Saturday, March 25, 2017

Notes From Kentucky's Sweet Sixteen 86-75 Win Over UCLA

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Kentucky vs. UCLA – NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
March 24, 2017, FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.Attendance: 17,532

Final Score: No. 2-seed Kentucky 86, No. 3-seed UCLA 75
Team Records and Series Notes
·        Kentucky has won 14 in a row – its longest winning streak of the season -- and improved to 32-5 overall.
o   UK’s winning streak is the longest active streak in the country.
o   Kentucky reached 32 wins for the fourth time in the John Calipari era.
·        UCLA finished the season 31-5.
·        Kentucky leads the all-time series 8-6.
o   UCLA had won the last two meetings.
o   The teams met in the NCAA Tournament for the third time. UK leads 2-1.
o    UK has won two in a row against the Bruins in the Tournament, dating to the 1998 Sweet 16. UCLA’s lone NCAA Tournament win against UK was the 1975 National Title Game.
·        Next for the Wildcats: UK will play North Carolina in the South Regional Final on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS.

NCAA Tournament Notes
·        Kentucky made its national-record 56th NCAA Tournament appearance.
·        Kentucky reached the Elite Eight for the 33rd time since 1951 the most of any school in the country. (Elite 8 Records begin in 1951, the first year that all teams in the tournament would be required to win at least one game to advance to the Elite 8)
·        UK owns a 124-49 record all-time in NCAA action. 
·        Kentucky is 26-5 (.839) in NCAA Tournament games under Calipari.
·        In Calipari’s seven NCAA Tournament appearances with Kentucky, the Wildcats have reached the Elite Eight six times.
o   UK is 6-0 in the Sweet 16 under Calipari. 
·        Kentucky is a No. 2 seed for the seventh time in program history.
o   UK is 22-6 as the No. 2 seed.
o   Kentucky improved to 4-0 in No. 2-seed vs. No. 3-seed games.

In the First Half
·        Kentucky’s starting lineup featured De’Aaron FoxBam AdebayoMalik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis for the seventh game in a row.
o   Kentucky improved to 10-0 with that lineup.
o   Adebayo is the only Wildcat to have started all 37 games on the season.
·        Dominique Hawkins swished a 3-pointer with 15:26 on the clock, continuing UK’s streak of 1,012 games with at least one triple. That’s the longest streak in the country.
·        Fox started 4 of 4 from the field to start, scoring UK’s first eight points.
o   His 15 first-half points were the most he’s scored in the opening 20 minutes all season.

In the Second Half
·        Fox scored Kentucky’s first four points of the second half.
o   He finished with a season-high 24 points in the second half.
·        Monk scored Kentucky’s next 10 as the Wildcats had a 50-46 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
·        Kentucky opened up its biggest lead: 11 points, 69-57 with 5:58 to play. UK used a 9-2 run to open up its first double-digit margin starting at the 8:29 mark.

Team Notes
·        Kentucky tied its season-low with just six turnovers. UK is 3-0 in the games it’s only coughed it up six times.
o   It tied for the fewest turnovers in an NCAA Tournament game under Calipari, equaling the six turnovers UK committed against Wisconsin in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
·        Kentucky made 10 3-pointers. UK hit 10 3s for the sixth time this season.
o   UK hadn’t made double-digits 3s since the Feb. 14 win against Tennessee.
·        Fox and Monk combined for 60 of Kentucky’s 86 points.
·        Five Wildcats scored.
·        Kentucky’s 17 free-throw attempts were the second fewest of the season (12 vs. Tennessee on Feb. 14).
·        Kentucky shot 49.2 percent from the field. 
o   Kentucky improved to 29-1 this season when shooting at least the 42-percent threshold.
·        Calipari has a 694-192 (.783) on-court record, including a 249-52 (.827) mark at UK.

