, the differences that you have are there are a lot of guys and a lot of room for error. What I mean is I only need five guys to play well. You have nine guys that you are playing and you have another guy or two if you need them. I only need five of you to play well. If five are playing well then that’s OK too. If you want to play get in there and ball.”

If the undefeated record is brought up in any context ...
“Other than I’m not worried about it and if we get dinged, then I’m fine. Other than that no. It doesn’t have any bearing on what we’re doing. If guys get better, if we focus on individual player improvement, if we keep focused on them and they keep focusing on each other, then all of the other stuff happens. It’s all day-to-day here.”

On discussing clutter with the team ...
“I’ve been talking to them once every week or 10 days, so I bring it up all the time. We brought up the Jay Bilas video and showed them that. That was probably two-and-a-half weeks ago. I know I can put my head in the sand and act like they’re not talking to anybody, looking on the Internet or social media, talking to their girlfriends or AAU and high school coaches. You won’t believe this, but those coaches could care less about anybody on this team except that young person. That’s just how it is. I could put my head in the sand and say, ‘Ah, that’s not happening here. This is Kentucky.’ It’s worse here. These kids are strong and mature for their age. They’ve dealt with it and done it. I told them before the last game, ‘If a team plays with anger and they’re mad and angry, then that physiology can turn to fear. I want you to play with joy. Have fun.’ Joy always beats anger and negativity. What’s the worst the thing that I could say, versus, how can I build something up? I told them about it last game. Just play.”

On playing well on the road in tough environment ...
“Well, they know going in it’s going to be a hard game, so they may focus a little more. Every game we play, it’s an event. I mean the only thing that happened was it snowed like crazy at Mississippi State. Thankful it did because we played about seven or eight minutes that game. Somehow our fans got in, I don’t know how our fans got in and theirs didn’t, but that’s about what happened.”

On recruiting unselfish players ...
“Well, there’s a couple things when you talk to them and you are recruiting them. It doesn’t matter what you see; it’s telling them that you are not going to shoot 30 balls a game here, that you’re not going to be the face of the organization and that you’re not going to be the only guy. Now in clutch time you may be the guy scoring, (like) Aaron. But the reality is that we don’t have guys scoring 30 a game. They know that coming in. I had from Brandon Knight to Tyreke Evans, guys that scored 40 a game in high school. Guys that ended up being really good players for us and played team basketball. Even though when the game needed to be taken over, they did it. Our kids know coming in that they are going to be with other good players.”

On Kentucky being used to playing in hostile road environments ...
“They have been pretty good, but part of it is they’re feeding off of each other. I mean, people say, ‘They’re freshmen.’ Yeah, but they know that it’s not on them, it’s on those veterans. The veterans know if I’m not at my best I know that young kid’s going nuts and I will be fine, get my legs underneath me, and I will go back and be fine. They’re feeding off of one another and that’s what has made this go. I keep coming back to, they’ve allowed this to happen, this isn’t about me, this isn’t about some genius move I made. This is about these players are allowing this to happen. They are keeping the clutter away. It is there, it is beating on them. It’s eating at them. It’s there. They are pushing it aside and they are
looking after each other. Which I am really proud of I mean it’s hard. Here, it’s like a coat you wear 24 hours a day.”

On Kyle Wiltjer’s success at Gonzaga ...
“I am so happy I watched. Again, because they were getting beat the last game, I turned it off. I watched it a little bit but then I turned it off. My wife and I watch every time he’s on. We try to catch it. He and I go back and forth, and I sent something out that said, ‘Really happy for him. It’s obvious I held him back.’ I said, ‘Kyle, get in the line. It’s a very long one.’ He’s a great kid. I mean, he really is. He’s up for player of the year, and he deserves it the way he’s playing. You know, if we’re truly about kids, at the end of the day, I don’t want a kid leaving here, and then I try to damage a kid or bury a kid, or I’m mad he’s playing well. He’s not doing it for me. I just want him to do well. Ryan Harrow’s doing great at Georgia State. That’s good for those kids. They felt it wouldn’t work here. OK, then let’s figure this out, and let’s see where it will work for you because that’s what it should be about.” 


