Sunday, January 31, 2016

Some Notes From Last Nights Loss At Kansas

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
No. 20/19 Kentucky at No. 4/3 Kansas
Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kan.
Jan. 30, 2016
Attendance: 16,300

Final Score: Kansas 90, Kentucky 84
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is now 16-5 on the season. Kansas is 17-4. 
    • Kentucky is 0-1 in overtime games.
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 22-6
    • Kansas has a four-game winning streak in Lawrence. UK last won in Lawrence on Dec. 31, 1984.
    • Kansas snapped UK’s three-game winning streak in the series.
  • Kansas has won 35 games in a row inside Allen Fieldhouse.
  • Next for the Wildcats: UK travels to Tennessee on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and it will air on ESPN.

In the First Half
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Derek Willis and Alex Poythress for the fourth game in a row.
  • Kentucky led by six at halftime as they closed the half on an 8-2 run over the final 2:16.
  • Kentucky is now 14-2 when owning a halftime advantage. 

In the Second Half
  • Kentucky scored the first basket of the second half and took its largest lead of the game at 48-40 at the 19:39 mark.

In overtime
  • Kansas started overtime on an 8-2 run.
  • Kansas opened up a nine-point lead, 88-79, with 25 seconds remaining. It was the largest lead of the game for either team.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky’s 88 points tied the season high set on Dec. 9 vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • Kansas scored 90 points, the most by a UK opponent this year. UK is 0-3 this year when allowing 80-plus points. UK has allowed 74-plus points in all five losses.
  • Kentucky scored 84 points, its fourth most in a game this year and most in a loss.
  • Kentucky committed a season-high 33 fouls.
  • Kansas made 30 free throws on 47 attempts, both were the most by UK opponent this year.
  • Kentucky had four players foul out for the first time since Dec. 4, 2010 at North Carolina.
  • Kentucky shot 53.2 percent from the field, UK has shot over 50 percent in three straight. UK is 10-1 this season when shooting at least 50 percent.
  • Kansas won the rebounding 42-31. UK is 1-4 this year when finishing the game at a rebounding deficit.
    • Kentucky grabbed 31 rebounds, the second fewest in a game this year (29 vs. Louisville).
  • Kansas shot .417 (8-17) from 3-point range. That’s the second most by a UK opponent this year (Ohio State .500, 9-18).
  • Kentucky extended its streak to 960 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket.
  • Calipari has a 651-183 (.781) all-time record, including a 206-42 (.824) mark at Kentucky.

Player Notes  
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis led UK with a career-high 26 points. He added eight assists.
    • It was Ulis’ ninth 20-point, five-assist game this season, the most at UK since at least 1972-73.
    • He is the first Wildcat with at least four assists in 14 consecutive games since Sean Woods in the 1990-91 season.
    • Ulis has nine games with at least 20 points and five assists this season, most by a Wildcat in any season with assist statistics available since 1972-73.  Kyle Macy had seven 20/5 games in 1979-80 and Jamal Mashburn had seven 20/5 games in 1992-93.
    • He made a career-high 11 field goals, on a career-high 19 attempts.
    • He played a career-high 45 minutes.
  • Senior Alex Poythress scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds. He added two steals, one block and an assist.
    • He tied his career-high with two steals.
    • He played a season-high 37 minutes. 
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe notched 12 points, four rebounds and five assists. He has reached double-figure scoring 12 times.
    • He made a career-high six free throws, on a career-high 12 attempts.
    • He played a career-high 38 minutes.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray had 15 points, his 19th consecutive double-figure game.
    • He has made at least one 3-point shot in every game this season, the first player in program history to make a triple in each of his first 21 collegiate games.
    • He tied his career-high playing 39 minutes.
  • Junior Derek Willis had six points and grabbed five rebounds.
    • He had a game-high three steals, a new career high.
    • Willis was 1 of 2 from the free-throw line. He missed free throw for the first time this year and is now 17 of 18 at the foul line this season.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wall, Davis and Cousins Selected To The 2016 NBA ALL-Star Game

 Further proving the notion that the Kentucky men’s basketball program helps prepare its players for the NBA better than any other school, three former Wildcats – DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and John Wall – were selected for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game as reserves on Thursday night.

No college has more than two representatives in the NBA All-Star Game.

The former UK stars will compete in the NBA All-Star Game in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Feb. 14. The game will be televised by TNT. It’s the third time Davis and Wall have been named NBA All-Stars, while Cousins will make his second straight appearance.

All three appeared to be shoo-ins for the game after tremendous first halves of the NBA season.

Cousins, who starred at Kentucky during John Calipari’s inaugural season as UK’s head coach in 2009-10, is enjoying arguably the finest season of any big man in the league. The Sacramento Kings’ big man is averaging 27.3 points and 11.3 rebounds, the only player to rank in the top five in both categories in the league. He’s coming off a historic 56-point outing on Monday night, the most in Sacramento history.

Davis (2011-12) will make his third straight NBA All-Star Game after once again being among the league leaders in player efficiency rating. He entered Thursday with the sixth-best PER in the NBA. The former No. 1 overall pick is currently averaging 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks – second in the NBA – for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Wall (2009-10) has cemented himself as one of the elite point guards in the NBA with his third All-Star appearance. Kentucky’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick entered Thursday ranked third in the league in assists at 9.8 dimes per game and tied for fifth in steals with 2.1 swipes per contest. Those are in addition to his 19.6 scoring average and 4.1 rebound average.

What do Cousins, Davis and Wall all have in common other than their NBA All-Star appearance? A whole lot of double-doubles. Cousins ranks fourth in the league with 26 of them, Wall is seventh with 24 and Davis is tied for eighth with 23.

