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Transcript from SEC Coaches Conference Call (1/28)

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari

On the upcoming week ...
"We're playing one of the hottest teams in the country, and when you watch them on tape, man, they're men. They play physical. Everybody's accepted how they're going to play. They let (Marshall) Henderson take shots. This kid's got a green light and he'll go on a streak of baskets. He's tough. And then the other team we play (Texas A&M on Saturday) already beat us at home, so we've got a tough week ahead of us."

On the difficulties of playing a Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday setup (note, Ole Miss, not UK is going through the three-games-in-six-days setup this week) ...
 "Well, we lost when we did it. I can't remember, but it's hard, and especially with young guys. For us - if you've got a veteran crew, they understand that they've got to get rest, got to take care of themselves, got to sub yourselves in games. You can't stay out there tired. Young kids just don't get it. 'I want to stay on the court.' So we struggled some with it. It's a hard challenge."

On Willie Cauley-Stein's status ...
"He's been going really hard. He will travel with us to Mississippi. I don't know if he'll play. Probably doubtful. But he'll be on the court today some. Whether he'll go a practice, I don't know, but he will travel with us."

On whether the recovery has taken longer than expected ...
 "No, no. It's about what we thought."

On what's changed for Ole Miss this year ...
"They're older. They don't seem to be rattled. I mean, a bunch of the games I've watched, even if the other team comes at them and gets leads, they don't get rattled. And if they get you down, they try to keep you down. And then Henderson gives them a different flavor, that he can go on a roll and whatever the score of the game, he can make three straight shots. But they had guys last year. I've watched our game with them last year and they were good last year. We were really good. They were really good. We didn't get away from them until one stretch in the second half. In that stretch, we went up, and the rest of the game - other than that four-minute stretch it was an even game last year. So they're a veteran team, everybody's back, got a couple additions that make them better. I think Andy's doing a great job of coaching, really keeping them into here's how we've got to play to win. And they're doing it."

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy


Opening remarks...
 "Quick turn. We had the Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday. We're looking forward to having an opportunity to host what is inarguably the most storied program in college basketball and defending national champion Kentucky, albeit on a quick turn. Our guys are excited about the opportunity."

On keeping Marshall Henderson from going over the top...
"We've had a number of conversations with Marshall, and I know it's difficult for people that just see him in brief periods to completely get him. But I think the passion is coming from a good place. Obviously we want to make sure that it does not affect his focus or the team's focus. The guys understand he's about team first, and they accept him for what he brings to our program. He's a a guy that loves basketball and plays with an edge. I think he's been readily open with the fact that if he didn't play with that edge, he wouldn't be a guy that could lead the SEC in scoring. As his coach, I'm probably more concerned with his shot selection than maybe him popping him shirt here and there. But he's a work in progress, as is our team. He's a kid that's been put in a situation where there's a lot of attention drawn to him from the minute he walks in the building, and I think for the most part he's handled it well."

On if he expected Henderson to be the type of player he has been so far...
"I did. I was counting on him. It was important that he was. We needed a guy that can do what he does, and that's make perimeter shots. Based on his ability to stretch the defense, it allows us to do some other things as it relates to spacing behind him. And I think our team's getting better at making adjustments to how teams are trying to guard him. He is a guy that you have to game plan around because of his ability to make shots from 25-30 feet - and he's got a crazy enough coach that lets him shoot 'em."

On Marshall's postgame antics at Auburn...
"Obviously I didn't see it when it occurred. There's a lot going on when the game ends. We're just trying to survive the game like you do in any road contest in the SEC and get off the floor. So, I didn't see it when it actually occurred. Obviously it was brought to my attention after the game. He did it really right in front of our radio people, so I had some boots on the ground so to speak that could tell me fact from fiction. There's a lot of folklore going around. I would have preferred him not doing it but again, he's caught up in the emotion of a highly-charged game, a one-possession game, in front of a sell-out crowd. It was a very physical, hard-fought game between two good teams. We're trying to make sure he channels it towards his teammates and towards us as opposed to the opposing fans."

On the resiliency of his team...
"I like the fact that our guys are finding ways to win in a variety of ways, whether it be, you know, having to go out and score 90 points like we did at Thompson Bowling Arena of find a way to come up with some key defense stops down the stretch, which enabled us to squeak it out at Auburn. I'm just proud of the guys being resilient and being tough-minded and having a belief that we're going to win. We've had challenges both at home and on the road throughout the course of our league schedule up to this point, and every time out, I've never one time had the sense that our guys felt like we were going to lose. They always believe they're going to win. We help each other. We're growing as a team and to me, that's the most encouraging thing."

