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    Kentucky Travels to Arkansas For Super Tuesday Battle

    Jan. 13, 2014

    Cat Scratches: Coach Cal asking for next level of commitment, focus from Cats

    After John Calipari was relatively positive following Kentucky's win at Vanderbilt, the Wildcats probably expected to hear more of the same sunny tune about the progress they had made when they reported to the Joe Craft Center on Sunday.

    Gameday Information
    Kentucky at Arkansas
    Tuesday, Jan. 14 - 9:00 p.m. ET
    Fayetteville, Ark.
    Game Notes: UK | UA
    Coverage
    TV: ESPN
    Radio: UK IMG
    Live Video via WatchESPN
    Live Audio
    Live Stats
    Text Updates

    They were in for a surprise.

    "Yesterday, I kind of hit them in the mouth," Calipari said. "I think they were all, like, stunned." ... read the full preview

    Scouting the Razorbacks

    Arkansas enters the game with UK owning an 11-4 overall record, but the Razorbacks have dropped both of their opening SEC games. Arkansas had its 23-home game winning streak snapped in a heartbreaking overtime loss to No. 10/11 Florida on Saturday.

    Arkansas has four players averaging double- figure scoring with sophomore guard Michael Qualls leading the way at 12.7 per outing. Freshman Bobby Portis is posting 12.5 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game, while senior Coty Clarke is contributing 8.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a team-high 19 steals.

    Tuesday’s matchup marks the first of two regular season meetings between the teams. Arkansas will make the return trip to Lexington on Feb. 27.

    Series History vs. Arkansas

    Kentucky owns a 25-9 record in the all-time series, but the series is tied 6-6 when played in Fayetteville.

    UK has won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams, but both losses came in Arkansas.

    Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson is in his third season at the helm of Arkansas. He has logged a 2-2 record all-time in head-to-head matchups with the Wildcats.

    Last Time vs. the Razorbacks

    Coty Clarke had 14 points and 12 rebounds as Arkansas defeated Kentucky by a 73-60 score on March 2, 2013.

    Clarke also had six assists for the Razorbacks. Marshawn Powell had 15 points and BJ Young added 13 for Arkansas, which snapped a two-game losing streak with the win.

    Arkansas native Archie Goodwin led the Wildcats with 14 points, while Willie Cauley-Stein had 13.

    Pregame Media Opportunity - January 13, 2014

    Head Coach John Calipari

    On Arkansas’ fast-paced style …
    “They’re playing that way; they’re playing that way. Offensively, motion into driving and attacking, a few pick-and-rolls, get it up quick, get a shot off quick, go rebound it. Defensively, denying, switching, being active, trapping. They’re doing a good job of that. They shoot the ball well. They shoot it from the 3, they shoot the 2s well and they shoot free throws at 70 percent; so it’s not a game you can go down there and throw a bunch of clunkers up because you’re going to have a problem. I think that what Florida did is they made some shots but they also got a lot of drop-offs, they got a lot off the penetrations and kick outs.”

    On how much of a test it will be for Andrew Harrison …
    “It’s a test for our team, not just him. I’m trying to get these guys to be excited about winning and be excited about us getting better. Yesterday I kind of hit them in the mouth, I think they were all like stunned. You know, you get a team down and you have a chance to put them away, you do. And here’s why you didn’t. And we watched taped and talked about it. Said you have to get off this, well we won and get on to, let’s play our best. Now what does that mean in the score? May be a four-point win, it may be a 25-point win but let’s play at our best and let’s go out with that mentality. You know, it’s just hard for me, you know, after games where – and I haven’t had this many times – you know, teams, ‘they’re OK, we’re just as good.’ That usually does not happen. Part of that is back on us; do you understand what’s out there? I don’t want to say lack of respect but it’s not like glowing remarks.”

    On how he ‘hit them in the mouth’ yesterday …
    “I just told them the truth. I just told them the truth. I just said, want me to sit here and BS you, or want me to tell you the truth? It wasn’t just one guy, it was like everybody. And then we were going to practice an hour because we traveled back and practice went an hour and a half because of them. I told them, part of our issue is the focus we have at times on the court, we just lose the – you have to have a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose on each possession and we don’t always do. Guys will stop, they’re pointing, they’ll go guard their man who came off a screen or stop playing the guy, back cuts. We told them, Vandy is going to try to trick you into baskets and they did. They probably got 20 points off of tricks. Get beat because they’re better than you; they execute, not trick you into a lay-up or slip into a dunk. Those kind of things and we had gone over, obviously we didn’t have a whole lot of time but you have to be focused and we’re not quite ready for that yet.”