Karl-Anthony Towns (2014-15), Kentucky’s third No. 1 draft choice in the last six years, leads all rookies with 23 doubles-doubles, making him an easy choice for the Rising Stars Challenge, which pits 10 of the best first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world. Towns, who will play on the U.S. Team, is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with a 16.1 scoring average in addition to 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 boards per game.

Nerlens Noel (2012-13) will join Towns on the U.S. Team in the Rising Stars Challenge after a solid second season in the NBA (Noel did not play in 2013-14 as he recovered from knee surgery). He’s among the league leaders with 1.6 blocked shots per game while posting 10.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Rising Stars Challenge will take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Feb. 12 on TNT.

Kentucky's PRE-Kansas Press Conference QUOTES (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

John Calipari:

On if his home record gives him insight into playing at a place like Allen Fieldhouse …
“Well, they have lost three games now at home – in the last like 10 years. You have really good players. You have really good fans that push you over the top many times. You have a team that’s comfortable in that environment. I think that’s both schools. To win those kinds of games as an opponent you’ve got to be careful of runs and 3s. A team like that can score a bunch in 12, 15 seconds, and that’s what you’ve got to guard against. Really in a game like this you’re just trying to give yourself a chance to win the game. You’re not trying to go and blow anybody out because it’s just unusual.”

On his fondest memory of his time at Kansas … “Meeting my wife. You knew I was going to say that. Met my wife there. I had nothing. I had no aspirations for anything other than to learn basketball. Felt so blessed that I had an opportunity to start on that campus. The guy who invented the game was their first coach. (Then) Phog Allen, who coached Adolph Rupp, who was, you know. Wilt (Chamberlain). I mean, you can go on and on, but I was just blessed to have that chance. Made no money. When they offered me the position, Coach (Ted) Owens said, ‘I’d like you to stay in the volunteer assistant slot.’ I said, ‘Really? How much does that guy make?’ And then Coach (Larry) Brown asked me to stay. I was blessed to be able to stay with him for two years and I look back fondly. I had nothing except basketball. I think I had a Plymouth Arrow at that time. Do they still make Plymouth Arrows? I don’t think they do. But no worries. I didn’t have—I stayed with Randolph Carroll, who was a part-time assistant. He let me stay with him. It was a great time for me because, can you imagine being 23, 22 and your first opportunity to be around the game is in a program like Kansas? I just felt every day I woke up, I was like, ‘I can’t believe this.’ And I had the same feeling when I got this job. And John Robic looked out and saw Kentucky across that wall out there and it was glitter and I’m like, ‘Can you imagine that we’re here at Kentucky?’ It’s the same thing. Kansas is exactly the same kind of program.”

On how last season’s game between UK and Kansas could influence this year’s game … “I mean, look, I think Bill (Self) is not going to make anything personal because he knows if he does that your team can’t win the game when it becomes a personal thing. But he will remind them that a different Kentucky team got them pretty good last year. I’m not worried about last year’s game; that’s totally different. We’re going into a hostile environment. I’m going to tell you, our building, I can remember when we played North Carolina here and we won on the last play, and I’ll tell you it was so loud. Allen Fieldhouse is louder. Like, much louder. Acoustically it’s built like that (gestures to evoke an arched roof) so the sound hits it and it comes right back at you. And it literally moves you. If you’re standing and they really get loud, it will move you. I was there. I coached there and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can feel it.’ It’s like you’re at a concert and you’re near the bass. Boom! Boom! You feel it. I mean that’s how it is there. It’ll be interesting for these guys, especially these young guys, to walk in and to feel it. I love the tradition of it. I’ll go through (the arena). I’ve got to take a picture of Bob Marcum – the former (UMass) AD –  is one of my dear friends and his portrait is on the wall somewhere. I’ll take a picture of it and send it out when we get there tonight. Our people need to go out to look at it and see how they have it set up because it’s really neat.” 
On how the team is playing and having to play this game during this part of the season …
“Well, I wasn’t for any of this, whether it be the matchups or playing them in midseason. None of that. It’s here, so we play the game. When I was at UMass, I always, later in the year, played a game like this. Usually it would be in February to get out of the league so that we could get ready for our run in the NCAA Tournament. We played Louisville, I think, twice late, like in the end of February. Everybody said, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I said, ‘We have to get out of our league and get against somebody that can get us ready and juiced.’ This is a different deal. This is like a March. Going out there and playing this kind of team and they fight. Their guards fight. Their bigs fight. They run great stuff. They really do run great stuff. So it isn’t like you’re just playing. ‘Man oh man, I’m playing great defense.’  You’ve gotta play some of their things. Different ways they play. They put you in a lot of positions. I’m anxious to just see how we respond.”

On how many games he’s seen in that building since he left as a coach …
“In that building? I don’t think I’ve seen any. I’ve only been back there a couple of times. My wife is coming with us. She usually doesn’t travel unless it’s the NCAA Tournament. So, she’s going back. Her parents are going to meet her. She grew up two-and-a-half hours from there. She’ll probably go back with her parents after the game. I’ve been back a couple of times. Let me just tell you about the campus. The campus, every stone – unless it’s changed – every stone on every building is from the same quarry. Think about that. Every stone on every building is from the same quarry. I mean, it is a unique place. It’s special. That state takes great pride in their school.  And they take pride in that basketball program and what’s gone on there. What we want to talk about is the home record. How about he (Bill Self) has won more league championships than losses at home? I mean, what are you talking about? It’s Kentucky and Kansas. Like you said, it’s going to be a hyped game. We’re finally starting to do some stuff. We’re finally starting to become a team that I’m like, ‘OK, that looks like somebody I coach.’ But, this will be one that, ‘Alright, you got hit in the mouth. Now how are you doing? Are you going to foul yourself out? Don’t you foul yourself out. You gotta play.’ I mean this will be a war.”

