Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video/Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari CBS Sports Classic Pre-UCLA Press Conference

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

KENTUCKY HEAD COACH JOHN CALIPARI

Opening statement …
“This event is something we’ve looked forward to, and I’ve personally looked forward to. You’re talking about more national titles than any four schools in the country in this building. You’re talking about storied programs with great histories that are always a play or two away with a chance to win the national title. All the programs. We’re coming together for three years here in Chicago, back in New York and then in Las Vegas, to bring these four programs – storied programs – around the country for all of our fans to see.”

On Alex Poythress and if there has been an update on his surgery …
“He’s doing as well as can be expected. The guys are all hitting him, talking to him and checking in on him. The swelling has to go down before he does the surgery. He’s still probably 10 days away from that. I was going to meet with him today to see what he and his family have decided as far as surgery and when and where, and all those things, but that’ll be going forward. I don’t think he will go to Chicago with us. I haven’t talked to him, but I doubt he does. He’ll go through the Christmas break with his family.”

On the play of UCLA sophomore guard Bryce Alford and what he means to their team …
“He’s 17 (points) and seven (assists). There’s no other guard in the country averaging 17 points and seven assists. He’s one of those guys – and there aren’t many in the country – that can take over a game and change the complexion of a game within a minute and a half. The reason is, he can pull up from anywhere, he makes free throws, he can get you in foul trouble, his 3 off the bounce, off the catch, very skilled and a great passer. So, if you try to do different things with him, he creates for his teammates as well as anybody we’ve seen. Plus, he’s the coach’s son so he can do what he wants.”

On UCLA senior guard Norman Powell and what challenges he presents …
“He’s another kid, he’s like a scoring machine. He has some physique to him. He can get to the rim, he can make 3s. He and Bryce (Alford) in the backcourt have complemented each other. You’ve got a guy who’s a tough matchup if we try to go too big because you have to figure out, can Trey Lyles guard their guards, because that’s basically what he’s going to have to do. He is an all-around – he’s a baller. I can’t tell you he’s this, he’s that. He can take it to the rim, he’s physical, he makes open shots, he’ll score in bunches. Again, the best thing Steve (Alford) has done is he’s played to his team’s strengths. We have to open this up. We know we got to score in transition. We have to give these guys freedom offensively as we really zero in on how we have to guard. I would expect in this game we’ll see a lot of zone. We’ve seen a bunch, but I think we’ll see a lot of zone. I also think, with he and Bryce, they can go to – I don’t know what Steve calls it now – but their grind-it-out, money offense where they’re running that baseline runner and cross screening inside, going inside pick-and-rolls, catch-and-shoots, and catch-and-drives. I think we’re going to see a lot of that and those guys are really good in that kind of situation.”

On his rotation without Alex Poythress …
“What we’ve done is, we’re still platooning. What I’m doing is we’ll platoon nine. We’re going to have time to see if Derek Willis and Dom(inique) Hawkins deserve to be in the rotation of 10. I’m not going to take minutes away from any player just to platoon. That’s not what the idea (is). We were platooning for one reason: to try to take care of 10 players. I’ve never done it before, may never do it again, but right now it’s what’s best for these players. So when I went to nine, I told either Andrew (Harrison), Aaron (Harrison) or Trey, whichever one of you who is playing the best will stay in. Then, whoever is playing second best, if that guy needs a sub, he’ll go in. So, play well and you’ll play more. So, trying to reward the guys who are playing well and give them some extra minutes.”