    On Derek Willis’ minutes against Vanderbilt …
    “He didn’t shoot the ball well but I liked his post feed, I like his size on the court. He hadn’t been shooting the ball well in practice probably because he hadn’t been playing and he didn’t think it was important, well now he found out it was important. But I told him, I said, you and Jarrod (Polson), it’s important that you guys are ready and, you know, I had told him for a week I’m going to try to put you in games. If they’re smothering Julius (Randle) and he’s kicking it out and guys are missing, I’m putting you in. Get in there and make shots. His teammates are even telling him when they throw it to him, ‘shoot it, we know you can shoot, shoot it.’”

    On hearing Derek Willis was in the gym late the other night …
    “I heard Dom(-inique Hawkins) was in here. You know we are getting to where they understand – look I told the story, I had Tyreke Evans and Tyreke really struggled early now, I’m just telling you. We’re like, one year? We’re going to have this kid for four years. I mean it was ugly. And it started getting better, it started getting better and we put the ball in his hand. But he knew, ‘man, I got a long way to go.’ He slept in the practice facility. We had a lounge that he had a lounge chair, he’d put a pillow and a blanket and two-three times a week he slept in the practice facility. Now, granted the housing was seven blocks away, this housing is 12 steps, OK? He still didn’t want to walk seven blocks, he said, ‘I’ll sleep here, I gotta get up at eight anyway.’ Guys have to be that committed and driven and when you are you don’t let go of the rope. Someone comes in to take it; you worked too hard, ‘I have invested too much. You’re taking this from me? You ain’t taking this from me. I don’t care how hard you play, how much you foul. It doesn’t matter, you’re not taking it,’ if you’re invested. If you’re not invested, you’re only doing what you’re being told to do. You basically say, ‘No, no, don’t go crazy, just take it. You’re losing your mind, here take it.’ And so guys have to be more invested in this and they’re beginning to be.”

    On it being more difficult to get extra work in with class starting back on Wednesday …
    “Brandon (Knight) did it. Brandon did it. You know, how much do you have to play video games? Really? Gotta get those two hours of video (games) in or how are you going to live? You gotta be on your phone three hours, reading everything. I mean that’s tough, ‘I cannot give up my video games.’ I mean, there are things you’ve got to look at and say ‘what am I going to give up to make sure (I’m invested)?’ All I know is Brandon was a straight-A student and when I walked in this building at 12 o’clock at night or 11 o’clock at night from recruiting, he was in there. And he’s up there scoring 30, think about it. And he’s skinnier than anybody we have on this team. Again, it’s just, the breakfast club, those kinds of things but it cannot come from me because if you drag them, they become exhausted. If they do it themselves, they become inspired. Now you can encourage it but that’s the best you can do. If it comes from them, they’re inspired, if it comes from me, ‘he’s killing me. Dying, oh my gosh.’”

    On late game free throws against Vanderbilt…
    “I made two guys shoot the ball, really all three. I made us throw the ball to Willie (Cauley-Stein) because I wanted him to get fouled. I made Alex (Poythress) go. I called high five and I wanted him to shoot a free throw. Julius (Randle), we ran the play for him to come back and get fouled to make the free throw. If the game was a little closer I probably wouldn’t have done that. We probably would’ve gone to somebody else, but with the score the way it was, I wanted the guys in those situations to know, you’re going to get the ball. You have to have the mindset, ‘I’m not worried about missing. I’m going to make it.’ We’re still not there.”

    On if Julius can practice as hard as he plays …
    “Everything we do is just high energy, it’s not long. There are times he backs up. Now, he’s still going hard, but he’s not like he’s playing. You have to do it. He’s got to get that point, he has to push himself and try to get yourself to cramp in practice. Does that make sense to you? Make yourself cramp in practice. Now, maybe you don’t have the anxiety. Now if you go that hard and you don’t cramp, you’re going to go into the game knowing, ‘I can do this.’”