On whether this team is starting to become the aggressor …
“We’re beginning to have a swagger because we’re guarding. But, we need Alex (Poythress) to keep taking strides. Like, keep getting better. Not be consistent; get better. Because if he really gives us something, it gives us that one piece that makes it—but I like what I’m seeing. I like how we’re playing offensively. It’s going to be harder this game because they get after it. They switch. They do stuff. They’re man-to-man. They run gaps. They take chances. They get up in you. It’ll be a challenge again for the young guys.”

On whether or not Kansas mirrors Kentucky’s three-guard lineup …
“Yeah, they do. Well, they do. Yeah. Some. I think (Perry) Ellis, though they stick him–when they really need something, he’s next to that rim or he catches it and drives it next to the rim. Or they have a package for him to get him balls in that post. He’s gotten better every year.  He really has.”

On if he’s seen teams come unglued at Allen Fieldhouse … “Oh yeah. I saw when we were coaching there. Like, you know, until you just, you know. You have the game and all of a sudden they make a play, another play, you miss a play, and all of a sudden, literally, you’re like feeling this sound come at you. This is one of those things, it’s like people coming to Rupp, where they love coming to come to play in Rupp because they can say, ‘I played in Rupp.’ So going to Allen Fieldhouse, these guys will experience something they will never experience in their life in that building. There is no pro arena like that. There’s no other arena we’re going to walk into that’s going to be that bad. We walk into great arenas, but not (like that). I’m just telling you, I was in there. I think the building was built in the 50s. Now let me say this to you, when I was in there in the 80s, you could eat off the floors. Now that means it was 30 years old. Literally, they had people that just mopped. Like, ‘Where were you?’ ‘I gotta make sure there’s not one little thing on this floor.’ And that’s the whole (place). It’s like a shrine. It’s great.”

Did Derek Willis show any signs of what he’s been able to do of late in terms of rebounding … “I think it’s his girlfriend. I think she’s really doing it for him. (Laughter). Somebody said—I don’t care who helps him; just play better. And he’s the greatest kid. I think he got to where, ‘I’m tired of sitting.’ And I’ve said this before – you’ve all heard me – at Kentucky you only need one really good year. You don’t have to worry about how you played as a freshman or sophomore. You need one really good year. And right now he got an opportunity because some guys backed up. If those guys had stepped up and kept playing, maybe he doesn’t get that. But we went to Auburn, (and) when I walked in that locker room I said, ‘Do we need to make changes?’ Dudes were yelling, ‘Yes!’ Well, he was one of the changes. And so what you have is—he had a bad practice a couple of days ago. I said, ‘Are you going back? Are you?’ ‘I promise I’m not. I was awful today. I’ll be fine.’ Yesterday he was pretty good. I mean, I think he knows there’s two feelings: that feeling of ecstasy and that other one that you don’t feel like getting out from under the covers. Like, you got them up over your head. You don’t want to see anybody. You don’t want to move. And then there’s that feeling of ecstasy where your chest is out, you’re bouncing around, you want to see people. ‘Hey!’ Which one do you want? I can tell you how get this one. You don’t give your best effort. You don’t prepare. You don’t work. You expect something to be given to you. No one gives you anything. The other one is you build your own self-esteem, your own self-worth. You had demonstrated performance on the court, which he now has. You work so hard, you prepare so hard that you expect to play well. That’s who he’s been. He’s been unbelievable in practice. Our best rebound. Think about that.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ status … “He practiced yesterday. I don’t know. I’ll see today. He’s not 100 percent, but you know, it would be a nice game to walk into. Be out a month and walk into this game. ‘Go ahead, get in there. You can do it!’ (Laughter).”

On what Hawkins brings that the team lacks without him … “Just a toughness, a steadiness. You know, a team player who will play within himself. Will defend and dive on the floor. He’s done it before. We’ve seen him in NCAA Tournaments do it, so we know what he is. And I think this team is really comfortable (with him). Like, when I split the teams up and he couldn’t quite go, Tyler (Ulis) said. ‘He was the X-factor. That’s why my team won. When he got hurt and we had to play somebody else, my team couldn’t win.’ And that’s who he is. He’s a winner. He’s a great kid. It’s like all of them. You want guys to go out, learn about themselves, and then go out and really give their best effort. Learn who they are. Like, we got guys trying to figure out, ‘How do I get myself going?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to ask yourself questions. Sometimes it’s not how do I get myself going. It becomes another question of what’s stopping me from doing this? Is something holding me back?’ And they gotta do that. The best players I’ve coached were able to self-evaluate and then change. The best players I’ve coached. The others get delusional. They want to blame everybody. It’s always something else. ‘I’m fine!’ ‘No, you’re not. That’s your problem. You’re not fine.’ The best self-evaluate, and that’s what I’m trying to teach these guys. You gotta figure it out from within and then we’re here to help you. No one’s trying to hurt you. We’re throwing life preservers, but you’ve gotta swin. You’ve gotta swim. I can’t swim for you.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes:

#22, Alex Poythress, Forward:

On how much they are looking forward to this trip …
“We’re all looking forward to this trip. We’ve been on a little run. We’re just trying to make improvement and trying to just see where we’re at.”

On what Coach Calipari has told them about this game …
“That it’s going to be a tough road game and you gotta come prepared and ready to fight. We gotta compete because if you don’t compete and fight then it’s going to be a hard game. It’s going to be a hard game regardless, but we just gotta come in here and compete.”

On this break in SEC play …
“It’s weird. I don’t think I ever had a break like this. But it’s just what it is. You gotta get used to it and just be ready to play the game.”

