Monday, December 29, 2014

UK's Tyler Ulis named SEC Freshman Of The Week 12/29/14

Ulis Named SEC Freshman of the Week Becomes the fourth different Wildcat freshman to earn a weekly honor this season


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Freshman Tyler Ulis was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week following a career-high 14 points against Louisville on Saturday. The honor is the first of the Lima, Ohio, native's career. He is the fourth different Wildcat to earn a weekly honor this season.

Ulis was named the Bluegrass Sports Commission Most Valuable Player after leading Kentucky to a 58-50 win against fourth-ranked Louisville in the team's first road contest of the season. Ulis scored a career-high 14 points, including a pair of second half 3-pointers to lead the Wildcats in scoring in the victory to remain a perfect 13-0 on the year.

Ulis' previous career high was 12 points against Buffalo in the second game of the season. It marked the first double-figure scoring effort of his career against a top-25 ranked opponent. He also dished out two assists with zero turnovers, while playing in a career-high 26 minutes of action. The five made field goals also marked a career best. With the two 3-pointers against the Cardinals, he has drained at least one from long range in a career-long three straight games.

With Ulis earning Freshman of the Week honors, all four of UK's first-year players have garnered at least one weekly honor this season. Trey Lyles claimed the honor following the opening week of action. Karl-Anthony Towns was tabbed the league's top performing freshman in consecutive weeks to begin the month of December, and Devin Booker earned the same honor following a 19-point effort over UCLA.

Kentucky will return to the floor on Jan. 6, 2015 to begin SEC play. UK hosts Ole Miss at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

UK Hoops Alexis Jennings named Freshman of the Week 12/29/14


Alexis Jennings • Kentucky

Forward • Madison, Ala..

• Jennings came off the bench and netted a career-high 27 points and career-high tying eight rebounds in UK's win over Tennessee State in its nonconference finale on Sunday.

• Marks the most points scored by a UK freshman since former Wildcat A'dia Mathies had 32 vs. Liberty on March 20, 2010.

• Marked her fourth straight game in double figures and first with 20 or more points.

• Hit all three of UK's 3-pointers in the game, a career high.

• Also grabbed a career-high five offensive boards and played a career-high 29 minutes.

• Hit a team-high 8-of-12 attempts from the free-throw line.

• Averaging 6.9 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game on the season but in the last four games is averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds per game.

Alexis Jennings Statistics

OPPONENT PTS REB AST BLK STL

Tennessee State 27 8 0 1 1

AP/USA Today Top 25 Men's Basketball Poll 12/29/14

AP Top 25

1. Kentucky (65) 13-0 1,625
2. Duke 10-0 1,559
3. Virginia 11-0 1,457
4. Wisconsin 12-1 1,395
5. Louisville 11-1 1,327
6. Villanova 12-0 1,316
7. Gonzaga 12-1 1,249
8. Arizona 12-1 1,243
9. Iowa State 9-1 1,005
10. Utah 9-2 956
11. Texas 10-2 903
12. Maryland 12-1 869
13.. Kansas 9-2 775
14. Notre Dame 12-1 709
15. St. John's 11-1 690
16. Wichita St 10-2 630
17. West Virginia 11-1 584
18. Oklahoma 8-3 530
19. North Carolina 9-3 483
20. Ohio State 11-2 435
21. Washington 11-1 253
22. Baylor 10-1 238
23. Northern Iowa 11-1 216
24. Colorado St 13-0 194
25. Georgetown 8-3 140

Others receiving votes: TCU 132, Virginia Commonwealth 101, San Diego St 40, Arkansas 27, LSU 7, George Washington 7, Old Dominion 7, Penn State 5, UNLV 5, Indiana 4, Minnesota 2, Florida 2, Stanford 2, California 1, Army 1, Davidson 1