    On Dakari Johnson’s game performance …
    “He’s done fine. I just want to make sure we’re still engaged with Marcus Lee because he’s been way better in practice and Willie’s playing so well. There’s not space for three of them right now, but this could be an energy game. This could be one of those games where he plays because of his energy, but we’ll see.”

    On the matchup with Arkansas …
    “I’ve played against Arkansas a bunch, whether I was at Memphis or here and it mostly affects who you have on your team. You have to have tough, strong-willed players. Those guys will give themselves a chance to win. If you’re timid in any way they’ll over run you, but they’re not the only team that plays that way. There are a lot of teams that come after you. They’re flying, being aggressive, playing, you’ll have opportunities and they’ll make some crazy shots. You just have to keep playing.”

    On the atmosphere …
    “Arkansas doesn’t know this yet, but the t-shirt company I own, they bought. I went out and bought a t-shirt company because of everybody’s blue, blackouts, whiteouts, yellowouts. I’m just kidding.”

    On having a late away game…
    “It’s (9) o’clock our time so we’re not getting down there until tonight. Just coming back, they’ll get back here late and they have class tomorrow so it’ll be tough that way. You wish it were earlier so they could get back and not have an 8 o’clock issue where they get three hours of sleep and have to go to class.”

    #44, Dakari Johnson, C, Fr.

    On whether things are getting easy for him …
    “Yeah, it’s coming more naturally. I’m not thinking as much. I’m just playing right now. Whatever happens, happens. I just try to help my team get a win.”

    On whether road games will be easier with a win under their belts …
    “Yeah, it’s definitely easier just getting that first road win. They say Arkansas is a hostile place to play, so we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

    On how it was playing at Vanderbilt …
    “It was different. The court, the whole setup was different. It was like a stage, so it was a little bit different. But I’m just happy we just came out of there with a win.”

    On whether it is stranger playing on the road than he thought it would be …
    “Just a little. It felt like a home game, really, there were so many fans out there for us. So it wasn’t that bad.”

    On big men feeling pressure to step up when Julius Randle has cramps …
    “Not really. You know, we just try to go in there and just play how we’re supposed to play. Just listen to the scouting report and just execute.”

    On being aware of Randle’s cramps …
    “Yeah. They just try to give him a lot of fluids. We just all get tired sometimes, but he’s going to get back in the game.”

    On whether he is able to tell whether the cramps frustrate Randle …
    “Not really. He really just tries to get a lot of fluids in himself and he just tries to get back out there.”

    On whether Andrew Harrison is taking steps forward …
    “Yeah, he is. And it starts in practice. He’s really taking that leadership role on, being really vocal and picking up the defensive intensity. It starts with him and as it starts with him it’s just going to boil down to the whole team.”

    On what he and his teammates see in Alex Poythress that he doesn’t see in himself …
    “We know he can be a beast. He’s just as good as anybody else on the court. When he plays with intensity, he’s just as good as anybody.”

    On what the veterans have told him about playing at Arkansas …
    “They just said it was a hostile environment. There’s a lot of fans that’s going to be hostile and the way they play, it’s an up-and-down system so it’s really going to be a good game.”

    On whether he likes playing road games …
    “Yeah, I don’t mind road games. I really don’t pay attention to what the other fans say. I just try to go out there and play my game.”

    On how Coach Calipari has prepared UK for a hungry Arkansas team …
    “They lost their, I think, last two games and they had a close game with Florida so they’re used to playing big games. We just gotta go in there with a mindset that we really want to compete with them and go harder than them.”

    On what Coach Cal means when he says he wants UK to grind it out …
    “Just execute our offense in the half-court, slow it down a little bit, run the shot clock all the way down so we still get a quality possession.”

    On whether UK is good at that …
    “Yeah, yeah.”

    On whether that’s a departure from the Dribble Drive …
    “Yeah, it is a little different because it’s a slow-down pace and when we grind it out we just really try to execute our offense.”

    On whether a slower pace fits his style better …
    “Yeah, a little bit because it’s more of the half-court. I can move around and set picks like that.”

    On how UK’s offense changes when he is the game …
    “It really doesn’t change. We just run plays, we try to get up and down the court and the big man really runs and tries to post up hard and if he doesn’t get it the trailer sets a screen for the point guard. So it really doesn’t change.”

