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Kentucky Advances to 14th Final Four




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Date & Time Sat., Apr. 2, 8:49 p.m. ET
Location Reliant Stadium
Houston, Texas
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Kentucky Seniors Video

March 30, 2011

After a 12-year absence, the country's winningest program finally returned to the Final Four after the Wildcats posted a 76-69 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels, in the East Region finals.

Brandon Knight continued his NCAA Tournament domination, scoring a game-high 22 points, while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out four assists and tying his career-high of three steals. Knight was named the East Region Most Outstanding Player.

The Wildcats shot 48.2 percent from the field, including a blistering 54.5 percent from 3-point range.

Joining Knight on the All-Tournament team were Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins.

Kentucky Player Quotes

#12, Brandon Knight, G, Fr.

On how the city of Lexington has treated him upon his arrival back from Newark, N.J....
"You know, we have had a lot of appreciation from our Kentucky fans. We are just happy with how we are doing in the tournament."

On his friends and family's reaction to making the Final Four ...
"There were a lot of people from back home I know that texted me. Everybody is just congratulating me and the team on our success so far."

On what he has improved on the most during the season ...
"Each day, I am trying to find a way to get better. Each day I am trying something to get better. Each day, everyone is trying to find something to get better at and Coach (Calipari) has done his best to push each and every one of us."

On what he has learned about himself this season ...
"Just my ability to run a team. When I got here, I didn't have everything I needed to do as far as being a vocal leader. I have been able to mature in that area."

On if they are satisfied with a Final Four appearance ...
"Not really. We are still just in the moment right now. We aren't satisfied with a Final Four. We know everyone is saying that they are happy about it, but we just want to keep going."

On the relationship with the players ...
"I mean from the beginning we were always cool with each other and always happy to be around each other. But we really started to trust each other the past couple of months, where we really have had to pull together as a team to go into battle. Guys are really starting to trust one another."

On how freshman forward Terrence Jones has handled less touches ...
"He has handled that well. He is doing whatever it takes for our team to win. He doesn't mind stepping back a bit and letting the older players become more aggressive. He was fine with that. That shows the type of player and the type of person that he is. He is willing to do whatever it takes for our team to win."

On what senior forward Josh Harrellson has meant to this team ...
"He has been probably one of the things that has been keeping us in the games at the end. He has been a big inspiration for each and every one of us and it just shows us that if you work hard, and you put your mind to it, you can get better and help our team where we really need it, inside."

On Enes Kanter's effect on this team in practice ...
"It has helped us big time. He is one of the best big men in the country. For Josh (Harrellson) to go up against him each and every day it helps (Harrellson) out. He knows what he can and can't do. When you do it against the best of the best, you know what you can and can't do. You can see how (Harrellson) got better. He has just continued to improve against (Kanter). We can see Josh starting to score against Enes more and start to try certain things."

On if there was a memorable moment where the season turned around ...
"Not really. I think probably for us a big time moment was when Florida came here and you know, we had lost to them before. They were the top team in the conference and we were able to beat them. We had a pretty good game overall, and I thought that was what got us rolling."

On why this team is succeeding in rematches ...
"I don't know. We played a lot of those teams early in the season. We have gotten better since that point. In the beginning, we weren't as good as we thought we were, and we have gotten better."

On late-game shots finally falling for him ...
"Some of those shots you make, some of the shots you don't. All I can do is thank God that I was able to make those in the big time games of the tournament. It's really just confidence and continuing to shoot."

On if he rehearsed shots in the late-game situations ...
"Oh yeah. I think every kid does that when they are growing up outside. Just five, four, three, two, one and shoot it. And then when you finally make it, you can just go inside and chill."

On what type of shots he would normally attempt ...
"Any kind of shots. Not lay-ups. Normally step-back jumpers where you are holding your follow through or something like that."

On if the Ohio State game-winner was easier than it looked ...
"Yeah. When I watched it, it was a lot faster than I thought. It felt slow. I didn't really see a hand. I just saw the basket and shot it. I guess it was for a split-second that I saw it."

On Connecticut guard Kemba Walker ...
"He is a great player. In the first game, he really didn't miss anything. He played a great game, and he did it in many different ways. He scored in the paint, shot the jump shot, he is just a great player that has continued to play well throughout the season."

On Coach Calipari's preparations for every game ...
"When Coach Cal does something, he does it that way. He keeps it that way. We prepare the same way for every team."

On the play against Ohio State ...
"Well, yeah. You have the option to shoot it yourself, you have the roll guy, and then you always have a lot of spot-up guys, so there are always a lot of options. It is just making a read and seeing what you have."

#34, DeAndre Liggins, G, Fr.

On what he thinks is a good nickname for the team ...
"The same thing that Josh went with, `Payback Cats'. I think that is a good one."