Player Notes  
·        Freshman De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points.
·        Per ESPN Stats and Info that was the record for any freshman in the NCAA Tournament.
·        It was the fourth most by a Wildcat regardless of class in the NCAA Tournament and the most ever by a freshman.
·        It was the second most by a UK player in any game under Calipari. Only Malik Monk has scored more in a game.
·        Fox led Kentucky in scoring for the fifth straight game.
·        He was 13 of 15 from the free-throw line, both figures were career highs.
·        The 13 free throws is tied for the third most in an NCAA Tournament game for an individual player in program history.
·        Freshman Malik Monk scored 21 points.
·        He reached 20 points for the 19th time this season.
·        He reached double-figures for the fifth game in a row, and has scored in double digits in 35 of 37 games this year.
·        He became just the third player in school history to hit 100 or more 3-pointers with four in tonight’s game.
·        Freshman Bam Adebayo had a career-high five assists.
·        Senior Derek Willis was solid all around once again.
·        He dished out a career-high tying four assists.
·        He scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.
·        He has 18 blocks over the last eight games.
·        Senior Dominique Hawkins scored 11 points.
·        He had a season-high and tied his career-high with three made 3-pointers.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

UCLA's Press Conference Quotes

Steve Alford

Lonzo Ball

TJ Leaf

Memphis, Tennessee

STEVE ALFORD: Well, excited to be back in Memphis. We were here three years ago, played a very good Florida team, and now obviously going to play an outstanding Kentucky team. But it's great to be back here, and our guys have done a tremendous job getting themselves back to here. We've had a phenomenal year, and it's a busy time of year for us. We're in finals, so we've got the better part of 60 percent of our team finishing finals today at 3:30. So we hope the media portion goes fairly quickly because we do have academics that we have to take care of before we get back into team meetings. But we're very excited about being here.

Q. Don't you know you're not supposed to upstage your players on a court like that? Just kidding.
STEVE ALFORD: I told them we have to step it up. Truth be told, we've been getting slaughtered. We've got guys like Lonzo literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don't think they're buying it.

Q. Lonzo looked like he had the tape off of his thumb. Can you give us an update on him as well as Ike?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, he and Ike are great. I think Lonzo is as close to 100 percent as he's been in a long, long time and Ike is nearing that. They've both practiced all week. Lonzo practiced all last week, too. But Ike has made every practice this week and has been full go. Last week obviously was day-to-day and we were monitoring what he did, but I think he's going to be near 100 percent, as well. We at least come into this weekend being as close to 100 percent as we can.

Q. Can you hit that shot any time you want still?
STEVE ALFORD: No, no, and it hurts a lot more. It hurts a lot more.

Q. I was going to ask you to compare I guess the growth of De'Aaron Fox from when you played them in December. How has his game matured?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, we thought he was awfully good when we were in Lexington in December, and I think he's just continued to get better. He obviously is like a lot of freshmen, they look one way in December and by the time they get to March, it's not just their skill set, but now you combine their skill set with some experience. And so now that's what you're doing. He's got experience now. He knows what this is about now. He knows what road games are about. He knows what tournament play is about. But he's just such an elite skill set as a ball handler, and his speed and quickness to get by people, you just don't see very often. He's like a lot of them that are elite like he is. As they get older, it seems like they just get better. He's one of those guys that he looks a lot better now than what he did in December, and we had a awful lot of respect for him in December. He had a really good game against us in December.

Q. How much different is your team from that first match-up?
STEVE ALFORD: That's a good question. You know, I think both of our teams are better. I think when you look at the December game, we had 18 turnovers. I'm sure Cal was probably disappointed with some things that his team did in that game, as well. I just think we're better. They've won 13 straight. I think we've won 12 out of 13 or 13 out of 14, if I'm not mistaken. So you've got two teams that have really settled into their identity of being up-tempo, fast-paced, very skilled players that are playing the game at a fast pace and making decisions.

I've always said it, it's one thing to play up-tempo, it's another thing to play up-tempo and yet under control. We had nine turnovers in the first two rounds in the NCAA Tournament. That's unheard of playing as fast as we want to play. And that's going to be a big key in tomorrow's game, as well.

I don't think we're going to feel very good if we've turned it over 18 times like we did in December. So I think we've gotten better at taking care of the ball. We've gotten better defensively, and I'm sure Cal thinks, and at least on film it looks that way to us, they've improved in a lot of areas, as well.

Very similar, though, in that both teams love transition. I think first game was 25-21 us in transition. That's a lot of transition points. I think both coaches feel pretty good about their transition offense. They probably feel better about their transition defense than what we did in December.