On last year’s game against Kansas …
“I mean, last year’s game was an anomaly. We had a great team. It’s not going to be like that. So you just gotta throw it out.”

On whether experience against Kansas helps …
“Yeah. We know some of the personnel from playing last year and then our coaches do a great job of scouting and telling us what to do and telling us what to do and telling us their scouting report. So we’re going into the game with a pretty good idea of what they do.”

On whether he expects Kansas to have extra motivation after last year’s game …
“Yeah, I’m sure they will. I’m sure they’re going to be pumped up because they don’t want it to be like last year. They want to get that bad taste out of everybody’s mouth. We’re just trying to come in there and just be ready to play. We’re a different team from last year. Last year was different so we’re just trying to take care of business.”

On Allen Fieldhouse …
“From what I’ve seen, it’s just like playing in Rupp. I think it’s kind of smaller and kind of more on top of you, but it’s going to be a hard road game. Playing on the road is always hard, so we just gotta go in there and fight.”

On the experience of winning at Arkansas …
“It helps a lot because it shows that we’re capable of winning on the road and it just shows that we gotta come in and fight from start to finish. We gotta play 40 minutes. We can’t play 35 or 36 or something like that. You gotta play 40 straight minutes.”

On what it will take for him to be more consistent …
“Just being aggressive from the start, from the jump and just keeping it that way, maintaining that aggression level.”

On whether his mental preparation changes …
“Yeah. You gotta be more focused and just come into the game and be prepared. You gotta play 40 minutes and just be aggressive the whole entire time.”

On whether he knows any of Kansas’ players …
“Not many of them. I do remember some of them from AAU and the circuit and all that, but I can’t remember if I had that many relationships with them. But we’re just trying to be a part of our team. That’s what we’re trying to worry about. I got a relationship with all my teammates here.”

On if anything stands out about Kansas when he prepares and watches tape of them …
“They’re a great team. They have a lot of vets. They’re well coached so we’re going to have to play hard.”

On Kentucky and Kansas playing each other …
“We have to come in ready to fight. Both teams have a lot of great tradition. We just have to come in and try to fight and compete the best we can.”

On if he gets more excited for a game like this …
“I mean, you get a little geeked up for it just because of who it is. But again, we can’t get too excited or anything like that. We have to take it one game at a time and try to take this game seriously before looking on down the road.”

On Kansas not losing at home similar to Kentucky not losing at home …
“Something’s got to give. We’re going to try to take on the challenge.”

On Kansas not forgetting what happened last year …
“I guess, but we’re just trying to come in there and compete hard, play to the best of our ability. We have a great scouting report. Coach did a great job of doing that. Just trying to take care of business.”

On this being a game where older players will have to show up …
“Yeah, of course, they’re going to look for the vets, especially with it being a tough road game. You have to look toward the vets and everything to keep poise and be mature about things on the court.”

On if he likes stepping out of the conference for a big game like this …
“I like it. I enjoy it. I think it has a lot of poise and seriousness to the game, so I enjoy it”

On the key in their defensive turnaround lately …
“We’re just communicating more on defense. We’re starting to have each other’s back more and more. We’re getting more comfortable with our defensive schemes and stuff like that.”

#3, Tyler Ulis, Guard:

On how he looks at a UK-Kansas game … “It’s another game, but obviously it’s a big game because you have two big-time programs coming against each other. With the way we played against them last year, they’re going to be coming at us. So they’re going to want some get-back and we have to be prepared.”

On if the team has talked about what it might be like in Allen Fieldhouse … “No, we really haven’t talked about it much. (Coach) Cal has only said that it’s going to be hard to win there. It’s loud in there, and so we have to be ready to play.”

On if he’s feeling good about how the team has come together since the Auburn game … “Yeah it’s great. I’m happy for our team because guys are starting to play their roles, everybody is starting to lock in defensively, and it’s showing on the court.”

On him and Isaiah Briscoe starting to work out in the mornings … “Me and Isaiah started it and then a lot of guys came in at the same time as us. We just started that last week after the Vandy game. Just started getting up and lifting weights a little bit, stretching and just trying to get better.”

On if that helps them bond a little bit … “It’s so early that it really doesn’t help us bond since everybody is tired. It just helps us getting up when your body doesn’t want to get up and just trying to get better every day.”

On what made them want to get up early like that … “Just to get better. With this team that we have, we feel like we can be great. So whatever we can do to get better, we’re going to try to do.”

On Coach Cal suggesting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist starting that a couple of years ago … “He told us that last year that he started it. That’s been a story here, everybody knows about it. He’s a hard worker, so why not follow in his footsteps?”

On whose decision it was to do it this year … “We just came together and felt like we wanted to lift one day and just kept on doing it. Caught a couple of more guys in and they came in and worked. Now it’s almost an everyday thing.”

On where the defensive intensity came from … “I don’t know. Guys just bought in and everybody has been picking it up. We’ve been going at each other in practice and we’re all coming together as a team and it’s working out for us.”

On if he was like Coach Cal just waiting for the day where everybody buys in … “Yeah, everybody was waiting for that. The team is just now coming together like I said and we’re playing so good defensively, it’s hard to score on us. We’re not really focused on offense. We’re just trying to lock down.”

On what tells him that the effort is better … “Just everybody’s performance. You can see it on how people are talking on defense, how people move, how hard everyone is playing. When guys are calling for breaks, they’re playing hard. So it’s just a lot different team.” 

On how important it is for the older guys to really show up on the court … “Very important because we have a lot of young guys and we have to lead by example and vocally. We have to help those guys. They haven’t been in a game like this. We played Kansas last year. They may be prepared, I think everyone has prepared. But if they’re not, older guys have to step up and try to help them through it.”

