Men's Basketball

vs. Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (4-7)

Saturday, Dec. 22 – 1:00 p.m.
Lexington, Ky. – (23,000)
TV: FSN South, BBSN-Delayed –

Following a three-week absence from Rupp Arena, Kentucky returns to Lexington and hosts the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in the Wildcats final contest before the Christmas holiday.

UK is looking to put an end to its current four-game losing streak, its longest slide since dropping five consecutive games during the 1989-90 season.

The Wildcats? 83-69 loss at Houston saw the return of sophomore Jodie Meeks. Meeks, who missed six games due to a stress fracture, hit four threee pointers en route to a career-high 21 points against the Cougars. Joe Crawford also torched the nets for 28 points while adding six rebounds and four assists. However, the Cats were without freshman post Patrick Patterson (ankle) against UH.

Kentucky is 4-0 all-time against Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles (4-7) are coached by former UK assistant Mike Sutton.


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. Kentucky leads the SEC from the foul line, shooting 75 percent (110-147). The Wildcats rank third in the SEC in field goal percentage defense (.378). 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 eight different starting line-ups through the first nine games of the season. The only constant starter has been walk-on Mark Coury. Joe Crawford (1,064) became UK?s 54th member of the 1,000-point club against North Carolina. He currently sits in 47th place, tied with Jamaal Magloire. Teammate Ramel Bradley (960 career points) is 40 points shy of 1,000. Jodie Meeks made his return at Houston after a six-game layoff due to a stress fracture. He responded with a career-high 21 points.


Located in Cookeville, Tenn. (169 miles south of Lexington), Tennessee Tech is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Golden Eagles are led in scoring by Anthony Fisher (15.6 ppg). Amadi McKenzie (14.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Daniel Northern (12.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) provide a solid inside tandem.

Tennessee Tech is in the midst a five-game road trip. The Golden Eagles defeated Pac-10 member Oregon State, 79-62, Tuesday. TTU closes their road stretch on Dec. 27 in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.

The Golden Eagles are led by former Kentucky assistant Mike Sutton. Sutton has amassed a 93-70 (.571) record in Cookeville. Sutton was named the 2005 OVC Coach of the Year and ranks second among all Tech coaches (with more than one season) for most average wins per year (17.5). He was also a recipient of the 2006 BWAA Most Courageous Award as well as the 2006 Kaia Jergenson Courage Award from Nashville Sports Council.


The Wildcats lead the series 4-0, but the two teams haven?t met since the 2004-05 season. All four meetings have come in Rupp Arena and the Wildcats have put on an offensive display all four times. Kentucky is averaging 106.5 ppg against the Golden Eagles. The Wildcats? high against TTU came in 1994 when UK put up 115 points. Kentucky?s lowest output in the series came in their last meeting when the Cats claimed a 92-63 victory in November 2004.


Head Coach Billy Gillispie

Opening statement?

?We had a tough loss the other night, but we?re going to get better. We have a difficult situation coming up tomorrow. We have a team coming in with a lot of confidence. We definitely lack some confidence. So hopefully we play better than we have.?

On his belief in ?must-win? games?

?When you get into the tournament I think it is a must-win situation because your season?s over but other games, no, absolutely not. I am more of a ?must-play-well? person. When everyone thinks you must win, I am more that you must play well because you don?t have a chance to win unless you play well.?

On Jodie Meeks ?

?It always helps to have a player back. We haven?t shot the ball very well. We?ve been very inconsistent shooting. I think that he?s going to be a great shooter for us. I think it is going to be some time before he?s able to everything that we want him to do. His responsibility is going to be great as far as handling the ball, defensively, rebounding and being a transition defender. I think he?s more ready to shoot the basketball right now physically than he would be able to carry out all of the other responsibilities.?

On Ramel Bradley?

?He?s been inconsistent. I think that he?s probably trying to learn a foreign language basically. It takes time to learn a foreign language. Some days you get some of the words and some days you probably don?t, and it takes time before you?re able to speak the language very efficiently.?

On how he plans to work with the team over break ?

?We?re all trying to learn a lot in a short amount of time. We watched a lot of tape yesterday and Wednesday. Hopefully we can learn by doing that. We?ll spend time in practice, but I?ve never been a big guy on spending a ton of time on the court. I want to try to be out there and be as competitive as possible in the shortest amount of time with as many players as possible. We?ll do a lot of tape and may do some classroom stuff. But really I want to get to the point that no matter how much time you are allowed to use that you make the most of your time because I want it to be the most competitive two hours of the day.?

On getting the team to rebound and defend better ?

