Gators Bring It, Cats Respond Like Champions To Stay Perfect
BRENDON D. MILLER – Midwest News and Sports – March 13, 2015 – Nashville
The CATS wore down the Gators in Fridays first SEC Quarterfinal 64 to 49 to stay perfect. On Thursday, after the Gators took out Alabama to advance to today’s Quarterfinal matchup, Michael Fraizer, stated that the CATS, are “Definitely Beatable” and that was definitely the mindset that the Gators brought to the court today. The Gators came out with intensity and led 10-5 at the 16:25 media timeout and 15-14 at the 11:42 mark. That’s when the CATS, who were presented the SEC regular-season championship trophy before the game, showed the form of a Champion, and turned up the defensive intensity to take the lead 20-19 at the 6:58 media timeout. The CATS never trailed again in advancing to Saturday’s Semi-Finals.
After the break the Gators pulled to within 2 on a jumper by Jon Horford at the 17:06 mark, but that was as close as the Gators would get. The CATS then went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes culminating in a three pointer from the right wing by Aaron Harrison on one of Tyler Ulis’ 4 assists to make it 42-31 and force a Gator time-out to try and stem the momentum in a packed-with-nothing-but-Blue Bridgestone Arena, and give the CATS their first double-digit lead. This game was pretty well in the books at that point. The Gators had challenged the CATS in both prior encounters this year, but faded late, and that would be the script again today.
Devin Booker said post game that many teams can play with UK for 30 minutes, but “do you still have it” in the final 10. Ulis said the CATS sense the moment late in games when team legs are dead and “that’s when we hit the speed button.” The Gators answered the 30 minute question in the negative as they were only able to shore 9 points in the final 11:24 of the game, when the CATS felt the time was right to hit the button.
The CATS were led in scoring by double-double man Karl-Anthony Towns and Aaron Harrison with 13 a piece, with Towns also posting 12 rebounds, with 6 each offensive and defensive. The CATS only shot 37.5% from the field, going 21 for 56, but more than equalized by going 19 for 23 at the line, for a blistering 82.6%.
32 and 0 and on to Saturday we go. A shout out to the phenomenal BBN. Nashville and Bridgestone are, and will be, entirely BLUE this weekend!
Only a handful of teams have finished the regular season undefeated and the U.K. Wildcats have matched them. Wichita St. ran the table last season before losing to the Cats in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky now sets their sites on the SEC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament. UK must win 9 more games to become the first team since Indiana ran the table in the 1970’s.
(All Notes courtesy of UK Athletics. Calapari interview by Midwest News & Sports – Tammie Brown)
Florida at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball – Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., March 7, 2015 – FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 67, Florida 50
Kentucky is 31-0, 18-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida is 15-16 overall, 8-10 in league play.
Kentucky leads the series 96-37.
With 31 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.
At 31-0, Kentucky has become the first team from a “power five” conference to go undefeated in the regular season since Indiana did so in 1976.
This is the 15th time in school history that Kentucky has made an undefeated run in the Southeastern Conference regular season and the second time under Coach John Calipari (also 2012).
Kentucky set a school record with 19 home wins, eclipsing the record of 18 home wins set in 1985-86, 2009-10 and 2011-12.
It is the 12th time in the 39-year history of Rupp Arena that UK was undefeated at home in a season and the fourth time in six years under Calipari.
Kentucky is 208-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 53 of the last 55 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
UK is 50-1 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 97-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 56-4 at UK.
Calipari is now 183-37 (.832) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
UK was behind for 4:43 today. The Wildcats have trailed for only 169:53 of a possible 1,255 minutes this season.
Kentucky plays Friday at 1 p.m. EDT in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Key stats for the Cats:
UK got to the foul line 21 times, making 15. The Wildcats committed just nine fouls in the game and UF made 3 of 7 at the charity stripe.
UK won points off turnovers, 16-12. UK has won or tied points off turnovers in every game this season.
UK won bench points 46-13. UK has won bench points in every game this season.
Kentucky’s streak of 929 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Devin Booker hit a three at the 2:53 mark of the first half.
UK held Florida to 50 points. UK is 111-5 under Coach Calipari when holding the opponent to 63 or fewer points. UK is 57-0 under Calipari when limited the opponent to 55 or fewer points.
Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Brian Long, Sam Malone, Tod Lanter, Andrew Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns for the first time season. Long, Malone and Lanter played the first 23 seconds and then left the game for substitutions.
Kentucky scored the first five points of the game but Florida rallied to go ahead 11-7.
The teams went back-and-forth after that. UK went ahead for good at 26-23 and Kentucky took a 30-27 edge into halftime.
Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein.
UF drew within 36-35 with a couple of 3-pointers. The Gators hit five of their first nine long balls.
Ahead 44-41, UK got a 7-0 run for a 51-41 lead. UF got no closer than eight after that.
Kentucky’s largest lead was 67-49.
Trey Lyles led the Wildcat with 14 points. He has averaged 11.3 over the last seven games and has grabbed at least four rebounds in each game.
Karl-Anthony Towns had a fine all-around game with 13 points, a game-high nine rebounds, six blocked shots and three assists.
Towns has averaged 14.2 points over the last five games.
His blocked shots was one shy of his career high of seven rejections.
His three assists was one shy of his career best of four.
Devin Booker scored six points with a pair of huge 3-pointers. With the game tied at 23, his 3-ball gave the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish. In the second half, ahead 44-41, his 3-pointer started a 7-0 run which put the Wildcats ahead by 10 and the Gators got no closer than eight after that.
Tod Lanter, Brian Long and Sam Malone got the first starts of their UK careers on Senior Day.
An interview with: COACH JOHN CALIPARI
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
1. How much emphasis do you put on 31‑0 with so much more to go?
COACH CALIPARI: The only thing I keep telling them is I’m so proud and I respect them so much to be able to deal with this. I mean, not only every game is an event, every game they played this year is an event, every game is somebody’s Super Bowl. Every game the coach would walk off the court and say that was the best we played all year. They took on the challenges.
It’s not only you coming at them, it’s people around them coming at them. They were able to shield that and play for each other. They are able to play for each other. They did it again today.
Billy is trying to work his way through guys being injured, trying to come back. They were ready to play us, great game plan, what Florida did to us. We had that one stretch, probably five minutes of the game, that we won the game. That’s okay. That stuff happens sometimes.
Talk about Karl(-Anthony Towns) in that five‑minute stretch.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, look, I keep trying to explain to Karl, you are so good, you don’t have to do anything crazy, so why do you keep trying to do crazy stuff? You’re too good a player.
Now, if you’re not that good a player, you try to do something crazy so people see you. Like, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ The rest of the time the dude stinks.
He doesn’t need it. But he’s young. When we needed him to play at the end, he played. Now I’m on him. He goes 13‑9 in 27 minutes, six blocks, three assists, one steal. We all know how good he is.
But I’m on him because I want him to be the best. I don’t want him to be just a good big, I want him to be the best. He’s working toward that.
Again, you had Trey Lyles today. You’re starting to see how good he is. Trey Lyles is as good as anybody in the country. Our guard play, Andrew (Harrison), Aaron (Harrison), Devin (Booker), Tyler (Ulis), they played well. Dakari Johnson played well. Dakari played better defense than Karl did, to be honest with you.
Early in the season you were saying if this team loses one game, they need to lose it now. With them going 31‑0, would a loss in the SEC tournament hurt or help?
COACH CALIPARI: I’m not a big fan of tournaments. Never have been. Three games in three days. What does that do for you? I mean, I don’t think it does anything. I’m not a big fan.
But this place is a different animal. Our fans who can’t get in this building… You’re saying, “What do you mean, there’s 25,000 (fans)?” There’s probably another 100,000 that want to come that can’t get tickets. They come to the Tournament, they spend their rent money, mortgage money, their car money. They get money, take loans, and they go to the tournament because they can’t get in here.
We all talked about it. We’re going to play for our fans. It’s not going to have a bearing on our seed in the tournament. It will have no bearing. It never has. Maybe this year it will have a bearing if we lose, I don’t know. But winning has never had a bearing on the NCAA selection stuff, never.