Kentucky Players:


#21, Tod Lanter, Sr., G:
page1image2312

On what it’s like that he and his dad both played here ...
“It’s been great for me. He’s been there every step of the way since I was young telling me, ‘Push for your dreams.’ I’ve been blessed that it’s been able to work out how it has. He’s been my biggest support since day one, so it’s been a great experience.”

On whether he’s had fun ...
“Oh yeah. We’ve been up and down. First year, we didn’t have as spectacular of a finish as we expected. The second year we were able to bounce back and use that drive to propel us all the way to the national championship game and fell short. Like I said, ups and downs. So this year we’ve taken that same fire and tried to put a spectacular season together and hopefully we can make it back to Indy this year for a Final Four and make something happen.”

On how many Senior Days he’s attended ...
“I’d say five or six, probably.”

On what he remembers about them ...
“I remember Darius’ (Miller) pretty well. That was when I transferred back so I was able to be there for that one. Pretty incredible for him having been a Kentucky kid getting to live out his dream here too. And he obviously had a spectacular career. I remember some guys from when I was younger. I remember being here for Tayshaun (Prince) and that crew. I think Ravi (Moss) was somewhere around that time. I remember theirs. It’s been pretty cool to able to—now I’m going to have to be a part of it and I’m sure it’ll be tough, but at the same time it’s part of the process and I’m thankful to be there.”

On whether he pictured being a part of Senior Day as a kid ...
“I did, because I’ve seen, like Mr. Cutler (Alan Cuter) just mentioned, I’ve seen my dad’s video from that. It’s wild. It’s wild thinking about the fact that I’m a couple days away from it. It hasn’t felt like it’s been that long since I’ve been here.”

On whether he gets emotional ...
“Not typically. I think there’s good and bad with this. Obviously giving up—like this is the end of it for me. This is the end of the line so it’s kind of like the last hurrah. But at the same time, I’m ready to move on. I’ve been in school long enough. I know what I need to know to get on with my life and hopefully work out a successful career. I’m looking forward to the next step, but it’ll
be tough to say goodbye to it. But I’m still going to be here. So I’ll be around to watch future players come through the program and things.”

On what he will do after college ...
“I don’t know. I’ll have a couple business degrees. I know I want to get my real-estate license immediately after graduation and see where that takes me. Hopefully use some connections to look around, see what I think I could be successful in. But I think I want to do some sales for a while. I think that’s important with business degrees, to have some sales experience. I’ll try that for a little bit and see what happens.”

On what it’s been like to be a part of UK basketball ...
“I’ve grown up around this program. I’ve seen its ups and downs. I’ve seen the ins and outs of it through—I’ve had a little bit of insight with my dad being here, stories and things, and I’ve had personal relationships with past players. So I’ve gotten a little bit more of an insight than most typical fans have. And then now I got to step into this role and experience something that most kids growing up here don’t get to do and it’s just been—every step of the way I’ve tried to take it all in one step at a time, one day at a time. You get caught up in the ups and downs of a season and the ins and outs of practice and things and you sometimes lose track of where you actually are and what you’re getting to go through and how many people would kill to be able to be in this position. I try to take the time to take it all in.”

On this team’s chemistry ...
“Well we’re all really close on and off the court. We had that in the past, in the past couple teams, but this year’s team is majority the same as the team that made the Final Four run last year and we were a close team last year. I think that loss brought us closer together and it showed—it taught us to hold each other accountable for even every day in practice. If you’re taking a drill off, your teammates hold each other accountable now and I think that’s been a big step this year and why everybody’s held themselves to a different standard. I think that has a lot to do with our personal relationships. It’s been beneficial for us.”

On the reason for better chemistry ...
“Well, a year together prior to this definitely helped. Like I said, the loss definitely fueled the fire. People realized this isn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be. A lot of times you put on a blue and white Kentucky jersey and you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re Kentucky. They’re not good enough to beat us.’ A lot of young guys who haven’t played in the college game don’t realize how hard it actually is and that one possession off can make a difference in a ballgame and in our case the national title. I think that’s, like I said, fueled the fire and it’s given us an incredible drive to succeed every possession. Ultimately, that’s what’s led to the season we’ve had so far.”

On whether it’s weird that there is a Twitter account for his biceps ...
“I actually found that out my first year when Matt Jones was doing an interview with me and mentioned. I had no idea at the time that existed, but he brought that up on camera. So that was kind shocking for me. But all fun and games.”

