Kentucky-LSU Postgame Quotes

Feb. 22, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

COACH CALIPARI: Folks, I got my assistant coach here. From Make a Wish, spent day and a half with us, gave us the game plan. Told us we should trap Johnny O'Bryant, don't do what you did last time. So I listened to them. Brought us a lot of luck. We appreciate you, man.


Q. You've talked before about wanting your team to stick with it when things don't go their way. How much is today an example of it?

COACH CALIPARI: We're getting closer. But when we missed a basket inside and we fouled, we had four guys walking back to the other foul line with their heads down. I had to yell, we're winning this. We are going to win this.

It proves we're still coach driven instead of player driven. We've got to get to where I'm doing less and they're doing more.

Julius' (Randle) big rebound, James Young, Aaron (Harrison), how they played, blocked shots. That's a good team. Everybody can say what they want about all this, but you guys have watched teams come through here. The only way we could stop Johnny O'Bryant is put two guys on him and sometimes three.

Their guards made 3s. They go 7-17 from the 3-point line. How we got out of here with an W... We went 1-9 from the 3. Told our guys, Keep driving the ball, keep driving the ball.

Q. The fact you can get out with the W, we saw some emotion from your team there at the end. Is that a step?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, oh, yeah. We're making strides. We started the half, started the game. I had to call a timeout. Had a couple guys that didn't have enough energy. Had to take them out. We got right back into the game.

You're not going to play great every night out. We missed a bunch of shots. We missed every 3. The game is never over until the horn sounds. That's what I just kept telling them, Just play.

But that's an NCAA tournament game there. That's what it's going to be like, that kind of game.

Q. You have guys who are passing up open 15-footers to take contested shots in the lane. Is that just how this team is going to have to play?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, you have to understand what we were telling them every timeout, which was, Drive the ball, do not settle. Johnny had four fouls. He was not going to foul. So he may put his hands up. Sometimes he got out of the way.

The jump shot that Andrew (Harrison) took, I'm like, Why did you shoot a jumper? Drive it.

From that point on, he and his brother and James just drove the ball. We cleared out the court, spaced it out, said, Forget about the offense, pass it twice and drive it. That's what we were doing.

Q. Was this one of those games you felt like Julius was struggling offensively until that last one went in?

COACH CALIPARI: I was telling him in every huddle, Just get an offensive rebound to win the game. Quit getting blocked out, quit getting in a mud wrestling match with somebody. Release, run and go get the ball, which is what he did on the last play.

The two plays before that, he had opportunities to rebound that. He was in a mud wrestling match. Just release, go run and get the ball. He just released it, grabbed it, stuck it in, we win.

Q. Can you talk about the excitement level in the locker room, how this helps in February, propels your team.

COACH CALIPARI: Well, you know, to win in overtime with a freshman team like we were playing with most of the game, the plays they made down the stretch, the baskets they made. Even though the other team would not go away, they weren't going anywhere, it was almost like whoever had the ball last would win. The guys that have watched me coach know I don't call timeouts in those situations. 15 seconds to go, I'm not going to call a timeout, especially when he doesn't have a timeout. I've got ridiculed for that. But I just think, Let these guys make a play.

James Young went in there, Julius got fouled on one. It's how we play. We had timeouts late, they didn't have any. I wasn't going to stop that clock and give them a chance to interject coaches. I just said, Let us play. Our kids are ready for this. And they were.

Q. What does it say about Andrew's progress?

COACH CALIPARI: He had six rebounds and four assists and two blocks. I don't want him to judge himself on shooting. You know what I told him after the game? We came out of that timeout and twice I ran a play for him to get a wide-open shot on that wing and he missed. I said, I'll run it again for you 'cause I know you can make that. Don't you worry about missing. If we give you a play, you got to make it.

So he's getting better.