On mentioning playing against Kemba (Walker) during the SEC tournament and any animosity he may have towards playing him now ...
"It's not animosity. Kemba Walker is a great player. He scores in bunches. I just want to do a better job on him this time. He is going to score points, but I am going to try to make him work for everything he puts up. "

On what he will want to do different the second time around facing Kemba ...
"Just to contest all of his shots. The first time we had played (Connecticut) it was three games in three days and I was kind of worn out a bit. That's still no excuse, but I had no legs. I was tired. Guarding Kemba Walker is going to be a tough challenge."

On how he would describe Josh Harrellson's turnaround ...
"
Unbelievable. Josh has been great for us all year long. He grabs a lot of boards, scores in the paint and he is our only true big man. He is a blue collar guy like me and every since the twitter stuff happened he has become a changed player."

On his feelings about making the All-Region team in the NCAA tournament ...
"
I didn't know that.  It feels great, but I still have a lot of work left to do to win two more games and that is my main focus right now. But it is an honor to be thought of in that category."

On previously being known as the guy that wouldn't go in the game in Las Vegas and just what it has meant to change his legacy this year ...
"
It meant a lot to me, from not going in the game till now shows that I have matured a lot."

On what Brandon Knight has meant to this team ...
"He is just very intelligent and a guy you like to be around. No matter how he has played throughout the game you know he can make the big shots in the end."

On who is a harder worker: Him or Brandon Knight ...
"
I think Brandon is, but I am right on the edge. We have the same passion about winning and trying to get better each game."

On when Brandon is not making shots and it comes down to the end of the game does he want someone else taking the shot ...
"
The thing is anybody can step up and make a play, but Brandon always has the ball in his hands at the end of the game and he just happened to make the plays."

On the impact that Enes (Kanter) has on the team even though he can't suit up on the court ...
"
Of course (he has a big impact on the team). He is unstoppable down low, hard to guard, and I think that he is making Josh better."

On the possibility of sensing that Enes (Kanter) wants to be a part of the tournament run ...
"I sense that, but he won't admit it. It's hard for him to admit that, but that is just the way it is."

On how Josh felt when Enes was ruled ineligible and everyone thought the team couldn't get to the Final Four ...
"I think he just wanted to try and do his best and see what would happen. I think when Josh heard Enes couldn't play he changed his mentality and got better."

On how much of an advantage it is to have seen Kemba (Walker) once this year ...
"He is tough.  It's hard to guard his shots and he is very crafty with the ball. My job is just to contain him and make him work for those shots."

On North Carolina trying to deny Brandon (Knight) the ball and why they haven't tried that against anyone yet ...
"I don't know what the game plan is yet, but if I have to deny Kemba the ball and make someone else beat us then I will do that. But if he shoots 25 shots and he makes them, oh well."

On if the goal is to just limit Kemba's scoring instead of trying to shut him down completely ...
"Exactly. He is going to score his points and do what he does. Our job is to stop the other guys. ... You can't stop him. He is a great player and everybody has witnessed that this year. My job is to make it hard on him and don't let another teammate try to beat us."

On if he tried to use some of his trash talking on Kemba and if it worked in Maui ...
"There wasn't any of that going on. If I have to do that I am going to have to do it. My job is just to contain him the best way I can."

On Josh's work ethic and the message that it sends to other players ...
"It shows that he never gave up and he always stuck with it. It turned out to be great for him to work hard and never give up. I am sure that his family was supporting him and everything and it is a great situation."

On how he can relate to Josh's situation because of his lack of playing time in the early part of last season ...
"Yeah, I am a much different person. I have changed tremendously. I just used hard work and learned from the mistakes I made and grew up. My family was there with me through my struggles."

On admitting that they played selfish against UConn the first time and when they stopped playing selfish basketball ...
"We stopped playing like that after the Maui tournament and after we lost that game. Everybody was selfish that entire tournament, especially the last game. As the season kept going on we kept progressing and getting better as a team and coming together like a group. This is where we are now."

On why he thinks they have been so good in revenge games this season ...
"Just going together as a unit and playing great defense. That is how we beat teams we play the second time. We know the scouting report on them and we clamp down defensively."

On if he would have pictured making big shots in key situations a few months ago ...
"It is just about having the confidence to do it. Those are the things that I have been working on is working on my confidence offensively because that is what my team needs me to do. I am trying to carry my load."

On  when he realized that this team could make it to the Final Four after losing five first round draft picks ...
"I couldn't believe it. I was happy the West Virginia game. Once we beat them, I knew that we could make a good run and get to the Final Four."

#55, Josh Harrellson, F, Sr.

On if he expected to be talking about the Final Four three weeks ago ...
"No not really, but I am appreciative for everything that has happened for our team, our coaching staff and all of our fans.  I couldn't be happier for our freshmen for all they have done for us and how much they have matured this season.  Also, for our veteran guys stepping up and playing how they know how to play."

On the difference from this time last year and now ...
"It is a complete 180.  Last year I didn't play at all, I just sat and watched.  It was still fun though because we were 35-3.  This year has just been a dream come true. We are in the Final Four; I am playing significant minutes; I am helping my teammates win games that I never thought I could do and it has been a great ride and I plan on continuing a little longer."