So we can’t promise we’re going to win every game, but we want to go have fun for our fans. We want them to enjoy the experience that we respect what they’re doing to get there. So it’s a weekend for our fans and for us to enjoy them.
Was that decision after the game to have the celebration with the T‑shirts? Was that up to the players?
COACH CALIPARI: I didn’t really have anything to do with it. It’s nice. I didn’t really see it. I kind of walked off the court.
What did they do?
They got T‑shirts, held them up.
COACH CALIPARI: That’s really nice (smiling).
I asked you yesterday how it should be remembered if you finish an undefeated regular season, not counting what happens next. You said, “We could lose the game.” You didn’t. Billy talked about how people should take a minute to appreciate how hard this is to do.
COACH CALIPARI: I would tell you what these kids have accomplished, and as young as they are, it’s not winning every game; it’s that they shared. You got Andrew (Harrison) and Aaron (Harrison). I didn’t start them in the second half because I never do. Think about that. You know how good those two are?
Trey Lyles, who I’m telling you is as good as any player in the country, steps back so Dakari and the guards and these guys can step up. Our guards, sharing with each other, you know, passing. That’s the story.
This is a great story for college athletics, for society. Instead of me, me, me, it’s us, us, us. When you do that, we all benefit. Every one of these players has benefited by this. I’m not just talking about they won. No, their stock personally has risen, every one of them.
This is how this is supposed to work. We do this together, everyone benefits. Not the school, not the coach, all the players benefit. That’s what’s happening and I’m proud of them.
Despite all of this and the pressures of being undefeated, these guys seem like they’re really loose, having fun with this run. Do you like that? Do you see it as well?
COACH CALIPARI: I think, again, the one worry I had prior to the game was I wonder if they’re feeling this. I’m older. I’ve been through so much. You shoot me, it goes through a bazooka hole, OK. I’ve been shot at so much. I’ve been through the grind of this. They haven’t.
Willie Cauley, you think about it, he was on a team that went to the NIT, lost to Robert Morris. All of a sudden you’re in this boat, on this team?
The biggest thing I’m trying to tell these guys, I’m telling my staff, man, we all have to stay connected and enjoy this. I’ll tell you, I would imagine ‑ just saying ‑ there will be some stuff written and said. I want to tell you all, no one will steal my joy. If you want to attack what we’re doing, be nasty about it, have at it. You’re not stealing my joy. Coaching this team, with these kind of kids, you’re not stealing my joy (smiling).
Since you’re in such a joyous mood, was that part of the reason for starting the three seniors that you did?
COACH CALIPARI: What would you have done if we would have lost this game? How many of you would have said, “How could he do that, start these kids with this on the line?”
Let’s think about it. I keep telling you this is about these players, it’s about them. What about those three?
The reason I started them is I wanted a picture of them starting. We’re framing it. CBS is going to get me the starting lineups with their names on it. It’s going to be framed. I told them prior to the game, 35 years from now you can say you started. Who the hell knows (smiling)?
In the end, the students wanted them back in. I listened to the students.
You’ve obviously achieved a lot. Now you have the perfect regular season. How will you view this year if it doesn’t end with a national championship?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, it’s not that. It’s on the 28th of June. That’s my last day. That’s draft day. We’ll see. I’ll be able to tell you after that.
Eight or nine guys get drafted, I’m going to be very happy for whatever happens. I’ll be really happy.
You’re already an odds‑on favorite to win the NCAA tournament before the selections have been made.
COACH CALIPARI: You don’t know the bracket yet. I can guess the bracket. Do you want me to guess it for you?
COACH CALIPARI: I bet you they slide the Lakers in there (smiling). I can give you the names. You’ll say, You’re not in that room, how did you know?
As a follow‑up, do you think that’s a realistic evaluation of your chances?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. I mean, I’m going to try my hardest to keep these guys in the moment. What I told them after the game, “I want you to think of us as if each of you is the best version of yourself. If you know you’re not, you got to ask the question of yourself, ‘Why am I not what I should be?’ ”
By getting all these kids, worrying about them playing well, worrying about them, if that’s not good enough, I’m telling you, I can live with it. I had to live with a nine‑point lead with 2:20 to go and missing free throws. You know what, I live with it because our kids gave everything they could. Missing free throws down the stretch. I’ll live with it. I’ll live with what the result is.
I’m telling you again, I know our fans get mad when I say this, my concern is our players. If we do right by them, they’ll drag us where we’re trying to go.
If Andrew and Aaron are driving the ball, not settling. If Tyler and Devin are playing their best. If Trey Lyles gives you what he gave you today. If Karl plays like he did the last five minutes. Willie hasn’t been there the last two games. Missing shots, missing free throws, that’s not who he is. What if he’s at his best? What if Marcus Lee is in blocking shots like he did against Michigan? What if Dakari is playing like he did today, making free throws, baskets, flying around, great defense?
Man, you start looking around, Boy, are they really good. We’re unselfish. We got to get a bunch of guys playing their best. That’s the whole goal.
I’m going to say this again. You all know I’m not looking for two guys to score, the rest of you play defense, take charges, get rebounds, set screens. I want all these kids to play basketball. I want them all to do the things they can do.
If this is the best version of themselves, if they live up to their potential, is this your best Kentucky team?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t compare. I’ve had good teams here. I’ve had good teams at UMass. I’ve had good teams at Memphis. Like really, really good teams.
This team’s a good team. This may be one of the deeper teams I’ve had. I’m doing stuff, platooning and doing stuff I’ve never done before. This is a good group.
By Ricky Blair – The Kentucky-Arkansas rivalry does not have the excitement that it did in the 1990’s when both teams were consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally. Most people would even be surprised to know that Arkansas came into Rupp Arena on Saturday riding a three-game winning streak against the Wildcats.
But the number one ranked and undefeated Wildcats put an emphatic stop to Arkansas’ mini winning streak. This was not the dysfunctional 2013 team that the Razorbacks beat two years ago, nor was this the all-freshman team from a year ago that Arkansas went on to win against the Cats in two overtime upsets. However, this is a team on a historical undefeated 29 game winning streak. This Kentucky team seems to play at their best when challenged by another highly ranked opponent, such as they did earlier in the season with wins over Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville. Arkansas came into this game in second place in the SEC race, ranked #16 in the National Coaches poll. On this particular day, these teams were light years away from each other. The Wildcats completely dominated.
From the opening tip, the Wildcats left no doubt that they were the better team. A pass from Karl-Anthony Towns to fellow freshman forward Trey Lyles for a lob dunk started the scoring for Kentucky and they never looked back. With Lyles scoring 12 of his team leading 18 points in the first half, the Wildcats built a 16 point first half lead at 42-26. Then, in the second half, the lead grew to as many as 31 points before Kentucky let off the gas in the last seven minutes and coasted to a 84-67 win.
Sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison contributed 18 points and dished out three assists in the total demolition. Fellow point guard Freshman Tyler Ulis also had a big day with 14 points and 3 assists. This was a total team effort with the Wildcats getting contributions from most everyone who played. Junior Forward Willie Cauley-Stein had an incredible game. Although he only had 7 points, Cauley-Stein had a team high 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. His defensive skills make him almost a sure lock for the NBA lottery.
The Wildcats clinched their 46th Southeastern Conference regular-season championship with the win over the Razorbacks. Now, Kentucky will go to Georgia on Tuesday night before returning home next Saturday for a home game with Florida. The Cats will see if they can seal an undefeated regular season and mark their place in history.
(UK Game Notes and Calipari Interview provided by UK Athletics)
An interview with: COACH JOHN CALIPARI
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
What does it say about your team it seems to play its best in these big games against top‑ranked opponents?
COACH CALIPARI: I think they were looking forward to this game.
The thing for these kids, they’re preparing to play well, but know if I’m not at my very best, I’m good, I’ll play other people, but I’m not going to hurt myself. That’s what is good about this.
Dakari (Johnson) wasn’t at his best. We could play different lineups. You can play Trey at a four. You can do all different things.
