Men's Basketball

Dec. 31, 2012

Kentucky concludes non-conference action on Wednesday when it plays host to Eastern Michigan at 6 p.m. ET in Rupp Arena. UK is 7-1 at home this season, while the Eagles are 0-4 on the year away from home.

Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan
Weds., Jan. 2 – 6:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK
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Radio: UK IMG

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UK dropped a heartbreaker at No. 3 Louisville on Saturday despite some valiant effort from a multitude of players. Sophomore Ryan Harrow posted 17 points and three assists while not committing a turnover in 39 minutes of action. Freshman Archie Goodwin had a game-high 22 points, while sophomore Kyle Wiltjer drilled four 3-pointers on the night.

The Wildcats and Eastern Michigan have never met on the hardwood in program history. This is the second first-time opponent of the season for UK after also facing Lafayette for the first time this season.

Scouting Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan owns a 7-5 overall mark headed into the game with UK. The Eagles have yet to win on the road this season, but earned a home victory over Purdue on Dec. 8. The Eagles are paced by a trio of players averaging double-figure scoring efforts led by 12.3 from Derek Thompson. UK and Eastern Michigan will be first-time opponents on Wednesday.

Media Opportunity – December 31, 2012

Head Coach John Calipari

On if Alex Poythress is sensitive to criticism …

“No, he just has to change his habits just like Ryan (Harrow) had to. The minute he changes his habits, the minute he changes his mentality of how he wants to play and how he needs to play, he will be fine. I will say in two weeks, when you see him play in two weeks, you will say you are slowly seeing the change. I don’t know if it will be this week because I will only have three workouts with him, but by the next game you will start to see a difference and say, ‘Wow, is he playing different.’ But it I am not doing anything but making him do stuff and change his habits and making him think differently about how you should play the game.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein saying Alex Poythress had more pressure on him than anyone …

“I think that they all have pressure on them. Every one of them from Ryan to Archie (Goodwin) to Alex to Nerlens (Noel). How about Nerlens? He is supposed to be all this, that and the other. Playing at Kentucky, believe me, there is enough pressure on you. Willie may feel that way because there was no pressure on Willie coming in, but now what? Now that he is performing a little bit, what? There is pressure on Willie. You know what Willie is in there doing right now? What do you think he is doing? (Media says, ‘free throws’) Really? You would think. Happy New Year. Let me just tell you, every one of them, to play here it is on you.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein saying that he was in-between free throw motions …

“Could be, that is why he is in there shooting. I said you need to shoot 100-200 a day and it will be different.”

On if Jon Hood is back …

“You know what, now that you said that. I didn’t see him today, here at lift. But, we got somebody else we sent home that was hacking. I said to the staff, ‘If the dude coughs one more time I don’t want him around us.’ So he was hacking this morning, ‘Get him out. Get him out.’ I don’t know who it was or who was hacking, just get them out. We don’t need anyone else getting sick right now.”

On Alex Poythress not being the same player he was against Duke …

“I don’t know. You will have to ask him. But he didn’t do it the whole game. You’re wrong. He did it on like seven or eight possessions. On those seven or eight possessions he got tip back dunks, he made baskets from around the goals, but the rest of the time he reverted back to his jog, standing up, not getting the ball by the guy. The question is why is it your mentality that that is OK? Where did you come up with that that it’s OK to be that way? If you are capable of doing this all the time, why would you not do it? That is the whole mentality that you have to change. It just takes time. The crazy thing is, in a normal situation, a normal freshman that is going to be with me for four years, is this really a big problem? Nah. Nah. Because I am going to push you and try to make you better, but next year you are going to be ridiculous. Your junior year? Oh my. But this is a different thing. This stuff is on steroids. This is a process that you accept coming in.”

On what drills he’s doing with Alex Poythress
“its things that are pertinent to how he plays. In transition, where he catches the ball on the court and what we’re trying to get him to do. Keep his head up, get the ball by the man, catch it with two hands, stay down, sprint the floor. Like sprint, now. You don’t run like that in the game and so we are doing all that kind of stuff and then between the stuff that we do he’s got to shoot free throws. He wants to stop; well you’ve got 10 seconds to start that’s the game. If you don’t shoot it in 10 seconds it’s a miss. You’ve got to make four or five or you’ve got to run a 31 second run. Now he hates to run, so today he made every free throw. No, that can’t be the guy that went two out of six and almost shot air balls, left. Not air balls short, left air balls. The same kid now makes everyone today. Yes, made every one today. He did not run a 31 second run because of free throws. Again, you understand the mental toughness, the focus and you’ve got to make losing like it’s running now. I don’t want to lose so I’m not missing these.”