Dropped from rankings: TCU 25

USA Today Coaches Poll

1. Kentucky (30) 13-0 774
2. Duke (1) 10-0 744
3. Virginia 11-0 698
4. Wisconsin 12-1 663
5. Villanova 12-0 646
6. Louisville 11-1 614
7. Arizona 12-1 600
8. Gonzaga 12-1 587
9. Iowa State 9-1 484
10. Texas 10-2 428
11. Maryland 12-1 416
12. Utah 9-2 400
13. Notre Dame 12-1 371
14. Kansas 9-2 353
15. West Virginia 11-1 330
16. Wichita St 10-2 292
17. St. John's 11-1 272
18. Ohio State 11-2 237
19. Washington 11-1 189
20. North Carolina 9-3 186
21. Oklahoma 8-3 163
22. Baylor 10-1 144
23. Northern Iowa 11-1 112
24. Colorado St 13-0 94
25. San Diego St 10-3 66

Others receiving votes: Virginia Commonwealth 44, Georgetown 42, TCU 31, California 15, Arkansas 14, Seton Hall 12, Minnesota 12, Old Dominion 8, George Washington 7, Oklahoma St 6, LSU 6, Indiana 4, Connecticut 3, Illinois 3, Stanford 2, Georgia 2, Penn State 1

Dropped from rankings: NONE

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Matthew Mitchell Post-Tennessee State

Video courtesy of Regina Richert

Opening Statement

“Well, real proud of our team today. It was a tough, tough game. Tennessee State played really tough and I knew there was a possibility it would be tough today with where our roster was due to injury and ailment. Just a terrific response from our team. It certainly was not the best game that we’ve played all year, but with the real difficult circumstance that we were put in in a real short period of time, I was really proud of our players of getting into some uncomfortable situations and some different roles than they’ve been in all season long and find a way to win.”

On Jennifer O’ Neill’s injury…
“We practiced twice yesterday and in the morning’s practice she just banged her knees going for a loose ball. Not exactly sure who or what she hit. I think it’s a strained patella tendon, which at this point has no structural damage, just too painful to play today. Now, it’s basically a pain tolerance issue. Hopefully it’s not more than a couple of days, could be a couple of weeks, it’s just everybody’s body reacts differently and we’re really grateful it’s not anything structural. Any time missed for us right now is a major injury because we’re just a little understaffed in the backcourt. We’ll watch her day to day and treat the heck out of it, but it’s not a definite 2-4 week thing it’s just until she gets to feeling she can play on it again. That’s her injury.”

On Bria Goss and her progress with her injury…
“She’s in a cast for four weeks before they’ll look at it. She feels good. She practices every day, we don’t throw the ball to her but she cuts, plays and runs sprints. We’re two weeks out from just seeing where she is and hopefully it’s healed in two weeks or wherever we are on that. But, she’s doing great, feeling good, and has a positive attitude. We’ll have some games here without her and so one of the things I was talking about with Bria’s injury and then also with Jen today I was looking forward to the game and I knew it was going to be a hard game because of what Tennessee State can do. They could exploit the team we put out there today and they did at times but we also caused some turnovers and did enough to win. Janee Thompson emerged today as a really great on-ball defender with seven steals, no fouls, and that’s what I was hoping for Bria. I hope a couple people may emerge and really get better right now defensively because they have to. Janee played an unbelievable game and I’m so proud of her. Thirty-five minutes of effort. It wasn’t like she just held a space out there for 35 minutes, she was everywhere – five assists, seven rebounds, seven steals, eight points and had a great attitude, so, good day for Janee Thompson. I’m proud of her, and those are the kind of games we need while Bria’s out to help us be stronger when Bria comes back.”