On if there was any contingency plan in the preseason to handle an injury like this with the platoons …
“Again, we’ve never done this before. I didn’t do this to try to be a genius. I did it because we have 10 players and you could not sub 10 players in and out liberally. You would worry about subbing versus worrying about the game. That’s why we platooned. We did talk in terms of, ‘Hey, if we get to a point where eight of these guys or seven have separated from the rest, it’ll be pretty cut and dry that it’s done on the court and proven on the court and those guys will play.’ I’m not married to anything. My whole thing is, What’s the best way for these kids to play to put them in the best chance to win and the best system or style that they all are the best versions of themselves. I’m not just worried about winning games, I’m worried about developing young people to be their best. To be the best versions of themselves. Now, the best version of themselves is probably playing in a way that they’re not as comfortable playing because it’s harder. They’d rather it be a little bit easier. ‘Let me score every five times down the floor and I should be good,’ versus make me take charges, dive on the floor, ‘You’re going to make me defend every possession? Like, every minute I’m out there I have to guard somebody? Come on.’ That’s the type of stuff you go through when you’re battling guys to be the best version of themselves.”

On the pressure on Tyler Ulis playing back at home in Chicago …
“It’s hard, he’s going home. It’s a hard deal. The one thing I think we can expect him to do is play hard, compete and battle. That’s who he is. He’s like the energy bunny. The other parts of making shots or doing the things he’s doing in a free-flowing game, we’ll find out where he is right now. It’s just hard. It’s a hard deal. It was hard for Trey. Think about it. We’re talking young kids, 18 years old, going home in front of family and friends. And we’re talking about, people probably questioned Tyler, ‘Kentucky? What? You’re not …’ And they’re looking at it saying, he is. He’s a Kentucky player.”

On if he wants to attack and exploit teams’ lack of depth when possible since Kentucky has so much …
“The best three teams I’ve coached in my career, aside from my NBA teams – well they probably were even if you included my NBA run – but the ’95-96 UMass team, I played six guys, really I played 5.5, the 2008 Memphis team I played six guys, maybe seven, the 2012 (Kentucky) team I played six guys. They have six they rotate in who can really play. So for anyone to say you can’t do it with six guys, you’re, no. Coach (John) Wooden told me, Coach (Joe B.) Hall has said it to me, Coach (Jack) Leaman when I was at UMass, Coach (Gene) Bartow when I was at Memphis, ‘You don’t need to play eight, nine, 10 guys. You play your six.’ Old school coaches played six guys and you earned playing time in practice. If not, you were there backup. If there wasn’t foul trouble or injuries you probably weren’t playing. Steve (Alford) probably has a really happy team right now. Really excited team. A team that probably comes to practice jacked up because they know who’s playing and they know who’s not playing. Guys are now saying we have to play and we have to play without foul trouble. We have to be in great condition. We have to be jacked up about playing. We have to play with less mistakes. Now all of a sudden, they make shots – the UCLA game is going to be a really hard game for us. The main reason is, they play loose, they can make shots. Let’s say they take 25 3s and they make 15, which they’re capable of, we lose. We go on to the next game – well we go to Christmas for four days, and then go on to the next game – but that’s just how it is. I’m more concerned about my team. I’ll tell you, I’ve been on that end of playing six guys, and they were always my best teams.”

Video/Transcript: UK Players Ulis, Lyles CBS Sports Classic Pre-UCLA Interviews

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

TYLER ULIS

On the wrap around his right leg …
“Just precautionary. I’m trying to get warm before practice so I put a heat pack on before so I don’t go out there tight.”

On going back to Chicago …
“I can’t wait to get back home, play in front of the home crowd, everybody’s there, my family is going to be there watching, lots of my hometown friends and stuff like that. It’s going to be exciting.”

On if there is added pressure playing in his hometown of Chicago …
“Not really because I’ve been playing around them my whole life. It’s just another game.”

On if he’ll go to the Michael Jordan statue on this trip …
“I probably won’t go to the statue. I’ve seen it enough.”

On if the McDonald’s All-America game was the only other time he has played in this gym …
“Yeah, this will be my second time playing there. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and I can’t wait to get there.”

On if it will be hard to not do too much to try to impress his family and friends …
“No, it won’t be because I’m just going to come out and play like any other game, try to do what I have to do, and get the win.”