On whether he follows the account ...
“I don’t, actually. I figured that would be a little weird so I didn’t follow it.”

On whether the existence of it is weird ...
“It’s funny. It’s funny. I’ve had some random people mention it to me. I actually had a walk-on from Auburn during the Auburn game come up and ask me about it before the game, which is a little shocking. But yeah, like I said, it’s fun and games. I’ll roll with it, I guess.”

On whether that account says something about UK ...
“Oh yeah, it’s incredible. How many people are interested in even our lives and what we’ve got going on. I think that’s part of what makes this place so incredible to be at.”

#32, Brian Long, Sr., G:

On what it is going to be like Saturday ...
“I’m not sure. I’m just looking forward to it. Playing my last game in Rupp and being a part of the environment one last time.”

On what his time at Kentucky has been like ...
“So far it’s been great. We’ve had two real good years and this year the story’s not over yet. It’s been a great ride all four years. Just appreciate everything and it’s been real fun.”

On what’s been the best part for him ...
“Just being a part of it every day. Coming in and seeing the results and seeing all these people succeed after they leave here. Just being part of it and seeing everyone succeed has been the best part for me.”

On a moment that has stood out ...
“Winning the national title my freshman year was the high point. If I had to pick one moment I’d say that, but overall it’s been a great four years.”

On not receiving any playing time ...
“No, like you said, I knew it coming in. I’m just glad to be in here day in and day out. Like you said, I knew it coming in, I knew what my role was and I’m just here to help anyway I (can), and it’s been a fun ride.”

On what this team does that the national title team did ...
“Coach always kind of preaches to be your brother’s keeper and stuff like that, and same with this team I feel like. Very unselfish. This year’s different because we’re deeper than normal so we have a lot of guys and the unselfishness shows. Everyone caring for each other and being with each other shows a lot.”

On if he is surprised at how successful this team has been ...
“I mean, the hype is always there, year in and year out when you’re here at Kentucky. But the hype around this team was pretty big and whatnot. To go out there and do it every day is a different story. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but it’s great that we’re having this much success so far and we’re starting to pick it up even more.”

On how the team is off the floor ...
“I think they’re kind of in between (serious and fun loving). Everyone has fun, but they’re serious in the same aspect. You look at the Arkansas game, you can tell we were serious and it was a big game and they beat us twice last year and stuff, so it was good to see us come out and have a lot of energy and show that we were ready to go.”

On who wins in a matchup between the 2011-12 team and the 2014-15 team ...
“I don’t know, honestly. 2012 was obviously great in their own aspect, they won the national title. And this year the story’s not over yet. Ask me in a couple months.”

On what impact the loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament championship game did to the 2012 team ... “I think it kind of showed we weren’t invincible. I don’t know how many wins we had – 30 wins in a row or whatever it was, 25? – it just kind of showed we weren’t invincible and kind of brought us together. (We) figured out how we had to play and stuff like that. We didn’t close that game out.”

On if they still would have won the national championship if they hadn’t lost that game ...
“I mean, I would say yeah, but some people may think differently. I know some people think you need a loss and whatnot, but we’re not focusing on that. I think our focus is just day in and day out. Everyone is 0-0 when tournament time comes. We just have to figure it out.”

#13, Sam Malone, Sr., G:

On his last game in Rupp this Saturday vs. Florida ...
“I’m excited for it. I think it’s been a great year so far and just to cap it off with one more game at home would be awesome. Really looking forward to it.”

On who’s better between the current and 2012 UK teams ...
“Uh, it’s yet to be seen. In 2012 we took care of business in the tournament and that’s really what mattered the most, so we’ll see. I think they’re kind of two different styles of play and 2012, people forget we had our ups and down throughout the year. This year it’s kinda been rolling the whole time, but we’ll see. March is what matters and early April, so we’ll see about that.”

On if the loss in the 2012 Southeastern Conference tournament helped moving into the NCAA tournament ... “Yeah, I think it helped us out. I think that if we didn’t lose to Indiana I think we would’ve won
the SEC tournament, but we were a little exhausted, tired and we were just looking forward to the NCAA tournament.”

On if that’s the biggest difference between the two teams ...
“Well, the depth with this team. You guys know, if a certain amount of people don’t come to play, there’s always people behind them ready to go. It’s just—the chemistry with both teams is a little different. Both great teams.”

