Tonight the newly No. 1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats (6-0) welcome to Rupp Arena the St. John’s Red Storm (4-3) in the Big East/SEC Challenge. The Cats, coming off an 87-63 win over Portland on Saturday, will be looking to continue their defensive dominance as they take on a young, but very hard-playing Red Storm basketball team.
Sadly, St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will not be making the trip with his team due to his continuing recovery from prostate cancer surgery. Everyone in the Big Blue Nation wishes Coach Lavin a speedy and full recovery and a quick return to the sideline.
Now, on to the Wildcat particulars of note.
Wildcat stats and trends
Anthony Davis — Davis’ 71.4 percent field-goal shooting ranks fifth in the nation … The big man has 20 dunks on the year … With 26 blocks, Davis is averaging 4.3 blocks per game, fourth highest in the country, and is on pace for 142 blocks on the year, shattering the school record of 83 shared by Andre Riddick and Melvin Turpin … In his last three games, the Chicago native has made 13-of-19 shots (68.4 percent) … After having five turnovers through the first two games of the year, Davis has only five turnovers in the last four games … After having two steals through the first three games, he has five steals in the last three contests … Davis has scored in double-digits in five of six games, three in a row … On the year, Davis is averaging 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds (2.3 offensive) per game.
Terrence Jones — After recording 13 double-doubles last year, Jones has none this season … Over his last two games, Jones has made 3-of-4 3-point shots (75.0 percent), and 6 of 9 on the season (66.7 percent) … Last season, Jones made 64.6 percent of his free throws; so far this year he’s made 14 of 20 from the line for 70.0 percent, and nine of his last 12 (75.0 percent) … Jones had a season-high four turnovers against Radford, but in UK’s next game he had zero turns versus Portland … He has 13 blocks on the year (2.2 per game), nine in the last three games (3.0 per game) … On the year, Jones is averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds (2.2 offensive) and 2.2 assists per game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — MKG has five steals in the last two games … The rookie is second on the team with eight dunks … In the last three games, Kidd-Gilchrist has made 1-of-5 3-pointers, and turned the ball over nine times … He has scored in double-figures in five of six games … In the last three games, MKG has 10 offensive rebounds … Versus Marist and Radford, Kidd-Gilchrist made a combined 13-of-13 free throws … On the year, MKG is averaging 12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds (1.8 offensive) and 1.8 steals per game.
Doron Lamb — For the year, Lamb has connected on 12-of-26 3-point attempts (46.2 percent), but in the last two games he’s made only 3 of 10 (30.0 percent) … The Queens native has snagged nine rebounds the last two games but has zero offensive rebounds in the last three contests … Lamb has six assists and only one turnover in the last two games … On the year, he has committed only three turnovers in 174 minutes of play … Through the season’s first three games, Lamb averaged 19.3 points per game; the last three games he’s averaging 9.0 points per contest … Through the first three games, Lamb took a total of 33 shots (11.0 per game); the last three games he’s taken 22 shots (7.3 per game) … He has made 23-of-26 free throws on the year (88.5 percent) … For the season, Lamb is averaging a team-best 14.2 points per game to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest.
Darius Miller — Miller is closing in on becoming only the third UK player to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals in a career (Tayshaun Prince and Chuck Hayes); currently he has 902 points, 401 rebounds, 215 assists, 90 blocks, and 88 steals … After dishing out 18 assists through the first four games (100 minutes), Miller has only one assist in the last two games (44 minutes) … Through the first five games of the year, Miller made only 1-of-11 trey tries (9.1 percent), but against Portland on Saturday he made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc (80.0 percent) … Miller has made 13-of-27 field-goal attempts over the last three games (48.1 percent) after opening the season 6 of 14 from the floor (42.9 percent) … Versus Portland, Miller scored a season-high 19 points … He has only one turnover in the last two games … On the season, Miller is averaging 8.5 points and 3.7 rebounds (1.8 offensive) per game, and has made 8-of-10 free throws (80.0 percent).