On being harder on Alexis Jennings in practice and during the games…
“I definitely believe she’s capable, there’s no question. The reason I’m extra hard on her is because her offense is a little more ahead of her defense right now, and so usually when I’m hard on her it’s defensive-driven, and she needed to score 27 today because she may have given up 20, so she was net seven. She needed to have that kind of day for us to come out on top today. That’s sort of a joke, I’ll need to watch the tape. I was very hard on her during the game today, and I had no idea she was scoring 27 points because I was trying to coach her up on defense a little bit. I mean it’s a tough game and we would not have won without her. I told y’all before, she is supremely talented and skilled on the offensive end and I’m really seeing a lot of progress out of her, and so defensively I need to figure out somehow later this week to play well defensively because we didn’t play as well as we should have. Let me say this, it was a tough spot they got put in, and we didn’t play as well as we’re going to need to Friday against Alabama, so we have to get focused in here and do a good job coaching this week and we have a good plan for when we go to play Alabama. But Alexis was good today offensively.”

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops’ Epps, Jennings and Harper Post-Tennessee State Interview

Video courtesy of Regina Richert

#35 Alexis Jennings, Fr., F

On if she saw a performance like this coming for her …
“Well, I wouldn’t say I saw it coming. We had four days off and coming back I wasn’t really expecting that. But as I got out there, I adjusted well and I was able to score offensively and also be a defensive threat.”

On if it’s starting to feel like she is developing a comfort level …
“Yes, I would say so. For some aspects of the game, I would say yes. But as far as defense, it is much more intense (than high school).”

#15 Linnae Harper, So., G

On if she was surprised at how TSU fought back …
“No, we weren’t surprised. When they started turning the game around we had to make an adjustment offensively and defensively.”

On what adjustment they made when Tennessee State closed the gap …
“On defense, it was more pressure and staying focused.”

On using active hands while defending…
“I definitely started learning that here in college. Coach Mitchell does a good job of emphasizing putting pressure on people and making sure our hands are in their faces to disrupt and stop the offense. So, I definitely learned that here.”

#25 Makayla Epps, So., G

On what she has seen in Alexis Jennings’ game recently …
“I was hoping you’d ask me that because I was thinking about it. I give Alexis a lot of credit. Whenever we’re in practice, Coach Mitchell is extremely hard on her. She has thick skin. She’s a tough kid.”

On what Matthew Mitchell said after the Tennessee State run in the huddle …
“He really didn’t go ballistic on us. He knows what we’re capable of. He wanted us to be more disruptive and aggressive on defense and that’s definitely what we did.”

Video: UK Hoops 87 vs TSU 75 Game Highlights 12/28/14

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Friday, December 26, 2014

Video/Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Battle of the Bluegrass pre-Louisville Press Conference

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

JOHN CALIPARI

On what the team worked on since returning from a break after the UCLA game …
“The physicality of the play, you have to be prepared for. To play through bumps and all those kinds of things. To rebound in traffic with bodies on you, nudging you, to be strong with the ball, get open even if there are bodies on you, you’ve got to get open anyway. All those things. It’s like any team we play. Teams are going to come after us. They’re going to be physical. Teams don’t surrender. They’re going to do what they have to do. It’s no different. This is an outstanding team. For me it’s one of those games you know you’d better be prepared walking in. Rick (Pitino) is going to have his team ready no question and you’ve got to have your team ready.”

On preparing players for their first trip to the KFC Yum! Center …
“I’m more worried about my team. And I keep saying this is a great game for us. It’s the next game for us, but it’s a great game because of how they play, how they’re coached, that they’ve got terrific talent. Don’t ever take that away from those kids. They are talented. And so we’re walking into that kind of environment, we need it. We need somebody to punch us in the face. Now let’s see if we can still have fun. We enjoy this. If we’re a world-class team you enjoy this even when they’re coming after you, you enjoy it. And so it’s going to be a tough game for us. We know that. Like I said for me, I hope I just made this the next game for my team. They’ll probably tell you otherwise, but I just try to focus on the next game and do the same kind of preparation even though I know you’ve got to be on your toes as a coach as well as a team.”

On Louisville being similar to Texas in physicality …
“It’s very similar only Texas doesn’t do it in the full-court. They’re not going to pick you up. You’re not going to have body to body in the back court. You will in this game.”