I thought we missed some shots we normally make. We withstood any kind of run. Offensively, nine turnovers, 13 assists. All you Basketball Bennys, you know why you don’t get as many assists in this game, ’cause they’re trying to steal so many passes, you have to throw one or two passes and drive the ball. So you’re not going to have like 19, 20 assists. You’re going to go to the rim.
You saw Andrew Harrison attack. Only one time did he try to draw a foul. The rest of them he shot layups, made plays, did a great job. So did Tyler. They all did.
Last post‑season you would say a guy was going to be your guy that game, and it seemed to play out that way. You said the other night Trey (Lyles) is the X-Factor.
COACH CALIPARI: He is.
Have you played that sort of card with him lately?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he’s healthy. I’ll tell you, honestly, he’s terrific. He’s been trained as a three, but you see when he’s at four, you see him around the basket, but he can make 15‑footers. He’s 6’10”. He’s big. When he was out, we didn’t have that one more rebounder that we needed.
Cal, the game starts off with the lob to Trey, then Willie (Cauley-Stein) on the other end a couple sequences later has a big block. Are those the kind of plays you want from these guys to set the tone for the game right out of the gate?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. But either way, look, you want the games to unfold in all kind of different ways. This was a different game for us. We wanted to score 100 points because of how we knew they could play. There are other games where you have to hold it a little bit, grind it out. But not this game.
The other thing I wanted, I keep telling them, You got to be willing to risk, go make plays. So you’re going to turn it over some, but go do the things you’re working on every day in practice. That includes Willie, Trey, Dakari, Karl (-Anthony Towns), all those guys.
When you look at the way Aaron (Harrison) shot the ball, but then you look at the other stats on the sheet, is that a major step for him?
COACH CALIPARI: I still want him to get to the rim more. I thought he had two or three or four other opportunities to drive the ball, which I’m telling his brother the same thing. Don’t settle, man.
We threw it to him on the wing. It was him and no other defenders except the guy on him. Don’t pass it to anybody. Drive the ball. You’re 6’6″, you’re a moose. Get the ball by the guy, get in the lane, shoot the layup.
He’s a great passer. You can’t do that just standing on the perimeter looking for jump shots. We’re forcing he and his brother just drive it.
I don’t care, you’re going to turn it over some. I’m okay with that. Just attack, just go. If you don’t, you pull it out, I’m taking you out.
On Aaron Harrison playing well today.
COACH CALIPARI: He was great. We talked about run‑throughs. I wanted Andrew to get a couple more, but I thought Aaron was terrific.
Why were you able to kind of beat Arkansas at their own game with the points off turnovers? They had four points off turnovers, you had 16. You took it to them and beat them at their own game.
COACH CALIPARI: One, we’re a pretty good defensive team. It’s hard to beat us on the dribble. If you do, you’re running into 7‑footers. We worked really hard on taking their three away. But we gave up some threes to start the half. Devin didn’t get to the guy. We had another three on a screw‑up where we didn’t talk.
But we did not want them to beat us shooting threes. We wanted them to drive the ball. Which, again, because of how they play ‑ pass, pass, pass ‑ we were trying to steal like the third pass, just run through when they’re moving the ball.
Look, they’re a terrific team. Somebody just told me we won our league. That’s an accomplishment for this team, being they’re the fifth youngest team in the country. They win this league, and this league has six tournament teams in it.
We’ve gone through the gauntlet. Now we have two more ridiculously tough games at Georgia who is playing great right now, they won at Mississippi, they won at home, they smashed Missouri today. They’re playing as well as they played all year right now. Great time. Foxy has them going.
You have Florida. It’s still Florida. It’s like them playing us a couple years ago when we weren’t very good. They’re playing us. It’s still Kentucky, it’s still Florida. Those are both going to be hard games.
Cal, is it safe to say that Trey may be one of the most fundamentally sound freshmen you’ve ever coached?
COACH CALIPARI: I’m not going to say that because I’ve had a lot of really, really good freshmen. But for his size, the things that he does, I’m saying it again, he’s the X-Factor for us. He’s the one that makes us go from pretty good, really good, to uh‑oh, what is this I’m watching.
Way back in August you said The Bahamas trip is going to be good, but it will make for a long season. Does it feel longer than normal?
COACH CALIPARI: I’m saying I wish the regular season was over with. I told them that. I told them that about 10 days ago. We got to play these games. Let’s just try to play them, try to get better.
I told them this. If we get dinged, I’m good. This isn’t March. If we get dinged, let’s go try to be our best. But you never know what’s going to happen. I’m not worried about that. I told them. I’m not sure they feel the same way I do. They’re feeling a little bit different.
But what they’ve been able to do, again, we can all talk about what we want. It is that all these kids have sacrificed for each other. All of them have given up something for each other. They’ve all been selfless. They all play. They want to be coached. Even when I’m on them, they’re accepting coaching. They’re allowing this to happen.
Again, you know, like I’m not afraid to tell you, a bunch of these kids are going to be in the NBA next year. Not just one or two. Two guys shoot, the rest of you defend, rebound, dive on the floor. That’s not what this is. You got a bunch of guys playing basketball, scoring, they’re sharing. It’s fun to watch.
Could you see something in practice the last couple days?
COACH CALIPARI: They were really good. Mississippi State, ice storm, snowstorm, stuck in Starkville, get up for breakfast, go to a 1:00 practice. The basket on the gym is nine feet. We go down to the court. There’s a guy with a camera on the court, a chair, says, You can’t go here. We had to walk up to the another arena, wait.
We had one of the best practices of the year. The spirit in the gym was unbelievable. We got back on the plane, came back, had dinner. Yesterday’s practice was really good. Really good. Today’s shoot‑around was really good.
I may be tired because of all this, but they’re playing 22, 23 minutes a game. You don’t have guys playing 38 minutes a game. They’re exhausted right now. That’s not what this is.
On this possibly being the two best SEC teams in the league and it showing the gap.
COACH CALIPARI: What’s the gap between us and Kansas? What’s the gap between us and Louisville? What’s the gap between us and UCLA, Providence?
We’ve got a good team, and we’ve got six tournament teams in this league that are going to be in. Just win the games you’re supposed to win, we got six in.
Last year we had three in the Sweet 16, two in the Final Four. Should have had two in the final game. Oh, the league. What are you talking about? You can say it over and over and over, say, I’m going to make this true.
That’s why I say, the coaches shouldn’t stand for it and the media that cover this league shouldn’t stand for it. Stop saying it.
Iowa State was beat by South Carolina. LSU went to West Virginia and won. I mean, this league is not what they want to paint it to be. Every game we play is an event, unless it snows (smiling).
Coach, the twins have played against Arkansas before. Talk about Tyler’s (Ulis) performance as a freshman.
COACH CALIPARI: He was good. He was good. I told him, hey, go score some points today. I thought he played good.
On today’s guard play
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I thought Andrew was like ridiculous. Andrew just dominated the game. In my mind, he was the best guard on the floor.
But, you know, again, he has 18 and 3. Gets to the foul line, three assists. Low turns, in this kind of game, that’s a big deal. For us to play this many people, have the low turns that we do, it’s pretty neat.
Andrew, is he close to playing the way you want him to play?
COACH CALIPARI: Yes, he’s getting better.
I’m telling you what it is. It’s a spirit. It’s a spirit that we all feel when you watch him play. He doesn’t stop on the court. There’s nothing. I’m in attack mode, I’m aggressive. I’m talking to my teammates. I’m running this. You know I’m controlling this. I’ll score when I have to. I’m not trying to get fouled. I’m driving to score, not get fouled.
And defensively I need him to have a little more play making on the weak side. In other words, a couple run‑throughs, a couple rebounds on the weak side, then all of a sudden you’re seeing this guy, this guy is as good as any of them, and he is.
But it’s hard to play that way. He got exhausted today. He came over to the side. I looked at him, said, Last year you tried to do this playing 35 minutes. That’s why you couldn’t finish the game last year. We were up 5 with a minute and a half to go. I didn’t realize it till I watched the tape. Turnover, turnover, missed basket, all of a sudden we lose.
