Kentucky-Mississippi State Postgame Quotes

University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball
Post-Mississippi State Press Conference 
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
John Calipari

Q. For all the concerning things about this game, Isaiah (Briscoe) for a second straight night is short of shaking off some of the slump he was in?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, we did all right. You're up 20 and then you just -- we need Dom (Dominique Hawkins) back, badly. We're playing some guys that don't deserve to be in there, and then you end up playing them a lot of minutes. See, people see a shot made and think, well, the guy's OK. But when you watch the tape, it's just like, oh, my God, you score six and you give up 12.

We need Dom back. But he's got a high-ankle sprain. It is what it is. The other thing, we have to do something when we have guys no-show us, we've got to figure out how we win anyway and how do we play then? Like I said, we were up 18, 19, whatever it was, when they weren't playing well, and we figured out a way. So there were some good things. But give them credit, they didn't stop playing. If they hadn't turned it over as much as they did in a couple of stretches, they'd probably beat us.

Q. Did you like some of the ball movement Briscoe penetrating and kicking out and some of that stuff?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we put him behind the zone because we couldn't get anybody with size back there that had any confidence to score a ball. So then we put him under the basket. That's what the adjustment was. You dude’s are afraid? We'll go to him, and he got behind the basket and he scored.

Q. Do you like the way this team seems to have that scrap in them and sticking up for each other and with all the offsetting technical fouls that we've seen this season, do you like that sort of juice about this team?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I'd just have to see the tape and what happened. I know it wasn't generated by us. The first push was not ours. That's not how we are. That's not how we play. But you get pushed and you're defending your teammate.

But I didn't see it. So when I watch the tape, I'll tell you. I thought Skal (Labissiere) was better today. Showed some signs. Now we've got to just keep giving him minutes and see where he can go. (He) did some good stuff today.

Q. You’ve been in this a long time. Have you had many teams like this where you just don't know what you're going to get from night to night?

Q. Is that driving you nuts?
COACH CALIPARI: No, it's not driving me nuts. I feel bad for them, those individuals. I did a thing with them at my house last night. I got 15 lottery tickets, Powerballs. I had them put $2 each, and they each took out a Powerball ticket. I asked them what they would do with the money if they got it. Asked a couple kids and then I said you're going to tell me what, later, I want you to write three on four things down. It was really an interesting conversation.

Then I said what are the odds of you making it, hitting this ticket? They said they didn't know. I said it's 292.2 million to 1. That ticket is not a winner. You're not winning with that ticket. Would you like to get your money back? One kid took the money back and left the ticket. Then one of the others bought his ticket with another $2.

Then I said you better hope that that ticket doesn't win, you're going to want to jump off a bridge. But I then said you already own a ticket, you. It may be 50/50 that you're going to hit the lottery, 70/30. But you've got to fight. You've got to want it. You have a ticket.

A lot of people buying these lottery tickets have no chance in anything else other than 292 million to 1 to be that. So, again, I don't know the answer. That comes from within. We have good players. We're learning. We made some dumb errors, but that's what happens when you have a young team. But, again, when we have a lot of guys no show, it's hard to win. It's just hard.

Q. What did you tell the team after the game, the same kind of things you're telling us or what?
COACH CALIPARI: No, no, I didn't say a whole lot. I just said enjoy the win. You had a chance to bury them. We have a couple guys in here. Again, we've got to figure out if they're not playing well, how we're going to play, because we've got to try to win anyway, and we were for a while.

I thought Alex (Poythress) made the free throws down the stretch and showed a lot of courage. There were things that he did. But in the guts of that game, he was not a factor, and when you're that good, you need to be a factor.

Q. Did Isaiah show a better all-around floor game than maybe he has?
COACH CALIPARI: He's getting better. He's getting more comfortable.

Q. With the last two games it seems like --
COACH CALIPARI: Part of it is us. Me, as a coach, I've got to figure out where he's most comfortable playing. Like today, I put him under the basket. You know what? He's really comfortable under there. Alabama we put him in pick-and-rolls and he had flashbacks to play in AAU basketball and he made shots.

So there are things -- if you expect him to be a spot-up shooter, spread the defense, why am I doing that to him? That's not who he is. So part of this is me figuring out how do I make it where he's comfortable? But, again, we had a nice lead, went to the bench, and all of a sudden, it's like a tie ballgame. You know, we're up at half ready to -- we give up a three. It's something we do every day in practice. Something that you're not giving up that shot, we give it up.

So there were a lot of things that I look at and I just shake my head. But this is what happens when you're this young. And we did win the game, and we march on. We play again, I believe, Saturday.