On E.J. Floreal and Dominique Hawkins helping to simulate opponents’ physicality in practice …
“They do – two good strong athletes who get up on you and body you. But it’s not just that. Look, they will offensive rebound with any team in the country. They’ll shoot balls that just go. Defensively it’s obvious, they’re as good as anybody in the country. They’re as good as we are defensively. And we’re walking into their court. We haven’t played a road game. We’re up against it. Chips are going on the other side. How you do? Let’s see what we are. Let’s see what we’re about. I keep telling them I’m anxious just to see how you respond.”

On having experience in the starting lineup compared with last season …
“Not really, we’re still growing as a team. The good news is if one group is not (playing well), then you try another group. It’s a little different than just hanging on like, ‘Oh my gosh what are we going to do?’ It’s like okay if you don’t have it you guys go.”

On if there was a specific moment in any of his games against Louisville that sticks out …
“Not really. Look, it’s the next game for us. We’re not even in the same league. Now, if we win, then it will be a huge game. We try to make this the next game on the schedule. I’m not making this bigger than it is because it’s not our season. We took a Christmas break, got our minds off basketball, came back, and started working. We didn’t have two weeks to work on what we’re doing and this, ‘Let’s go. Let’s play the game. Let’s see where we are.’ It’s winning or learning at this stage. There’s no winning and losing. Winning and learning. I know our fans will be happy to hear me say that, but that’s how I think. They should probably start, at this point in going on in my sixth year, to know that I think different.”

On facing the possible comments of going undefeated if they beat Louisville …
“When you have two groups, it’s just different. When you’re trying to play against yourselves, you don’t worry about anybody else. We know how good teams are. We’re not the only good basketball team out there and sometimes you forget. We’re not the only team with good players. There are a bunch of other teams, including Louisville, who have terrific players. Let’s focus on us. That’s how I’ve always coached. I don’t know if you (the media) asked (our players) how much time we have watched video of Louisville to this point. I showed a little bit of (it to) Dakari (Johnson) today – this morning. I’m worried about us. We know how good they are and we know they’re going to come after us. It should be a terrific ball game.”

On being 6-1 against Rick Pitino while at UK …
“I don’t think he’s worried about it. All he wants to do is win this one. I think we’re all the same. I don’t go against a coach and say, ‘How many times has he beaten me?’ I’ve been beaten plenty of times and have had some shellackings in there where you have to walk off the court and really not watch the tape. I’ve done that many times in my career. I don’t think he’s worried about it and I’m certainly not worried about it.”

On if he’s had any rival coaches who have a great record against him that have frustrated him …
“No. I’ve been doing this 20-some years. Doing it what – 750 times, not including the NBA? I’ve coached 800 games. No. I can’t remember. I can’t remember my player’s names. I call them by number, let alone a game ten years ago.”

On appreciating rivalries and tradition …
“Maybe look back at UMass and Temple. That thing was crazy. The teams I’ve coached, every game is someone’s Super Bowl. When we were at UMass, I told the story. I remember watching Maryland and somebody and their students said, ‘We want UMass.’ I turned the TV up. What? Maryland wants UMass? I called my staff and said, ‘Are you watching this?’ The same thing happened at Memphis. They’re chanting at the end of games, ‘We want Memphis.’ They’re waiting for us and the same goes for here. They’re all rivalry games to me. It’s another game. We try not to take any team lightly. Columbia. You’re down 11-0 like that. It could’ve been 15-0. You have to take each game as they come.”

On if there are any other areas he’s looking for improvement …
“Well, part of our execution offensively – hard cuts, getting him (the point guards) the ball early, sprinting the floor so we can get some easy baskets. Last game we did, but we had worked on it a week. Defensive rebounding is our biggest issue. Guard rebounding. I mean, those are major concerns because now a team can shoot 30 percent and still beat you. Just shoot it and go rebound. That’s a concern of mine. If our guards start rebounding—we should; we’re big. We just don’t. We don’t get in there and mix it up. And we’ve done stuff here the last 10 days to try to cure it, but it’s just going to be one of those things. We’re not a team that comes out and tries to rip your arms off. That’s just not how we play. So hopefully when the other team comes at us we’ll be ready to battle back because we’ve done things in practice to play that way.”