Kentucky is 27-0, 14-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn is 12-15 overall, 4-10 in league play.
Kentucky leads the series 90-17, including 45-2 at home.
With 27 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK tied the 1995-96 team for the longest single-season win streak in school history.
It’s also the longest season-opening streak for a John Calipari coached team. His 1995-96 Massachusetts team and 2007-08 Memphis team each started 26-0.
Calipari tied his longest coaching win streak. The 2008-09 Memphis squad won 27 in a row (not at the opening of a season).
Kentucky is 204-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 49 of the last 51 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 93-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 52-4 at UK.
Calipari is now 179-37 (.829) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
Calipari won his 100th game at Rupp Arena and is now 100-4 (.962) in the venue.
UK led the entire game and has trailed for only 146:01 of a possible 1,095 minutes this season.
Kentucky returns to action Wednesday at Mississippi State. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised on the SEC Network.
Kentucky officially retired the jersey of Tony Delk, who played at UK during the 1993-96 seasons, during a halftime ceremony.
UK hit the century mark for the first time since a 105-76 win vs. UT Arlington on Nov. 19, 2013.
It’s the most points for the Wildcats since a 115-87 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 30, 2002.
It’s the most points for the Wildcats against an SEC opponent since a 120-81 win over Vanderbilt on Feb. 7, 1996.
Kentucky shot a season-high 64.7 percent from the field, the ninth time this season the Wildcats have made at least half their shots in a game.
Key stats for the Cats:
UK won rebounding 44-22. That led to a 21-7 margin on second-chance points.
UK won points in the paint 62-24.
UK won bench points 43-10.
Kentucky had 25 assists, tying the season high set earlier vs. UCLA.
Kentucky had balanced scoring with six players in double figures, the first time that has happened since the win over UT Arlington on Nov. 25.
Kentucky’s streak of 926 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Aaron Harrison tripled at the 17:39 mark of the first half.
Kentucky’s strarting lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the 10th time this season.
Kentucky jumped out to a 30-4 lead.
UK’s biggest lead of the half was 27 points at 42-15.
UK went to intermission ahead 52-26, tying the Missouri game for the largest halftime lead of the season against an SEC opponent.
UK’s 52 points is the second most this season in a first half. UK scored 55 in the first half vs. UT Arlington on Nov. 25.
Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.
Auburn opened the second half with six straight points to pull within 52-32 but the Tigers got no closer than 20 the rest of the way.
Kentucky’s largest lead was 38 points at 110-72.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
It is his fifth double-double, the third in the last six games.
19 points tied his season high set on two previous occasions.
He was 8-of-9 from the field and 3-of-3 at the foul line.
Aaron Harrison pumped in 18 points, his fourth-highest total of the season.
Dakari Johnson had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Andrew Harrison contributed 12 points and a career-high-tying nine assists.
Devin Booker scored 11 points, his 15th double-figure game of the season.
Tyler Ulis notched 10 points, the most for him since scoring 11 points at Alabama on Jan.17.
Willie Cauley-Stein had nine points, making all four of his field goal attempts.
Marcus Lee tallied six points, making all three field goal attempts, along with a career-high-tying eight rebounds.
Tod Lanter’s 3-pointer was his first points as a Wildcat.
An Interview With: COACH CALIPARI
You talked about Andrew Harrison getting to the rim …
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he’s getting in the lane. He doesn’t have a choice. If he doesn’t get in the lane and he’s not attacking, I’m taking him out and he knows that. And he’s starting to find out ‘Wow, I’m really big, I’m really strong and I’m really skilled.’
Aaron (Harrison) did the same today. Instead of sending them all jumpers, you saw him get in the lane and create shots for us and for himself. That’s what those two ‑‑ that’s the difference. They are 6-6. They are big. They don’t have to settle. They don’t have to play slowly.
I think defensively, it’s the same thing. I thought Karl (-Anthony Towns) and Dakari (Johnson) were outstanding today. The other guys all played pretty well but those two stood out. Willie was OK. I know, you look, he’s 4‑for‑4 and four rebounds, but he played 20 minutes. He could have in my opinion done more. But, you know, it was a good start to the game.
As good as Anthony Davis was, the minute he got here, we watched him get better and better over the course of the year. Does what Karl is doing remind you of that?
COACH CALIPARI: I sat him (Anthony Davis) down at the end. I said, you’re making strides. Now he had an offensive push-off because he didn’t want to sit down.
You have to understand, he’s physically not near what he’s going to be like in two or three years. He is an 18‑year‑old body physically. So there are times he tried to do everything up here which leads to offensive fouls. There were a couple defensive breakdowns he had, but the reality of it, he’s starting to be the best version of himself but all of them were.
And that’s all I’ve been talking about. Let’s not worry about all this clutter. Everybody’s talking about this, that and the other. Let’s just be the best we can be. They are looking after each other. There are 25 assists. There are six guys in double-figures. You know, two other guys with nine, Trey (Lyles) and Willie (Cauley-Stein).
So it’s what we want to be. And, you know, we scored a lot, made a lot more shots than we normally do, but they also did. They made 11 3’s. That’s one of the things everybody says, to beat us, you’ve got to make 3’s. Well, they made 11. I think Mississippi made 12. Maybe that’s not the answer ‑‑ I don’t know, maybe it is.
But we’ve had teams out‑rebound us. But when ‑‑ and again, we had a couple guys, I think Devin had four turnovers, probably had three or four too many turnovers, but in a game that fast, you’re going to have a few extra.
You had talked about reestablishing dominance in the paint. How well do you think you guys did that?
COACH CALIPARI: Did good. What happens is it forces them to make choices. So are they going to try to front the post? Are they going to try to trap? If they do trap, are they trapping from a big guy? Are they trapping from a guard? Are they just going to dig.
And then we had to play off of it, and we played well off of it. We kicked it out for threes. We kicked it out for drives. We posted the ball when the court was spread. Dakari, instead of slowly ‑‑ he was do you know when he caught it, so he could just raise up and shoot the ball. He rebounded and kept the ball above his head. And I thought Karl was doing the same things.
When you got here, this program was not in good condition obviously. Three Final Fours in five years, top recruiting classes every year, playing like tonight, how have you gotten this done?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, first of all, you’ve got to have a lot of family lies have trust that we have their child and give us that opportunity to coach him and help him reach their dreams. Their dreams become our dreams. We sit on the same side of the table as them.
And then the second thing is, when they get here, they have got to know we are about them, because there’s no way they will share. I don’t care what you’re in, what business you’re in, team, program, us, we’re going to do this ‑‑ everyone within that organization is going to want to know, what’s in it for me. I’ll do all this, but what’s in it for me.
Well, these kids know what’s in it for them. I think that trust is a big part of it.
And then, you know, we’ve got an administration here that understands that these kids have done well academically. They make us proud in our community. They leave us and make us proud. And the other communities, they have learned servant leadership, and if we have a turnover and every once in a while have a bad year, at NIT lose to Robert Morris, it’s going to happen when you have this kind of turnover.
Now would I rather coach kids for four years? Yeah, it would be better for me. I don’t think it would be better for them to stay four years. But I would say, if you asked me, it starts with family lies, and I said ‑‑ we went, after that first year, when I figured out what in the world do we have here, the first year, went from the business of basketball to the business of helping family lies, and then it all took off because we made it about them.
How important was it for your defense to stop Auburn’s top three scorers ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: The whole idea was you’ve got to be on these three. They can score, and they can score in bunches, and they did. I mean, Mason had 29; could have had more. (KT) Harrell had 17. Those two can play with anybody in our league. And when they felt that kid get baskets and they got into a comfort level, they made shots.
If you didn’t guard them, they were going to make shots. I watched them against Mississippi, had them beat. They beat LSU. I watched all their tapes. They have been in every game they played and had a chance to win every game until this one.
We got them pretty good today. They hit us on a tough day. We were working on all cylinders and really guarding, but it was ‑‑ Marcus Lee gets six, so basically the nine guys that are playing all got six or more, crazy, 25 assists, crazy.