?We have to be tougher. I don?t think that on offense we have been able to see defenders. I think that leads to turnovers. I don?t think on defense we have been able to see the ball. I think that you have to be really good at seeing the ball. If you?re a really good player, you never lose vision of the basketball for 40 minutes. Offensively, some guys take a first step before they realize a shot has been taken. The biggest problem we have had on our defensive rebounding is that we haven?t been able to control the basketball and we haven?t controlled the dribble, so we?re always in a help situation. Our help defense hasn?t been very good at all. That causes some rotations and we don?t rotate back to our guy and make contact. It?s easy to just say that he didn?t block out but it?s much more complex than that. It?s the same as playing team defense. It?s not about how many points your man scored and it?s not about one specific area. It?s all about how you perform as a unit. We haven?t performed as a unit very well. The last part of team defense is team rebounding, defensive rebounding. It starts with pressure on the ball.?

On Tennessee Tech?

?They play hard. They really compete and they scrap. They play very, very hungry.?

On leadership?

?I?m not a big believer in that leaders are born. Maybe some guys have a head start on some others when they are born as far as leadership. I think it?s taught and I think that is one of the things that we have been able to teach the best. I think that so far we haven?t had great leadership on our team, but I think that we will before long. I think some guys are improving in that area. But I don?t think that we?ve had great leadership so far. There are a lot of things in leadership that are tangible and there are a lot that aren?t. The most important step is taking responsibility. Everyone has a role in leadership. You have to be able to take leadership or you have to be able to give it. We have a long ways to go but I think some guys are stepping forward in that area.?

On how a team builds confidence?

?I don?t think it is solely based on winning. I think it is about practice and how you carry out your assignments day-to-day. Winning is a byproduct of your habits performed in practice. It doesn?t just happen on game day. When you have more points than the other team doesn?t mean you?ve been successful and just because you have less points doesn?t mean you have been unsuccessful. It?s all about practice and giving yourself the best opportunity to know how you are going to play before the game ever starts.?

On why the team hasn?t performed well up to this point?

?I am not an excuse-maker, but injuries have about as much to do with anything that we?ve done. But I am not an excuse-maker and I will not accept injuries as an excuse. No matter who you have on the court, those guys should be performing better. They?re not, so that is my responsibility. But the injury thing has a lot to do with it ? the most to do with it actually.?

Kentucky Players

#54 Patrick Patterson – Freshman

On the ankle?

?I sprained my ankle in pregame practice. I noticed it started hurting a lot that morning. It is fine now. I have been getting it taped up more and I feel like I am ready to go now.?

On practice the past couple of days?

?Coach Gillispie thinks we are not being as competitive as we should be. We have been going head-to-head and toe-to-toe in practice. It is a battle out there. Everyone wants to fix what is wrong and start winning so it is a brawl on the court. We need to step up the intensity and that will make us tougher and harder when we need to be.?

On Jodie Meeks being back?

?Jodie (Meeks) is a great player. He knows how to get the ball into the post and he can hit shots from the outside. Having him back is a huge help. With him back in the line-up, it gives us a lot more confidence to execute the offense that Coach Gillispie wants us to do.?

#23 Jodie Meeks – Sophomore

On his return to playing Tuesday?

?I was just trying to help my teammates. I had a little after-soreness, but I?ll be alright by the game tomorrow. Other than that, I?m feeling fine. I got a little winded during the game on Tuesday near the end of the first half. I?m working really hard on getting back in shape though.?

On the morale of the team right now?

?Everybody is fine and in tune with what Coach Gillispie is trying to teach us. Everybody just wants to learn. We?ve had a couple of bad breaks with injuries, and you can?t really control that. It will help us to be back in Rupp tomorrow, and to play in front of our fans again.?

#13 Michael Porter – Sophomore

On the team?s four-game losing streak?

?Sometimes your mind gets sidetracked. If you think about playing hard and winning enough, eventually you?ll be able to go out and do it automatically. If you?re not focused, one little thing can mess up your whole game.?

On the team?s confidence?

?It?s hard to lose four in a row. We don?t expect to go out there and lose. It?s all about getting our minds right. Tomorrow, we just need to go out there and get the win. That will definitely help our confidence.?

On the reason for the team?s recent struggles?

?When you go out to play a game, you have to tell yourself you want to go out and compete. I don?t think we?ve had the mental toughness or the mindset that we should have at this point. We?re playing hard, but I don?t think we?re playing as hard as we need to. Sometimes we come out and don?t look intimidating. When we come out and play hard, and we look intimidating and play aggressive, that?s when we play well.?

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