Penn St.-Kentucky Preview
Kentucky coach John Calipari has liked what he has seen from his team at times, but he knows it can play much better.
That doesn't bode well for opponents considering his team is coming off a double-digit victory over a national power.
Calipari hopes to see his second-ranked Wildcats further develop Saturday when they face Penn State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Connecticut.
Led by All-American forward Terrence Jones, senior guard Darius Miller, sophomore guard Doron Lamb and another highly touted freshman class, Calipari believes he has a talented team. He also knows they have a lot of maturing to do.
Against No. 12 Kansas on Tuesday, Kentucky (2-0) turned the ball over 19 times and got off to a sluggish start, shooting 38.5 percent in the first half. It managed to overcome its turnovers and early jitters to shoot 64.0 percent after halftime and hand the Jayhawks a 75-65 loss.
"We don't believe we have to truly play together yet. It's not talent that wins, it's good teams that win,'' Calipari said. "This is not a good team yet. We're not bad, but we're not a good team yet. We've got good players, but we broke off every play.''
Lamb led five Wildcats in double figures with 17 points, while Jones had 15 points and seven rebounds and Anthony Davis had 14 points and seven blocked shots. Heralded freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague each added 12 points.
It was a good test for Kentucky, which routed Marist 108-58 in last Friday's season opener.
"They had a will to win," Calipari said. "That's what I wanted to see. That's the hardest thing to teach in what we do, a will to win. This team seems to have that.''
First-year Penn State coach Patrick Chambers is also pleased with the way his team handled adversity in its last game, but he knows coming up with a similar performance against Kentucky won't be easy.
Against Long Island University on Wednesday, the Nittany Lions (3-0) trailed 60-56 with 7:36 remaining before closing the game on a 21-8 run to win 77-68.
"They showed me a little something," Chambers said. "They showed me some grit, they showed me some heart."
Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions' lone returning starter, once again showed his coach great determination, finishing with a career-high 26 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals.
"He did everything you ask your point guard to do," Chambers said of Frazier, who is averaging team highs of 20.7 points and 8.7 assists.
Penn State has done a good job defensively in beating Hartford, Radford and Long Island, but slowing down high-powered Kentucky figures to be much more difficult.
Despite their sluggish start against the Jayhawks, the Wildcats are still shooting 57.1 percent and have made 11 of 25 3-pointers (44.0 percent).
"They are a great team, (Calipari) is a great coach and it is a great program with a lot of tradition," Chambers said. "I need to reel them in a little bit, because they are going to be crazy the first couple of minutes. I just have to slow them down."
These teams haven't met since Penn State's 73-68 victory at No. 22 Kentucky in 2000, the Nittany Lions' lone victory in three games in the series.
Penn State has lost 10 straight contests against top 5 opponents since defeating then-No. 2 Michigan State 65-63 in the 2001 Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
The winner of this game will play the winner of Old Dominion and South Florida on Sunday.