Wait a minute, why aren’t they playing for themselves? They are playing for each other. They all got each other’s back, and the reason they can do that is because they know we have their back individually. I got you; just be about each other. And it’s been fun.
Was this closer to Michigan, Marcus Lee?
COACH CALIPARI: He did some good stuff. He did some good stuff. I’m proud of him. He’s getting better. How about Willie making jumpers. He’s in the gym working. Shoot him in the game. Trying to get Trey to catch and shoot more, one‑dribble pull‑ups, that’s what he is.
But you know, like I said, this is a good team. Now we’ve got to go on the road. We say, “Oohh, it’s Mississippi State. Really? They had Arkansas down by half and lose by four. They had Mississippi down ten in the first half. End up losing by six, I believe.
Now we’re coming to town. Do you think it will be a t-shirt day? A white‑out, a maroon‑out ‑‑ it’s going to be something, blackout, something. So we have got a another tough one coming up.
When you talk about the 25 assists and Andrew (Harrison) has nine of them, when he’s distributing the ball, how contagious is it ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: It’s not distributing. He’s attacking and getting in the lane. He’s getting in the lane. When he gets in the lane, because one, he can make shots, he can make free throws and he’s a great passer. He plays on instinct. He’s unbelievable. I want he and his brother to do it more. If they don’t attack; if they jog it up or they catch it and hold the ball, I’m taking them out.
I don’t even care if they turn it over some, and I told them that. You’re going to turn it over some playing that way, I’m good with that. Just attack. Be in that mode. If they totally back off, shoot it. Play. I don’t want to run a whole lot of plays. We’ve got good enough players.
How have you evolved since you got here and how has it affected your program?
COACH CALIPARI: Probably the same how I’ve been my whole life ‑‑ did they beat that? That’s what I’ve been told, anyway.
As a person or a coach ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: If you watched me, would you say I’m more calm during the games than I’ve been? I don’t think so.
You know, as much as winning matters and championships and all that, at this stage of my career, the greatest day you have is you’re in that Green Room (at the NBA Draft). You’re at the All‑Star Game. You were in those homes. You saw all that. And what happens is, the way this has played out, they drag us where we want to go: Our fans, the Big Blue Nation.
As long as we keep after looking after them, they just drag us. Like when you make life about everybody else, it kind of gets easier, and this has gotten a little bit easier. Even though we have our days, but I have a job that when I walk in a home, kids only know three years, folks. They don’t know ten years. They don’t know ’96, they don’t know ’98, they don’t know 2005. They are barely remembering 2010. They remember three years.
Their parents, on the other hand, remember the last 20 years. So we’ve kind of got it good both ways, and it’s a big advantage.
You’ve been saying all year, it’s November, I want us to look like a November team, not a March team. It’s February 21. When do they need to ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: Do you know what we looked like last February 21?
I do. Oh, yeah.
COACH CALIPARI: We looked like it was November 1. Do you remember that?
Yeah, I remember.
COACH CALIPARI: See, it’s like everybody saying, we’re this and that ‑‑ it was just a year ago that we were on the cusp and if we would have lost the opening game to LSU (in the SEC Tournament), we would not have been in the NCAA Tournament. Oh, they can say, oh, you’re just saying it. We wouldn’t have been in. Gave them an excuse to keep us out.
By winning those games and getting to the Finals (of the SEC Tournament) and then we got a beautiful 8‑seed, then we turned it around. But it was late February, we weren’t very good.
Now, last year at this time, we were practicing three hours a day. They got one day a week off only because I was forced by the rules to give them one day a week off. Now, we’re going two days off a week, and the most the day before a game is an hour and 15 and the middle practice is an hour 45, and they are getting two days off.
That’s the difference. I trust them. I trust giving them time. I know they have believe in one another. I couldn’t do it last year. We started five freshmen, there’s no way. And I had never practiced like that ‑‑ we have coaches that do that. They practice three and a half hours late in the year and they still win, that’s fine. I’ve not done it that way. But last year I did. Last question.
Question: Tony Neely told us that your home record is now 100 wins, four losses. How does that record strike you?
COACH CALIPARI: Who are the four losses? Baylor was one ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: Go ahead, you know them all. Take them. Take us out. Take us down. Arkansas ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: Who is coming to town. They know they can beat us. Who was the other one? Florida.
COACH CALIPARI: Florida beat us. A&M beat us. A&M, the kid had 50. The stupid coach didn’t double‑team him and he got 50 on us.
No, this is a hard place for an opponent to come and play. But please, I think every coach here that’s coached here, his home record has been almost, if it’s not been ‑‑ I don’t know what Coach Rupp’s record is here, but I bet if you looked at Coach Hall and Coach Pitino and look at all their records, their records were 80 percent, 90 percent here. I mean, this is a tough building to play. We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had really good players but we’ve been fortunate.
(UK Notes Courtesy of UK Athletics) No. 1/1 Kentucky vs. Tennessee – Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, Tenn. – Feb. 17, 2015 – Attendance: 21,679
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 66, Tennessee 48
Kentucky is 26-0, 13-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 12-12 overall, 3-9 in league play.
Kentucky leads the all-time series by a 151-67 margin.
With 26 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the best start in program history.
With Tuesday’s win UK passed the 1953-54 team, which started 25-0.
Kentucky is the only team in Southeastern Conference history to begin a season 26-0.
UK’s 13-0 start to conference play is the Wildcats’ best since the 2011-12 team started 16-0 in SEC play.
Kentucky’s 26-game winning streak is tied for the third longest in school history.
The streak is the second longest over the course of a single season, tying the 2002-03 Wildcats.
The 1995-96 Wildcats went on a 27-game winning streak, which is the single-season school record.
Kentucky is 203-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 48 of the last 50 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 92-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 51-4 at UK.
Calipari is now 178-37 (.828) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena on Saturday vs. Auburn. Game time is 7 p.m. ET and it will be televised on ESPN.
UK hit 81 percent at the free-throw line, 17 of 21. It is the 11th time in the last 14 games that the Cats have made at least 70 percent from the lin. Kentucky’s season percentage from the free-throw line is 70.5.
UK is 109-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 21-0 this season.
UK is 56-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 18 times this season.
Kentucky’s streak of 926 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Andrew Harrison connected from long range at the 15:42 mark of the first half.
Tennessee made two 3-point shots, tying Texas A&M and the game at South Carolina for the second fewest made 3s by a UK opponent this season. Missouri made just one 3 in the Jan. 13 game.
The Volunteers shot 4 of 10 from the line. Tennessee’s .400 free-throw percentage was the second lowest by a UK opponent this season (.250 by UCLA).
Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the ninth time this season.
Tennessee shot 54 percent on 13 of 24 on field goals for the best first-half percentage vs. UK this season.
UK allowed just 25-percent shooting in the second half.
With 9:09 left, UK led just 48-44. From there, the Cats outscored Tennessee 16-4.
Freshman guard Devin Booker grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
His previous best was four boards.
Booker just missed out on a career-high point total with 18 points.
Freshman guard Tyler Ulis dished out six assists Tuesday, his highest assist total since dropping six dimes on at South Carolina on Jan. 24.
Ulis added eight points with seven of them coming in the first half.
Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison continued his recent strong play with 14 points.
He’s averaging 12.0 points over his last five games.
On Tuesday, he was a perfect 4 for 4 from the line, his fourth 4-for-4 performance at the charity stripe this season.
Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein just missed out on his third double-double of the season with nine points and seven rebounds.
After beating South Carolina this past Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats have tied a school record for most wins to start a season at 25. They are in search of the perfect season, which isn’t easy. Only seven teams have finished the regular season undefeated and then went on to win the National Championship. UCLA accomplished this feat 4 different times (1964, 67, 72 and 73) while the great John Wooden was still coaching the team. Other teams that have gone on to win a NCAA championship after finishing the regular season undefeated were the 1956 San Francisco Dons who were led by Bill Russell, the greatest winner of basketball championships of all time. Russell not only won two NCAA championships, but also won 11 NBA championships in 13 years – truly unbelievable. The 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels accomplished an undefeated season as heavy underdogs in the NCAA tournament championship game. Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas were heavy favorites, but North Carolina won in triple overtime to secure the championship and the undefeated season. The last team to win a National Championship after finishing the regular season undefeated was the “love to hate” Bobby Knight and his Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. Indiana finished that year 32-0, but it took an overtime win over Kentucky during the regular season for the Hoosiers to secure the undefeated season. As most fans recall, Kentucky spoiled Indiana’s chance at an undefeated season in 1975 when the Wildcats beat the Hoosiers to go to the final four.