On who worries him the most on this Louisville team …
“All of them. (Wayne) Blackshear, (Terry) Rozier. All of them. Listen, all of them are able to get 30 points. (Montrezl) Harrell, come on. Their big guys, they’ll block shots, they’ve got great size. There’s not a guy out there that I don’t think like, ‘Well, he can’t play.’ They all can play. And they all can get 30. And they probably are all going to try to get 30. (It’s) Just how it is in this game. Somebody can say, ‘Well, Columbia shoots 21 percent from the 3-point line.’ Really? They made their first four 3s against us. How about that? Now they’re 100 percent. And that’s what happens to us. I don’t care how they played before, who they played. I mean, like I said, Buffalo had us down. Boston U. could have beaten us. I don’t know if they have won a game, but they had us beat with six minutes. They had a chance to win. So this stuff is—this game is a different kind of game. On their court. Hard game for us. But we’re excited to find out where we are right after Christmas. Where does our team stand at this point?”

On letting the team go away for Christmas …
“We always do. I always do it. I’m trying to think back, did I start it because of me or because I was really concerned about the players? Probably myself and my family, and then we just got into the habit of always doing it. We went to the Rainbow Classic late so our guys could spend three days before we left with their families, and the tournament out there was going nuts. We showed up the day before the game and played the next day. ‘You can’t.’ We did. We won the thing too, by the way.”

On what strategic value there is in not showing his players much film …
“We don’t do it with anybody. I want them concerned (about us) right now. I’ll give them what they need. When we show them the tape, we’ll say, ‘You know those drills we were doing? You know how we were doing this, this and this? That’s what you’re guarding now.’ Now they see it. I need them focused on us. If we’re at our best and we can’t win, then we move on. It’s fine. I mean, this thing is not—in March it’s a little different. It’s not fine. You better think of something else or try something else, but right now it’s like, OK, let’s be at our best and see what that does.”

Video/Transcript: UK Players Cauley-Stein, Andrew Harrison, Lee Battle For the Bluegrass Pre-Louisville Interviews

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

On what they did for Christmas …
“Practiced and we had a Christmas for some families at the Lodge, which was really cool. We all put on Santa hats and I got to dress up as Santa. It was cool to help out in the community. It was a good deal.”

On if he got to go home and enjoy Christmas with his family before that …
“Sort of. We got to go home for three days. My family wasn’t there, but most of the guys got to see their families. It was good to get away, step away from the game a little bit, go home and see people you haven’t seen in a while, and do stuff in your own community. Then come back here and go back to work on the grind and still have a chance to do some stuff in the community. It’s off and on, kind of like taking stuff off of us. Doing stuff in the community is really good for us because we can do so much stuff. Just having the name on our jersey is real powerful.”

On what he remembers about playing at Louisville …
“It’s loud. It’s a really fun environment because they hate us. It’s fun to play in those conditions.”

On if he feeds on that …
“It just makes the game that much more passionate. It’s not dull. It’s not quiet. It’s going to be loud the whole time. The energy level is going to be up, your adrenaline is going to be pumping from the gate. Those games are the best to play in.”

On how he has played against other players this year who are projected to play in the NBA someday …
“I don’t really look at it like that. I’m kind of battling against myself. That’s the way I’ve gone into every game. It doesn’t matter who it is. I just go into it with a clear mind and don’t look at the big picture like that. I look at the small things and do the little, small things that I do while I play. Everything else kind of takes care of itself.”

On what things he does to play against himself …
“Moving around. Being a rover. Sprinting the floor every time. Making sure I check out every time. Little stuff like that that could lose you a game or win you the game.”

On if he was able to see Aaron Harrison hit the shot vs. UofL in the tournament while in the locker room …
“I don’t really remember. I was in the locker room watching for the most part.”

On UofL fans hating Kentucky …
“They hate us.”

