Men's Basketball

at Houston Cougars (9-1)

Tuesday, Dec. 18 ? 9:00 p.m.
Houston, Texas – (8,479)

Kentucky heads to Houston for the first time in school history, looking to end a three-game streak against the University of Houston. The Cougars are UK?s second-consecutive opponent from Conference USA.

UK?s current three-game skid is its longest since enduring a three-game losing streak at the mid-point of the 2007 SEC season. Kentucky is looking to avoid its fourth-straight loss, something that hasn?t occurred since the 1989-90 season, when the Cats dropped five in a row.

Kentucky is 6-2 all-time in the state of Texas. The Wildcats are making their first trip to the Lone Star State since playing in the 2005 NCAA Regionals in Austin.

UK holds a 3-0 series advantage against Houston, including last year?s 77-70 win over the Cougars in Rupp Arena.


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 third in the SEC in scoring defense (62.5) and field goal percentage defense (.381). Kentucky leads the SEC from the foul line, shooting 76 percent (99-131). Patrick Patterson has three double-doubles, tied for the third-highest total in the SEC. He ranks in the league?s top 10 in both scoring (8th, 16.4) and rebounding (4th, 8.1). Kentucky has used seven different starting line-ups through the first eight games of the season. The only constants have been Mark Coury and Patrick Patterson. Joe Crawford (1,036) became UK?s 54th member of the 1,000-point club against North Carolina. He currently sits in 50th place. Teammate Ramel Bradley is 40 points shy of 1,000. UK had assists on 20 of its 28 field goals against UAB (71 percent). Kentucky made a season-high 12 three-pointers against UAB (12-of-25), the most for the Wildcats since making 13 vs. Chattanooga last year at Freedom Hall.


Located in Houston, Texas (998 miles southwest of Lexington), Houston is a member of Conference USA.

The Cougars (9-1) are led by a solid backcourt consisting of Robert McKiver, Dion Dowell and Brockeith Pane.

McKiver leads the team with 20.2 ppg average, which ranks 36th nationally. Dowell is averaging 8.8 rpg (71st in the country), while Pane?s 15 steals is tops on the Cougar squad.

The Cougars are coached by 34-year veteran Tom Penders. Penders enters the Kentucky game with a career record of 593-401 (596). He entered the season as the eighth winningest active coach in the NCAA. Penders also is tied for 16th place among NCAA Division I coaches with eleven, 20-win seasons.

Penders is 0-2 against Kentucky. In addition to last season?s loss to UK in Rupp Arena, his 1993-94 Texas squad dropped a 86-61 contest against the Wildcats in the Maui Invitational.


Head Coach Billy Gillispie

Opening statement ?

?I?m really excited about the improvement that we are showing. We are about to go play a really good team on the road. We have to understand how important it is to get stops, especially at the most important times. I think we are making steps in that area to improve.?

On Houston?s style of play?

?They are a very confident team and they play very well together. They know who is supposed to be taking shots and do a great job of getting the ball in those guys? hands. Their rebounders rebound and their defenders defend and their shooters shoot it. They have only lost one game.?

On the attitude of the team ?

?Our guys have been disappointed every time we have lost. We are starting to understand why we are getting beat and starting to show a great desire to change the things to keep that from happening again. I?m really excited about the direction we are heading. Everyone is starting to understand how important it is to make lay-ups and get to the free-throw line. We were 8-for-8 at the line on Saturday. Even though that is a great percentage we need to be getting to the free-throw line more than that. If you look at our numbers from the entire season then you will see our inability to go strong to the basket. We have to finish in the paint and start taking more foul shots. We also have to learn to not foul at difficult times. We are a little bit inexperienced, even though that is not an excuse. We are doing things that inexperienced teams do with our mistakes. I really think that we are going to continue to improve.?

On Saturday?s game with UAB ?

?We are not attacking the basket with the dribble or the pass enough. UAB did a good job of defending Patrick (Patterson) on Saturday and that is why we took so many threes. I think we took to many three-point shots. When you have Mark Coury and whoever else plays in the interior never make it to the foul line then something is wrong. Over the course of the season we are not getting to the foul line enough. Joe Crawford should get six to eight foul shots a game because he is an explosive driver. Ramel Bradley and Patrick Patterson need to be getting more foul shots. We have to be stronger with the ball when we get it to the paint. We have to know the defense is going to be and force contact sometimes. I think Patrick should be getting eight to ten foul shots a game. Our guys have always led the league in getting to the foul line on teams I have coached in the past.?

On having a young team ?

?I feel like our inexperience led to us reacting a little bit too much when UAB started hitting baskets. They tried hard all game and I was really proud of them for the way they were trying. As far as competing and stopping them offensively, I think we have room to improve in that area. I think lack of experience in those types of situations led to us not competing as well as would like to have.?

On sophomore Derrick Jasper coming back from injury ?

?I haven?t heard anything from the doctors about Derrick Jasper yet. He had a MRI today and I haven?t anything about that yet. He looked fine in practice until he had to leave (Thursday?s practice). He is not in condition yet. He adds so much to our team. He has unbelievable athleticism. I think he has the opportunity to be a great player on our team. He is a leader and makes hard plays look easy. He makes plays that you don?t have to coach or call for. Hopefully he will be back there soon.?

On Houston ?

?I think the atmosphere will be totally different for us. I heard that tickets normally sell for 20 dollars and they are selling for 200 dollars for this game. That could be an exaggeration, I have no idea. When you talk about historical basketball places then Houston has great tradition with some of the teams they have had in the past. Coach Penners has done a terrific job. He has helped really restore basketball in Texas. He does not get nearly the respect that he deserves because he would go into Texas when they would have crowds of three or four thousand and then he started to bring in large crowds because he brought an exciting style of basketball and won on a consistent basis. He has done the same thing at Houston. As far as having big crowds, they will have a big crowd tomorrow night.?

On playing Houston ?

?They had a great chance to win last year. They play for 40 minutes and their game is not going to be dictated by time, score or momentum. They are going to try to create momentum from the start and continue it on to the finish. They are going to play with a free and confident mind. The media always talks about how many threes they shoot and how good they are offensively, but they are a great defensive team as well. They do some things that concern us with their full-court pressure, but hopefully we will handle the ball better than we have been.?

On senior Joe Crawford ?

?He is really improving. I think he is starting to understand that this team really needs him and this team needs him to do more things than just score. He is taking on more responsibility and become more vocal. We need Joe to score but we also need him to rebound and defend. Our team desperately needs people to rebound and play defense. I think that as we continue to grow offensively and get much better in that area then Joe needs to be asking for the ball where he wants it more. That is what seniors are supposed to do.?

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