On if he could use some more tickets for this game …
“Yeah, I could. I think a couple teammates are going to help me out on the tickets and try to make sure I can get people who want to be there in the stands.”

On UCLA’s lack of depth and what that means to them …
“I don’t know anything about UCLA yet. We haven’t watched anything on them, so I can’t comment on that.”

On if they sort of ‘smell blood in the water’ when facing a team that is only five or six deep …
“That’s the whole idea of the platoon system is to try to bring in fresh bodies and wear the other team down. I feel like every game we’re coming in with the same attitude to try to attack them and get after it.”

On if they can tell if the opposing team is getting tired in the second half …
“Yeah, most of the teams we play with the platooning coming in and out, they get worn down by the time the second half comes around, or even earlier in the first half, because we’re bringing in fresh bodies every time and everyone is playing as hard as they can.”

On what he sees in an opponent that indicates they are getting tired …
“I just see as a team that we’re doing our job and we’re coming out playing like how Cal wants us to play. We’re just giving it our all out there.”

On if he enjoys seeing the opposition get tired being a guy who likes to pester opposing offenses …
“Yeah, when guys get tired that will give me my opportunities to create steals and make defensive plays.”

On if he considers himself a ‘Chicago player’ …
“Well, I consider myself a Chicago player, an Ohio player. I’m from both. I just grew up playing with a lot of guys out of Chicago and in Ohio and it made me who I am today. Growing up, playing on the playgrounds, having to play against older guys, just having to be tough.”

On what the reputation of a Chicago player is …
“Tough, will do anything to get the job done and wants to win.”

On always trying to prove himself and Chicago giving him that opportunity …
“When I finally moved to Chicago it was tough leaving my mom. But, it gave me a great opportunity because the market there is so big and all the great talent there. We had I think three McDonald’s All-Americans. The players there helped me get better and it put me in front of the right people, and playing against that type of competition gets me ready.”

On if he thinks he would have ended up at Kentucky had he not moved to Chicago …
“I feel like that played a big part. I would not be here if I didn’t move to Chicago because – Ohio is a great state, that’s where I’m from, but the basketball is just not at the level Chicago is.”

On what the name John Wooden means to him …
“He’s legendary in basketball. Everybody knows about him. He has the – I forget what it’s called, the quotes he had. I remember my dad had it up on the wall. We used to read that. He’s just a legendary person.”

On UCLA winning 10 championships in 12 years …
“I don’t see how a team does that. How he did it. Obviously, he’s a great coach. He knew how to do his job very well and he’s great.”

On this upcoming stretch of games for Kentucky …
“I love the big games. I can’t wait to play UCLA, Louisville, those types of games are what all basketball players dream for. They’re what you watch growing up. I can’t wait.”

On always knowing where his family is located at games …
“Most of the times I do (know where they are) because they sit in the same place so it’s not really hard to find them. But, in high school they would sit in the same spot and now they give them the tickets where to sit so most of the time I find them and we have a little connection.”

On staying focused on environments like this on a neutral court …
“He hasn’t really talked about that because he knows we’re going to come out ready to play against the top teams like this. We’re just trying to get better on the teams that aren’t as big as Louisville and UCLA. Teams that we (need to) come out with the same energy and stuff like that.”

On if he will stay in Chicago following the game …
“Yeah, I get to stay, finally. I get to spend some time with my family and friends. Everybody will be there visiting from college. It’ll be fun.”

On if he’ll go to Ohio as well …
“I’ll spend the whole time in Chicago because that’s where I spent my last four years in high school and I saw my mom and her side of the family over Thanksgiving.”

On how many tickets he has come up with …
“I’ve got six right now. I’m looking to get some more.”

On if it’s tough to get tickets …
“Yeah, it is tough. Everybody wants to come to the big games, but my friends are going to find ways to get there. I know people there who have different seats in the United Center who I grew up with. People will be there to support me.”

