KENTUCKY WILDCATS (4-3)
vs. UAB BLAZERS (7-4)
Saturday, Dec. 15 ? 2:00 p.m.
Louisville, Ky. – (18,865)
Kentucky returns to Louisville for its annual neutral-site game at Freedom Hall, where the Wildcats have played 66 times since the facility opened in 1957.
UK has won nearly 80 percent (119-31, .793) of the 150 games it?s played in the Derby City, including a 56-16 (.778) mark in Freedom Hall. The Wildcats have won 23 of their last 26 in the building, and are currently on a six-game winning streak there, which includes two victories over in-state rival Louisville.
Although the two schools have only played four times, UAB has been UK?s opponent in some of the more memorable Wildcat games of the last 30 years. The Blazers upset Kentucky in both the 1981 and 2004 NCAA Tournaments, while Big Blue eliminated UAB from the 2006 NCAAs.
This year?s game is only the second regular-season matchup between the two schools. UK downed UAB 61-53 in the finals of the 1980 UKIT.
Tickets are still available for Saturday?s game against UAB in Freedom Hall. Fans can purchase tickets by calling Ticketmaster (866.448.7849) or the UK Athletics Ticket office (859.257.1818 or 800.928.2287).
Kentucky is in its 105th season of basketball. Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,952. UK?s next win will be the Wildcats? 1,100th with Bill Keightley as equipment manager. The Wildcats rank sixth nationally and lead the SEC in field goal percentage defense (.360). Kentucky is shooting 74 percent (91-123) from the free throw line, which leads the SEC. Patrick Patterson has three double-doubles, tied for the second-highest total in the SEC. He ranks in the league?s top 10 in both scoring (8th, 16.1) and rebounding (3rd, 8.3). Kentucky has used six different starting line-ups through the first seven games of the season. The only constants have been Mark Coury and Patrick Patterson. Joe Crawford (1,020) became UK?s 54th member of the 1,000-point club against North Carolina. He currently sits in 51st place. Teammate Ramel Bradley is 63 points shy of 1,000. Once again, every Wildcat basketball game will be televised live, including UK?s two exhibition games. UK is on CBS seven times, ESPN/ESPN2 nine times, ESPNU twice, FSN South five times and Lincoln Financial Sports six times.
Located in Birmingham, Ala., (404 miles south of Lexington), UAB is a member of Conference USA.
The Blazers (7-4) are led offensively by 6-5 junior guard Robert Vaden, who is averaging a team best 18.5 ppg. Vaden, formerly of Indiana, has hit a team high 43 three-pointers, while playing a team best 34.0 minutes per game.
Walter Sharpe, a 6-9, sophomore transfer from Mississippi State, leads the team in rebounding at 7.4 rpg, while his 21 blocks ranks 64th nationally.
UAB head coach Mike Davis is in his second season at the helm of the Blazer program, and his eighth season overall (137-99, .581). Thus far he has collected a 22-20 (.524) record, posting a 15-16 mark in his first season in Birmingham.
Prior to his time at UAB, Davis coached the Indiana Hoosiers to a 115-79 (.593) record in six seasons. Included in his time in Bloomington was a 2002 NCAA runner-up finish and a share of the 2002 Big Ten championship.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES – DEC. 13
Head Coach Billy Gillispie
?We?re just trying to get ready to play against another good opponent. It will be a very difficult match-up. They?ve got some really nice players and they do a good job of getting the right guys the ball to take shots. We have to show great improvement to be more competitive in our next game.?
On how the open practice in Louisville came about ?
?They said it used to be a tradition and I like those kinds of things. We?re not going to practice much. We?re going to shoot around for a little bit. We?re going to do our practice here and shoot around up there. It?ll be good to see some fans and see some of the fans mingle with some of the players.?
On Derrick Jasper?s injury status?
?I don?t know. He left practice today with some sharp pains. So I don?t know if he is going to be able to continue tomorrow. I don?t have any idea. He hasn?t been able to finish an entire practice all week. He seems like he is making progress, but today was the first time he had to abruptly leave practice. It wasn?t a planned leave. I don?t know the status of that. He only has so much time that he can practice. He can only practice a certain amount of minutes and when those minutes expire, he is out. Today he didn?t make it to the length of time he was allowed to practice. They say he is doing fine, but it is not good when you have to see him leave early. He is in treatment right now and hopefully he will be ready to roll tomorrow. I hope that?s the case because we are a totally different group when he?s out there.?
On how Jasper?s presence on the court affects the team ?