On what he did to take on more leadership … “It’s always been in me. Last year I didn’t have to do it as much. I was one of the younger guys, people knew what they were doing. I just had to follow in Andrew (Harrison)’s footsteps and just try to learn from him.”

On Derek Willis’ emergence as a rebounder … “That just came out of nowhere. Coach Cal has been stressing it to him and he’s been coming out doing what he has to do. He had a double-double last game, he’s stretching the floor out for us and he’s helping us out a lot.” 

On how much of his mid-range jumpers were because of Willis stretching the floor … “A lot because guys usually want to ball-screen and stay with me a little longer. With Derek out there, they have to run back to him on that 3-point line. So it gives me more room to pull up.”

On his thoughts of Coach Cal saying he’s coaching this team … “I’m just trying to be the coach on the floor, try to help guys out. When you can’t hear them and it’s such a loud arena, you have to bring the guys together and try to get them through everything that’s going on in the game.”

On if he could imagine himself as a coach someday … “I don’t know. Right now I can only imagine playing. I love the game too much to stop playing. So I feel like I always want to play.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Some Notes From Last Night's Torching Of Missouri

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Missouri at 23/19 Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 27, 2016
Attendance: 23,933

Final Score: Kentucky 88, Missouri 54
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is now 16-4 on the season, 6-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Missouri is 8-12 overall, 1-6 in league play. 
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 9-0.
  • Next for the Wildcats: UK travels to Kansas on Sat. Jan. 30 as part of the SEC-Big 12 challenge. The game will be at 7 p.m. EST and televised on ESPN.  

In the First Half
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Derek Willis and Alex Poythress for the third game in a row.
  • Missouri got the first basket but Willis countered with a 3-pointer at the 19-minute mark, starting a 20-0 run that gave the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish. 
    • The 20-point run is UK’s best spurt of the season.
    • It was accomplished on UK’s first eight possessions of the game and took less than four minutes of playing time.
    • Willis began the run with a 3-pointer and had two more triples in the 20-0 stretch.
  • UK took a 47-20 lead into intermission, the Wildcats’ largest halftime advantage of the season. The previous high was the 46-22 lead over Ole Miss.
  • Kentucky is now 14-1 when owning a halftime advantage. 

In the Second Half
  • Kentucky extended its lead to as many as 41 points at 68-27.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky extended its home-court winning streak to 32 games.
  • Kentucky’s 88 points tied the season high set on Dec. 9 vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • Kentucky shot 52.3 percent from the field, back-to-back games over 50 percent. UK is 10-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent.
  • Kentucky shot 78.6 percent from the foul line tonight. UK has made 76.1 percent over the last five games.
  • Kentucky won the rebounding 47-28. UK has a 15-1 record this season when winning or tying the rebounding but is 1-3 when losing the carom gathering.
  • UK tied a season high with 18 assists
  • UK had 11 turnovers tonight. UK has averaged just eight miscues per game during the current three-game win streak.
  • UK held Missouri to 54 points, the Wildcats’ best defensive performance of the season. UK is 61-0 under Coach John Calipari when keeping the opponent to 55 or fewer points.
  • UK limited Missouri to 31.6 percent from the field. The Wildcats are 8-0 this season when the opponent shoots less than 38 percent on its field-goal attempts.
  • UK had a season-high 11 blocked shots.
  • The 34-point margin of victory is the fourth-highest against an SEC opponent in the Calipari era.
  • UK has had a player score at least 20 points in all eight SEC games this season. 
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 959 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket.
  • Calipari has a 651-182 (.782) all-time record, including a 206-42 (.831) mark at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 114-4 (.966) in Rupp Arena. Calipari has two of the longest three win streaks in Rupp Arena history – 54 by Calipari, 33 by Rick Pitino, 32 by Calipari.

Player Notes  
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis totaled game highs with 20 points and eight assists.
    • It is Ulis’ eighth 20-point game of the season and third in a row.
    • He is the first Wildcat with at least four assists in 13 consecutive games since Sean Woods in the 1990-91 season.
    • Ulis has eight games with at least 20 points and five assists this season, most by a Wildcat in any season with assist statistics available since 1972-73.  Kyle Macy had seven 20/5 games in 1979-80 and Jamal Mashburn had seven 20/5 games in 1992-93.
  • Junior Derek Willis had a career-high 18 points and a career high-tying 12 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.
    • Willis’ scoring featured a career-best four 3-pointers.
    • Willis made both of his free throws and is now 16 of 16 at the foul line this season.
    • Willis scored 77 points in his first 40 games as a Wildcat; he has now scored 94 in his last 14 games.
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe notched 15 points, six rebounds and six assists tonight. It is his 10th double-figure scoring game of the season.
  • Freshman Skal Labissiere tallied 12 points, tops for him against an SEC opponent.  It is the second time in the last three games that he has landed in double figures. UK is 7-0 this season when he scores in double figures.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray had 11 points, his 18th consecutive double-figure game.
    • He has made at least one 3-point shot in every game this season, the first player in program history to make a triple in each of his first 20 collegiate games.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tyler Ulis/Jamal Murray on Mid-Season Watch List For USBWA's National Player of The Year

 Kentucky guards Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are on the midseason watch lists for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s national player of the year award and freshman of the year award, respectively.

Ulis is one of 20 midseason players on the watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given annually to the men’s national player of the year. He’s one of only two players from the Southeastern Conference to make the cut.

Meanwhile Murray is one of 10 on the midseason watch list for the Wayman Tisdale Award, which goes to the top freshman in the game.

Both awards will be presented at the College Basketball Awards gala in Oklahoma City on April 11 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Access Sports, a non-profit organization committed to supporting various charitable causes, will serve as host for the gala. Funds from the gala are used to support youth basketball programs in Oklahoma that allow disadvantaged youth the opportunity to participate in leagues and training.