On if he’s surprised how much the fans hate Kentucky …
“I guess that’s just how rivalries are. It goes both ways. Our fans hate them. It’s just part of the game.”

On the freshmen playing in a difficult environment like the KFC Yum! Center …
“Oh yeah, I mean it’s our first true road game, and it’s going to be in full effect. This is going to be the craziest first road game for even us. I can only imagine what it’ll be like for the freshmen. Right when you walk in the gym, dudes are going to be yelling at you, cussing at you. You just have to smile like, ‘This is it. This is game time. This will be fun.’ ”

On if he can remember things directed at him or at his coaches or teammates …
“I don’t know. There’s so much stuff said. It’s all really funny. One time at Arkansas they got ahold of my number somehow. They were texting me and stuff. Then at the game they were like, ‘I’m the person you were texting.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, makes sense now. Oh my gosh. He’s for real. That’s him.’ ”

On how crucial it is to the team that a number of players have experienced a road game so far …
“Half of our team hasn’t experienced it, and those guys get a lot of minutes so it’ll be different.”

On how this game is different from the usual road games …
“Well, we’re playing a top five team in the country. They’re really good and they’re going to come out real physical. The way they play is unorthodox to what everybody else plays. It’s just going to be a different scene, for one, and a different style of play.”

ANDREW HARRISON

On what they take from the two games last season against UofL …
“That we know it’s going to be a tough game again. Coach (Cal) is really putting the emphasis on just fighting. Not literally fighting, but just being tough, boxing out, stuff like that.”

On whether he expects this game to be different …
“I’m sure it’ll be a little different. There will be a little red in there, I think, and it’ll be a tough environment. There will be a lot of noise, not too many of our fans in there so we gotta come to play.”

On whether they look forward to the challenge …
“Oh yeah, we look forward to it. It’s going to be fun. We played them at our house last year and this year we gotta go down there. It’ll be a great experience for some of the teammates.”

On whether the break helped …
“Oh yeah, it helped us a lot. Just to be able to focus on our families and stuff like that, not worry about basketball or about stuff that goes on here. It’s being able to get together with your family and have a nice time.”

On what difference Willie Cauley-Stein will make after missing most of the Sweet 16 game …
“Willie’s playing great this season, the best big man in the country. So you see what he can do on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively. So it’ll be great to have him and he’ll definitely have his effect on the game.”

On what this game means …
“People make it a lot bigger than it is knowing that it’s just a game in the middle of the season. But at the same time, they’re a great team and we want to win every game we play. We’re going to have to fight.”

On enjoying big-game atmospheres …
“The whole building’s probably going to be against us besides our families and stuff like that so it’ll be a great test for us. We know we’re not going to run away with it or blow them out or anything like that so it’ll be a hard-fought game.”

On what Cal is like this week …
“We’re just doing it as the same, usual practice schedule. Make it a little rougher, but that’s pretty much it.”

On preparing for UofL’s physicality …
“We just have to be ready, prepare your body and it’s really a lot of mental things. Don’t look for the referee to bail you out. You have to be strong with the ball and box out and stuff like that.”

On how to figure out how to adjust to officiating in a physical game …
“Really you just have to play. Don’t lose your head, don’t make any obvious fouls, nothing like that. Just use your body, protect the ball and play as hard as you can. That’s all you can do.”

On whether he expects this to be a more physical game …
“Definitely. We know they’re not going to go away early. We know we’re going to have to fight as hard as we can for the full 40 minutes to stay close in their building.”

On what the atmosphere is like …
“That makes it fun. That makes it worth your while. A lot of the young kids haven’t really been in an environment like this or been in a very close game like we’re going to be on Saturday. It’s a great test for us and we want to see where we’re at.”

On why he thinks the game will be close …
“Because they’re a great team. They’re the most physical team we’ve played so far and it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough.”

On how much he hears from UofL fans on social media …
“I really don’t pay attention to that. Usually on game weeks and stuff like that I just take it off my phone. I don’t really pay attention to it. It doesn’t really matter.”