On watching tape of him playing against (Ohio St.'s Jared) Sullinger ...
"It is cool to see yourself playing against big men like him and being successful, being able to guard him without letting him take over the game, especially when people doubt you the whole time. All of that I use as motivation and energy to come out and play hard. I like when people say that about me because it makes me want to come out and compete."

On his work ethic ...
"I have always had a work ethic, but I really didn't use it much my first two years here. (The coaching staff) brought it out of me this year and I have worked so hard. I plan on working this hard till I am done playing."

On his next level of play ...
"There are opportunities to get to the next level and there is a lot of talk. So I am going to keep doing the little things I do and the hard work and dedication I have been putting out this year and hopefully I can make the most of it next year."

On how the past three weeks has changed his view of his professional future ...
"Yes definitely; everyone has always said, `You have the ability, the hands, the feet, the size, you can shoot the ball.'  Everyone has always told me I have the ability, now I have the hard work to go with it.  Everyone is telling me now that I can make money at the next level somewhere, so I am definitely going to keep my hopes high for the next level, but right now I am just focused on UConn and just let things happen from there."

On anything that has changed about his game the past couple months to give him his success ...
"I would say my confidence level and my determination. It is my senior year any game could be my last game, so I am just trying to make the season last as long as I can. I am doing as much as I can to make us win."

On the impact of playing against Enes (Kanter) everyday ...
"It helps a lot. Going against him everyday makes me a better player. Every day in and out just competing against him, doing drills with him, even if I am not going against him just watching him; I am just trying to match him.  Just doing that makes me more confident and being able to stop him in practice make me go into every game knowing I am not going to play someone as good as Enes."

On the difference of Enes (Kanter), North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and UConn's Alex Oriakhi ...
"Sullinger is a big guy, knows how to use his body really well and finishes around the rim.  Oriakhi is really explosive, really strong and physical.  Zeller he is tall, he is seven foot, and runs the floor almost better than any big man I have ever seen run.  Enes is almost like all of those three combined in one. He can run the floor he is not seven foot, but he can run the floor. He has a big body and knows how to use it and he can even step out and shoot the 17 foot shot like Zeller.  He is kind of like all three combined and going against him gives me a good advantage."

On his thoughts of Enes (Kanter's) ineligibility ...
"It kind of got me down a little bit.  I wanted him to play more than anybody. I would have given up anything for him to come out and play, but he was ruled ineligible and from there I got better as the season went on.  Some people are happy now that he didn't play because I have taken full advantage of my opportunity and have done a lot of great things with it. I still wish he could have played though."

On his comment on giving up his senior year to have Enes play ...
"It would have been a different enjoyment if he would have played. It would have been like last year, I would have probably still got my 10 or 12 minutes, but I probably would not have been as successful as I am.  It is not going to hurt him. He is still going to go to the next level and be a big impact to wherever he goes. In a way it is a blessing in disguise for me because it's giving me an opportunity to go to the next level.  So in a way it would have been a little different enjoyment, but I am a little selfish I am glad I got to play."

On Brandon Knight's play ...
"Brandon is a leader, a play maker, down the stretch we give him the ball he is a great finisher.  He missed a few in the beginning of the season, but it didn't stop him. He is making big shots for us now when they count. He has just matured so much, we couldn't ask for a better point guard.  He runs our team; he is always there for us on and off the court. I couldn't ask for somebody better to be playing with."

On the team's confidence in Brandon ...
"We have always had our confidence in him.  During the Princeton game, he was one for eight and we had the ball in his hands the last shot of the game. We always have confidence no matter what. He is always working harder than anyone else always in the gym late at night getting extra shots. We always have confidence in him even when he has an off game because he will make a big shot when it counts."

On his favorite game of the year ...
"All of them have been great; hopefully my favorite one will be Monday night if we make it that far.  The last game, just getting to the Final Four, making it one step further than last year's team and going out my senior year with a bang, so hopefully we can continue the run."

On when he started taking basketball seriously ...
"Probably my junior year of high school.  Early in my career I didn't really have a passion for the game I just did it because I was bigger and good at it.  This year, middle of the season, I started loving the game literally.  I started seeing success and rewards of hard work and that is probably when I started loving it.  That is probably why I am playing better and harder now because I love it."

On the first game versus UConn ...
"They took it to us; it was a tough game for us.  Maybe as a young team with three games in a row got to us and UConn came ready to play.  We underestimated them and came out and didn't play hard.  Both teams have really progressed since then. Their players are playing great and our players are playing great so it is going to be a good test."

On UConn having to recognize him this time ...
"The first game there were a lot of players that didn't show up and a lot of people playing pretty selfish.  We have been playing really well as a team lately and everybody has been peaking, so hopefully I can do a good job this time."

On his thoughts of a name for this team ...
"I like `Payback Cats.'  Something like that, I guess we are on the road to payback everybody, the only team we can't get is Arkansas.  It is pretty weird to think that every team we lost to we have a chance to play them again. It is pretty relevant, and it is going to be another tough test."


 

 

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