Q. What is different about Jamal's (Murray) shot particularly from the outside? I think he's almost 50 percent now over the last six games from three. It seems like something has changed?
COACH CALIPARI: We're doing a lot of different kind of shooting. Again, for him, he didn't know that he was open if a guy was in the lane running at him and he's at the 3-point line. He thought, well, I couldn't get it off. So now we're doing drills for our guards where there are guys running from you at the lane but you're open at the three. Get it off. If you can't get that shot off, you can't play basketball. You're really not a basketball player.

So that's kind of how we said it to him. If you can't get that shot off, you're not a basketball player.

I mean, the reality of it is, the guy's 15 feet from you, 18 feet, you catch it, get it off. We've done a lot of that and lot of three-point shooting stuff that's really helped us. I was surprised. Again, we're now a normal three-point shooting team from where we were.

Q. When you have a roster with some guys who may or may not show and others who give everything they have, how do you keep that out of the locker room or from messing with team chemistry?
COACH CALIPARI: Trying to get those guys to deal with it themselves. I told Tyler (Ulis), you say it before the game and you say it during the game, then you're allowed to say it after the game. You don't say something to him before the game and during the game. Do not speak to him after the game. That's not fair. But if you got on them prior to, you're on them during the game, and you're telling them what they need to do and they're not responding, then you have a right to say something after.

I thought Tyler was great again today. Made big-time baskets, had some turnovers that really surprised me down the stretch, had a couple that kind of hurt us.

Q. Have you been pleased with Mychal (Mulder) lately? Has he been showing anything?
COACH CALIPARI: He did not play well today. Like the games that he played where we stuck him in, he was so excited. There was an energy to him, he was rebounding and bouncing around and running, and today he was tentative. Like I'm walking on egg shells. Like where did that come from?

But, again, we've got all these young players that are trying to get in there and prove themselves. Charles the same thing. I mean, you know, but like I said, we need Dom back because he's a veteran. We'll just have to see when we're going to get him back. I don't know, high-ankle sprain.

Q. It seems like Tyler's getting a lot of good looks. Is he simply adept at that or are people overlooking his shooting ability?
COACH CALIPARI: They're playing pick-and-rolls different ways. They're going under and now he's shooting the ball. We're telling him you've got to take that shot. He's coming off pick-and-rolls. Our bigs are doing a much better job of screening so that he can.

We had one late where Alex flipped out of the screen again instead of setting a solid screen, so that either Tyler gets it or you get it. He just did not want the contact and he ran from it, so now we end up with nothing and we end up with a shot clock violation.

But more during these games now, even Skal, we're doing it every day. Every day we're doing 15 minutes of screening, just teaching them how to screen. And I know you may look at that and say you guys are a Division I basketball team, and you're spending 15 minutes a day on screening? Yes, we are, every day.

UK Player Quotes

#3 Tyler Ulis, Soph. G

On Calipari being unhappy with players not showing up ready to play …
“Guys came out and didn’t want to play again. We have to keep working on that. I don’t understand why guys would come out like that but we’re going to get there.”

On how to get teammates to have a killer instinct like himself ...
“I just try to push them. Some guys have it but some guys don’t come out ready to play. When we do, when everyone comes out ready and has the same intensity, we’re a good team.”

On if there is any finger pointing or if the team is still staying together …
“We’re still together. We’re getting better everyday, especially with the break we had a lot of time to spend together; eating together, going to see movies. We’re coming together.”

On if he’s focused on getting onto players before games …
“No I don’t really get on them before games. I tell them, ‘We have to play and make sure we come out ready.’ But during the game if I see a guy mess up I try to get on him and let him know what he needs to do.”

On making free throws in the final stretch of the game …
“Yeah we actually did. I thought that was a good thing. The game got close late. We had a big lead but let it go and we let them come down and score a couple times in a row. But we did knock down our free throws at the end.”

On what the problem was at the end of the game when Mississippi State cut Kentucky’s lead …
“Guys just stop playing a little bit. Also I think they (Mississippi State) did make a lot of tough shots. We can’t let that happen late in the game and we have to understand that. We have to try to get the game away and keep it that way.”

#13 Isaiah Briscoe, Fr. G

On his overall performance tonight … 
“I think I played good. Coach (Kenny) Payne was just telling me, ‘Watching you grow up and watching you play before you got here, you’ve been going off confidence and heart.’ I was in a little slump the past three or four games and he said, ‘Just go out there and play with your heart and your confidence and that’s who you are.’”

On not being afraid to be physical inside … 
“When I’m running the baseline I just think layup, layup, layup and I just try to find an opening where the defense is not playing. I’m sure that Tyler (Ulis) and Jamal (Murray) will make the easy play.”

On the play of the big men tonight …
“I’m just looking at it as a team effort and we came out with the win, so they did a good enough job for us to win.” 