On how much they talk about the undefeated record ...
“We’re just looking forward to every game. I mean, it doesn’t matter. Everyone’s got no losses in March, so that’s the way we’re looking at it. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves or anything. One game at a time and that’s how we’ve been successful so far so we’ll keep doing that.”

On how he describes the team’s chemistry ...
“Everyone sharing with each other, being unselfish, you know, being on the same page on and off the court, knowing what the other person’s thinking, know where they’re going to be at and really trusting each other.”

On where that comes from ...
“I think it started in the Bahamas, but we’re at the point where I think we know what we’re doing is working really well, so why would we change anything. You know what I mean? Just keep trusting each other. There’s no reason to do anything we haven’t been doing and I think that’s really been working out great for us.”

On if the seniors will petition to start Saturday ...
“Unless 12 other people get a crippling flu, I don’t think we’re going to start. But we’ll see what happens.”

On why Cal can bring a team like this together and make it work ...
“I think that he just gets people focused on buying into the team, like he says, and everyone’s worried about winning. If we win it’s been shown that good things will happen for everyone, so trusting in that is really how it works.”

On what he means by that ...
“You know, people have been successful winning. When you win everyone—guys are getting drafted. You know, that’s not their focus right now, but they know in the back of their mind, if we keep winning everyone benefits from it. So just kind of staying within the system of what we’re doing is really going to help people out.”

On the spectrum of his career at UK ...
“It’s crazy. I mean, I’ve seen the ups and the downs and people forget last year. I mean, our heads were almost under water last year and were able to make a big run. But, yeah, freshman year I thought it was going to be like that every year, then the next with that NIT—it was totally

different from the first year. But we just stuck with our game plan of what we were doing as far as the program goes, and we’re back to where we want to be.” 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Late Notes From Kentucky's Win Over Arkansas

Arkansas at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball 
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Feb. 28, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 84, Arkansas 67:

Kentucky is 29-0, 16-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is 23-6 overall, 12-4 in league play.

Kentucky leads the series 26-11.

Kentucky clinched the SEC championship outright today. 

It is Kentucky’s 46th regular-season SEC championship.

It is Coach John Calipari’s 13th regular-season conference title, including his third at UK.

With 29 consecutive victories …

It extended the longest season-opening win streak for any team in SEC history.

It is the second-longest overall win streak in Kentucky history.

It extended the longest win streak for a John Calipari-coached team.

Kentucky is 206-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 51 of the last 53 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.

UK is 49-1 all-time as the No. 1-ranked team in Rupp Arena.

Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 95-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 54-4 at UK. 

Calipari is now 181-37 (.830) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.

UK led the entire game and has trailed for only 149:01 of a possible 1,175 minutes this season.

This was the third consecutive game that the Wildcats did not trail.

UK has trailed for only 22:11 of the possible 240 minutes this season vs. ranked foes.

Kentucky has defeated its six ranked opponents this season by an average of 17.2 points per game.

Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at Georgia. Game time is 9 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPN.

Team Notes:
Kentucky scored 84 points today and has averaged 89.3 over the last three games.

UK shot 75 percent from the line, 21 of 28.  UK has made at least 70 percent of its foul shots in 13 of the last 17 games.

Key stats for the Cats:

UK won rebounding 38-32, leading to a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint.

UK won points off turnovers, 16-9.  UK has won or tied points off turnovers in every game this season.

UK won bench points 24-7. UK has won bench points in every game this season.

Kentucky’s streak of 927 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Aaron Harrison tripled at the 18:02 mark of the first half.
(over)

First-Half Facts:

Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the 10th time this season.

Kentucky scored on five of the first six possessions in jumping out to an 11-2 lead.

UK steadily built the advantage, leading by as many as 16 points at 32-16 with 5:33 remaining.

At that point, Arkansas called timeout and responded with a 7-0 run to cut it to 32-23.

The Wildcats closed the period with a 10-3 spurt and went to intermission ahead 42-26.

Second-Half Story:

Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Dakari Johnson.

Arkansas got within 13 points on two occasions early in the half but got no closer.

UK led by as many as 31 points at 78-47.

