Kentucky-North Carolina Postgame Quotes

Dec. 3, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Cal.

Q. Anybody else in America could have blocked that shot but (Anthony) Davis?

COACH CALIPARI: No. There may be somebody out there. What I told the team, I made Marquis Teague stand up and hug my man in there. You hug Anthony (Davis) because he saved you.

Again, in this game, there were so many terrific performances. How about Kyle Wiltjer? He made big plays. The basket, the trap, forced the ball loose. Darius (Miller) made some big baskets. We got hung up again on screens on 3-point shooters. Driving me nuts. We worked on it. Obviously not enough. That was a great team we played.

Again, if he didn't block the shot, we lose the game. And both teams gutted it out, just gutted it out. This is supposed to be in March, not now. I'm exhausted.

Q. You've been saying for a couple of days, Play this game and we'll learn where we are. What did you learn?

COACH CALIPARI: We only had 36 hours but we talked about sprint it up, speed it up, then grind it out. For a freshman team to do this, have nine turnovers, it's incredible. I don't know whether they knew they had to play a certain way and they didn't deviate.

I got on Doron (Lamb) on that turnover late. I'm not going to you if that's what's going to happen. You have to be tough, strong, make a play, get it off the backboard. Marquis (Teague) has a way to go. It's his eighth game. It's his eighth game. But I'm confident he'll be fine.

Michael (Kidd-)Gilchrist just did stuff. Terrence Jones, that was his best game of the year, and he was challenged by it.

Again, North Carolina is one of those teams. They're one of the best teams in the country. They're well-coached. They never gave up. We got down. They called a timeout and bang a 3. C'mon.

Roy (Williams) did a great job. We were very, very fortunate to walk out with a W.

Q. After the game you seemed like you were kind of at a loss for words. When you were approaching Roy (Williams), what was going through your mind at that time?

COACH CALIPARI: I have all kind of respect for Roy (Williams). He has been one of the nicest people to me throughout my career - when I was at UMass and Memphis. Not only is he a great coach, he and his wife Wanda (Williams) are just terrific people. I don't like playing people that I like. Now I got to go down there, he has to go and get on a bus, he lost. I know what that feels like, especially a game as hard-fought as this.

That's why I kind of go down, and Roy, I feel for him because I'm in this profession. It's tough.

Q. (Question regarding the defense in the second half.)

COACH CALIPARI: Well, again, we got on them at halftime. They got six 3s. Make them shoot 2s. They did at the very end, but they got 3s which closed the gap. I thought Anthony Davis did a great job. I thought Terrence Jones did a great job defensively.

It's amazing, they have seven blocks, we have six blocks. You're talking two heavyweight big, long, tough teams. We just happened to be that team that's a little bit younger. We're just an inexperienced team, so...

Q. Can you take us through what you saw on that last play, what was kind of going through your mind. (Davis) came out of nowhere to block it.

COACH CALIPARI: The play before, if you remember, they made the 3 in the corner. Anthony (Davis) ran up and the guy took a dribble through deep and he made a 3. I looked at him, ‘Run back.’ He was like, (talking gibberish). The next play was exactly the same and he sprinted back like he was supposed to.

You don't go up when they rebound, you go back. He's a young kid, 17-, 18-years old. He's playing by instinct right now. So is Marquis Teague, so is (Michael Kidd-)Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer. They're all playing on instinct right now.

Q. Can you talk about the offense Doron (Lamb) provided the last 10 minutes of the game.

COACH CALIPARI: He struggled. The play that made me angry was in that first half when that ball squirted out and he didn't have a basket so he was rushing in to score on 6'9" guys, got blocked. Why are you doing that? Pull it down, let's run offense.

I thought in the second half, I put the ball in his hands saying, ‘Let's go down.’ He did a couple layups. He had a couple 3s. They were big shots. That one in the corner was a huge shot. He knocked it down.

Look, I've got good players. We're young and we're inexperienced, but I've got really good players. I like my team. But more importantly, they love each other. You notice, Eloy (Vargas) helped us today, Kyle (Wiltjer) helped us today, and the other six played the majority of the minutes. That's a happy locker room in there today.