On what Nerlens Noel brings to UK...
"Incredible, incredible talent at the basket. He's averaging over six blocks a game in league play and that is mind-boggling. Obviously, last year they had a very, very special player at the basket in Anthony Davis and Anthony Davis was probably a little bit bigger, and I'm not sure that he was the presence that Noel is at the basket defensively. He completely changes the game, plays with a lot of confidence, and you can see, a lot like Davis last year, as the season is getting further along, the kid is growing leaps and bounds offensively as well."

On what type of challenge Noel presents to Murphy...
"You know, Murph, it comes down to honestly, we've talked about this, when he is not making foul shots. And he's really done a good job prior to the last two games of being a better foul shooter in league play. He was close to 70 percent, which for him, as you know, is cause for celebration. He's missed a couple early and it takes away some of his aggression. I thought Auburn did a great job of not allowing any of our guys to drive the lane. They were really packed in there. They didn't get extended on anybody except Marshall, and the result, Murph had to pick his spots, but you know, a guy who is averaging 15 (points) and 11 (rebounds) has been very productive for us and we need that to continue."

On the UK game being a chance to make a statement ...
"Here, we're always going to keep the hunter mentality. We really haven't done anything. I appreciate the fact that our guys are finding ways and we're getting better and obviously with that comes more attention being paid to our team. For us, it's just about trying to take advantage of opportunities. It's the reason that we've been on the outside looking in for more times than I'd like to remember because we just have not taken advantage of the opportunities that this league presents. Tuesday night, again, you've got Kentucky in your building, the most storied program in all of college basketball. Our guys will be excited about that. Now hopefully we play well."

On Nerlens Noel and how to minimize his intimidation factor...
"A lot of is I've got two seniors, one of them a fifth-year senior Murphy Holloway. We've been through this. These guys have played from DeMarcus Cousins to Anthony Davis to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kentucky just seems to always have a guy in there that's very, very good. Nerlens Noel defensively is as good as there is in college basketball. Our guys every day in practice probably go against the second-best shot blocker in the SEC in Reginald Buckner, so we get accustomed to playing how we play. Our guys I know will excited about the challenge that Noel brings."

On the edge of having experience in the frontcourt with Holloway and Buckner...
"I've always told our guys that experience doesn't help you unless you play experienced. If you're making the same mistakes that first-year or second-year guys are, what's the advantage of being a senior? And I think our guys have learned some things over the course of a hundred-plus games in an SEC uniform and as a result you hope that they're more consistent. And I think, you've followed our team, if you look at the numbers that Reg and Murphy have been able to produce and the way in which they've done that, I think they are playing to their experience and that's what's helped us."

How much more consistent has Buckner been this season?
"I think for instance in the last game, if you look at him statistically against Auburn, it certainly was not his best night. He got in foul trouble early; he finishes with two points and four rebounds. He picked up his fourth foul with about 12 minutes to go in the game and because of his knee situation and I sit him for too long and he gets stiff, I just chose to ride with him and say, 'Let's go.' If it's another minute or another two minutes, whatever, let's get out of him what we can. He ended up finishing the game for us. He gives us a presence at the basket. Rob Chubb, who I think is a very, very good low-post scorer, does not score a field goal and a lot of that is based on Reg and his experience learning how to play with fouls, learning how to help us even though statistically it was not his best game."

On Nerlens Noel and how to minimize his intimidation factor...
"A lot of is I've got two seniors, one of them a fifth-year senior Murphy Holloway. We've been through this. These guys have played from DeMarcus Cousins to Anthony Davis to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kentucky just seems to always have a guy in there that's very, very good. Nerlens Noel defensively is as good as there is in college basketball. Our guys every day in practice probably go against the second-best shot blocker in the SEC in Reginald Buckner, so we get accustomed to playing how we play. Our guys I know will excited about the challenge that Noel brings."

On the edge of having experience in the frontcourt with Holloway and Buckner...
"I've always told our guys that experience doesn't help you unless you play experienced. If you're making the same mistakes that first-year or second-year guys are, what's the advantage of being a senior? And I think our guys have learned some things over the course of a hundred-plus games in an SEC uniform and as a result you hope that they're more consistent. And I think, you've followed our team, if you look at the numbers that Reg and Murphy have been able to produce and the way in which they've done that, I think they are playing to their experience and that's what's helped us."

How much more consistent has Buckner been this season?

"I think for instance in the last game, if you look at him statistically against Auburn, it certainly was not his best night. He got in foul trouble early; he finishes with two points and four rebounds. He picked up his fourth foul with about 12 minutes to go in the game and because of his knee situation and I sit him for too long and he gets stiff, I just chose to ride with him and say, 'Let's go.' If it's another minute or another two minutes, whatever, let's get out of him what we can. He ended up finishing the game for us. He gives us a presence at the basket. Rob Chubb, who I think is a very, very good low-post scorer, does not score a field goal and a lot of that is based on Reg and his experience learning how to play with fouls, learning how to help us even though statistically it was not his best game."

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