Player Notes:
In back-to-back games, Trey Lyles has his two highest-scoring games of the season.  He had 18 points Wednesday at Mississippi State and 18 today.

Karl-Anthony Towns had eight points, making 4-of-5.  Over the last five games he has made 87 percent of his shots, 20-of-23.

Aaron Harrison had nine points and a career-high five steals.

Andrew Harrison tied Lyles for game-high honors with 18 points. It is his second-highest game of the season.

Devin Booker scored 10 points, his fourth double-figure game in a row and 17th double-figure game of the season.

Tyler Ulis notched 14 points, tying his season high set in December at Louisville.

Willie Cauley-Stein had seven points and a solid floor game with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocked shots.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Kentucky's Pre-Arkansas Press Conference QUOTES



Kentucky Associate Head Coach Kenny Payne:

On the style and play of Arkansas ...
“I think Arkansas is the type of team that creates a lot of turnovers. They’ve played well against us. It’ll be a great game tomorrow. We have to handle their pressure, keep them off the boards and dominate in rebounds. I think they’re style will be similar to Louisville’s – constant pressure. They’ do a great job on the boards. They’re active. They switch and trap a lot. Their zone is similar to man principles with the way they get after the ball in their zone. We’ve seen it before. We just have to go out there and handle it.”

On the players rising to the challenge ...
“We tell them every game that they’re playing a good team. When they win, they say, ‘I thought you said they were good.’ Tomorrow will be a very good team that will come in here and they’re capable of beating us. We will have to play well to beat them.”

On Arkansas beating UK twice last year and if it motivates ...
“I think our guys will have fire, to answer your question. I just think they have a competitive edge about them. The freshmen know that this team has beaten us twice.”

On if Bobby Portis is the best big man that UK has faced to this point ...
“I wouldn’t rank him. I will say that he is a very good player. I don’t know where he falls in terms of the big guys that we’ve played. We’ll be facing really good players, and he’s one of them. He can really shoot the ball to be that size. He’s good around the basket and can shoot 3s. He’s excellent from the post and shooting turnaround jumpers. He’s a really good player.”

On how opposing players’ performances can affect their NBA draft stock when playing UK ...
“Every guy that comes in that’s a pretty good player in our conference or an opponent that’s not in our conference, if they played well against Kentucky, then they think, ‘I’m a pro.’ (Portis) is really a good player and possibly is.”

On Trey Lyles’s performance against Mississippi State ...
“Trey has all the ability in the world to have an outstanding game and outstanding season. We need Trey at his best. I thought we saw him do the things that we need him to do – the way he attacked the rim and rebounded the ball. There were four or five shots that he passed up and he didn’t feel comfortable shooting them. Trey Lyles is an excellent basketball player, and if you forget about him, then he’ll burn you.”

On Arkansas guard Michael Qualls’ athletic ability ...
page1image24648
“Qualls is very athletic, very fast, very good off the dribble, driving the ball. I haven’t seen him miss a shot in the left corner. He shoots the ball really well from that area. He is a guy that we’re going to have to deal with.”

On Arkansas point guard Anton Beard ...
“He can really shoot the ball. Very smart, very heady. Last game they played Ole Miss, I watched him, and he didn’t miss a shot. He shot it really well.”

On if the team feel the spotlight getting warmer ...
“Not at all. The great thing about coaching these kids, they’re in the moment. They’re not worrying about the spotlight, the heat, the pressure, the perfect season. All of that doesn’t come into play. They want to win every game, of course. They go out and compete. But, we keep this one game at a time.”

On team always being in the spotlight ...
“Yeah, it’s constant. I think this year more than most, there’s been more TV coverage of it. But, I think we do a good job of keeping this in-house and keeping this focused on what we have to do: not looking ahead to people, working on the things we have to do in practice for us, concentrating on us and what makes us a great team. Then, going out and performing against opponents.”

What last season’s sweep of Kentucky means for Arkansas players ...
“They will not be in awe of us. They won’t be intimidated. They’ll come in with some confidence. But, we will, too. We’ll come in knowing that we’re a different team, that we’re going to get after them, just like they’re going to try to get after us.”

On whether depth becomes more of a factor because of Arkansas’ ability to run ...
“I think so. I think this team is a little different. They play a bunch of guys, as well. It will come down to— one of their strategies is that they feel like they are in better condition than us. Well, we’ll see.”

