Kentucky-Mississippi State Postgame Quotes

Feb. 15, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

FastScripts by ASAP Sports


Q. On pressing after the slow start …

COACH CALIPARI: I only did it because the beginning of the game was so ugly, so passive. That team meeting really didn't do what it was supposed to, I guess.

I mean, we just had no fire, no fight. I said, You know what, we're pressing man-to-man. If you choose to go back, I'm subbing you. I did it so you can sub guys out. If you don't want to get up there and battle, then I'm taking you out. That's what I did.

Q. On the team playing better in the second half …

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, they played well in the second half.

Again, at the end of the day you're looking at Mississippi State, they shot 55% from the three. They played well. I mean, (Renardo) Sidney played well. They played well.

I'm just telling you either we're helping teams play well or they just know they're playing us, we're coming after them. Guys are playing. They played good against us. I thought they played well.

Q. I think the last five games opponents are over 50% from three. Are they throwing in shots? Are you not defending?

COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. Maybe we'll play zone, they'll shoot 70% from the three.

We seem to be hanging on them. We're breaking down a little bit. We're coming out of some pick-and-rolls. We're leaving shooters at times. We're going under on handoffs where we needed to be over on (Ravern) Johnson.

Again, if teams are trying to beat us shooting 3s, I really believe a lot of that is fool's gold and we're usually a pretty good defensive team against the three.

Q. What happened at the half? Was (Coach Stansbury) barking at you?

COACH CALIPARI: We were laughing at half. I gave a signal. They didn't know what it was. That's when I stood up, went like this. You didn't see that at the start of the half?

Q. No, I’m talking about the end of the first half?

He wasn't saying anything to me. I want you to understand I told Brandon to shoot the ball, they're going to foul you. I told him to shoot it. He didn't shoot the first one. I looked at him and said, Do you understand what I'm telling you to do? They are going to foul you. Shoot the ball.

They almost didn't call it. But I was telling him to shoot the ball. So it was a good call because they were going to foul, so just shoot it. So what if it's at halfcourt, that means you get three shots.

He didn't shoot the first one. I looked. We're doing some of that. At the end of this game, we miss free throws. If we make those, it still is what it is. The air ball shot, two turnovers, what are we doing?

Let me tell you why they did it. My thing with this team, forget about the score, let's execute. Don't look at the score. I'll look at the score. You just play and execute. So obviously they weren't looking at the score. They just were shooting balls, trying to make plays. So they're listening to me anyway.

Q. Talk about (Josh) Harrellson's defensive plays on Sidney.

COACH CALIPARI: I thought the beginning of the game, I don't know where he was. DeAndre (Liggins), I don't know where he was the whole game. That's why I say, you know, I didn't think Brandon (Knight) did a good job of running the team the first half. In the second half he did a good job of running the team. Josh played better defensively. Doron (Lamb) played the way he's capable of playing. Darius, being injured like he is, I thought he did a good job. Some of the shots he made were big.

How we were down one at half, I have no idea. We should have been down 15 at half. Really, we should have been down 15. All I was trying to do is make sure we have a chance to win this game. Let's just make it close.

Second half we came out and played.

But it's dangerous. This is the thing about coming home and playing. I told them this. You come home, you think we're going to win because we win at home? Oh, yeah? The other team is not just laying down. They're coming after you. If you play soft, you build their muscles. That's what we did.

They shot like 67% in the first half. I mean, it was ridiculous.

Q. This may be along those lines, but you called a timeout inside the first minute of the game.

COACH CALIPARI: I could see. I mean, did anybody else see what I saw? Jogging up, walking up, getting beat the first play. Shooting all 3s. Why are we shooting 3s? They can't guard us out of bounds. You know why? You're going to get bumped. I'm going to shoot a three. It's easier.

We start the game shooting threes. We're down 5-0 within the blink of an eye. Didn't get any better for a while, to be honest with you.

Let me say this, what I told them. I'm happy we won. You win and you march on. This league is a strong league. All this stuff about this league, that league, the other leagues. Let me explain to you, our league is as strong as any of them. Florida, Vandy, Tennessee, us. That team (Mississippi State) is a talented team. They're going to get it together. They're a talented team. They're trying to figure out each other.

You talk about Georgia, okay? All of a sudden I'm telling you there are six teams that will be in the NCAA tournament. You know what, I'll put what happens in the NCAA tournament with our league against just about anybody else's. Some of these guys, because of the media hype, might get nine teams in. But the reality of it is this is a strong league. Every game is a war. Every game we'll play will be a war.

Q. I guess Darius (Miller) is okay. Was there any point today when you didn't think he was going to play?

COACH CALIPARI: He didn't practice yesterday. You know, I just decided not to start him because of that. We weren't going to practice him. You know, maybe it helped him. Maybe it takes the edge off. Maybe it's a little bit easier for him.

But, again, down the stretch, it just bothers me. We had four timeouts. That's why I like to have timeouts in my pocket so you can finish off games. Well, timeout on the baseline out, just call it, don't throw it away. We got four. He was open. You threw the ball away.