We had heads hanging a couple times. You really choose how you're going to react to situations. 100 times better than we were, but they still had the dregs of that. For me to have to say, ‘We are winning this game, we are going to win this game.’ One of them had to huddle and say that, We're winning this. Just settle down, we're fine.


Q. Was that more the way you want James to try to play through contact?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. I thought he did good stuff. Again, here he is, he's 1-4 from the 3. I'd like him to make a few more foul shots. If he goes 7-9 from the line instead of 5 of 9, you're the best shooter in the gym, how can you go 5 for 9?

We're working on a lot of stuff right now. A lot of it's the inner dialogue they have with themselves, a lot of it's recognizing your teammate doing something good. We had a bench cheering. Each guy has one guy to talk about energy. We're doing everything we can to get these guys to think different than they've ever thought in their life.

No one's ever attempted to do what we're doing now. All freshman. All McDonald's All-Americans. Bring them together, win a national title. Brought in a few players, but never tried this.

I'm having to do stuff I've never done before. I had them take out the table in my office. I got a couch in there now.

Some of you got that.

Q. I got it, but it wasn't that funny (laughter). Usually when your big guys switch on a guard, they really defend. Hickey was able to do some business. Why do you think?

COACH CALIPARI: Because our hands were down. He's six foot tall or less. You're seven foot tall and you make yourself six-foot-two by doing this. All you have to do is this.

I'm here. He goes to shoot it. The ball is already over my head and I go like that. Well, your hand wasn't up. The ball already was over your hand. Just go like that.

If you watched the last time, what Julius did, he went like that and stayed like that. The kid couldn't get a good shot off. But once on Willie (Cauley-Stein), once on Julius, they were like this. Well, now all of a sudden you're his size.

Again, we had some breakdowns. Let me just tell you, folks, in a game like this, with this team, we're growing in so many ways, to come down and come together and do whatever you had to do to win.

How about the ball that got tipped that was just out of our reach, out of our reach, and they score? That could have taken the wind out of your sails, and it didn't. We just kept playing.

Like I said, I'm proud in a lot of ways. But let's give credit to LSU. They beat us by a hundred down there and had us here. Someone wants to question whether they're an NCAA tournament team? Why? So no one else loses? LSU is the only one that lost a couple games? You have teams with the same record that are five seeds.

They're doing great. This was a great game for both of us. I'm just happy we pulled it out at the end.


FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#5, Andrew Harrison, G

On the pressure of playing in an overtime game…
“We have lost overtime games before. We all told each other during overtime that we are not losing this one, so we just kept coming. They hit some big shots in overtime, but we just kept coming, kept fighting and kept swinging.”

On what this win does for the team…
“It’s a great confidence builder knowing that we can win down the stretch and we’ll just have to try and get ready for Thursday.”

On the emphasis of getting to the rim…
“Aaron (Harrison) and James (Young) pretty much took turns driving and scoring, so having those two it’s great. They doubled Julius (Randle) and me; I couldn’t hit a shot to save my life. You just have to play through it. That’s what basketball is.”

On being worried while facing a deficit in overtime…
“Worried? Yea, definitely. Coach was saying that we are not losing. When somebody says something like that, you have to believe it.”

#30, Julius Randle, F

On the last play …
“That was a basketball game. James (Young) was being aggressive just like he was the whole game. He did a great job getting into the paint. If he put it on the rim, I was going to get it. They had been trying to box me out the whole game. Luckily, that one fell right into my hands.”

On the difficulty this team posed them …
“I don’t know their record, but they’re a great team with great players and a lot of talent. They get all the credit. They match up well with us. Regardless, it’s going to be a war. Luckily we came out with the W.”

On the excitement level in the locker room after the game …
“We were just happy. We knew we were getting some off days so we were excited about that. A game like that is tough. There were plenty of times we could have put our head down. There was a time when we did put our head down. We could have said forget it, but we didn’t. We kept fighting. Andrew (Harrison) made two tremendous free throws at the end of the game to put us into overtime. We were able to take it on from there. We made plenty of tough shots in overtime—some 3’s, even. We just kept fighting.”