Marquis Teague — In his last two games, Teague has handed out 13 assists while committing only two turnovers, this after having 18 miscues to 11 dimes through the first four contests … Teague made four of his first five 3-point shots (80.0 percent), but only two of his last seven (28.6 percent) over the last three games … The first three games Teague had four steals (1.2 per game); in the last three contests he’s pilfered the ball eight times (2.7 per game) … Versus Portland, Teague attempted six free throws (making five) after attempting only 11 free throws in UK’s first five games … He has committed four fouls in the last three games after fouling 11 times the first three games … On the year, Teague is averaging 11.7 points, 4.0 assists (3.3 turnovers) and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Kyle Wiltjer — Through his first three games Wiltjer had six rebounds (2.0 pg); in his last three contests he has 15 boards (5.0 pg) … After starting the year 0 for 2 from long range, Wiltjer has made four of his last nine 3s (44.4 percent) … Since scoring 33 points in the first three games (11.0 pg), he is averaging 4.3 points per game over the last three games … On the year, Wiltjer is averaging 7.8 points, 3.5 rebounds (1.5 offensive) and 2.0 assists per game.
Eloy Vargas — In Vargas’ last 21 minutes of action, covering three games, he’s made 3-of-3 field goals, scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and had one turnover.
Team — The Cats have won a school-record 37 straight games at Rupp Arena … UK is third in the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 31.3 percent shooting … Kentucky leads the nation with 10.3 blocks per game … The Cats rank 10th nationally in team field-goal percentage at 51.4 percent … UK has 40 dunks; its opponents, six … The Cats have drawn three charges; their opponents, 11 … UK has 10 3-point plays the old-fashioned way; its opponents, one … Kentucky is averaging 43.7 points in the paint; its opponents, 23.0 … UK is averaging 18.8 points off turnovers; its opponents, 11.3 … UK is averaging 13.7 second-chance points; its opponents, 10.7.
UK vs. St. John’s — Kentucky and St. John’s have hooked up 15 times on the basketball court, with UK winning 10 times … The two schools have split the last six games going back to 1952 … The Wildcats and Red Storm have not played since St. Johns bested the Cats 62-61 in New York in November of 2000 … As the No. 1 team in the country, UK is 4-1 against St. John’s … UK last played the Red Storm as the No. 1 team in the 1978 season, winning 102-72 … The Cats hold a 2-0 edge in Lexington … Kentucky is 168-73 against the Big East.
UK and Coach Cal as No. 1
Kentucky is 154-24 when ranked No. 1, with an 8-3 mark in their last 11 games on top of the rankings. At home, Kentucky is 62-2 as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Coach Cal is one of only two coaches (along with Frank McGuire), to lead three different programs to the No. 1 ranking. Calipari’s record as the coach of the No. 1 team in the land is 42-6 (32-4 at UMass, 9-1 at Memphis and 1-1 at UK).
Coach Cal and Anthony Davis on being ranked No. 1
Calipari on what he told his team after becoming No. 1 this week …
“First of all, I said obviously not everyone thought we should be number one. Thirty percent of the voters voted for someone else, which is really unusual. Normally, whoever ascends gets the majority of the votes. That didn’t happen. I said, ‘We’ll see if they’re right. How we practice, how we approach this. I want you to understand that this is not a burden. It’s a badge of honor. That’s what this is. Playing here, this is what you’re trying to attain.’ Now this isn’t when we want this, but we’re there so let’s see how we perform.”
Anthony Davis on whether the players feel they can’t go any higher since they’re No. 1 …
“Not at all. Everybody is playing with a chip on their shoulder. Everybody is coming out to beat us. Even if we weren’t number one, people would still want to come out and beat us.”
Tip-off is set for 7:30 ET, with television coverage by ESPN2. Stayed tuned to CoachCal.com as Eric Lindsey and UK assistant coach John Robic will be along with a comprehensive scouting report on St. John’s.