On Coach Cal saying players often struggle in games back at their hometowns …
“I don’t know why he says it, but I’m not really thinking about that. I’m just going to try to come out and play like I always have.”

On if it helps him going back home in that he’s not looked at as a scorer …
“That definitely helps because I’m not looked at as a scorer. It’s not like I’m going to come out and jack up 20 shots and miss 15. It helps me out with my job to play defense, distribute and score when I have to. It’ll just be another game.”

On if the expectations placed on UK are excessive …
“I don’t think they’re excessive because we have our own expectations. We’re not really looking to live up to anyone else’s, so as a team we all know we have one goal and we’re just trying to do our best to reach it.”

TREY LYLES

On playing against a historic team like UCLA …
“It’s going to be a great experience to play against them, and being able to play at a neutral site is going to be fun. Hopefully we go out there and get the win.”

On if he followed UCLA’s title run as a kid …
“Definitely. All the years with John Wooden as a coach, Bill Walton and all the great players they had.”

On what changes for him with Poythress out …
“Definitely hurts, but we have to approach practice the same way and try to get better every day.”

On if there’s more pressure on him now …
“I don’t see it as pressure. I see it as (I) just (have) to step up and continue to do what I’m doing to help the team.”

On if he’s in a better spot as a starter …
“I feel comfortable in both ways I was playing. Coach (Cal) believes in me and he’s putting me out there, so I’m definitely comfortable on the first platoon.”

On if it changes anything defensively for him …
“No, not really. Defense, coming in, was my main thing I wanted to work on and I believe I’m getting better at it, but I still have a ways to go.”

On if staying on the floor with the second platoon against North Carolina was a reward …
“I just had to go out there and continue to play hard. Coach (Cal) kept me in there for a reason, and I just had to keep trying to play hard.”

On Cal saying he’s going to keep whoever is playing better between him and the Harrison twins …
“Yeah, he told us that at halftime during the game last Saturday. He’s doing it, so he’s going to keep it up I guess.”

On if that’s added incentive …
“I just think we’ve got to continue to go out there and play hard no matter what it’s for, and if he keeps us in, he keeps us in.”

On if he knows any of the guys for UCLA …
“I played against a couple of them, Kevon Looney, (was) the main one I played against, and then their big center, (Tony) Parker, I played with him. There’s another guy they have, I played with him at the McDonald’s All-American game. A few people.”

On what type of player Looney is …
“He’s just a very versatile player – rebounder, he can score and stuff like that. He’s very talented.”

On what he’s getting used to with a chunk of the season over with …
“It goes by fast and you’ve got to take advantage of all of it as much as you can. Don’t take it for granted, and just continue to go out there and play hard.”

On how he’s changed …
“(I’m) just trying to become a better player, trying to play hard all the time and live up to the expectation coaches want from us.”

On how easy or difficult that is …
“It’s both. You have to push yourself and be confident in who you are, and just go out there and work hard. (Reporter says, ‘you’re a confident guy though.’) Yeah, I’d say so.”

On his experience playing at the United Center …
“I played there for the McDonald’s All-American Game, so I’m used to it a little bit. It’ll be fun to go back there and play again. Hopefully we can come out with another win.”

On if he likes the rims there …
“They’re alright. Hopefully they treat me better than Indiana’s did (laughter).”

On going through finals week and preparing for a game …
“It just comes along with it. You’ve got to take everything head on and you have to neutralize time so you can study, and then neutralize time for practice and individual workouts. Academics comes first for us. Coach (Cal) understands that, so if we tell him we have to study he understands that.”

On if he’s helping out Tyler Ulis with tickets …
“It’s pretty close to home, so I have my family coming to that one. I wasn’t able to help him out, but I’m pretty sure a lot of the other guys were.”

On if Ulis is excited to play back in his hometown …
“He definitely is. We’ve talked about it from the beginning of the year. I know him, he’s going to go out there and play hard and play to the best of his ability, and do what he always does, which is lead the team as a point guard and really step up into that leadership (role).”

