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Two UK Programs to Take on Baylor in Texas

uk basketball1 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (12/4/13) – Texas will be turning blue Friday night.

Both University of Kentucky men's and women's basketball will travel to Texas to take on the two Baylor basketball squads in a double-header match up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

UK men's basketball coach John Calipari said during a pre-Baylor press conference Wednesday that both programs are following each other and trying to help each other any way they can.

“This is not just about the basketball program, it's about the athletic department,” said Calipari. “It's about a lot of athletes from a lot of different sports and anywhere we can come together and help each other is good.”

UK women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell said in his pre-Baylor press conference that he is very appreciative of Calipari for putting the double-header together.

“He just called me one day a couple years back and had the idea and it went from there. He's been so supportive of our program from the very first time he got here, first day he every showed up on campus. He came over to our office and was positive that day and has been positive ever since,” said Mitchell.

The men's basketball team is fresh off a 79-65 victory against Providence and now hope Friday night's game will give them a six game winning streak and their first victory against a ranked opponent. The Cats lost against top-ranked Michigan State 78-74 on Nov. 12. Baylor is currently ranked No. 20.

“Look, we need to play another ranked team to find out where we are at this point,” said Calipari. “It's not about winning or losing, you want to win every game, it's about 'let's just keep learning where we need to go with this team.'”

Calipari added that Julius Randle is adjusting well to playing at the college level.

“The one thing I said was, 'Quit trying to be perfect.' He is acting like he should make every play,” said Calipari. “Just stop and play harder than the other guy. Just worry about that. Don't worry about anything else.”

A native of Dallas, Randle said he's excited about returning home to visit his family.

“It's a dream of mine just to be able to come back to my home state and be able to play in front of family and friends and I've got a lot of fans in the city, too. I'm looking forward to it,” said Randle.

AT&T Stadium has a seating capacity of 80,000, a much larger arena than Rupp, which sits 23,500. Calipari said he's excited about playing in the final four environment.

“We aren't going to have 80,000 people there, but my hope is that because of the games that are being played there, everybody is ranked, it's going to be a terrific environment,” said Calipari. “I haven't been in the building but everybody tells me it's just ridiculous. They are moving the court to one side but the court will be raised, so it will be like that kind of environment.”

The match-up with the No. 5 ranked UK women's basketball team against No. 9 ranked Baylor is looking to be a heated game as well. UK is currently 8-0 while Baylor is 6-0. Mitchell said the game will be a great opportunity to play one of the most hard-nosed, aggressive, tough programs in the country.

“It'll be a very, very difficult game,” said Mitchell. “We will have to prepare well to have the opportunity to win. So, we're headed down tomorrow with our mind on going down and playing really hard, seeing if we can come back to Lexington with a very significant victory.”

The UK women are fresh off a victory against Louisville, 69-64. That game gave Mitchell some ideas of what the team needs to work on before facing Baylor.

“I think it's really important for us to play good team defense,” said Mitchell. “We need to do everything we can to make the other team uncomfortable and sometimes that's in the full court with the press. Against U of L (University of Louisville) on Sunday it was more in the half-court. So, no matter where we can find the opportunity, we need to try to make them very uncomfortable. That's going to be hard work because they have such talented players on the team.”

The UK women's squad will tip-off against Baylor at 7:30 p.m. Following that game will be the UK men's team which will tip-off at 10 p.m.

David Gillum
SurfKY News

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