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Kentucky Makes Record 53rd NCAA Appearance

March 18, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



KENTUCKY SPORTS RELEASE

LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the 53rd time in program history the Kentucky Wildcats are among the field for the NCAA Tournament, it was announced Sunday evening. UK will open the tournament against Kansas State Friday, March 21st at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET in St. Louis, Mo.

The contest will air on CBS, with Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Tracy Wolfson on the call. Opening tip will occur 30 minutes after the session's first game, which begins at 7:10 p.m. in the Scottrade Center.

Kentucky (24-10), seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, will take on ninth-seeded Kansas State (20-12) in the second round of NCAA Tournament. The winner of the UK-KSU matchup will play the winner of No. 1-seeded Wichita State (34-0) and the winner of the 16-seed First Round play-in game between Cal Poly (13-19) and Texas Southern (18-14).

Series History

Kentucky is 8-0 all-time against Kansas State, with two postseason meetings. UK downed KSU 68-58 in the national championship game in Minneapolis, Minn., to claim the program's third NCAA title. The two schools also met in the 1976 NIT, where UK pulled out an 81-78 win.

UK has never played Wichita State, but the Wildcats own an 11-4 record all-time against Missouri Valley opponents. Kentucky has also never played Cal Poly and is 1-0 against Texas Southern, with an 83-35 win in 2007.

NCAA Tournament History

  • Kentucky is 42-10 in tournament openers and has won 20 of its last 21 second round (previously first-round) tournament games. The Cats won their opener during the 2012 title run against Western Kentucky, 81-66.
  • UK has claimed a 14-5 record in the second round since 1992.
  • Since 1992, UK is 107-31 (.781) in postseason play (SEC, NIT and NCAA).

Head Coach John Calipari

 

On UK's NCAA Tournament seeding ...
"Did we get a nine or an eight? (Eight.) We'd have been an eight if we had won this game. Why are you laughing? No, it's the truth. We would have been eight. They made their minds up that that's what this team was. The only way you can prove `em wrong is go play ball. And we played today and I'm proud of the guys. We'll go play. We'll go to St. Louis and play."

 

On if they can keep the momentum ...
"I hope so. That's the plan. That's why we did what we did."

On how familiar he is with Kansas State ...
"No idea. I haven't watched them one second. I'll probably watch them on the plane."

On what seed he thinks they should be if he called the shots ...
"I called an eight seed to the team. I said eight. They said there's no way. I said we're going to be an eight seed. You just watch."

On why he thought they would be an eight seed and if he has inside information ...
"No."

On what seed he thought they'd played to today ...
"I have no idea. We lost. We lost the game. But it didn't matter. The seed was done before the game was played. They were not moving us around. That's who we were going to be."

On how the players reacted to it ...
"They were kind of like, `What?! OK.' I think they're still disappointed we lost this game so they're still not thinking. We've got a couple guys still almost despondent. I'm just telling you, I'm not thinking about this we just played right now. None of it's even entered in my mind. I won't even watch the tape. Let's move on. We've got to play Kansas State."

On how they played today ...
"We played good. We played good. We get down against the No. 1 team that many points and you fight and claw back and you have your chance to win the game. You have the ball. We had the ball with a chance to win."

On how much the weekend gives them good feelings going forward ...
"I'm good. We didn't play great. We still got some guys that are kind of in a funk right now and (I'm) trying to make the game simple for them. They just got to listen. Trying to make it real simple so you can just go play harder than the other guy. And that's all I'm asking them to do. But we've got a couple guys who just got to get them on the same page with everybody else and this thing is on. Even with that being the case, we had the ball with our chance down one. Get fouled, bump it in, offensive tip-in, you know, something like that."

On how important that surge was to keep the momentum they had gained the previous two days ...
"Yeah, it was good. I was proud of the guys. I really was."

On Andrew Harrison saying you put the ball in his hands and he should have taken it ...
"No, there's two things. You guys know I never call a timeout (late in games). And I was mad that I did. `Call one, call one.' And I called it, and as soon as I called it I was angry because I don't call timeouts. Now you're going against a set defense. They were spread out and scrambling. I could have stopped them and talked them through what we were going to do and let them play, but I didn't. I called a timeout. He did exactly what I wanted. A little bit too late, but he did what I wanted him to do. And James (Young) slipped. James would have probably got something up off the backboard. I don't know if we would have had enough time to tip it in, but it's what we wanted him to do. He did what we wanted."

On how much they need to get Julius Randle going ...
"Julius has got to play better, Alex (Poythress) has got to play better. You know what I'm saying? Jarrod's (Polson) got to play better. But like I said, we're one of those teams. We just got to go play now. It's what it is. It doesn't matter what other seeds are now. It's over. I can be mad about it, you can be mad, everybody can be (mad). Explain yourself. They had the fourth strength of schedule. Are you telling people they don't have to play anybody? Explain it. But they don't have to explain it. They said what we did. So, we just got to go play. We got to play basketball in St. Louis."

On how much a difference Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein made ...
"It was good. That's where we made our run and I kind of rode with it."

On how he feels being in St. Louis and close to Kentucky fans ...
"It's good. Yeah, it'll be good. But it's close to Wichita (State), it's close to Kansas State. Everybody's going to have fans. I bet you everybody uses up their allotment."

On how many teams the SEC got in ...
"Yeah, one of them was a play-in. I mean, Tennessee is a play-in game? I mean, again, I don't know where this image of our league is right now, but what we just did with Florida, does that mean they're not very good? I mean, I guess if you say it enough and say it enough it becomes real. But, you know, we'll have to see."

On if he was coaching Wichita State, how mad he would be to see Kentucky possibly in the next round ...
"He's not worried about anybody. I've had that team when I was at UMass and we weren't worried about anybody else. It didn't matter who we played, we were comfortable. And if it's an eight or nine seed, they're like, `I don't care who they are, they're still an eight or nine seed.' And we've got to win. I'm not worried about Wichita and they're not worried about us. We've got to win our first game and that's all our focus will be on: trying to play a really good team, a very physical team. So they kind of threw that out: Who's the most physical team out there? Boom! It's a physical game and a tough game."


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