All I said prior to the game, I didn't realize, because I hadn't been watching much TV, that this game was being played up like the end alls of end alls. I turn on ESPN and it's on the ticker. Every announcer is talking about this game.

I came back to the gym last night about 11 and grabbed the guys. Look, I didn't realize everybody is making this big deal out of this. It's just another game. Let's learn from it. I've been in a ton of these.

You freshmen, just be there for your team. Be good teammates. Leaders, you three seniors, this is your game. You got to run this.

They were ready to play. Both teams were ready to play. They came out of the gate. No one stopped. That was 40 minutes. Whoever had the ball last was winning. We got the ball last and we won. That's what happens when two good teams do not quit.

Q. What is your impression of your team's toughness now after this game?

COACH CALIPARI: They had 15 offensive rebounds and they were huge. We missed a bunch of baskets right next to the rim. Again, I didn't realize we were 4 for 17 from the 3. How in the world did we win? They were 11 out of 18. So it just shows you. These are two really good teams. We happened to get this one.

If we had to go to North Carolina, probably dropping one. Let's hope if we have to play them again, when it is the very last game of the season, for both teams, in one place, and that's when we play them again.

Q. John (Calipari), you complained yesterday about your team not executing, being impatient. First half it looked like that. What turned it around? Was it Doron (Lamb) going to the point?

COACH CALIPARI: I think they want to win. See, they're going to question (me), because they're so young, they're going to try to show me they can do it their way and win. When they realize they cannot play that way and win against these kinds of opponents, they'll usually come back.

The only thing that brings about change, folks, is a crisis. Meetings don't, talking doesn't. They'll look at me, Okay. But when its crisis time, we're down five at half, now do you understand how we have to play?

We had a play where we had the ball, came down bounced it off our knee, crossed it over twice, pitched it back to a guy, he misses the shot, they make a three, it's a five-point swing. I go bonkers. I just gave it to them. You can't play that way in this kind of game.

Listen, this is a learning experience. I'm going to watch the tape. (I’m) Proud of our guys. I would have been proud if that last shot would have gone in. I would have said, ‘we're learning.’ We made mistakes, gave up a three. We did it to ourselves. We're going to be fine. That's what I would have said if that kid makes that shot.

Q. What did you think about Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) and the way he competed?

COACH CALIPARI: Michael was unbelievable. He is unbelievable. He's the greatest kid. I used him on defense and left him alone on offense. I'm going to tell you this. If we need a free throw late in the game, I'm giving him the ball and letting him shoot it. He will not miss it late in the game. He will make a free throw late because he's got that kind of courage.

Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Players

#23, Anthony Davis, F

On if he was nervous before the game …
“Oh yeah, most definitely. I told the assistant coach ‘This is a big game and I’m kind of nervous.’ He told me to settle down and just play. That’s what he told me to do and that’s what I tried to do.”

On what they learned from this game …
“We knew that (UNC) were three-point shooters. They came out hitting three’s. They had big time three’s. (John) Henson was in foul trouble, so he sat out most of the game. But, we just have to learn how to chase on ball screens.”

On the final sequence …
Terrence (Jones) was guarding (John) Henson, and I was guarding (Tyler) Zeller. They handed the ball to Zeller in the post and when he shot the ball it came back to Henson. I saw Terrence wasn’t on him, so I just sprinted as fast as I could and got the block and got the rebound. Just like what happened in April of last year when Kentucky played North Carolina. We watched that game on film. Coach Cal stressed that. Even though it’s not their main shooter, to go after it.”

#3, Terrence Jones, F

On the flow of game…  
“I feel both teams played in a late-season-type of game. It was just a real tough fought-out game. North Carolina came to play and they really had the lead almost the whole game. When Kyle (Wiltjer) came in, he really gave us an extra boost on defense. Just coming in and getting the two stops and that lay-up he had was really big. Ant (Anthony Davis)’s blocked shot at the end of the game was really good. If anybody could it, it would be Ant (Anthony Davis). So I was just glad he got over there. I think we did a really good job running offense in the second half by slowing it down and taking away the fast break points. I feel we limited them to about two of those. It was a really good game plan by Coach (John Calipari).”

On Anthony Davis’s blocked shot to win the game…  
“I know (Anthony Davis) is a master right now at timing shots to block them. He got there and won the game for us.”