The USBWA, comprised of nearly 1,000 sports journalists covering college basketball for newspapers, magazines and websites, will select the recipients of the awards. This will be the first time the women’s college player of the year will be featured at the gala.

Ulis is enjoy a sensational season as one of the nation’s top point guards. The sophomore from Chicago is averaging 15.3 points while dishing out 6.0 assists per game, ranked second in the Southeastern Conference. He just recently surpassed 100 assists through 17 games played, becoming the sixth-fastest player in program history to reach the season mark.

With yet another 20-point performance, Ulis has scored 20 or more points in six out of his last eight games. Overall, he has seven games with 20 or more points and five or more assists in the same game, tied for the most in school history since 1972-73.

Only LSU’s Ben Simmons is averaging more points per game among the players on the midseason watch list for the Wayman Tisdale Award. At 17.8 points per game, Murary is on pace to finish as the most prolific scorer in the John Calipari era. Brandon Knight, in 2010-11, finished at 17.3 points per game.

Murray has scored in double figures in all but one game and in 17 straight contests. Only Knight (28 straight games) has posted a better consecutive double-digit scoring streak during the Calipari era. Murray has also hit a 3-pointer in every game this season, the first player in school history to make a trey in the first 19 games to start a college career.

Jamal Murray Tabbed SEC Freshman of The Week

 Freshman sharpshooter Jamal Murray was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Week after helping lead UK to a pair of double-digit wins at Arkansas and against Vanderbilt this week.

Murray averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in the two wins. Today’s honor marks the second such award of his career.

The Kitchener, Ontario native continued to be a threat offensively while emphasizing his defensive performance in the two wins this week. Murray and Co. helped lead UK to its first win in Arkansas under the direction of John Calipari on Thursday. Murray poured in 19 points and added seven rebounds. He also contributed a block and a steal in the victory.

Murray followed up that performance less than 48 hours later with 18 points, including three 3-pointers, while adding seven more rebounds, three steals, and another block in the impressive rout of Vanderbilt.

Two of Murray’s four total blocks on the season have come in the last two games. He has also swiped at least one ball in seven consecutive outings with at least three steals in two of his last three games.

Murray continues his hot streak from behind the arc by connecting on at least one 3-pointer in all 19 games this season. He’s the only player in program history to knock down at least one 3-pointer in each of his first 19 collegiate games. It’s also the longest such streak of made 3-pointers for any player since Doron Lamb hit at least one in 20 consecutive games throughout the 2011-12 season.

Furthermore, Murray has scored at least 12 points in 18 of his first 19 UK games. Only Cotton Nash in 1961-62 and Bill Spivey in 1949-50 had better starts. Nash had 12 or more points in 35 of his first 36 games, while Spivey posted 12 or more points in 24 of his first 25 outings.

Kentucky has now won an SEC award a league-high six times. Murray and teammate Tyler Ulis lead the Wildcats with two SEC honors. Ulis previously won SEC Player of the Week honors twice while freshman forward Skal Labissiere and freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe have both picked up SEC Freshman of the Week this season.

Kentucky returns home Wednesday in a 9 p.m. tilt with Missouri. The game will air live on the SEC Network.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Notes From Kentucky's 76-57 Win Over Vanderbilt

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Vanderbilt at 23/19 Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Jan. 23, 2016
Attendance: 22,975

Final Score: Kentucky 76, Vanderbilt 57
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is now 15-4 on the season, 5-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Vanderbilt is 11-8 overall, 3-4 in league play. 
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 141-46 and has won three in a row.
  • Next for the Wildcats: UK plays host to Missouri on Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. 

In the First Half
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Derek Willis and Alex Poythress for the second game in a row.
  • Poythress scored baskets on UK’s first two possessions and the Wildcats led the rest of the way.
  • Ulis extended Kentucky’s streak of at least 958 games with at least one 3-pointer when he connected at the 16:07 mark.
  • Ahead 17-14, UK extended its lead to 13 points (29-16) with a 12-2 run.
  • Kentucky went to halftime ahead 37-27, limiting VU to 33.3 shooting in the opening stanza while committing only two turnovers on offense.

In the Second Half
  • Vanderbilt cut the lead to seven points on two occasions early in the half but got no closer the rest of the way.
  • With VU within seven at 41-34, UK responded with a 12-2 run to give the Wildcats a 17-point lead at 53-36. UK later tacked on a 9-1 run for a 21-point edge at 67-46. 
  • The Wildcats eventually led by 23 at 76-53.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky extended its home-court winning streak to 31 games.
  • Kentucky shot 55 percent from the field, its best this season against an SEC opponent. UK is 9-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent.
  • UK had only seven turnovers today. The Wildcats have had back-to-back games with their fewest miscues of the season -- six at Arkansas followed by seven today.
  • UK tied the Commodores in rebounding at 32 each.  UK has a 14-1 record this season when winning or tying the rebounding but is 1-3 when losing the carom gathering.
  • UK has had a player score at least 20 points in all seven SEC games this season. The last time UK had a player score at least 20 in the first seven SEC games was 2009.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 958 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket.

Coach John Calipari
  • Since arriving at Kentucky for the 2009-10 season, Calipari has a 100-25 record against Southeastern Conference competition, including SEC Tournaments.  He did it in his first 125 games against league competition, tied for the second-fastest to 100 wins among UK coaches.
    • 119 games – Adolph Rupp
    • 125 games – John Calipari
    • 125 games – Rick Pitino
    • 126 games – Tubby Smith
    • 138 games – Joe B. Hall
  • Calipari has a 650-182 (.781) all-time record, including a 205-42 (.830) mark at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 113-4 (.966) in Rupp Arena. Calipari has two of the longest three win streaks in Rupp Arena history – 54 by Calipari, 33 by Rick Pitino, 31 by Calipari.

