|2:00 PM PT3:00 PM MT4:00 PM CT5:00 PM ET10:00 PM GMT6:00 PM 北京时间3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST, Dec 14, 2019
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky Attendance: 20,111
Pastner leads Ga. Tech vs. mentor, No. 8 Kentucky
Kentucky coach John Calipari will face a good friend when his No. 8 Wildcats host Georgia Tech on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
The Yellow Jackets are led by Josh Pastner, a former Calipari assistant at Memphis who took over as the Tigers head coach when Calipari left for Kentucky in 2009.
"I hate playing friends," Calipari told reporters Friday. "But you play the game and you coach to win."
Pastner's experience with Calipari was his first outside of his background at Arizona, where he walked on in order to learn the coaching profession from Lute Olson. Pastner was a member of the Arizona's 1997 national championship team before becoming a young-whiz assistant coach and noted recruiter until he joined Calipari for the 2008-09 season.
A year later, he was a 31-year-old head coach.
"I love Coach Cal. He's awesome," said Pastner, in his fourth season at Georgia Tech. "He's one of the great coaches in the history of sports, period, regardless of sport. I wouldn't have gotten the Memphis job without Coach Calipari, which allowed me to get the Georgia Tech job."
The coaches' teams are in different places as they meet in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (7-1) has won five consecutive games after a stunning home loss to Evansville. The Wildcats have five double-digit scorers, led by junior forward Nick Richards at 14.0 points per game. He also averages a team-high 8.5 rebounds.
Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey, a projected NBA Draft lottery pick, is averaging 13.1 points per game. Sophomore forward EJ Montgomery is coming off a career-high 25-point effort vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, while sophomore guard Ashton Hagans has 32 assists in the past three games.
The Georgia Tech game is a prelude to a pair of matchups in Las Vegas before Christmas -- vs. Utah on Wednesday and No. 3 Ohio State on Dec. 21.
The Wildcats' weakness so far has been their 3-point shooting (29.0 percent).
"We're never going to be satisfied," Calipari said. "That's OK. What's the next step up for these kids? This is a hard game; anxious to see where we are at this point. It's December, early December, so we're still trying to figure ourselves out. You need games like this to do it."
Georgia Tech (4-3) is coming off a 34-point home loss to Syracuse last weekend. The Yellow Jackets are 0-2 this season against the SEC, having lost 82-78 to Georgia and 62-61 in overtime vs. Arkansas.
Georgia Tech has lost its past 12 games against teams ranked in either the AP or coaches poll.
"We have to fight like crazy in everything we do," Pastner said.
The fighting gets harder without starting guard Jose Alvarado -- the team's leader in scoring and assists last season -- who continues to be out with an ankle injury. The Yellow Jackets will lean on sophomore guard Michael Devoe, who is averaging 21.4 points per game, shooting 50.5 percent and barely coming off the court (37.4 minutes per game).
With almost no 3-point threat other than Devoe (18 of 34), Pastner is turning to his defense, which is allowing foes to shoot 36.6 percent overall and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. It helps to have big man James Banks III, who is third nationally with 4.0 blocks per game.
Tech guard Bubba Parham, a graduate transfer from VMI, has good memories of Rupp Arena, where he hit 10 3-pointers en route to 35 points in a loss to Kentucky on Nov. 18, 2018. He hasn't found that stroke yet this season, hitting at a 26.7 percent clip (8 of 30), but Calipari is on high alert.
"He hasn't slept in two days waiting on this game," Calipari said.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 13, 2019