On team’s multiple “X-factors” ...
“We have a lot of X’s. I think that Trey (Lyles) has demonstrated how good he can be for us. We need Trey to play like he played last game to finish this year out. Dakari (Johnson) is big, strong, brings a physical presence to our team. We need him to be that. So, we do have numerous guys that can be X- factors. That’s a good problem to have.”

On whether Arkansas’ unique style of play calls for additional preparation ...
“What it does it, defensively, they’re style is making you play basketball. So, if you think you’re going to just catch the ball, hold the ball, run the offense, set offensive plays, not happening. They will force you to attack. Hopefully, teams that handle it have success. Be strong.”


Freshman forward Trey Lyles:
page2image25168

On how things have been going since he was sick ...
“Just putting in extra work, doing what Coach (Cal) asks me to do and just going out there and trying to execute.”

On what it was like having someone checking his weight and making him eat ...
“I wouldn’t say they were force-feeding me. I was eating regular food and stuff like that. But they were making sure that I was maintaining my weight and just staying at a weight where I’d be able to play on it.”

On what Cal means by calling him the X-factor ...
“Just that if I go out there and do what he’s asking me to do, I’m just going to help the team out overall and just, you know, push us to be able to win more games.”

On how that makes him feel or if it puts more weight on him ...
“No not really, ‘cause I’ve heard coaches say, you know, other players are X-factors. But we all just gotta go out there and play together. And, you know, if we’re all playing well with one another, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be winning.”

On if playing a ranked opponent changes anything about it going into the game ...
“I think there’ll be more energy in the building, but we prepare for every game the same way. You know, guys might have a little more for this game since they lost to them last year, but we’re going to go out there and compete as a team and play with one another and just try to win.”

On if it’s hard trying to take more shots when he’s got other talented teammates to help score too ...
“Definitely. You know, if I see a teammate with a better shot than me I’m going to give him the ball. But, you know, all those wide-open shots, I had to take those, so I’m just trying to do whatever (Coach Cal) is asking of me.”

On if Cal is trying to get him to be more aggressive ...
“Yeah, I’d say he just wants me to be more aggressive.”

On if he can sense this game is personal for some of the veterans since Arkansas has won three of last four matchups ... “Definitely. You know, nobody wants to lose to them again – the players or the coaches – so they’ve been talking about it the past couple days and everybody’s pretty much getting energized for it. I think they definitely remember. They talk about it quite a lot now since the game is coming up, so I think they’re going to have a little bit more energy and passion going out there tomorrow night.”

On the challenge Arkansas presents ...
“They come out and play hard all the time, very aggressive offensively and defensively, so we’re just going to have to match and exceed their energy and their aggression, and just go out there and play with one another.”

On Arkansas having one McDonalds All-American compared to UK’s nine ...
“I don’t think that really matters. Just gotta go out there and compete and just, you know, go out there and play harder than they do.”

On if he knows Bobby Portis at all ...
“I played against him a couple times when we were younger, but I don’t know him personally.”

On his thoughts on Portis’ game ...
“No, I haven’t got a chance to watch him play, so I can’t comment on that.”

On watching film on Arkansas ...
“We have watched a couple clips and we’re going to watch some more today, but not too many. Highlights, ESPN, stuff like that, but, no, I haven’t watched too much film on them. Coach (Cal) is definitely going to have us watch them today and tomorrow and before the game starts.”

On where he feels like he’s come the farthest this season in his development ...
“Probably just playing hard all the time throughout the whole game, not taking breaks or stuff like that.”

On how much the Indiana schools were in the mix for his recruitment ...
“Yeah, they were. At an early age (I) committed to IU, of course, but I had IU and Purdue looking at me when I was in eighth grade and stuff like that. So they were around for a while.”

On if he feels like the attention is getting crazier ...
“I think more people are looking into it. Like Coach (Cal) says, it’s outside clutter that we need to push to the side and just worry about what we can control and go out there and play our hardest all the time.”

On if he feels like being undefeated isn’t as dramatic at UK as it is at other places ...
“Somewhat, but we really try not to pay attention. Coach (Cal) tries to keep us away from that kind of stuff and we just gotta go out there and compete. Any given day is somebody else’s day, so we just gotta go out there and make sure that if we’re out there playing, we’re playing to the best of our abilities.”