Now the story on this year’s team. Kentucky has a chance to smash the record for undefeated teams by going 40-0, if they can accomplish this feat. The best record was 32-0 by both North Carolina in 1957 and Indiana in 1976. The journey has not been easy for this year’s team, especially during SEC play. Kentucky was taken to overtime by both Ole Miss and Texas A&M and has had several close calls including recent games with Florida and LSU. However, Kentucky has overcame each situation and is still moving forward on the journey. The Cats have six regular season games left and potentially, three SEC tournament games. To secure a national championship, it would take six NCAA tournament games, so there is still a ways to go before reaching perfection. Whether or not Kentucky can stay undefeated is still undetermined. The ultimate goal is to win another NCAA championship, no doubt. But reaching total perfection would mean sending this team down as one of the all-time greats. It sure would give fans something to brag about for the ages.
(Game Notes Courtesy UK Athletics)
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Feb. 14, 2015 – FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 77, South Carolina 43
• Kentucky is 25-0, 12-0 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina is 12-12 overall, 3-9 in
• Kentucky leads the series 49-11, including 26-2 at home.
• With 25 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK has tied the 1953-54 team for the best start
in program history.
• Kentucky is 202-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 47 of the last 49 games as The
Associated Press top-ranked team.
• Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a
91-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 50-4 at UK.
• Calipari is now 177-37 (.827) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any
coach in UK history.
• Kentucky led the entire game. UK has trailed for only 144:57 of a possible 1,015 minutes this
• Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at Tennessee. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised
• Kentucky held South Carolina to 23.6 percent from the field.
• It is the 11th game this season that the Wildcats have held a team under 30 percent.
• UK entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 34.2 percent.
• South Carolina had only three assists on the 13 made baskets. It is the second-lowest opponent
assist total of the season, next to one assist by Louisville in that game.
• UK won rebounding 45-21. The +24 margin is the second-largest of the season and highest margin
vs. an SEC opponent.
• The rebounding helped UK to a 14-3 advantage in second-chance points and 34-16 lead in
points in the paint.
• Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field, 27 of 54. It is the eighth game this season that the
Wildcats made at least half their shots.
• UK hit 75 percent at the free-throw line, 18 of 24. It is the 10th time in the last 13 games that the
Cats have made at least 70 percent from the line and today’s performance moved UK over 70
percent for the entire season at 70.1.
• Balanced scoring featured seven Wildcats with at least eight points.
• UK is 108-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 20-0
• UK is 55-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 17
times this season.
• Kentucky’s streak of 925 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Aaron Harrison
tripled at the 9:29 mark of the first half.
• Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony
Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the eighth time this season.
• Kentucky scored the first four points of the game and jumped out to an 18-3 lead.
• UK led by as many as 27 points on two occasions before going to intermission with a 43-18 lead.
• It is the 15th time this season that UK has held an opponent under 20 points in a half.
• Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee and
• Kentucky held South Carolina scoreless for the first 4:22 of the second half and without a basket
for more than six minutes.
• UK enlarged the lead to as many as 39 points at 72-33.
• Dakari Johnson collected his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-
high-tying 13 rebounds. He had the same stats in the season opener vs. Grand Canyon.
• Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting day from the field, making 3-of-3 field goal attempts.
He totaled nine points and is averaging 13.4 points over the last five games.
• Willie Cauley-Stein led the Wildcats with 14 points, his third-consecutive game in double figures.
He’s averaging 14 points over those three games.
• Aaron Harrison chipped in 11 points, equaling his team-high average for the season.
• Andrew Harrison contributed nine points and a game-high six assists.
It wasn’t easy, but we knew this game would be tough. UK has now won back to back road games against two teams thought to have a chance to defeat them. Florida put up a good fight but came up short. LSU had their chances but in
the end the undefeated Cats prevailed. How many teams can let an opponent start the game with a 10-2 run and then let the same opponent go on a 21-2 run midway through the 2nd half, and still end up winning? With those 2 runs, UK had to make up 27 points in order to win, they did. On the other hand, how good is your team, when they give up a 21-2 run. Come March, UK CANNOT afford any 10-2 runs and surely will not survive many 21-2 runs. That being said, the Cats are 24-0 and off to the second best start in school history. That is saying something considering no other program has the overall win total UK has and no other SEC team can match their over all win total. The only thing truly stopping the Cats now is being able to get up for the remaining 7 teams on their SEC schedule. BBN is ready for history, now we wait and see.
(Game Notes provided by UK Athletics) Kentucky Postgame Notes- No. 1/1 Kentucky vs. LSU – Maravich Assembly Center – Baton Rouge, La. Feb. 10, 2015 – Attendance: 13,111 – FINAL SCORE: No. 1/1 Kentucky 71, LSU 69
Team Records and Series Notes
With the win, Kentucky is 24-0, 11-0 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU dropped to 17-
7, 6-5 SEC.
Kentucky owns an 86-25 lead over LSU in the all-time series, including a 30-17 edge in
Baton Rouge, La.
Kentucky will return Rupp Arena on Saturday with tipoff slated for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The only undefeated team remaining in the nation, Kentucky is the all-time wins leader in
college basketball with 2,165.
With 24 consecutive wins to open the year, Kentucky passed the 1965-66 Wildcats for sole
possession of the second-best start in program history.
Kentucky is off to the best start under coach John Calipari.
UK is one win shy of equaling the best start in school annals.
The streak is the third-longest streak in UK single-season history.
UK’s 24-game winning streak is tied for the sixth longest in school history.
UK has won 46 of its last 48 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has a 176-37 record at Kentucky and a 621-177 overall on-court record in his
Calipari has a 90-9 all-time record when coaching the nation’s No. 1 team,
including a 49-4 mark at Kentucky.
Kentucky has a league-leading 933-262 all-time record in SEC play.
Kentucky started the game with Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dominique Hawkins,
Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Devin Booker, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis were UK’s first subs,
entering the game with 17:00 to go in the first half.
LSU began the game on a 10-2 run, and also led 14-6. LSU led by eight points twice,
which were Tigers’ largest leads of the first half.
Kentucky started the second half with Booker, Ulis, Towns, Cauley-Stein and Lyles.
Kentucky led by as many as 13 points with 12:46 to go in the second half.
LSU went on a 21-2 run from between the 12:46 and the 7:29 mark in the second half.
LSU took a lead 62-60 lead with 8:18 remaining in the game.
Towns snapped LSU’s 16-0 run with a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line
after LSU had taken a 66-60 lead.
The Cats took the lead for good when Towns kept an offensive possession alive with an
offensive rebound and then scored with 1:30 left to take a 70-69 lead.
Booker scored the final point of the game on a free throw with 15 seconds left. LSU missed
a 3 just before the buzzer to secure the UK win.
Nine Wildcats scored in the game. Just five Wildcats scored in UK’s previous game, on
Saturday against Florida.
Kentucky attempted 68 field goals, which was its second-highest total this season (70 vs.
Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his team-leading fourth career double-
o He finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and added two blocks and two
o Towns has two double-doubles in the last three games.
o Towns has blocked two shots in each of UK’s past three games.
o Standing at 6-11, Towns also has two or more assists in each of the past three
Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein finished with a team-high 15 points and chipped in
Freshman guard Devin Booker finished with 14 points.
Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison scored 13 points and had a team-high four assists.
o Cauley-Stein had a team-high three blocks and added a steal.
o He scored in double figures for the second game in a row and the third time in the
last four games.
o He has scored in double figures in five of UK’s last six road games.
o He has scored in double figures in three of the last five games.
