Kentucky-Georgia Postgame Quotes

Tuesday, February 9 2016
John Calipari
Men's Media Conference

Q. Can you just talk about your defense tonight, Georgia went one stretch where they missed 21 shots in a row, went 18 minutes without a field goal.
COACH CALIPARI: “Well, it was us and them both. I thought, again, we end the game with seven turnovers, you're not losing many games when you turn it over seven times. We still gave up 16 offensive rebounds, and you know the guys that are giving them up. They just can't fight and hold their position and go grab balls yet.

But I thought overall, the way we shot the ball, the way we moved the ball, I'd like us to have a little more of a post presence, but our post presence may be Isaiah [Briscoe], but he lost his mind today. I don't know what he was thinking. It was a good effort and one of our better efforts this year.”

Q. Can you talk a little about Derek Willis's journey, I'm thinking back to last year where he was a shell of himself to where he is now?
COACH CALIPARI: “Yeah, I'm really proud of him. He's rebounding the ball. He's getting better defensively. Still not there. But this team believes in him and he believes in himself more.

You know, everybody, because of what's happened here, I keep saying this, he's like on a normal path. His path is like the normal path. And everybody is like, ‘wow, he's still here?’ What? You know, and I'm just happy for him, and you know, if Dom [Hawkins] hadn't been hurt, you'd probably have two of those guys.

I thought Charles Matthews was outstanding today. And it's not because he made shots. It's because he came up with balls and he blocked shots. He did some good stuff. Happy for him, too.”

Q. What did you think of the way Jamal [Murray] played tonight, shot selection?
COACH CALIPARI: “Better. He's getting better. He had the one baseline flip, he could not help himself. It's like crack cocaine; I've gotta do this (laughter from audience). And he flipped it under, had no chance of making it. But he's getting better.

He had two threes that he was casual on and I'm like, ‘kid, you're going to get two or three, four more baskets. Why would you not with five minutes to go, I was going to leave you in for another minute or two.’

But he's trying. He's getting better defensively. We're scrambling better. A lot of our issues defensively were because we had shifted to really work on our offense, because I thought our offense a month ago was just pitiful. And so we spent most of our time trying to figure out, how does this team need to play.

Now we're back playing defense, and if you walked in our practice, you're not seeing us play much offense. We're really working on our team defense, the ability to fight through a possession, to finish off a possession, to scramble, to not only play your man, play one more, the stuff we normally teach here.

So you see them, like I said, if you make it an emphasis, they will do it.”

Q. What do you know about Alex? Is he going to be out?
COACH CALIPARI: “He's going to be out about two weeks, I would say. He'll be out about two weeks.”

Q. You put up a great defensive effort turning Georgia over as many times as you did. Talk about how the defense was able to contribute to the offense?
COACH CALIPARI: “Well, they just, they really put pressure on them. You know, one thing that when we -- I watched the two games we played Georgia last year. Georgia was really good. We had no business winning the game at Georgia, and we were lucky to win it here. I was scared to death all day after watching those two games.

If you let them get in the halfcourt, Mark Fox is one of the best at creating angles, creating fouls, putting his team in a grind-it situation, getting three-point shooters the shots. If you let them -- if you don't go up and play them, that's his forte. That's what he does.

Aside from that is they have really been guarding. I thought we really hurt the zone. A couple teams they played, they played all zone. I knew they would throw some. They went triangle and two, did you see it? Most of you guys don't know basketball, so you probably didn't see it. (laughter from audience).

Jerry [Tipton], you saw it, right? You didn't? Wow. Jerry. Every once in a while, Jerry, you've got to admit.”

Q. Does Alex have surgery and could you talk a little bit more --
COACH CALIPARI: “He's going to be out two weeks. So I'm -- you know, he's out two weeks.”

Q. But nothing more, you don't think?
COACH CALIPARI: “No, I'm not -- I don't think there's any reason to talk about it. It's a hemorrhoid but he'll be fine (laughter from audience).”