On the confusion at the free throw line with Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel
“My daughter called me and said something. I mean first of all, if I thought the wrong guy was at the line, I would get him off the line. I’ve said to officials and I can’t remember who the officials were, if I saw it off of our man and they gave us the ball, I would say, “you missed that, that went the other way” and the official would stop and say, “thank you, that’s this way.” I’ve done that before, I’m not trying to gain an advantage. Here’s the other thing for all those beautiful people. I wasn’t on the grassy null in 1963. The conspiracy people, I wasn’t in Dallas and I wasn’t on the grassy null and I was four years old. So no, I thought that Alex got fouled. I thought he got fouled and that’s why I said why aren’t you at the line. I thought the wrong guy was at the line which I’m not going to let them do. Now why would I put Alex on the line when he couldn’t even, he couldn’t make any shots. I would put him at the line. I would have had more confidence in Nerlens at that point, but anyway, look that’s all fun if you want to say I was in Dallas I was there. Whatever you think I am, I agree.”

On if his coaching style is harder on these guys …
“No its not, it isn’t, no. Here’s what happens, they don’t want to change. So your choice is, ok Coach Cal, I’ll let you stay the same. How would Ryan (Harrow) have been if I let him stay the same? So no, here’s what happens, my job changes every year. Why would you say your job changes, because every team I have needs something different. This team needs something different than, I’m coaching different than I did a year ago. That team didn’t need the things that this team needs and this team there are things that, that team needed that this team doesn’t need. So every year I coach, I have a different job.”

On if he likes the fact that every team he coaches is different …

“It would be nice to have a lesson plan every year for eight straight years going in, knowing what my lesson plan is going in two days before we start. Just going in and let’s get going. But it is the choices you make when you are trying to make this about these kids.”

#12, Ryan Harrow, G, So.

On going 39 minutes without committing a turnover Saturday and what that did for his confidence …
“I didn’t think I made many turnovers in many games anyways. I didn’t even notice actually. I actually thought that I made turnovers in the game so for me to not have any turnovers meant I played a smart game and did all the things that we have been working on.”

On Alex Poythress’ play …
“Like I said, I think it is a mental thing with him. Listening to what Coach Cal (Calipari) says you can’t take it to heart because he is just screaming. That is what he does, he screams. I think once he figures that out and once he starts believing in himself again he will be a beast that you all saw in the Duke game.”

On him being a leader on the team …
“When I had to take that time off I think that forfeited my right to be a leader. Then me and Coach Cal sat down and talked and he asked me what I thought I needed to do for the team and me being a point guard, I said being a leader. He said that is not what it is, it is just me going out there and playing hard and doing what I need to do to help the team. That is my way of leading is just going out there and playing hard and doing everything the team needs me to do.”

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F, Fr.

On the mood of the team on the trip back from Louisville …
“We got a lot of good things out of the game and we have to capitalize on those and focus on the things that we did wrong and move forward from it. The ride back was, it hurt, it was a disgusting feeling in your stomach but you have to move on from it.”

On if they took something away from the fact they only lost by three given the free throws missed …
“No. I mean, we missed 12 free throws and the old saying is that free throws win games and they would have if we would have made them.”

On what he thinks Coach Calipari is looking for out of Wednesday’s game …
“Probably just a step forward from where we were in the Louisville game minus the mistakes and the missed free throws.”

On if he felt he played closed to his potential moving forward …
“I feel like it was a step in the right direction that game. The first career start thing was good and exciting, especially coming against Louisville. At the end of the day you have to come out and compete.”

#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F, So.

On Coach using Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel together and if he expects to see more of that …
“I don’t know. We will just have to wait and see. I just want to keep improving no matter what game it is. We have confidence in whoever is out there and we want to play our best.”

On Julius Mays’ play recently …
“We all just have to have a confidence in each other. We tell him to keep his confidence up and to keep firing away when he is open. He is a great shooter so we feed him the ball and expect him to knock it down.”

On Coach Cal saying the team can improve as a team and still have some losses …
“It really hurts to lose. That always sucks. It is a good loss if we are learning from it. We do a great job of just learning from our mistakes by watching film. If we keep it up I think we can improve from it and become a better team as a whole.”

On if the game against Louisville helped them mature …

“Yeah, we did a good job of fighting and staying alive. We need to bring that for 40 minutes, not just the second half. We did a great job of fighting for it so we just want to keep improving.”

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