On how long it takes to appreciate the rivalry for players from outside the state …
“I still don’t understand why it’s so hated because I’m from Texas and A&M and the University of Texas, they’re rivals, but it’s not like this. People genuinely hate each other, so it’s crazy. But it makes the game even more fun.”

On what he remembers about their style of play from last season …
“They play fast. They play physical. The first time we played them at our house, we made some shots and stuff like that. The second time, we just kept fighting back. We trailed for a long part of the game and just kept fighting back.”

On whether their depth will be a factor because of UofL’s style …
“Yeah, probably. Because at guard, all our guards can handle the ball and stuff real well, so we have to just stay strong with the pressure and have confidence going against it.”

On how helpful it is that some guys on the team have played in a true road game before …
“It helps a lot. I just remember last year how loud some crowds can be and stuff like that. Obviously, we never played in Louisville or had a crowd against us like that. It’ll be a test. It’ll be a great test for us and for the younger guys.”

On if the Arkansas game may rival this one …
“Arkansas was tough environment.”

On what was working so well on offense for UK in Chicago …
“I think we had a lot of energy, pushing the ball up the court and finding the open man. When you’re making shots and stuff like that, it’s kind of hard for the other team to slow you down. Then on defense when you’re starting to get defense, layups and run outs and stuff like that, it’s pretty tough.”

On getting close to 10 assists …
“It’s part of basketball. It’s not a big deal. I’m going to keep trying to find my teammates.”

On how tough it will be for the young guys to play in an environment like the one at Louisville …
“We’re going to see where they’re at. We’re going to see where the whole team’s at, really. Our team has not played in a road game this year. It’ll be fun. It’ll be a great test for us. Coach (Cal) has prepared us well. We have to go out there and play as hard as we can.”

On UofL fans hating Kentucky …
“Oh yeah, I’ve realized that. It’s kind of ridiculous, really. It comes with the territory.”

On if he’s surprised how much they hate Kentucky …
“Yes, kind of, because I don’t feel like I ever did anything to them. It’s fine. It’s an in-state rivalry. I understand.”

On the way UofL playing being different than what they normally face …
“A lot of teams like to drop back in zone, stuff like that. They’re going to try to put pressure on us and we have to be strong with the ball to be successful.”

On if it’s crazy to think Kentucky can go undefeated this season …
“We’re just trying to take it one game at a time. We have a lot of talent on our team, but anything can happen on any given night. We have to bring it every night. We’re just focused on the game Saturday.”

On the prep that goes into handling the pressure UofL brings …
“Dominique Hawkins and EJ (Floreal), they’re both as great of athletes as anybody can have. They really helped us in practice putting pressure on the ball and stuff like that. They really helped us.”

On if they’ve done that again this year …
“Yeah, pretty much. Coach has put an emphasis on being strong with the ball, stuff like that.”

On if a game like this is more fun than a “regular game” …
“You try to look at it like it’s a regular game, but everybody knows it’s not. It’s a big rivalry, a top-five team. We’re going to go out there and play as hard as we can.”

MARCUS LEE

On the atmosphere of UK-UofL …
“I mean, just because it’s a big rivalry between Kentucky it’s always a real big game between both teams and both cities. So you always have to be ready for it.”

On whether he has seen UofL play …
“I haven’t seen much of them playing because we’re just out here on our own thing and being together.”

On whether the rivalry matters as much in Lexington as in Louisville …
“I hope so. Just both teams, they’re two really competitive teams so I kind of feel that everybody’s kind of feeling the same way.”

On how physical he expects the game to be …
“I think it’s going to be a real physical game. That’s just the way we’ve been turning out to be. As you’ve seen, we’ve become more physical and I think that’s just the way the game’s going to turn.”

On rebounding …
“I know that’s something we’ve been working on individually as bigs and as guards just to rebound. So we’ll see how that turns out.”

On how much the break has helped …
“I think it helped a lot, especially because we were able to go home and have fun with it, relax with our families and show how much we love and respect them and what they’ve done for us.”