On how fun it was to play in this type of game…  
“It was really fun just because it’s so early in the season. It really wouldn’t affect anyone who won or loss. So just to have that competition out so early and for both teams to compete how they did was just great.”

On how Kentucky was able to win…  
“I feel like we played together and it was a close game. It just came down to whoever got those last couple stops. We made those two stops about the six-minute mark. And Kyle (Wiltjer) came in and Darius (Miller) came in and me and Mike (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) were on the bench. They really stepped up and got about three (stops) in a row. Ant (Anthony Davis) got a hook, Kyle (Wiltjer) got an up-and-under, and it just changed the game around to get us a four-point lead.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On his thoughts on the last play of the game ...
“I was nervous. Anthony (Davis) came up with a crucial block and saved the game for us. I just knew if he got that shot off it was going to go in, so I was just nervous.”

On the impact of the win moving forward ...
“It is a very big win. We felt like this was a test to see where we are at, playing against one of the best teams in the country, and we come out with a W. I think we are pretty happy and proud about it, but we know we aren't exactly where we want to be. It's still early on in the season, so we're happy.”

On if he thinks Kentucky and North Carolina will play again in March ...
“Definitely, we know they are going to be there. They are a very talented team and very experienced team. They will definitely be there until the end.”

#14, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F

On playing against UNC…
“(This game) was something special, this is a young team we have this year. We are just getting better everyday. It was really special to be a part of it”

On today’s performance compared to the game against St. John’s…
“It was just one of those games (for me) last game,  (but today) I just played my game (against UNC). I had a lot of fun as you could see out on the court (today).

On Darius Miller’s role and Doron (Lamb’s) second half 3-pointers…
 “The little things. He (Miller) is a senior on the court and he’s our leader. He is everything to the team. Those two 3s (by Lamb) were big, huge. He just knocked them down.”

North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams

Opening statement …  
“I think that, for us, it was a very disappointing last couple of seconds to say the least. It was a big time college basketball game, there were some very talented and gifted youngsters out there really playing hard. I thought two or three occasions during the game both our teams were spent physically. It was such a crazy game, it’s a one point game and we have a chance to win, we miss a dunk in the second half and a dunk at the buzzer at the end of the first half, it would have been nice if those would have gone in but they missed some plays just like we did. I was really proud of my team, we were down four or five and Harrison (Barnes) made a three on an out of bounds play, Reggie (Bullock) made a big three in the corner and John (Henson) made two big free throws that got us right back and gave us a chance to win the game. At the end you just have to congratulate (Anthony) Davis who blocked that shot, it was a big time play on their part. They had the ball with 48 seconds so we knew they were going to take a shot, we hoped to defend it and have one shot, down one as it was, and instead we fouled, it was the right call, we did foul but they missed the free throws so they still gave us a shot to win at the end. The second half was the story of (Doron) Lamb, (Darius) Miller and (Michael Kidd-) Gilchrist, I think they were really focused for them in the second half and I thought all three of those kids hurt us. Darius inside, (Kidd-) Gilchrist taking the ball to the basket and rebounding it, Lamb made two big shots back to back. They are a very good basketball team; we think we are very good as well. We didn’t play nearly this well last Saturday night, UNLV had a lot to do with it, but I cannot fault my team’s effort tonight. We had a silly turnover on an inbounds play down on the end which can’t happen in big time games. Again for us, those guys that made big time plays down the stretch I was really pleased with them but we have to play better, early in the second half, the first three or four possessions we didn’t get what we wanted and we gave them layups. At the 12-minute timeout I told them who was doing the scoring for them and it was Teague and (Kidd-) Gilcrhist and t9he guys taking the ball to the basket so our defense had to get stronger. You look at the stat sheet and (Kentucky) shot 56 percent in the second half but they were a little more patient with it than we were. That’s a reason they were able to come from behind and get the win.”