Q. When you look at that match-up or when the bracket was released and you saw that you could play Kentucky in this round, what were your thoughts, and also looking forward you've got North Carolina here, too. What's that say about the strength of this regional?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, I think more than -- initially you only look at that first bracket, and because I've been doing this long enough, you start looking ahead at different brackets and what region you're in and those type of things, you end up not even getting to that point. We really focused on that bracket. Now, obviously as coaches you start looking ahead, and okay, what region are we in? And we saw that we're in the South, but if we were fortunate enough to get to the Regional round, there was a good opportunity we were going to be seeing Kentucky and the likes of North Carolina. And then obviously Butler has a tremendous culture.

So when you look at this region, I think it's the only region that went chalk in 1, 2, 3, 4. Obviously there's opinions and arguments, but we feel like this is obviously the toughest region, and you're probably going to have to play not just good basketball, but you're going to have to play very good basketball because all four of these teams are capable of advancing to the Final Four.

Q. You talked about De'Aaron Fox being a great player and a freshman. You've got one yourself that everybody is looking at. What is it like as a coach to coach a guy like that, and how do you guys kind of mind-meld to try to get what you want done on the court?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, I've been fortunate. I've been doing this long enough that I've had a lot of special players, a lot of great players that I've been able to coach and be around. Zo is just one of those elite guys that, not only does he have a phenomenal skill set, but he said it after our game against Cincinnati, that he felt like he had a good feel. And I interrupted him in the press conference, and I said, no, no, no, you have a great feel. It's one of those -- I've had very few times in a 26-year career where I've actually taken a pause in games and said, what do you think? Because I trust him that much, that he has such an unbelievable feel to the game. It's like, what do you want? What do you want to do defensively here? What do you want to do offensively?

So that trust factor from coach to your point guard is at a really high level, and he's just -- he's a teammate -- it goes all the way back to like a McDonald's All-American game. You had guys, Josh Jackson, you had several guys after that that were interviewed saying, who wouldn't way to play with that guy? And our guys top to bottom would tell you the same thing. He's just a tremendous teammate to play with because he thinks teammate first. And there's a lot of point guards out there that think teammate first, but they can't think teammate first and then make that teammate look really good next. He can do that. His passes are on point. His passes are timely. And then his shots that he takes, he's got a really good feel on when to go to his 3 ball and when to go to the rim, and he's really improved defensively with his activity as the season has gone along.

They don't come around very often, especially at 6'6", long, athletic, running the point. I think he's just a very special talent, and a lot of that goes not just because of his skill set but because of how smart he is. He's a very smart basketball player.

Q. There aren't a lot of Regionals ever where North Carolina-Butler would be kind of the opening game of the night, but as someone who grew up in Indiana, played at Indiana, played Kentucky on a regular basis and now works where you work, something about the UCLA-Kentucky thing has kind of a special sizzle to it. Is that the way you see it, or are we seeing too much into it?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, the neat thing is you've got the two programs that have the most National Titles in UCLA and Kentucky. And I give Cal that credit. He reached out to me, it had to be three years ago when we got into the Champions Classic with Carolina, with Ohio State, Kentucky and ourselves. And we've kind of been doing a round-robin for three years, and that'll start up again next year in three different cities than what we've had the previous three so we continue that. And when he called me about that, he also talked about a home-and-home, and obviously a lot of our talk as we started talking about that was what that meant for our fan bases. The Kentucky fan base to have a UCLA coming into Rupp, and for our fan base at UCLA in Westwood to have a team like Kentucky coming into Pauley Pavillion. So it just seemed like a great match-up of two bluebloods that have had tradition like no other, long before I was at UCLA or even Cal was at Kentucky.

I appreciate him reaching out and agreeing to do it because I think it's been a really good series, if anything, for our fans, and now here we are in a another neutral sitting. We've done the neutral setting in Chicago, which I'd just as soon forget, and then we've done the home-and-home, and here we are in a another neutral sitting in the NCAA Tournament. We've done the home-and-home, we've done the preseason stuff, and now here it is in the postseason.

Q. When you think of Adebayo, Fox and Monk, what are the first things that come to mind?
STEVE ALFORD: Elite. They're top of the food chain. We've got great respect. It obviously starts there. It doesn't finish there because they've got other components to their team that make them very, very special. But with Bam you've got an elite center, great athletic ability that can beat you in a lot of ways. He's averaging 14-14 in the tournament. You've got Fox, who can break down just about any defense that he's gone against, and Monk is one of the most prolific scorers in our game today.