On losing the big lead …
“Things like that happen. We’re in the SEC. Coach said that we’re going to be every team’s best game. We’re up 20 and they just continued to fight and they brought it within three, so I give a lot of credit to Mississippi State.”  

#23 Jamal Murray, Fr. G

On if he felt like the guards had to step it up more because the two starting bigs only scored two points …
“It was a tough night for our bigs today. I think our guards just did a good job of scoring and kept going to that. That was working for us and it took the pressure off the bigs and just forced them to rebound.”

On if he’s feeling more comfortable …
“I’m just making easy plays and hitting open shots. Well, at least some of my open shot I should be hitting a lot more. I just try to make easy plays and shoot at a high percentage.”

On some guys playing well and others not …
“We just have to get better, not just one part of the team, but everyone. It’s not just about certain guys on the team; it’s the entire team and we have to help build them up. It’s certain scenarios where it looks bad on one player where it’s really a team player and that causes some players to look worst than others.”

On Cal’s lottery speech …
“I took in what he said. It made a lot of sense and it put things into perspective about what I want to do with my career and what direction I want to go in. I just have to go out and do it.”

Mississippi State Quotes

Mississippi State Head Coach Ben Howland

Opening Statement …
“They are a very good team, the University of Kentucky, and a very difficult place to play. They built up a big lead and I was very proud of the way our players powered back and showed a lot of fight, a lot of heart, battled back, and I liked the fact that they wanted to play man the last few minutes, it really helped us. It turned us into the aggressor and put them on their heels. We had a chance where we were down three and I really wanted to see them play when we don’t get to rebound and it ends up that they call a foul on us and not on [Alex] Poythress with less than a minute to go. But I was pleased with our fight tonight, I thought we showed some good toughness and again, the two guys that hurt us most were their two best players, [Tyler] Ulis and [Jamal] Murray. They are very, very good guards and about as good of a back court as you will find in the country, like I said going into the game. I liked us playing man, but our biggest issue in the first half was their pressure, it really bothered us. We had 12 turnovers at halftime, seven more in the second half and we cant win on the road with 19 turnovers, its going to be a hard one to beat anybody, much less a nationally-ranked, very good Kentucky team on the road with 19 turnovers. We did force 17 turnovers, on the flipside, and I thought the last eight minutes when we went man I was really excited about that. We went small but I think it really helped us and I’m looking forward to being able to get back to playing some man now.”

On how important low-post offense is to a team …
“I always prefer to have a low post, in my opinion. You watch the NBA now, though, and we have so much to learn for our game and the NBA is such that sometimes you are playing without a post, so it just depends on what we are talking about. In college basketball, and my preference is that when you get to the line you get fouled. I thought Gavin (Ware) did a really good job the second half, they kept creating a couple steals where spacing wasn’t great.

On coming back from a 20 point deficit at the end of the game …
“I thought attacking the rim, Chicken (Craig Sword) did a great job attacking the rim. I thought that we did a good job creating some deflections and turnovers and playing really hard. I thought Q (Quinndary Weatherspoon) in particular was very good in that respect, I thought that I.J. (Ready) really picked up his intensity defensively and so that was good. I think our guys got inspired with the little scuffle that happened. I didn’t see it, I don’t know what happened but I know our guys were inspired by it with about ten minutes to go where they missed a front-end one-on-one and we got the ball back and scored, and that probably helped us.

On how any coach develops consistency …
“I think that a lot of that is up to the players. They have to bring it every day in practice and in the game, and that’s where you get consistency, and that’s what our expectation is. The biggest consistency that I expect is the great fight and effort, and that’s what we had tonight. I thought that was really big for us. We aren’t that far away. We were down three points tonight, down three in our last game. These are two of the toughest, if not the toughest, places to play in our league and in our country. Now we are back home and we have to have that resolve when we show up and play Saturday.”

#14 Malik Newman, G

On getting back into the ball game…
“I think the five guys that were on the court, I think they really came together even more. The bigs really inspired us and we just kept fighting and never gave up.”

On the quick start…
“We just wanted to come out and have a quick start. We just came out and we were playing hard. We had a lot of energy, so we were just doing what the game plan was.”

On what they can take from this game going forward…
“I think that we can improve game after game. I think that we just have to continue doing what we do and never give up.”

#32, Craig Sword, G

On being able to keep up with Kentucky for the first time that he has been on the team…
“I mean before the game, the last couple years I played here, I came here and told the guys that ‘we gotta try to get one.’ You know, we fell hard and it just didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, but I mean we did what we had to do to stay in the game.“

On Ulis and Murray’s affect on the game…
“I feel like they are some great players on our scouting report. (They) just told us to contain them, contain them two. We tried, we did what we can.”