WILDCATS “TAKE IT PERSONAL” to KEEP SPECIAL SEASON on TRACK
Brendon D. Miller, Midwest News and Sports – February 7, 2015
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Kentucky passed its stiffest test to date tonight with a 68 – 61 win in an intense and raucous Stephen O’Connell Center here in Gainesville, on Saturday Night. Sure the CATS were favored to win tonight, but being on the road on the SEC makes betting lines and what should happen a goal but not a certainty.
The CATS toughed this game out as the Gators certainly brought it in a venue and atmosphere the likes of which the CATS will not have to face the rest of the year. The game began just as Billy Donovan wanted, as the crowd and the “Rowdy Reptiles” give the Gators max intensity, Michael Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith hit back to back threes for a 6 – 2 start and 8 – 5 lead at the first media timeout. This was a familiar script for the upper classmen as it must have brought up thoughts of the three losses that Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee, suffered at the hands of the Gators last year. Aaron Harrison in the post-game presser said the returning Wildcats had “took it personal” (the losses) and it was motivation for them in this game, and they needed it during this battle that felt like a heavy weight title fight. Ten first half Kentucky turnovers, the Gators shooting 44% from the field, and two personals on each Aaron and Andrew Harrison led to a 30 – 28 Gator lead at the half. Only four Wildcats scored in the half with Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way with 11, Devin Booker having 8, Aaron Harrison 5, and Cauley-Stein 4 points.
The second half began with the CATS tying the score on a layup by Booker, but the largest lead the rest of the way by either team outside the final minute would be five points. The game changer was WCS’s monster slam over Devin Robinson at the 12:09 mark. The score was 44 – 42 Gators at that time, and the And 1 make by WCS put the Cats up 45 – 44. It was a SportsCenter Top 10 candidate, and the CATS would never trail again the rest of the way. Aaron Harrison poured in 18 in the second half hitting two big threes and leading the CATS with 23 points on the night. Cal has been saying all year, that when the game is on the line, Aaron is the go to guy, and when the CATS needed a bucket tonight, Aaron was the man, with several crowd-taming daggers that stopped the Gators momentum each time. Towns said post-game, “Not many teams in the country have a player like Aaron Harrison. Luckily, we have the only one.” Towns put up All-American numbers with 19 points, on 6 for 10 shooting, with 8 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Two other CATS were in double figures with WCS having 13 and 5 boards, and Booker with 12 and 4 boards. Tyler Ulis was the steadying influence at the point putting in 33 minutes with 5 assists and only 2 turnovers against the withering pressure put on by the Gators.
Seth Davis tweeted that this was the most impressive win of the season for the CATS, and I agree. Deficiencies in the past games were remedied. The CATS have had problems closing games, but not tonight, shutting the door by going 16 for 17 in the second half from the line and 21 for 22 for the game. Many times with Cal teams, free throw shooting has been an issue, but it was the nail in the Gator coffin tonight. Rebounding has also been an issue in the last month or so, and the CATS won the battle on the glass 33 to 20 overall, and on the offensive boards 11 to 6. Motivation will continue to be an issue as the CATS go forward. Hopefully LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia have done something these CATS will “take personal” if this is the kind of performance that results. On we go BBN!!
Game notes by UK Athletics:
Kentucky Postgame Notes – No. 1/1 Kentucky vs. Florida – O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Fla.
With the win, Kentucky is 23-0, 10-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida dropped to 12-11, 5-5 SEC.
Kentucky owns a 95-37 all-time record against Florida, including a 34-24 edge in Gainesville, Fla.
Kentucky improved to 4-2 under head coach John Calipari in when ESPN’s College GameDay is on hand.
Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 10 with tipoff slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The only undefeated team remaining in the nation, Kentucky is the all-time wins leader in college basketball with 2,163.
With 23 consecutive wins to open the year, tied the 1965-66 Wildcats for the second-best start in program history.
Kentucky is off to the best start under coach John Calipari.
UK is two wins shy of equaling the best start in school annals.
UK’s 23-game winning streak is the tied with the 1952 Wildcats for the eighth-longest streak in Kentucky history.
UK’s 23-game winning streak is tied for the fifth-longest streak in single-season history.
UK has won 45 of its last 47 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has a 175-37 record at Kentucky and a 620-177 overall on-court record in his career.
Calipari has an 89-9 all-time record when coaching the nation’s No. 1 team, including a 48-4 mark at Kentucky.
Kentucky has a league-leading 932-262 all-time record in SEC play.
Kentucky was 21 of 22 from the free-throw line, which was a season-best 95.5-percent clip.
Florida shot 24 of 49 (.490) from the field, which was the second highest shooting percentage by a UK opponent this year (Ole Miss – .492) and the best by a UK opponent playing on its home floor.
The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead on a Willie Cauley-Stein jumper with 18:46 remaining in the first half, and did not lead again until taking a 33-32 lead on a Karl-Anthony Towns bucket with 18:21 remaining in the second half.
After taking a 45-44 lead on a Willie Cauley-Stein dunk with 12:01 to go in the game, Kentucky never trailed again.
Kentucky finished the game on a 9-2 run.
Just five Wildcats scored in the game, with four of them (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker) each scoring in double figures.
Kentucky extended its streak of games with a 3-pointer to 923 consecutive games, the second longest streak in the nation.
Kentucky finished with four steals as a team, which was a season low.
Kentucky out-rebounded Florida 33-20, and Florida’s 20 rebounds was the fewest total by a UK opponent this year.
Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison scored 23 points, with 18 of them coming in the second half.
Harrison’s 23 points were the second-highest single-game total by a Wildcat this season, trailing only his 26 vs. Ole Miss on Jan. 6.
He was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free-throw line, which was the best total by a Wildcat who shot 100 percent from the line in a game this season.
Harrison shot 3 of 6 from 3-point range, marking the fifth time this season he has made three or more shots from the perimeter.
Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, and added 19 points, tying his career high.
He led UK in rebounds for the second game in a row.
Towns’ two blocks were also a game high, and marked the second-straight game he has led UK in blocks.
He dished three assists, one away from his career high.
Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein scored 13 points, and was 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
Cauley-Stein shot 100-percent from line in a single game for the first time in his career when attempting three or more free throws.
Freshman guard Devin Booker scored 12 points.
He has scored in double figures in four of the last five road games.
Kentucky is 21-0, 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 13-8, 3-5 in league play.
Kentucky leads the series 105-37, including 55-10 at home.
With 21 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the third-best start in program history.
Kentucky is now the lone undefeated team in the nation following Virginia’s setback tonight to Duke.
Kentucky is 198-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 43 of the last 45 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has an 87-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 46-4 at UK.
Calipari is now 173-37 (.824) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
Kentucky was behind for only 20 seconds tonight. UK has trailed for only 103:43 of a possible 855 minutes this season.
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at home against Georgia. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised on ESPNU.
Sparked by inside players, Kentucky shot a season-best 58.5 percent from the field. UK’s bigs (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson) combined to make 13-of-16 for 81.3 percent.
UK made 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) on 3-point shots tonight. Over the last 11 games, Kentucky has shot 44 percent on 3-pointers, 77-of-175.
Kentucky had only five turnovers tonight, just one away from the season low of four miscues.
Kentucky had balanced scoring tonight with four players in double figures and eight players scoring at least five points.
UK is 105-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 17-0 this season.
UK is 54-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 16 times this season.
Kentucky’s streak of 921 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended early in the contest when Aaron Harrison hit a long ball from the left corner at the 17:47 mark of the first half.
Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Dominique Hawkins, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the sixth time this season.
Alabama scored on the game’s opening possession but Kentucky responded with the next seven points and the Wildcats never trailed again.
UK led by as many as 17 points at 37-20 and took a 37-24 lead into halftime.
Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.
The lead stayed between 12 and 21 points during the second half.
Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting night, making all four field goal attempts and all four foul shots for a total of 12 points. All of his points came in the first half.
Willie Cauley-Stein tallied 12 points, making all four of his field-goal attempts.
Devin Booker had 11 points, including three of four 3-pointers. He’s now made 25 of his last 38 long shots, 65.8 percent.