    On whether running the floor was an adjustment …
    “Yeah, it was an adjustment. I had to run the floor really hard and post up and just get my conditioning right.”

    #35, Derek Willis, F, Fr.

    On shooting on his own  ...
    “I was in here from like midnight to 1, 1:30. Just being in the gym.”

    On how late he sleeps in after these late-night shooting sessions …
    “I don’t sleep, to be honest. I didn’t go to bed last night until, I don’t even remember. It was pretty late though. I don’t get a lot of sleep anyway.”

    On the last few shots he’s taken during games …
    “They’re right on line, but it’s just like my legs aren’t there. They’re coming up short, so it’s something I need to work on, just become more consistent.”

    On whether being short on the shots is a nerve thing …
    “Nerves really don’t get to me. I know like the first couple games, the exhibition games, I was a little nervous. Other than that no, I don’t get nervous.”

    On whether he knew he was going to play in the first half against Vandy …
    “I had no idea. They had been talking to me saying be ready, you could go in whenever. I’m just trying to keep myself prepared for when I do go in.”

    On how hard it is to be patient …
    “Not really. Obviously everyone wants to play, but that’s just part of being a team. You’ve got to let other people play, and when your time comes, just be ready and do what you can.”

    On if he thinks he’s playing because teams are playing more zone …
    “The things is, when I’m in the game I’m feeding the post, and when they kick it back out to me, I’m (shooting) a really high percentage (shot) of hitting a 3 or whatever. That kind of like makes them change their defense or like start keying in on other people.”

    On his confidence shooting the ball …
    “I haven’t played a lot so confidence is going to go down from that, but I’m just trying to keep myself ready.”

    On how often he’s gone in at midnight to shoot …
    “It’s only been a couple times, but I’m probably going to start doing it like every other night or every night.”

    On how he gets in the gym …
    “You get this little fob thing. You just scan it and get all-access, 24/7, whenever you want.”

    On who else is doing it with him …
    “Just me.”

    On why he started doing it …
    “Shooting. Shooting, thought about some stuff.”

    On whether he feels better after doing it …
    “Yeah, it feels good to get in the gym.”

    On what sort of stuff he’s thinking about …
    “When you’re in the gym a lot, it’s like going to church for some people or like talking to a counselor maybe. It’s just good to like think of stuff and see how you’re doing. It’s really good, peace of mind.”

    On whether he’s doing it because he feels the frustration of not playing as much …
    “I’m not really frustrated. It’s just a thing of being patient and just really waiting for your time.”

    On what he has to do to get more playing time …
    “I honestly don’t know. Probably just be a more consistent shooter and pride myself on defense and rebound.”

    On how he shoots when it’s just him in the gym and no helpers …
    “One ball and shoot. And then sometimes I’ll call a manager up and just tell him to come rebound for me or whatever. They’re usually down for it.”

    On the latest he’s been in the gym …
    “Like 2, 3 o’clock. I was here with my friends the other night. We were just shooting. It was pretty late though.”

    On how he shoots so late and makes it to class …
    “Well, classes haven’t started yet, but when it does, it’s going to be long days.”

    On how good it felt to play against Vanderbilt …
    “It felt great to finally play in an SEC game. I had some people from back home that came down and they made like a poster for me and stuff, so that was really good. I really enjoyed that. I guess the poster worked because it was like “It’s D-Will time” or something like that. So yeah, that was pretty cool.”

    On the adjustment of playing bigger, stronger, faster players …
    “It’s a really good experience. I’m learning still a lot from it and I know I’ve got to get stronger obviously. It’s been a theme ever since high school that I’ve been working on.”

    On the high-five Cal gave him when he came out of the game in the first half against Vandy …
    “Yeah, it felt good. I think we were kind of having a problem – I think it was in the first half or so – that we couldn’t really like get the ball into post, so I was just trying to feed the post because the Vanderbilt people, they couldn’t guard Willie and they couldn’t guard Julius.”

    On how much they worry about the cramping issue with Randle …
    “It’s just a thing. If you hydrate yourself you’re usually fine. That’s just a thing. Coach Rock (Oliver), he always tells us in timeouts or like during halftime to drink up and get the foods in you so you don’t dehydrate yourself.”