#2 Aaron Harrison, G

On their reaction after the final buzzer…
“It was really fun. I think it will bring us closer together. It helped us a lot and brought us together as a team. We enjoyed that moment, we just all want to win.”

On how it seemed this win released a lot of pressure…
“Yeah definitely.  You have to enjoy basketball.  You can’t play as many games as we play and practice as much as we do if it’s not fun.  I think we make it fun for each other.”

On if he was confident they were going to win…
“I mean it’s a game.  You don’t know if you are going to win or lose.  We had runs and they had runs.”

On how he felt after his fall in the first half…
“I was more scared than anything.  It is a scary feeling falling and you don’t know where you’re falling or what you’re going to hit.  I hit the ground pretty so I knew I just had to jump up quick. I had to get up for my teammates.  You can’t feel sorry for yourself.  That is not what we are about.”

LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones

Opening statement…
“I thought it was a hard-fought basketball game tonight from tip to finish. I knew that it would be that way from the game that we had earlier this year. We came out and played extremely well early. We played well in the first half and fought as well as drew fouls. Then they had to come back and you have to give credit to Kentucky at the end. It came down to a loose-ball war, and they were able to get that big loose ball at the end. They had a big tip-in to finish it. It was a really well-played game. Both teams were playing extremely well. Unfortunately, we came up a little short.”

On if the last play was hustle related…
“They had to go after the ball to make it happen. They were fighting for it, were able to finish and made the play. That was a big winning play and they just made two winning plays at the end.”

On being able to get Kentucky out of sync…
“We did not do a whole lot. They did a good job of establishing themselves, driving the ball and getting in the gaps. They had a drought early on of where they could not make one over top of us. I thought it was a close rebounding game. Our main concern was not to give them any driving lanes and make them play over top of us.”

On playing good defense on the road…
“They have excellent shooters. You cannot let James Young get great looks at the basket. He is an excellent scorer. The same goes for the Harrison twins. They put a lot of pressure on you and try to get in the gaps and rotate to throw it over the top. They are big-time finishers. We tried to keep them out of the lane and force them to take contested shots. We maintained and did a pretty good job for most of the game.”

On what they take from this game…
“It was a tremendous atmosphere, and one of the best in college basketball. Our guys played the game between the lines. Anything outside of it did not affect them. They continued to compete and I’m really proud of them.”

On Johnny O’Bryant ‘s play late in the game…
“I think Johnny (O’Bryant) has been a force for us all-year long. He is a high percentage shooter and can make his free throws. We wanted to get the ball in his hands late. We had an opportunity to isolate him and he can pass it out of there. We wanted to give him an opportunity to make plays. He was able to deliver us for most of the night.”

On Anthony (Hickey) playing with three fouls .…
“I thought he played really well. Unfortunately, he picked up his third foul. In the second half, I thought he played really smart and well with only two fouls to give. They were aggressive trying to get in the paint and draw fouls. He did an excellent job staying in front of them and staying down. He was able to make a bunch of big plays for us.”

LSU Student-Athlete

#1, Anthony Hickey, G

On him performing so well in his home state against Kentucky …
“This is a big stage. We fought all the way to the end. You’ve got to give credit to Kentucky and Julius Randle on that last play. Big players step up at the end and that’s what he did.”

On the play of Julius Randle
“He played great the whole night. He missed a couple of bunnies, but he’s a great player. You can’t take anything away from him. He played solid the whole way. They got the win. For us, a couple of possessions on defense would have been to our benefit, but we’ve just got to keep working and execute.”

On the frustrating of not winning when it seemed that LSU was getting key stops down the stretch …
“We had a couple of empty possessions on the offensive end, but that’s part of basketball. I think we played great on the defensive end. We had a couple of errors on them going inside in the middle, but it all comes down to the last play. I think we did great on the defensive end, though.”