On if he uses Poythress being out as an opportunity to prove that he should play more minutes …
“I think everybody just has to go out there and continue doing what they’re doing, which is playing hard and doing what Coach (Cal) asks of them, and whoever he wants to keep in the game he’ll keep in the game.”

On how he processes the praise from other coaches …
“I think all of us let it go in one ear and out the other, because it really doesn’t matter if we don’t go out there and perform, so we need to go out there and play to the best of our abilities, and play as a team and continue to win. So once the season is said and done, they can say that then.”

On if he sees this team as a potentially historic team …
“If we continue to play the way that we have been, and guys keep stepping up and stepping into leadership roles, and playing to the best of their abilities, I definitely think so.”

On UCLA lacking depth …
“That may be true, but they have guys who can make plays and score the ball and do other things. We’re not going to look down on them because of that. We’re going to accept the challenge and go out there and play to the best of our ability and play as a team.”

On if Poythress has said anything to him, since he’s taken the starting spot …
“He just tells me to continue playing hard. Seeing him go down was really tough for all of us, so we want to continue to play for him.”

On what he’s said to Poythress …
“Anytime he needs anything from any of us, just we’re going to be there for him. For him to stay strong because he’s going to be all right. God has a plan for him.”

Transcript: UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford CBS Sports Classic Pre-UK Interview

UCLA HEAD COACH STEVE ALFORD 

Opening statement …
“We’re excited to be a part of this classic. It’s a great deal for college basketball. There’s an awful lot of history and tradition with these four universities in regards to men’s basketball. We’re excited for the challenge. We know, obviously, we’re playing the best team in the country, and we’re looking forward to that opportunity and challenge.”

On how much John Wooden’s name resonates with high school prospects today …
“Obviously, the things Coach Wooden did here and what he represented, it’s not just with the athletes around the country, but he just embodies everything UCLA is and stands for. It’s a great accomplishment on his part, not just in what he did – it’s obvious what he did in basketball with the championships and the wins – but the culture, it resonates all across our campus as far as the pyramid of success is in academic buildings, not just Pauley Pavilion. Everything he touched was such a positive impact through our campus. That history and tradition, not just when he was here to coach, but seeing Anne, his daughter, in the stands, the Wooden name and the Wooden legacy continues in a very large rate. And it should, because he did so much.”

On what an event like the CBS Sports Classic can do for the UCLA program …
“You’re not going to go through a stretch of national titles that happened (in the 1960s and ‘70s). We’re in different eras and different parities, obviously. Now, today, you have to win six games on a neutral court. It’s why you see today in men’s basketball, you hardly ever see back-to-back champions. It’s just very, very difficult. We’re just trying to continue to build. We laid a great foundation last year. We took over a program that had seven scholarship players and we were able to do a lot of good things last year as far as style of play, and the way we want to look as a basketball team. Now we lost four guys to the NBA. Three guys were underclassmen and went in the first round. That’s a lot when you’re just taking over a program. These guys have done a great job. They’re working hard. We just have a lot of inexperience, and we’re learning. We know it’s a tall order because Kentucky is not just extremely well coached, but they’re very talented and a very deep team and a very good team.”

On what UCLA needs to do against a team as deep as Kentucky …
“We have to do a lot of good things. We have to take care of the basketball. We’ve always been a good assist/turnover team last year and even early into this season. Those have been things that have been positive for us. I think Kentucky is as good as it gets throughout our country defensively, so that’s a tall order. Can we take care of the ball? Can we value the ball? Can we get the shots we need to get? Then, when you play a team like this, you’re going to have to make shots. You’re going to have to have a night where you’re shooting the ball well. It’s not going to be easy if we’re shooting 35 percent. We’re going to have to make some shots. We’re going to have to get to the foul line and take advantage of the foul line. We’ve done a good job of getting to the foul line, we just haven’t been a good foul shooting team. Those are things you’re going to have to do. When you’re playing a team like Kentucky, they’re the best rebounding team, I think hands down, in our country. It’s not just about trying to guard them, you have to finish the possession. That’s what makes it so hard. We’ve got to be awfully good defensively, and we have to be very efficient offensively to give us a chance in those last five minutes to try to win a game.”