Those three are very special. They're very elite. And those are three of the reasons -- there's many more reasons, but those are three very good reasons why they're in the position they're in.

Q. On top of the chance to make it to the Elite 8, knowing that your son and Isaac are graduating and Lonzo and maybe others are leaving, how does that affect the importance of a game like tomorrow to you?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, it's one of those things where you almost don't want to think about it just because I've said it all along, I love this team. The character of this team has been phenomenal. The blending of the vets with the new guys has been a lot of fun to see that happen, all the way back from the summer months where we were getting ready. It's just been a fun team, and we've just had so much fun not just in games and winning games but our practices, shoot-arounds like this, bus rides with Zo playing his music, trying to get Tommy Welsh's one country music in, having conversations like that on the bus, TJ Leaf trying to get a date with Taylor Swift. It's just been a fun team.

So when you're a part of that, you don't ever want it to end, so there's an urgency, one, as coaches in preparation, but then as a team you want to relax them, too, so they don't feel it. But we were here three years ago with a great team and Bryce was a freshman. We were talking about that today before our shootaround. He's the only one from that team because Isaac was ineligible to travel with us that year. Bryce and Isaac have been a part of a lot of things for us, and we appreciate everything that they've built, so you want them as seniors as well as this team to try to continue to play and do this as much as we can because we have so much fun.

Q. Lonzo, do you put any pressure on yourself any more than what it seems like the whole world is putting on you? How do you feel about that?
LONZO BALL: I just go out there and play basketball. I enjoy playing the game, and I try not to listen to the distractions.

Q. Is there anything like the coach says, he sometimes asks you what do you think on a play, and because he respects your basketball IQ. A little bit about how you developed that and your relationship with Coach Alford and getting things done on the court?
LONZO BALL: I think it's just playing point guard my whole life. I see things before they happen and I kind of have a good feel for the game. As far as Coach Alford goes, he's a players' coach, and I'll do anything for him.

Q. How are you different than when you played Kentucky in December, and how much more sophisticated is your game maybe than it was then?
LONZO BALL: I think we picked up a lot on defense. Our defense was way better than it was back then, and if we want to win, we can't give up 92.

Q. Lonzo, I know you're focused on this game, but you have to play with a real special guy named Nnamdi Okongwu. What was your relationship with him like, and have you thought about him at all during this run, and if you have, what comes to mind about the special times that you did have with him?
LONZO BALL: Yeah, Nnamdi was one of my best friends, and when he passed, it kind of hit me kind of hard. I pray to God every day and talk to him. I just know he's in a better place right now.

Q. How special is this time? You know he would have played at this level, too, and I'm sure you guys spent some awesome times together on the basketball court. Does part of you feel like you're playing for not only him but yourself throughout this tournament?
LONZO BALL: Yeah, man, and he has a little brother, so I talk to him all the time. He plays in Chino Hills, so we stay in touch. He's like a brother to me too. Like I said, I know he's in a better place, and I know he's looking over me.

Q. Do you ever think about you're in a blueblood program as a lot of people like to call it, Kentucky is a blueblood program and you guys are carrying on a tradition that's been at the top of basketball? How does that feel playing on a team like UCLA and playing in a game like this against another program that's storied like yourself?
TJ LEAF: I mean, it's huge. You look at the history for both programs. Just us, we have 11 National Championships, that in itself, makes it so much more fun of a match-up because of the history behind both programs and how successful they've both been.

LONZO BALL: Same thing. Obviously they're rich in tradition. We are, too. It's always going to be fun when the two match up.

Q. Knowing Coach has never been past the Sweet 16 and knowing Bryce and Isaac aren't going to be here next year, who knows who else won't be here next year, how much does that add to the importance for you guys to do it for Coach?
LONZO BALL: It's very important. We always go out there trying to win, and I don't think we've beat another team like that in while. It's a very good team, so I think it's our opportunity, and we've got to take it.

TJ LEAF: Yeah, it's very important. I don't know if it's just for those guys, but we all want to win every time we set up on the court, especially a big match-up like this. We're all very competitive and we don't even think about losing, we just want to win. So we're just going to go out there and give it our all.