Aaron Harrison chipped in 10 points, the 10th time in the last 12 games he has tallied in double figures.
Marcus Lee led the Wildcats in rebounding with five boards and also scored eight points, most for him since scoring eight vs. North Carolina on Dec. 13.
Tyler Ulis contributed a game-high four assists and scored six points.
AN INTERVIEW WITH:
COACH JOHN CALIPARI
Q: On Willie Cauley-Stein:
COACH CALIPARI: I told them, I don’t know what you’re saying to yourself at halftime, but you better change. He was so good, he looked like the best big man in the country in the first half. That’s what I think he could do. The only issue is he had no rebounds.
So, if he had clipped off three or four five rebounds with that kind of half, it would have been like, wow.
Comes out the second half, the very first play, he gets screened, he falls asleep, fouls on a rebound.
But he’s a young kid. That’s the stuff he does. That shows you how good he could be. I like the fact that we went at Willie and went at him a little bit and made him do some things offensively. I thought he did good.
After struggling at his dad’s alma mater and missing his first couple tonight, were you glad to see (Devin) Booker sort of get back in the groove and is that what you’ve come to expect from him the way he shot the ball?
COACH CALIPARI: I thought he played good. I got upset that we threw a ball to him in the corner and he didn’t have a shot, instead of driving it, he just passed it.
I said if you’re going to play that way, I’ll take you out. With Trey Lyles being out, this was a good win. I look at it, you look at the stats, we shoot 50-some percent, had five turnovers, and there was, we were just a little bit off. Now think about what I’m saying. Like I wasn’t ‑‑ there was things that happened out there that ‑‑ I may be wanting these guys to be perfect on every possession, but you know what? I just think we have to keep that standard high of what we’ll accept and what we’re not accepting.
Dakari (Johnson) early in the game. Sorry. Then in the second half I thought Dakari played.
I thought Marcus Lee was good the whole game. Couple one-handed rebounds.
We’re reverting, doing some things that are just absolute sins in this program. One-handed rebounds, for us, is a sin. That is a sin. There’s no reason for it. They know that. And it’s something I don’t accept.
But again, it was a good league win and now we have two days to get ready for Georgia. We’ll have a film day tomorrow and practice on Monday and get ready for them on Tuesday.
Obviously with Trey (Lyles) out there were some minutes available, didn’t see Derek (Willis), is he still sort of not gotten back to where you want him to be?
COACH CALIPARI: He’s going to have his opportunities and when he has them ‑‑ I just, I look at it and I tell you that Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew (Harrison) and even Devin (Booker) and these guys they deserve ‑‑ now Aaron played 32 minutes, I didn’t know I played him that many minutes, I was hoping those guys got around 28 and the others did. Andrew got 28. He probably got a couple of Devin’s minutes.
But again I haven’t subbed this way this year, so it’s hard to keep track of who is in and who is out. But I liked Tyler (Ulis) and Andrew together. I thought that was good. But we’re now a different team without Trey. So we change again.
You only trailed by 20 seconds in the entire game today, your team was just seemed highly proficient in the first five minutes. What did you see out of them in the first five?
COACH CALIPARI: We’re an efficient team. That’s how we play. We’re ‑‑ we’re not ‑‑ the issue has been for us is our post play. Today our post play was good, which is why we shot over 50 percent. Because now it opens up everything else.
You either got to double team or you got to dig, you got to do something or the guy’s going to score. That’s what Karl (-Anthony Towns) and Dakari and Willie should be able to do. Even in a physical game they should be able to do that. We’re trying to get them to be confident and we did some stuff with Karl that I think helped him, but that second half is just like, come on now. No way. This should have been a 25 and eight night for him, it really should have. He had 12 in the first half, that’s what he ended with.
Do you expect Trey to play on Tuesday and what in particular?
COACH CALIPARI: Don’t know.
What did you like about Willie (Cauley-Stein)?
COACH CALIPARI: Don’t know if he’ll play on Tuesday or not. He’s pretty sick. So, but Willie, we’re telling Willie, don’t settle for just being a defensive player. 4‑of-6 from the line, I wish he was 5-of‑6, but 4-of‑6 is pretty good for him. But he scored around the goal. He’s got that jump hook, he’s long, he’s active, he’s big, just jump over people and score. Even when they’re pushing on you, want it. Relish that. That’s what I want. Push me.
But again, good win without Trey, I thought our defense in the first half was really good, then we fouled and gave up a layup late. Instead of being 17, 18, it’s 13, and they got a chance and that’s the one thing this team’s not doing, putting people away when they get that opportunity.
Apologies to everybody for a non‑game question, but rule changes. I know Seth (Greenburg) asked you about it and you said you wanted more practices August, is there anything else, shot clock, anything else that you would do?
COACH CALIPARI: Shot clock would be fine if they put it at 30. It would have no affect on me. But I think that college basketball should own August and do things in August. There’s nothing going on. So let’s own it. Let’s, let us do it. Whether it be play exhibition games, whether it be practice, whether ‑‑ you want to go on a foreign trip and they want to televise it, so what? Do what they did with us last year. It was pretty good our games out‑rated the USA basketball games most of the time. As least the first couple. So people want to watch college basketball. Do it in August.
What about refs? Would you do anything different with the way the refs are set up right now?
COACH CALIPARI: When you have a good team you don’t have to worry about refs. When your team’s not good, you really worry about refs. Say put a fourth out there. Somebody said four times zero is zero. Six times zero is zero.
Is it surprising to you when you say post play has been our issue?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. Because it’s been rough. We have to get Dakari, you got to make some and ones, you can’t miss all those and expect to go to the foul line and then miss free throws. You just can’t. We can’t throw you the ball.
He’s gotten better. He’s got to figure out ways, am I not shooting it quick enough, do I need to make a quicker play, am I trying to bully and I can’t even bully a guy that’s my size or smaller, I’m not getting it to the rim.
But we’re getting better at it, but today was great because Willie and Karl, we threw them the ball, they went 8-of-8. Well if you are bigs go 8-of‑8 you’re going to shoot over 50 percent.
John, Karl lost Kessens on a cut in the second half, did he turn his head or what happened?
COACH CALIPARI: He stood straight up and down. You’re standing straight up and down you’re just standing there and all of a sudden you get screened you’re like, oh my, it’s ‑‑ by that time the guy’s shooting a layup. And by that time, Dakari was back in the game.
The last undefeated team now in the NCAA, I know you said that doesn’t matter to you.
COACH CALIPARI: I think South Carolina (Women’s Team) is undefeated and Princeton (Women’s Team) is undefeated, so there’s some other teams. I think our rifle team is undefeated. Did they?
Like I said, this team, the question is, how good can we be. And I don’t know yet. I’m trying to get guys to go to that next level. I’m prodding and pushing and screaming and yelling, go, because I really do want to see how good can we really be.
You’re not going to be great every night out, if you play 30 games in a season, 31, four or five of them are going to be really high level. Four or five of them are going to be so bad you just hope the other team stinks too. And then the rest of them are all going to be within a range of four or five percent. That’s the season.
I’m trying to get us to just come out one time ‑‑ and we have had a couple now, we had the Kansas game, that was a romp, I mean that was from start ‑‑ UCLA ‑‑ start to finish, we have had a few of them. But we have also had the Columbia’s down 11, we have had Buffalo down five. We have had ‑‑ and I would imagine there’s going to be a league game or two before we finish we’ll be down at half and have to see if we can fight to come back and we’re not at our best, it’s just how the season goes.
So when you say about undefeated, we’re playing every game to win, but if you do ‑‑ I told them last night, we lose today, we’re 20-1. So?
I said, you lose in March, your season’s over.
Right now, you should just try to find out how good you can be. And that’s all we’re doing. I’m not ‑‑ I’ve had a team at Massachusetts (UMass) that was started the season like this, I had a team at Memphis that started the season like this, both of those teams took an L and by the end of the year were the best version of themselves. By the end of the year.
So, and whether that happens to this team or not, one way or another, I would rather them win it all or win them all, but if they don’t, this doesn’t. Just as long as we’re getting better.