On what Kentucky was trying to do on offense…  
“They have the ability to score at every position, John (Calipari) has a better answer to this than me, obviously, but I think they are trying to get one of their good players an advantage and then be a basketball player. The lateral screen underneath is tough to handle, the flat screen out front; I thought we did a nice job with that. Davis’ big time blocked shot at the end. We were pretty good defensively, they made some big time shots and it’s hard for a coach to say we were good defensively when they shot 56 percent in the second half but they’re willing to run some clock also, it’s not just throw up the first bad shot, so for me, I’d like it a lot better if John would let them take bad shots but I don’t think they did that today so I think what he was doing offensively is what they work on every day. If they take some bad shots it usually helps us and I didn’t see many.”

On the Kentucky-North Carolina series continuing…  
“I’ve been asked this question a lot and I’m sure Cal has been asked it a thousand times more than I have, I love these kind of series but everyone has to understand the landscape of college basketball is changing. We’re sitting here at 16 conference games and maybe the next year we’ll be at 19, who knows. I love games like this but North Carolina and Kentucky didn’t play for about eight or nine of ten years, I wasn’t at North Carolina at that time but both schools survived. Am I interested in continuing to play Kentucky? Yes. Am I interested in making a concrete statement up here? No. John and I should have an opportunity to talk about that and see what else we have on the schedule and I think that’s what John has been eluding to this week, I think he has more questions about it then I do. Regardless of what the Kentucky fans say about who they’d like to get rid of we have to save this thing too, it’s a two-way street kind of thing.”

On what he was looking for on the last play of the game…
“We ran a screen at the top of the key and then we tried to post Tyler (Zeller) up and then we had a screen coming for a jump shot behind that and we had Kendall (Marshall)’s penetration so we had three good options. We threw it into Z(eller) and it looked like a good decision but we’ll look at the tape and see if it was as good as I thought it was and I think Kentucky got a hand on the ball and it deflected up. Luckily for us it went to John (Henson). I’ve always said if the score is tied or it’s a one point game then you are better off taking it to the basket but not many people can block a jump shot from John Henson, it takes at least 10 or 12 feet. Before the game if you’d say, ‘one of your guys are going to have a 10 or 12 footer at the end to win the game,’ most people who come into Rupp Arena would probably take that. They’ve won 38 in a row because, I don’t know that Kentucky Wildcat fans believe in leprechauns but something got down there and got Mr. Davis to jump up there and make a big time play.”

North Carolina Players

# 40, Harrison Barnes, F

On whether UK is tougher this year versus last year…
“It’s kind of hard to compare. Last year, they were a different team from the first time that we played them to the last time. The second time, I think the other team was better. We’ll see and compare later to see where they are.”

On whether he thinks his team can forget about this game and just look towards the next one…
“Not at all. This is a very good team. This would have been a very big road win for us. That fact that we couldn’t execute down the stretch is kind of alarming.”

On what happened during the stretch in the second half where UNC struggled…
“We hung in but we took some tough fade aways. I took some shots that were a little difficult for myself and I know some of my teammates did too. We just have to work on getting better shots.

On what UNC needs to work on if they face UK again this season…
“Boxing out and rebounding. That’s what it came down to. You could see that both teams are good at moving the ball and getting good shots but at the end of the day, second opportunities made the difference.”

#31 John Henson, F

On the game against Kentucky…
“Games like this get you ready for March and that’s all that matters right now.”

On Anthony Davis blocking his shot to end the game…
“It’s funny because I do the same thing to other guys and he did it to me for the game, it was a great play by a great player...(Davis) was guarding (Zeller) too which means he came from the other side of the lane, it was a great play by him.”

On battling with Terrence Jones throughout the game…
“(Kentucky) kind of went away from him in the second half, but credit to him, he was playing within his team, he was trying to help his team win and that’s what he did, that’s what you have to do sometimes when you’re a great player like (Jones).”

#44, Tyler Zeller, C

Difficulty taking shots, with so much length….
“The only difficult part was if you didn’t have the right position. Length wasn’t a huge problem for us. We shot well from outside, so I don’t think it was a huge problem for us.”

What you learned from today…
I think we got to be able to play 40 minutes. We had a couple of lapses throughout the game and the younger guys are getting better at it too.”

Did they get a good job of not letting you go up with the ball straight up?
They did a great job of getting there, almost before I got the ball. So it was tough, normally you have half a second to a second to see it coming, so they did a great job of getting there very early and getting me in tight traps.”