On how Tony Parker and Kevon Looney match up against a team like Kentucky …
“Tony is our center. He’s done a really nice job of developing. We like what he’s doing for his development stage. He’s very powerful inside. He’s a strong kid. He can shoot it out to 15-17 feet. He’s doing a really good job. His numbers are all up from a rebounding standpoint. He continues to learn and grow defensively, which is going to be a big key for us throughout the year. Kevon has had a very, very special start to his collegiate career. You’re a freshman and you’re top five in the country in double-doubles and doing against – we’ve played a very good schedule – very good competition. He’s just been extremely consistent, and usually you don’t see that in a lot of freshmen. You’ll see big games here and there, but the consistency part of Kevon has been very good to see. It’s obviously helped us, but it speaks volumes to who Kevon is. He’s just an individual who cares. He’s very coachable and he’s obviously very talented.”

On how important the play of Bryce Alford is …
“Most of our starters are getting 30-plus minutes. It is different. Kentucky has the platoons and they have a lot of depth. That’s one of the things they do – they can wear you down and try to wear you out, and they’ve done a very good job with that. That’s where hopefully our inexperience starts to get a little bit better as we’re 11 games into this thing. That’s part of what we’ve got to continue to learn. Bryce, like Kevon, has been extremely consistent. That’s what’s helped us. We’ve got guys in either new roles or very young players. Bryce is in a new role. Now he’s the starting point guard. There’s being a lot asked of him. That’s what we appreciate as coaches is that he’s delivering. He’s got a great assist/turnover ratio. He’s one of the best assist guys in the country, and yet we know he’s one of our better shooters and we’ve got to get scoring out of him too. That’s asking a lot out of your point guard and he’s performed at a very high level, and that’s a credit to him and a credit to his skill set and who he is as a player.”

On what UCLA has done in practice to prepare for Kentucky’s depth …
“That’s a great question. We’re trying to find balance to be honest with you because we’re in finals. It’s a tough stretch for us. We’ve got Gonzaga and Kentucky sandwiched between finals. It’s a balance of how much you can challenge guys physically as well as mentally because they’re going through this tough stretch academically so you’ve got to find that balance. The guys have been really good. We’re not spending maybe as much time on the court or as much time in film. We’re making sure they get a lift in and we’re getting some conditioning and trying to stay as sharp as we can. And then we’re trying to work on the things we feel like we need to work on going into a game of this magnitude. We’re trying to balance that academically as well. We’ve had a good week. We have a couple more days here as we travel to Chicago and get a couple more practices in, but it has been a good week. I’ve been in it a long time and sometimes finals weeks, you just have this demeanor of, ‘Oh, here we go. We’ve got to do this.’ But the guys have had great attitudes, especially coming off a loss, and then going into finals we’ve had good, spirited practices. I like their energy and hopefully we’ll play like that on Saturday.”

Video: UK/UCLA CBS Sports Classic Promo

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Video: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell pre-Duke Interview

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Video: 2014 UK Football's biggest moments

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Video: BBN Football GameDay 2014

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kentucky vs UCLA....A Preview - CBS Sports Classic

Kentucky vs UCLA 12/20/14 
(Saturday 3:30PM) CBS SPORTS
at Chicago, Il
CBS SPORTS CLASSIC
UK leads the series 6-4

UCLA Bruins (PAC 12)

Location: Los Angels, Calif.
Enrollment: 39,500
Arena: 13,800

Head Coach: Steve Alford
Career Record: 491-244 (66.8%) 23 Seasons
At UCLA: 28-9 (75.7%) One Season