Player Notes  
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis had game highs with 21 points and five assists.
    • It is Ulis’ seventh 20-point game of the season.
    • Making his only attempt tonight, Ulis has hit 27 of 28 free throws (.964) over the last four games.
    • He is the first Wildcat with at least four assists in 12 consecutive games since Sean Woods had at least four in 13 straight games in the 1990-91 season.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray had 18 points, his 17th consecutive double-figure game, while adding a game-high three steals.
    • Murray has scored at least 12 points in 18 of his first 19 UK games.  Only Cotton Nash (12+ in 35 of his first 36 games) and Bill Spivey (12+ in 24 of his first 25) have better starts. 
    • He has made at least one 3-point shot in every game this season, the first player in program history to make a triple in each of his first 19 collegiate games.
  • After starting the game with two baskets, senior Alex Poythress finished with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. UK is 7-0 this season when he scores in double figures.
  • Junior Derek Willis had seven points and led the Wildcats in rebounding with nine.
    • Willis made both of his free throws and is now 14 of 14 at the foul line this season.
    • Willis scored 77 points in his first 40 games as a Wildcat; he has now scored 76 in his last 12 games.

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt Final Box-Score

Friday, January 22, 2016

John Calipari PRE-Vanderbilt Press Conference QUOTES (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

John Calipari

On the play of the team at Arkansas … 
“Well, yeah, I expect that we win every game going into the game. Knowing that that’s a hard place to play (at Arkansas), I could see that we could get beat down there. Derek Willis did what he did in practice for two days. Some other guys did too. Charles Matthews earned his rotation spot back in two scrimmages.  Skal (Labissiere) was the best of those bigs – it wasn’t even close – and then he played that way. The good news is we start our guards were 3 for 20 and we hung around. When your guards are 3 for 20, it’s hard. I mean, that you can stay in a game. But, then at the end they’re the ones who carried us home. This team is interconnected, and I keep telling you that. They’re all connected to one another.”

On Labissiere’s progress … 
“Oh yeah, he’s building his own confidence. If it’s me, ‘Yeah, you’re OK.’ He’s like, ‘No, I’m not.’ It doesn’t matter what I say. It’s what he’s saying to himself. I think, again, I keep telling him, ‘You’ve got no pressure on you now. Anything you do now is like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ So just go play.’ It was a good effort for him, but it also showed me how we need to probably play him a little more. (He’s) probably more of a jump-shooting big man. I want him to be Karl(-Anthony Towns) and be the No. 1 pick, but he’s a jump-shooting big man. Now, we’re going to work on that other stuff. We’re going to continue to try and help him there. Reality of it is the best part of his game is 15-foot shots and making some free throws.”

On whether or not this team needed Labissiere to play like Towns … 
“Both. Both for him and for us. Now, you think of this team, Alex (Poythress) started the game six points out of eight and three rebounds. And then that was it. But that start – think about if we’re getting that from another guy and we could throw it when we needed to get a basket.  The team is different. So, that’s why I had hoped it would have been Skal, but it’s not going to be. So, it’s gotta be somebody else.”

On Marcus Lee’s foul trouble … 
“You gotta be in a stance. You gotta play the guy before he catches it. Most of it’s you’re in the wrong place because you’re standing straight up and down and then you try and play him after he catches the ball. It’s just how it is.”    

On Vanderbilt … 
“(They’re) really good. Really good. Run great stuff. Really can shoot the 3. The biggest team we’ve played. I mean, they’re huge. Their man is better than you think. Their zone, they’ll play a zone and space it out. That zone has given us trouble in the past. A really hard game for us. I’m glad we played like we did (at Arkansas) because we have a little confidence. If we didn’t have a little confidence going into this game, whew. Because they’re good. There’ good. I mean, Texas A&M, Vandy are probably – LSU may be in that range – but I think Texas A&M and Vandy, they’re both teams (at the top of our league). Vandy, you have to understand, their record is what it is because the big kid (Luke Kornet) was hurt. Now that he’s healthy they’re probably 9-2 with him – you know, 8-1 with him. They’ve lost games without him.”

On Jamal Murray’s shot selection …  
“The shots that he took in the first half were all good shots. The pull-up shot at the foul line was just not a winning play. We’re up 18 and now all of a sudden let’s get it 20, 25. But if you look at all these deficits or we have a big lead and it becomes like a close game, he’s involved in a lot of those plays. That’s what he’s learning. That’s why he’s here. I put him in positions yesterday, some of them he did alright and others he reverted. He’s learning. He’s learning what it means to play winning basketball. I gotta teach and I gotta do a better job with him.”

On Skal Labissiere’s confidence …
“Well, the first shot he took, I looked and I went, ‘What?’ And it went in and I said, ‘It better have gone in.’ But I think it built his own confidence and he’s gotta—he’s got work to do. There’s no question. He’s gotta keep going, but he’s worked in practice. He’s trying. He played 20 minutes in that game. That’s about the max right now he can play with the condition that he has. And he’s working on it, but when he is tired he just stops. Like, can’t catch a ball, can’t rebound a ball, can’t fight. He cannot be in the game tired. He’s now learning: Just take myself out. Why fight it and look foolish and take away my own confidence. Just come out, which is what he did, in that game. He subbed himself two or three times. First time. The other times, you gotta sub him. You just gave up four rebounds, two dunks and lost two balls in the post. Can’t be in. Now he’s playing. I make a shot, I grab a rebound, I’m exhausted, get me out. Boom. Alright, you ready to go back? He’s learning. My biggest thing for all these kids: You gotta lose yourself in the team. What does the team need you to do? What is your role on this team? And they’re starting to get it.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ status …
“Don’t know. Haven’t seen him yet this morning.”