Q. As you try to establish more of a post presence, it's not hurting you right now obviously, how can you compensate for that?
COACH CALIPARI: “Well, you've got to have someone around to go and you've got to get layups. I thought we did some good stuff defensively when they tried to throw it to the post today.

But maybe that guy is Isaac [Humphries]. He missed a couple. Skal [Labissiere] missed a couple. It's hard -- it becomes, when you really work it and you get it to that two-foot spot and that guy can't make it, it's demoralizing. Not only do you miss it, it just takes the wind out of your sails so we are going to keep working.

All we have done with this team is continue to not only teach team, but individually. These guys have been doing that breakfast club themselves probably three, four days a week. I don't even ask who goes. Like some days, there's 12 guys. Some days, there's eight. But they are doing it three, four days a week.

And what they are trying to do on top of that is we are spending at least 30 minutes a day on guys individually. No reason for him to get in there and get pushed. We are doing it every single day. We did it with Isaac. Isaac was coached like he was a starter, so he's able to go in -- he was coached like he was a starter. And the same with Charles Matthews, trying to get him ready.

But it was, like I said, guys are doing it. This was a good win. They have got a day off tomorrow. We come back Thursday, Friday and we've got to go and play at South Carolina, which is always a tough game for us. So it doesn't get any easier.”

Q. You mentioned the defensive work you've done in practice. Since Knoxville, do you think you've seen more resolve in this team?
COACH CALIPARI: “Again, we've got to help them as coaches. These are young kids. First of all, you've got to teach them what it means winning plays and losing plays. And we have to do it every day in practice. We just keep doing it. But you also defensively, aside from individuals getting broken down, our team defense stunk, and we got away from it. It stunk in the second half at Kansas. It was all off.

So we got back to the basics of ‘let us do our job and teach what we're supposed to teach, team defense,’ and these guys respond. So a lot of times, with us, and I say it all the time, it comes back to me. It comes back to me. If I'm not doing what I'm supposed to. When you have young teams - it's easy when you have veteran teams, you can blame them. ‘You've been here three years, you should know.’ When you have all these young guys, it's hard to blame them now.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#1, Skal Labissiere, F

On how much fun he had playing tonight …
“I had a lot of fun. I feel like we got better as a team tonight and that was all we were looking for.”

On if he could tell they were frustrating Georgia defensively …
“Definitely. We were communicating, we were just hustling out there.”

On what makes Kentucky so hard to beat at home …
“Just bringing the energy, you know.  Of course it’s a home court advantage and we have the fans. We are just trying to win every game we can at home.”

On why he thinks the team has been playing better the last two games …
“I think guys are just starting to understand their roles on the team. Coach Cal did a really good job at putting all of us in the right position to succeed and I think that has been the biggest adjustment.”

On his recent confidence on the court …
“Definitely. Whenever I am open, I look for the ball and I know Tyler (Ulis) or one of the other guards is going to find me and I’m always ready to catch it and try to score.”

On what has inspired his newfound confidence…
“Just to keep working. Everyday at practice I treat it like a game and that has been the big adjustment.”

On Alex Poythress being out for a few weeks …
“Definitely, but I know he is going to bounce back. We expect him to come back better than before.”

#23, Jamal Murray, G

On the team’s shooting performance that broke open the game …
“We knew what the game plan was. We just made shots, shot a high percentage and kept going at them. We are the aggressors.”

On focusing on defense and how it can translate to offense … 
“We’re just letting our defense translate to offense and get out on the fast break on teams with our speed, guards, and big guys that can get out and run. We’re just focusing on finishing defensive plays and getting after it.”

On if the last two games is how he envisions this team …
“For sure. When guys shoot and rebound like they do, we’ll be fine. Everybody’s getting better every day. We’re trying to keep getting better every day.”

On if he feels like he’s been in the zone as of late …
“I’m just finally hitting shots. I don’t really feel like I’m hot or anything. I’m just hitting a ton of baskets and shots that I should be making. I just try to get open. It was frustrating earlier when I wasn’t hitting shots that I knew I could. I think that affected my game a lot with going games without hitting those shots knowing the team needs me to hit those shots, especially I just have to get my confidence up and get my teammates involved too. I try to be the all-around player and rebound. I try to make sure everyone is good in spirits. Today was a good example of everybody being good in spirits and we played team basketball today.”