On if he feels like this team rises to the challenge when they hear a game is a marquee matchup ...
“Definitely. You know, when we hear that a team is going to challenge us, you know, could beat us, in some aspects we take it personally. We want to go out there and show those people who said that differently and just go out there and compete.”

On if anything stands out from what he’s watched on Arkansas ...
“They just play with a lot of energy, very aggressive offensively, defensively.”

On if it feels differently playing in a marquee matchup ...
“I just think there’s more energy from the crowd and from the team, and, you know, we just try to go out there and make a statement every time we play ranked opponents, and stuff like that.”

On if he feels the buzz surrounding this game and that Arkansas is one of the teams that could get them ... “Definitely. You know, that, and then guys talking about the two losses that they took last year. You know for us there’s a lot more energy and passion that’s going to be in this game, I think.”


Freshman guard Devin Booker:

On playing a top-25 team and if it feels like a big deal ...
“I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal. Every game we’re playing against ourselves. So, I think Arkansas, we know they’re going to bring it. We just have to go out there and be more focused and I’d say come out to a better start.”

On if their style is one that can challenge Kentucky ...
“I guess we’ll see tomorrow.”

On his relationship with Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, who was the head coach at Missouri and recruited Booker at a younger age ... “He was recruiting me. I was really young then, so it wasn’t really heavy, but I made a visit up to Columbia when he was coaching there. I met the coaching staff and everything, but he ended up going to Arkansas and he recruited me a little bit there, but kind of fell off.”

On what he thought of Coach Anderson ...
“It was a long time ago. I don’t really remember. But I know he was a cool guy. I was so young, I don’t think he was on me that hard. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

On if it would benefit him, personally, if Arkansas chose to run against Kentucky ...
“I feel like our team can adjust to any type of playing style with so many different types of weapons that we have. I feel like it will be good for us and a good challenge for us.”

On Arkansas potentially trapping and pressing ...
“I’m sure Coach will prepare us for whatever they’re doing. That’s their job. They study on how they’ll play, so they’ll just let us know. They’ve done a good job of every game getting us prepared for each opponent.”

On if UK’s depth comes in handy if Arkansas decides to play fast ...
“Yeah, like I said, I feel like we can slow it down or we can play fast paced. With so many weapons that we have, we can just adjust to any type of game play. I think it will be a good challenge for us because we haven’t really played an up-tempo game like they play in a while.”
page5image22728

On if he’s gotten to see Arkansas play much ...
“Not yet. We usually watch film today or the day of the game so I haven’t seen much, but I’ve watched a little bit, highlights on TV. They’re having a great season. I think they’re second in the SEC or whatever, so I’m sure they’ll come out and try to prove a point.”

On how aware they are of the perception by many is that Arkansas is the team that can challenge UK ...
“We’re aware. Every game we know that we’re going to get a team’s best. They’re going to come in and try to beat us. We just have to, like I said, prepare for that game and play against ourselves each and every game.”

On if they can feel the attention continuing to grow as the season progresses ...
“I don’t know about that, because when you first get to Kentucky the spotlight is on you. That’s the reason a lot of us came here is to be on that big stage. I kind of see what you’re talking about, how it’s become more and more each and every game we win, but we just have to focus on what’s at hand, and that’s to get a win.”

On if he thinks the older guys remember that Arkansas beat them twice last year ...
“I think they remember it most definitely, but we’re a whole different team this year. ... That’s what we’re going to focus on.”

On if it’s human nature to want a little revenge ...
“Yeah, exactly.”

On if it feels different on the court in games like this ...
“I think everybody else makes it a bigger game for us and it’s like, I don’t know why it is, but we lock in when we hear that. Like, all the big games we come out and perform, and that’s what we’re going to try to do tomorrow. But, like I said, we need to take every game with an approach like that, that we’re going to go in and just get them out of the way.”

On how fun it is to play in a game where the tempo is up and down ...
“It’s fun. With our team, I feel like we have so many different weapons that we can adjust to any type of playing style. I know Arkansas is going to bring that up-tempo game and I think it will be a fun little challenge for us.”

On Arkansas wanting to get teams out of patterns they run and just play basketball, more or less ...
“I feel like we have good enough players to play basketball, so it’ll be a good time.”