2013-14 Record: 28-9
2013-14 Pac 12 Record: 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: 2-1 NCAA

2014-15 Record: 8-3

UCLA 113 Montana St. 78
UCLA 84 Coastal Carolina 71
UCLA 107 Nicholls St.74
UCLA 77 Long Beach St. 63
Oklahoma 75 UCLA 65
North Carolina 78 UCLA 56
UCLA 88 UAB 76
UCLA 73 Cal State Fullerton 45
UCLA 75 San Diego 68
UCLA 77 UC Riverside 66
Gonzaga 87 UCLA 74

UCLA Stats:

PPG-80.8
FG%-45.9%
3PT%-37.3% (6.9PG)
FT%-66.1%
RPG-41.9 (+6.9)
APG-16.1
TO’s-12.8
SPG-7.5
BPG-4.7

Probable Starting Lineup

Bryce Alford-G 6’3” Soph…………………….18.0 PPG
Norman Powell-G 6’4” Sr……………………..17.4 PPG
Kevin Looney-F 6’9” Fr……………………...13.9 PPG
Isaac Hamilton-G 6’4” Soph…………………11.6 PPG
Tony Parker-F/C 6’9” Jr……………………...10.8 PPG

Other Key Players

Thomas Welsh-C 7’0” Fr………………………4.7 PPG
Noah Allen-G/F 6’6” Soph…………………….2.0 PPG

Coach Steve Alford’s first season at UCLA was a solid success with 29 wins and reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA. However, the Bruins lost 3 first round draft picks with sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson along with freshman Zach LaVine leaving UCLA early for the NBA. Norm Powell is the only starter returning, but coach Alford brought in a solid freshmen class highlighted by 5 star Kevin Looney who is the 2nd leading scorer and leads in rebounds garnering 10’9 RPG for the Bruins.

Coach Alford’s son, Bryce Alford, starts at guard and leads the team in scoring. Alford is shooting a solid 46.7% from the perimeter and an incredible 90.7% from the FT line while leading the team in assists with 74. UCLA is shooting a very good 37.3% from long range with Norman Powell hitting a red hot 46.7% and Isaac Hamilton hitting a terrific 39.6%. Unquestionably, Alford, Powell and Hamilton will pose a huge threat from the perimeter.

Thus far, UCLA is without a signature win losing to Oklahoma, North Carolina and most recently an excellent Gonzaga team. Still, there is talent on the Bruins and their long range shooting success makes them a dangerous opponent.

Kentucky Stats:

PPG-76.2
FG%-47.3%
3 PT%-29.3% ) (4.8 PG)
FT%-66.3%
RPG-41.1 PG (+10.6)
APG-16.3 
TO’s-11.2
SPG-8.5
BPG-8.3

Kentucky arguably played it’s overall best game of the year in defeating North Carolina. Importantly, UK broke out of it’s shooting slump hitting 56.3% from the field and 46.7% on 7-15 from the perimeter. Sadly, the Cats had to play without Alex Poythress who is out for the year with a torn ACL. Trey Lyles started in his place and had a solid game scoring 9 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. WCS continued his great play scoring 15 points…garnering 6 rebounds….with 2 blocks and 4 steals. UK got terrific play from both PG’s….Andrew Harrison had 5 assists and Tyler Ulis had 8 assists. Aaron Harrison finally broke out of his perimeter slump hitting 3-7 from long range and Devin Booker hit all 3 of his perimeter shots. 

Kentucky has signed on for a series of games with UCLA which pits the two colleges with the most NCAA championships. It will likely be a great series as coach Alford is doing a superb job recruiting for the Bruins. This season, however, UK is clearly the superior team in overall talent and should win easily if they effectively defend UCLA’s perimeter shooting. 

UK wins by 15-20 points……GO CATS!