On Tai Wynyard …
“He’s OK, but if Skal—look, if Marcus and Alex don’t give us what we need in a game—it appears as though when they start going down that road they can’t change. They are what they are. In other words, if I’m bad, I am bad for 40 minutes. I cannot mentally change. I can’t change and it’s almost like, give those guys a chance then. Let those guys play. They gotta be ready. Tai’s still getting in shape.”

On defending the 3 better against Arkansas …
“Well, we talked about the game plan and said, ‘You can’t do what you did at Auburn.’ I mean, we had a guy play a 3-point shooter like that (bends down and puts hand in front of face), said, ‘What do you mean? My hand was up.’ Are you out of your mind? They hadn’t made a layup. They did not make a layup until one minute and 40 seconds because we didn’t run back. The kid threw one up and it was an and-one. That’s the only layup. Why would you do that? (Mumbles). That’s, in this game, we just said, ‘You gotta refuse to lose. You gotta listen. You gotta fight.’ And the only way you can do that is together. We know what the game plan is and we do it. You can’t act like, ‘Well, I didn’t know.’ So our whole goal was taking away the 3. Make them make tough 2s. We’re not leaving the rim. Make them make tough shots and if they can, fine, we go home. You know they can make 3s. You know that. And the guys did a great job. I mean, we had one play where Derek and Jamal just left (Dusty Hannahs). Why wouldn’t you both have stayed and gave up the layup? Because you know if you both leave he’s making that 3, which he did. So there’s still that stuff we’re working through.”

On how important defending the 3 will be against Vandy …
“It’s important, but they also post. They have a good post game. This is a little different. How we’re going to go at this is a little different.”

On whether Ulis’ lack of turnovers surprised him at Arkansas …
“Well, we were grinding it out a little bit different. We played a little different kind of game. We weren’t just throwing it to guys and saying, ‘Take them.’ We can’t play that way. Again, we’re still trying to figure this team out. How do we play? What’s the best way for this group to play? But I will say this: If we don’t defend—the whole thing on this team is just guard. Just make sure you’re guarding, make it tough on the other team and I’ll take our chances offensively. We’re grinding a little bit more than we have in the past. I told guys: If you are just totally relying on Tyler, I’m taking you out of the game. You have to be responsible for you. If you have a shot, you quickly throw it back to Tyler because you don’t want to shoot it, you’re out. You’re not playing. And I did it twice last night. You’re out. You’re not doing that to him. He’s got too much stuff. I’m putting all this on his shoulders and you’re giving him more? Well then why should you be in? (Mumbles). You’re not in. So I’m telling them, you can’t add to what he has to do. You have to do your job. You have to make a basket now and then. We’re out there and I’m playing the guys that are playing with confidence and I’m telling them, you gotta take on the personal challenge and, you know, we got better. It was a great win. To win there on the road, they just don’t lose many games there. They shoot the ball well; they play better defense. We took it to them. You wish we always played that way, but Alex and Marcus Lee, other than the start of the game, gave us nothing and we still did what we did.”

On how much he’s looking forward to those kind of performances back to back … “I don’t know where we are right now as a team. I’ll tell you what, if you’re just looking around the country, to win on the road – and then win in a place where they just don’t ever lose – to win on the road is really hard. We lost the Auburn game in the last minute 30. We had a two-point lead, we don’t run back. ‘Why didn’t you run back?’ (Mumbles). All we had to do was run back and then make it a tough play. Again, that playing, that refusing to lose, that fighting, the battle – we’re learning. We’re also, with Isaiah (Briscoe) and Jamal, learning how to win. That’s a losing play, that’s a winning play, that is a losing play. ‘Why did you do that? Why wouldn’t you do this?’ It’s what my job is. I have to teach them. I’m not afraid of it. It is what it is.” I told them, I’m going to have fun with this. There’s no reason—we are what we are. Couple of guys here have to either step up and play or take a backseat. Be the reserve, it’s easier. I’m going to say it again: The reserve guy doesn’t have to come every day and perform. He’s going to perform every two or three games. Then he has a good game and it’s, ‘Oh! I wish he played more.’ And if he played more, you say, ‘Oh. I wish he played less.’ We have to figure out if we have guys in reserve roles, that’s where you need to be. Doesn’t matter if you’re a senior or a freshman. Doesn’t matter. Guys have to go do their thing, and that was the first step to it.”

On if he’s surprised how much teaching he has to do about winning plays … “I’m having to teach in shootarounds. The TV guys watched yesterday, the shootaround. I had to stop them and talk, teach, and, ‘Do it again, do it again. Do you understand?’ It wears you out. It tires you out. Like, you just can’t stand there and watch. You have to—and you can’t let them just play like the way they want to play. You have to stop them because if you let them do what they want to do, you cannot win. You’re not winning.”

On how often does he have to teach at shootarounds … “Well, there have been shootarounds like that have been 30-minute shootarounds. Like, just bang, bang, bang, they know it, we got it, you’re ready. ‘Alright, let’s go do this.’ And we all know we’re going to play great. Then there’s been these, and I’ve had them before which are like 50-minute, 55-minute shootarounds that I’m exhausted when I leave the court. So like I said, this is a—we’re still trying to figure them out, they’re trying to figure each other out. But I know this: The attitude of refuse to lose, just—now, you may run out of time. The clock may run out of time on you. But it’s not because you weren’t fighting to win the game. You just didn’t have enough time. Needed two more minutes. So hopefully we get back to that, and if we do, we’re going to be fine.”