There was another play where we had Doron (Lamb) and Terrence Jones were both open. Throw it to Doron. Threw it to Terrence who almost shot an air ball from the foul line. He made one of two. But that's that kind of play.

We come up and we don't space the court right. There were things down the stretch, we give them two open 3s. The game got hairy. We had a chance to lose the game.

The greatest thing our coaches said, We'll watch the tape, we'll learn again. We showed the last five minutes of Vandy. I'm going to show the last three minutes of this. You were up 15, 18, just win the game by 20. Why would you let it be this way? Be strong with the ball. Everybody execute. Let's do what we're supposed to do.

Q. When you did get up by 10, your biggest lead there, you did it without DeAndre (Ligggins) in the game. Talk about how that happened.

COACH CALIPARI: He wasn't there today. Wasn't there defensively. Offensively he wasn't making the plays we needed to have him make. Whether it's he or Doron (Lamb) or Darius (Miller), it's not your day, somebody else is going to play. They've got to be responsible to each other. It wasn't one of his better games.

You look at him against Tennessee. You say, Wow. But now that's what we want him to strive for. You're that good. Decision making. You know, I'm not just jacking up balls here, I'm going to make good decisions, I'm going to play great defense.

But he's fine. I mean, we've had every guy here have some off nights. This was DeAndre's off night. That's fine. He'll be back next game. He's going to guard that little guy and hopefully guard him pretty good.

Q. You emphasized the closing situations.

COACH CALIPARI: I liked what we did. I liked when we drew the foul. I liked what we did in the circle action where Brandon (Knight) went baseline and gets the three that basically ended the game those two plays.

Now, throwing it in and doing some of those things, again, who is it? What are we doing? How are we doing it? Messing around with the ball, all those things. But when you talk about execution, it's defensive execution. It's offense. It's both.

You guys look at turnovers. They missed a free throw. No. It's both of them. Defensively, again, we didn't rebound. There were about three rebounds at the end of that game, if we rebound that ball, it ended up being a 15-point game, 18-point game. But we didn't. One was a tipped dunk over our backs, no one blocked the guy out. A couple others, they took it out on the baseline.

Kentucky Players

#3, Terrence Jones, F

On the first five minutes of the second half and how the team was able to turn things around…
“I think it started the last two minutes in the first half, really. The energy changed and people that were playing a little shaky started playing better. Darius (Miller) came off and started making wide open threes, so just moving the ball around really helped. I think we did a better job on the pick and rolls.”

On if the technical foul against Mississippi State drove the crowd as well as the team…
“Yes, that was a big play, three free throws and then the technical leads to a big play.”

On if tonight was as much fun to play in as any other game…
“Yes, it was a fun game. Going through adversity and losing at first and not starting as well, but then coming back as a team and fighting together to get the win was really fun.”

On if the team meeting was worth it…
“Yeah, like I said we started off slow with a couple of bad shots and they started off hot shooting well from the field, so we just had to lock down in the second half and show that we wanted to win more.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On how the press in the second half changed the tempo of the game…
“I think it changed it quite a bit. It put us in more of an aggressive mood and made us come out more aggressive on the defensive and offensive end. So we kind of picked up our tempo and made them play faster too.”

On how troubling it is to once again not be able to completely close out the game down the stretch…
“It can get frustrating at times for all of us. We continue to talk about it and work at it, but we just have to stay focused. It is something we have to get better at.”

On the difference between starting and coming off the bench to play…
“It was not that much of a difference really. Either way it doesn’t matter, I just have to come out and play regardless. Whether it is off the bench or starting, I still have to play the same way.”

#55 Josh Harrellson, F

On his overall thoughts of the game...
“I came out really slow in the first half, but I thought in the second half I picked it up. We had a couple of blocks in a row and that really just sparked us, and we just took off from there.”

On what he changed defensively in the second half...
“I just changed my mindset. I just came out and tried to run the floor just like I have been the past couple of games, and just doing that makes me better all around.”

On this being a really tough game to win...
“Yeah, it was definitely a hard game. They (Mississippi State) came out and shot great from the 3-point line. They (Mississippi State) shot it great from the floor too, shooting 50-something percent. They came out on fire. We knew after a while we could ware them out by playing our game. The time came and we got up by 12, and we just held it from there. It got a little close there at the end, but we finally held off and played a good game.”

#12 Brandon Knight, G

On what coach said to him before the half...
“The first time Coach Calipari told me to shoot the ball because he knew they were going to foul, and I failed to do so, and it kind of caught me off guard.”

On his thoughts of the shot...
“I wasn’t really focusing, and the next time he said ‘do you understand? This time they are going to foul you.’ And I was like ‘okay, I got you coach.’ He tried to foul me, and as I  saw him coming I just tried to throw it up towards the rim. The ref saw that and gave us the foul shots.”

On if he was surprised he got the call...
“Not really. I knew Coach Calipari had a reason for me doing it (shooting the ball from halfcourt). I have seen it happen before where they know guys are about to foul them and guys just act like they are about to shoot. I thought the coach (Rick Stansbury) wouldn’t agree with it, obviously.”

Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury

Opening Statement
“I guess that extends their streak to 31 in a row here at Rupp and that’s the reason they have 31 in a row because they are a great basketball team and Cal does a great job with them. I said this before, going into this game, last year you could take away a few things away and this year it is difficult to take anything away from them because they are so skilled one through four, those guys can pass, dribble and shoot it. Basically that is what got us in the second half and Lamb and Knight really jumped up and hit a few shots. They hurt us in transition and they really got going in transition. One of the things we didn’t want to have was for them to get in transition, I think they had one basket in the first half. Second half they got out and got three or four and made a three, Lamb did it in that corner  and that got them loose and extended it. I am really proud of our guy’s effort. I didn’t help our team any with that last three seconds before halftime and don’t ask me about things because I’m not. I learned my lesson, Jerry. So don’t you guys go there with me. I’ll tell you that before you get up to the podium. But that didn’t help and I am very proud of the way our guys played. We play like that and it’s very obvious if we play like that we can play anywhere. We’ll take some positives away from it and go to the next game.

On how Ravern Johnson stepped up …
“Yeah he jumped up and made some shots for us. It helps us when he makes some shots and he jumped up and made some plays. We were really efficient in the first half. I think we shot 57 percent in the first half, out rebounded them and controlled the ball. We controlled the whole flow in the first half. I don’t think Kentucky ever got that flow going where they were in control, but in the second half they did. I was proud to see Ravern bounce back.”

On how big a difference was Jalen Steele in the first half …
“Like you said he gave us some toughness and jumped up there and made some shots. He shot the basketball like we’ve been waiting for him to shoot the basketball. We know he’s tough and he is a guy that can handle the ball. We have always felt that he can shoot the ball, but he hasn’t done it consistently. But he jumped up and made shots tonight.”

On the play of Josh Harrellson and his defensive plays against Renardo Sidney…
“He’s a good player for them. I mean he is a very versatile player and you all don’t write about him enough but he is a big piece. He makes a lot of that stuff function well because of his skill level out there on the floor like dribbling and handing the ball off and things like that. He has a knack to be in the right spot to get offensive rebounds. You all need to write about him more.”

On the play of Darius Miller considering he wasn’t suppose to play tonight …
“Larry, you knew he was going to play. Miller is one of those guys and (DeAndre) Liggins (are good pieces.) I know those freshmen are really good players: (Terrence) Jones, (Doron) Lamb and (Brandon) Knight. Whatever publicity they get they deserve it, but when Miller and Liggins play well for them that is when their team is the best. They have experience. Liggins has some toughness and is one of their best defenders. Miller was a guy that jumped up and made some threes tonight. In that first half, he went 3-of-7 and for the game in that zone you can’t cover them all and you just have to pick your poison. We were going to let Liggins and Miller shoot a little. For a guy that wasn’t supposed to play he had 13 big points tonight and it was huge for them.”

Mississippi State Players

#0, Jalen Steele, G

On the huddle towards the end of the game after Kentucky made a big run…  
“We were just trying to fight back as much as possible. We needed to try and stop Knight and Lamb. We were just trying to contain them. We were doing that at some time, but we really just couldn’t pull it out in the end.”

On the difference between playing regular season teams and playing SEC teams …  
“Regular season play isn’t really that intense. Every game counts but it doesn’t count. In, SEC play we have to play much harder to solidify a spot in the big tournament in March. SEC play is totally different.”

On what it is like playing in Rupp Arena …
“Rupp Arena is totally different. [As a player] everything has to be focused on the court. It’s hard because it’s like we have to play against the fans and everything that’s happening on the court. It was my first time playing here and I really enjoyed it and enjoyed that the crowd was into the game.”

#24, Kodi Augustus, F

On the last four seconds of the first half …  
“After the steal, I just heard him say to shoot it. I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t think it was a shooting foul. Everybody was just belligerent over the technical foul. It didn’t really give us any momentum that we needed going into halftime. It was a tough call.”

On the game as a whole …  
“Every game you have to take the positives. As I team. I definitely think we shared the ball better. He played harder. We played better as a team as a whole.”

On Coach Calipari and his freshman class …  
“He’s alright. He is a good coach. But really you just have to think about it as another group of guys. I can’t say that it is any different because you have to take it as just another game.”

On the difference between laying regular season teams and playing SEC teams …
“SEC games obviously mean more because you’re playing within your division. Really I think any game gets magnified as the season goes on.”

On playing in Rupp Arena …
“It’s different. It’s loud. It’s a great college atmosphere. As a player, you like playing at places like this. It is a good enriching experience.”

#3, Dee Bost, G

On how Mississippi State began the game after its loss to Auburn…
“We knew we had to come out and fight. If we came in here thinking about the Auburn game we knew they were going to blow us out.”

On the 15-2 run in the beginning of the second half…
“We just turned the ball over when we should have taken care of the ball. They just knocked down shots in transition.”

On Jalen Steele’s play tonight …
“He stepped up big tonight for us.  He played great. I give him credit he knocked down some shots. We need him to play like that every game.”

On Darius Miller’s play tonight …
“We knew he was a good player, but we didn’t know he was going knock down shots like he did.”