?He?s a hard-working guy that wants to get back. I can?t imagine a guy that likes to play as much as he does, having to sit out basically six months. He?s a competitive guy and he?s got a great deal of spirit. He gives us a lot in so many different areas. We definitely need him out there. He?s fine mentally. He?ll help us in every aspect. He?ll help us offensively because he?ll be the best passer we have. I think that he?ll be the guy that puts more pressure on the defense with the dribble. He?s a good offensive rebounder even though he plays the point guard position. He has the flexibility to play in several spots. He can rebound because of his size, athletic ability and strength. He is a shut-down defender. He is a great defensive rebounder. He?ll initiate a lot of offense for us. He?s done fine in practice when he hasn?t tried too hard or tried to do too much, too quickly. He?s continuously gotten better because he has slowed down a little bit. He?s been pretty efficient for us.?
On UAB ?
?They?re very, very long and experienced. They can really score. They have two to three guys that can really score. That does present a lot of difficulty, especially the way we?ve handled the ball. When they?re on defense they do a really good job of standing between you and the basket and using their height and length. That?s definitely a concern because we haven?t passed it very well. Defensively, it does put some pressure on some guys because you have a 6?9? guy that can step out behind the arc. They?ve got two of them that can play out beyond the arc. If you crowd them they can get the ball to the basket with the dribble. They have dribble moves and they are difficult to guard. They?re very efficient and consistent with their scoring. Their guys are always going to put up numbers like they have in the first 11 games, so it?s going to be difficult.?
On getting the post players more involved in the offense?
?We?ve been saying that since day one. We just haven?t been performing it very well. If we?re going to throw it inside, we?re going to figure out how to get it in there. I think we?re making a better effort and thinking about it a little bit more. We?ll see if we get the job done on Saturday.?
On if perimeter shooting is affecting post play?
?It has a lot to do with it. I mean why would you pressure the wings if they aren?t going to shoot the ball with confidence or shoot the ball on time? We?re just trying to think too much. We?re catching the ball and trying to figure out what we are supposed to do after we catch it, and after the defense is reset instead of knowing and having confidence of where the shot is going to come from. It has a lot to do with everything. You have to hit some shots, be strong in there and finish plays. The more shots you miss the greater the defense comes from all over the place because they can sink down or pressure out, depending on how they want to play you.?
On coming off of a tough loss?
?You gain confidence by competing and hopefully we compete harder than we did on Saturday. I think that we will. We?ve competed very hard in practice so far. Hopefully, we?ll have a good day tomorrow to finish up our preparation for UAB. You can guard all you want to, but when the ball doesn?t go in the basket sometimes it dictates (intensity). If it happens early I think it is a sign of mental weakness. But if it happens time and time and time again where we?re not scoring, it?s very difficult to keep your intensity and competitive level up the way you need. I want us to be able to compete and be in every single possession.?
On the Alex Legion situation?
?I haven?t seen him. I would have expected him back a long time ago but he hasn?t been out there. We dealt with that last week. You try to do what?s best for the individual and more importantly what?s best for your team and you hope everyone prospers.?
#3 Ramel Bradley, Senior
On preparing for the UAB game?
?We?re doing pretty well. We just have to forget about our losses and learn from our mistakes. We all want to work hard and do our best in practice. This week we?ve been going harder and hustling more. We?re continuing to progress and we?re ready for UAB.?
On bouncing back from the loss to Indiana?
?It?s difficult to work really hard and think that you?ve improved then play like we did against Indiana. All we can do is not worry about that game and try to build on what we learned from practice and continue to work hard. At the game on Saturday, hopefully we?ll carry out how we?ve been progressing and getting better.?
Improving Kentucky?s offense?
?We just haven?t been making shots. We haven?t been getting to the free throw line as much as we need to be. In order to win basketball games, we need to get to the free throw line a whole lot more.?
On needing to win Saturday?s game?
?We definitely need to win and we need a good looking win. We need to transition more and get some easy points. Those are the points we?re not getting right now, the easy ones like layups. We need to get to the free throw line and play half court every single possession. Whenever you get out and make some fast break points it lifts everyone?s energy. You have the guys on the bench cheering and the guys on the court are excited about the points.?
On fouling out against Indiana?
?We weren?t playing smart on defense and we were just thinking too much. We were over aggressive. It caused me to get fouls early and that?s something I can?t do again. It killed me sitting on the bench and not being able to get back in the game. I need to be smarter and pick and choose when I need to foul.?
On Saturday?s game?
?I anticipate a good game. They probably think that we?re not very good considering that we just lost to Indiana the way we did. But I know that they have some good big guys and they also have a guy who used to play at Indiana and he is pretty good. We?re not showing how good we are right now, but I think when it happens we?re going to shock a lot of people. It?s good for them to come in thinking that we?re not good, because then they?ll get a wake up call.?