For the only time in the regular season, the No. 12/13 Kentucky Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) will take on the Tennessee Volunteers (11-5, 2-1) this afternoon in Rupp Arena. The titanic tilt figures to be hotly contested, with UK surely dripping with motivation after the heartbreaking loss at Arkansas on Tuesday night.
Here are your Game Notes:
- UT head coach Cuonzo Martin is in his third season in Knoxville, and has posted a 50-33 record, 23-14 in SEC play.
- Martin was the 2011 recipient of the Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award given to the top minority head coach in Division I. That year he led Missouri State to a 26-9 record, 15-3 in the always tough Missouri Valley Conference.
- In his sophomore year at East St. Louis Lincoln High School, Martin teamed with LaPhonso Ellis and the two future pros won one of the two Illinois State High School Championships Martin earned in his prep career.
- In his outstanding college career at Purdue, Martin scored 1,666 points.The Boilermakers posted a 90-37 record during his career in West Lafayette, 54-12 his final two years. In 1995, Martin's senior year, he averaged 18.4 points per game.
- UT senior guard Jordan McRae -- at 6-6, another lengthy guard -- puts up 18.4 points per game on the strength of 35.6 percent 3-point shooting.
- In a December contest against Wichita State, McRae became the 45th Volunteer to score over 1,000 points in a career. He had 26 points in the game.
- Freshman guard Darius Thompson, who averages but 17.1 minutes per game, dishes out 2.7 assist per contest against only 1.0 turnover per game.
- Tennessee has lost five games by a total of 29 points, or an average of 5.8 points per game.
- UT atoned for its season-opening 67-63 loss to Xavier by spanking the Musketeers 64-49 a few weeks later.
- The Vols drilled a decent Virginia team 87-52.
- Preseason First Team All-SEC forward Jarnell Stokes is averaging 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
- Stokes is absolutely killing it on the offensive glass, snagging 5.5 offensive boards per contest.
- Stokes' front court mate, Jeronne Maymon, is grabbing 4.8 offensive rebounds per game.
- Memphis transfer Antonio Barton has made 24-of-58 long-range shots on the year (44.4 percent).
- To open league play, Tennessee beat a solid LSU club 68-50.
- Tennessee scores nearly 75.0 points per game, while holding its opponents to just less than 62.0 points.
- Tracey Webster, an assistant at UK under Billy Gillispie, is Martin's top assistant coach.
- In eight of 16 games this year McRae has scored at least 20 points.
- In Tennessee's five losses, McRae made only 11-of-43 3-point shots (25.6 percent); in UT's 11 wins, McRae made 20-of-44 from beyond the arc(45.5 percent).
- Stokes has eight double-doubles this year.
- Seven of Stokes' eight rebounds against LSU were of the offensive variety.
- Maymon corralled 16 rebounds against NC State, 10 offensive boards.
- The last time Tennessee beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena was February of 2006 when the No. 11 ranked Volunteers, led by Chris Lofton's 31 points, beat UK 75-67. Randolph Morris scored 20 for the 'Cats.
- Overall, UK has a substantial 149-67 edge in the rivalry, but UT is able to claim more victories over Kentucky than any other school.
- In Kentucky's first game last year without the injured Nerlens Nole, the Vols CRUSHED the 'Cats in Knoxville, 88-58.
- (I should end there -- because that's all any UK fan needs to know -- but I won't.)
- Since February of 2002, Kentucky is 20-5 when playing the Vols (.800 winning percentage).
- The Wildcats are 89-16 when playing Tennessee in Lexington (.848 winning percentage); 34-4 in Rupp Arena.
- UK connected on 5-of-11 shots from distance against Arkansas -- 45.5 percent -- after making a combined 24-of-99 the previous six games (24.2 percent).
- The 'Cats have scored at least 81 points in nine games this year.
- Since making 19-of-25 from the line against Baylor eight games ago (76.0 percent), UK has made only 155-of-245 shots from the charity stripe (63.3 percent).
- In SEC play, UK has 40 assists versus 39 turnovers. The Wildcats' SEC opponents have 42 assists against 37 turnovers.
- Kentucky has made 356 free throws this year (22.3 per game), while its opponents have attempted 327 (20.4 per game).
- Willie Cauley-Stein has only two blocks in his last 49 minutes of play (two games), but he has connected on 13-of-17 shots over the last three games (76.5 percent).
- In the last two games, Andrew Harrison has dished out 10 assists while turning the ball over only four times (if one looks at the box scores, it says he had five turnovers against Arkansas, but the over and back TO in that game was booooogus, so I opted not to penalize him for an officials' overly boneheaded call).
- Andrew Harrison is 4-of-8 from 3-point range over the last three games (50.0 percent).
- UK's last four opponents have combined to make 21-of-78 shots from behind the arc (26.9 percent).
- Arkansas was the ninth foe UK has held below 40.0 percent field goal shooting.
- Arkansas had six turnovers in its overtime win over UK on Tuesday night, tied for the fewest TOs the 'Cats have forced this season (Providence also had only six miscues).
- Kentucky is 2-2 when making more than 40.0 percent of its 3-point shots ... now, read that again.
- In his last six games, Alex Poythress made 22-of-34 shots from the field (64.7 percent), but he took an average of only 5.7 shots per game.
- Since starting the year 6-of-15 from the free throw line (40.0 percent), AP has connected on 8-of-12 from the stripe over the last six games (66.7 percent).
- In his last 41 minutes of game action, Dakari Johnson has posted these numbers: 18 points on 7-of-13 field goal shooting, 10 rebounds (seven offensive), 4-of-8 from the stripe, two assists, two turnovers, one block, and nine fouls.
- Julius Randle is 11-of-28 from the field in SEC play (39.3 percent), and 13-of-20 from the free throw line (65.0 percent).
- Randle is averaging 13.0 rebounds per game in conference action, 6.0 offensive boards.
- Since turning the ball over five times against Boise State, James Young has dished out 17 assists versus 10 turnovers in the 10 games since.
- This is something not normally done in Game Notes, but I thought it was an important enough quote from John Calipari to use here in case anyone missed it. The question to Cal was about the play of Willie Cauley-Stein against Arkansas, and the fact that WCS didn't seem himself, that he seemed "out of it." Here's what Cal said:
"He was, and they’re not machines. But he was unbelievable in practice yesterday. He knows, he’s taking responsibility. He knows, it wasn’t what I said or did, it wasn’t what a teammate was doing, it was his performance, he owned it, ‘now I gotta change it.’"
And that’s where you grow. After the game, and I wasn’t in there immediately after the game, but James (Young) tried to apologize to his team and they’re all like, ‘stop, you don’t make the three, we’re not even here. I could have got the ball.’ Another guy said, ‘I was standing there too, James, don’t you do that. You played and made shots to help us so this is on all of us.’"
Good sign. Good sign. Again, you’ve gotta know that you’re there for each other. Like I said, we’ve got stuff we’ve got to do but we’re, right now, like I was jacked to be at practice yesterday. I was like, let’s go."
Today, we’re doing it a little earlier because of an early start tomorrow, but I’m excited about being here today. And again, a lot of it is just being real, keeping it real, being truthful and now let’s deal with this and move on."
Individual players playing a certain way, we’re getting closer, we’re still not there. But basically against, you know, the last game, you have seven errors of miscommunication, easy basket. When you do seven of those, and then fate intervenes also, how are you going to win the game on the road? You’re just not. Fate intervenes and you only have two of those kinds of errors, you still win and say, ‘man we just won against all odds, that is great stuff.’ But we weren’t ready to do that."
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!