Q. Lonzo, do you really pick your spots out there because it seems like you take over games in the second half, kind of play how you see it in the first half? Is that playing or are you just playing how you go?
LONZO BALL: That's how I take what the game gives me. I know when I can get going and I try to get my teammates going first because I know I can pick it up when I need to, and it definitely helps when they're on.

Q. Lonzo, a year ago before you two guys came in, the team was 15-17. Did you know that you two when you came in were going to have this kind of impact on the Bruins' results?
LONZO BALL: Well, I know what I can do on the court and quickly found out what TJ can do on the court. We played in high school, I think he averaged like 40 and 20. I knew he would be a big help and Ike as well, and when you mix the young guys with the old guys and make something great, and that's what we have.

Q. Lonzo, you've got big guys who can shoot that tend to spread the floor and open up things for you. How important is that going to be in Friday's game?
LONZO BALL: That helps a lot. With Kentucky, they block shots with the best in the country. So it helps when you've got a 5 man and a 4 man that can stretch him out a little bit. Yeah, it helps my game tremendously, just they always spread out of the court. TJ can hit threes, Tom 17 foot. It helps a lot?

Q. You guys mentioned this season it was a mix of young and old guys coming together. At what point in the season do you guys think that you really clicked, that it all came together, the adjustment period was over and you guys really felt good?
TJ LEAF: I don't know if there's just one specific point. I think our foreign trip in the summer helped quite a bit on that. We got to know each other really well off the court and got some well-played games on the court against grown men, so I think that helped a lot. But just as the season went on and we got -- we have almost 100 practices under our belt with the 30-plus games, I think just as time went on we just got to know how to play with each other, and off the court we all became really close, and I think that helps, as well.

Q. Lonzo, can you talk a little bit about the difference in De'Aaron Fox from the first time you played, talk about his game and how it's changed from when you look at him on film?
LONZO BALL: De'Aaron is a great player, one of the best guards in the country hands down. It's a tough match-up, got to come ready to play because I know he is.

Q. Lonzo, your father has made a lot of statements about your ability, and I just wonder, is it a challenge for you to keep focused on the game at hand when your father makes as many headlines as he has?
LONZO BALL: No, not at all. It's pretty normal for me. He's been talking like this since I've been born, so it's nothing new for me, y'all get to see it for the first time, and he's always on TV. That's the only difference?

Q. Steve talked about how much he enjoys your team here, and just moments ago he hit a half-court shot, all net. I saw the reaction of the players. What's your feeling about having him as a players' coach if that's how you would describe him, and also the fact that he can still shoot the basketball?
TJ LEAF: I mean, just last maybe two weeks ago, I was shooting free throws and he was just behind me shooting threes. He made literally like 50 out of 52. So he can still -- I mean, he can probably beat most of us in horse. But other than that, he can't do a whole lot. But it's great playing for him. We have a lot of fun with him. He's definitely a players' coach. He asks what we see on the court. He asks our opinions on things. And he's just a joy to play for.

LONZO BALL: And we've been shooting half-court shots all year. That's like his first make.

TJ LEAF: Don't let it fool you.

Kentucky's Pre-UCLA Press Conference Quotes

John Calipari

Derek Willis

Dominique Hawkins

Mychal Mulder

Memphis, Tennessee

Q. Dominique, what's the difference between the Kentucky team that lost to UCLA in December and the team that will face them tomorrow?
DOMINIQUE HAWKINS: Yeah, I feel like this team, we definitely focus more on our defense, and our defense has definitely improved. Earlier on, I felt like we just broke down a lot, and it was early in the season, so you have a lot to change early on.

Q. Derek, what does playing tight tournament games do for you guys, particularly the last game against Wichita State? Do you derive anything that you can use going forward?
DEREK WILLIS: I think it just started back in the season. Honestly when people were kind of concerned we weren't beating teams by 20, 30 points, and we'd come away with probably six, ten-point margins, and not typical leads we would finish games with, but still, I think it just prepared us for postseason play and being in environments. Every environment we went and played in was crazy. It all just prepared us for postseason. And taking away from last weekend, the same exact thing, felt comfortable in situations, and I think that's just kind of how we've been prepared all season long, so yeah.