#35, Derek Willis, F

On the team’s defense …
“Yeah, I mean it was weird because we were playing so good defensively and it was like we were so open on offense and then a couple of other things, different actions, kind of got away from defense. You know, we were playing alright offensively, and now we are back into it again. You know, doing defensive work obviously about 45 minutes to an hour a day now, I mean it is just up to us.”

On playing without Alex Poythress…
“The next man up, just a thing. You know, when a guy goes down or just isn’t playing, the next guy…I mean I’ve been very impressed by Isaac. I mean he came in, he’s probably the one person that I was most impressed with. I mean obviously they’re all very good players, but I like his skill set and he knows how to play the game. He’s just a big physical kid and that’s what we need.”  

On hearing any updates on Poythress…
“I have not seen Alex, heard from Alex. I’m just letting him go about his business, just seeing where he’s going from there. I honestly haven’t even heard about his situation until you just mentioned it.”

Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox

Opening statement…
“Obviously we got whooped at both ends. Our inability to get a stop forced us to play against that defense all night. We had a hard time scoring because we got no easy baskets. We were getting to the foul line but we just collapsed at the end of the half and never made a run after that.”

On if Kentucky’s offense was the reason for their poor defense tonight…
“Our defense was very, very disappointing today. You have to give them credit for making open shots. When you’re wide open and you’re a good player, like them (Kentucky) they have really good players, and they’re wide open, they’re going to make them. They were wide open and so our defense was super disappointing.”

On if this Kentucky team has figured things out over the past couple games…
“I’m not sure. You would have to ask John (Calipari) that question. I think they’re playing their very best basketball. We thought they played very good against Florida and obviously today they were much better than us. I just can’t give you an evaluation more than tonight’s game.” 

On their turnover struggles tonight…
“I was disappointed in our guard play today, quite frankly. Obviously when you don’t play well in the backcourt you’re not going to finish or get opportunities to finish. Kentucky is a team that if they’re playing off the turnovers or bad shots, they’re great in transition. And we gave them lots of opportunities to do that.”

On the reason for the 22 straight shots that didn’t fall in…
“There were some bad shots in there. There were some good shots in there. There were a couple great shots in there that just didn’t go down. It just snowballed on us and we could never recover.”

On if he knows what kind of team he has…
“I think I know what kind of team I have. I think I know what kind of team we have. I think we’ve known all along that this team would be a team we hope would keep getting better over the year. Tonight was the night where we should some of the deficiencies we still have. We have to play very mistake-free basketball to have a chance to win any night. Tonight we didn’t do that.”

Georgia Student-Athletes

#12, Kenny Gaines, G

On UK’s ability to make shots and control the game… 
“They shot the ball well. They scored and we went on a, I think it was about a 13-minute period where we couldn’t score. Whenever you go through an offensive drought and the other team is scoring, it just makes the deficit that much bigger to get over. So, have to give them credit for making those shots. ”

On their scoring drought… 
“It’s pretty hard. I think the only team that has done it against Kentucky is Tennessee. So, obviously they figured it out. We had a little harder time trying to do so. Like I said, just have to give Kentucky credit for playing well. ”

#1, Yante Maten, F

On Georgia’s game plan entering tonight…
“Play our type of basketball. It really hurt us because we weren’t finishing plays. As you said, they are long and athletic, but that’s always been Kentucky. We weren’t finishing, or making the right decision, when it came down to scoring and they got out in the fast break.”

On Georgia’s offensive struggles…
“Offensively, we were playing out of rhythm. Our chemistry, I don’t think it was there as it usually is on a night-to-night basis.”

On regrouping for the game against Mississippi State…
“We need to get back on a mission. This definitely could send us in the wrong direction, or it could bring us all together and we need to make sure it brings us together.”