Q. Derek, it seems like you guarded TJ Leaf quite a bit in that first match-up against UCLA. What do you remember about his game, and what do you have to do better this time around against him?
DEREK WILLIS: Yeah, I think after the UCLA game, I think back in the fall or whenever we played them, I kind of like -- I don't want to say I took him for granted, I just didn't know all the things he could do. And he kind of surprised me in a sense. I feel like we played sort of similar, and he's a good player. So just got to take it how it is, and I feel like we're peaking at the right time. We're playing really well, and a lot of us are playing the best basketball we've ever played. It'll be a fun game tomorrow, though. It'll be fun.

Q. Derek, this is kind of an interesting location, just for you guys' head coach, Coach Cal. He spent a lot of time here in Memphis. What's the reception been like for you guys as a team and how have you enjoyed your experience the last few days?
DEREK WILLIS: Reception for us has been great. I feel like everybody that we've passed by, they've been smiling and saying congratulations, good luck, all that type stuff. Went out to eat the other night, people were fine there, and in public, everything has been awesome, honestly. It's just been cool, yeah.

JOHN CALIPARI: We're excited to still be playing.

Q. When you first think of Bam and Fox and Monk, what are some of the first things that come to mind?
JOHN CALIPARI: Special talents, beautiful spirits, and they -- teammates, sharers. There's a lot of stuff that these kids do together, and it's really unique.

Q. The elephant in the room for all of us here, all the people in Memphis, you've been back in town several times either recruiting or seeing old friends, and I believe this is your first public appearance back in Memphis. Some fans love you, some fans don't. Is there anything you have to say to those fans after it's been, what, seven, eight, nine years now since you left, and some of them want to hear one more thing from you to close this deal out.
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we met with friends last night. We had a reception, and a couple hundred people were there, and we got to really touch and feel and thank those people, and it was a special night. Ellen and I loved our time here, and it was a special time. I say this over and over again. This is not the kind of place where one person can do something. You have to all be together, and this community and the administration, the school just all came behind all of us, and it was a terrific ride. We loved our time here.

And I understand some people were upset that I left. I get that. I mean, and I accept that. It doesn't bother me. I know last night we had a couple hundred people in that room, and close to tears, all of us, because we enjoyed the ride together. You know, it's kind of special to be back. Been back many times, many, many times, but this is the first time coaching in this building since I left.

I think we did all right here. Had some good times.

Q. Were you offended at all when the University, seemed like they were going to celebrate your last year and then decided not to? Did that bother you at all?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, I was fine. I mean, like I said, we had a good time here, and that was during my enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, and there was not a whole lot that was going to steal my joy, and so it was fun. I know it was driven by some people, and that's fine. I mean, it's -- nothing can take away from the players, the coaches or any of us. Our friends last night, what that ride was about and what it meant.

Q. According to the numbers, this team of yours plays faster than some of the ones in the past. Is that because of the personnel or is it because of something you emphasize?
JOHN CALIPARI: We've got really fast players, and so you try to play to your strengths. But a lot of people have slowed us down. They've not let us play fast.

Early in the year, we were playing way faster than we are now. Some of that is because of how people are playing us. I'm not sure UCLA will try to slow you down. Let's go. Let's play to 120. I don't think either one of us are going to change how we play. It's too late in the season.

But we've got players that can play fast because they can really run fast. If you can't run fast, you're not playing fast.

Q. You've talked at various times about tweaks and reboots and all that, but how much do you add during the course of a season, particularly since the last UCLA game? How much more sophisticated do you play now?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we've had to learn to grind it out. We had to change defensively because of how, when you watched that tape, what we were doing. We had to tighten our defense and do some things differently. Offensively we had to create opportunities that weren't going to be based on solely speed, and in that game, it kind of showed, but it was not only that game, there was a stretch of games: Kansas game and Florida on the road, Tennessee. I mean, there were a bunch of games, Georgia at home.

Our season is usually different because -- and I think UCLA went through the same thing. Early on, no one really knows you because we're all new. By the middle of the season, they start figuring you out and they've got 15, 18 tapes to look at, and they can say, okay, here's how you have to play them. And I think UCLA went through it when they hit their league. There were some teams that said, okay, this is how you must play them to have a chance to beat them. And that's what happened to us.

And then you have to say as a coach, okay, here's what they're doing to us, what do we have to do? And that's a normal season for us. That's every year that I've been at Kentucky, because we've had new teams every year.

Q. Derek just said that TJ Leaf sort of surprised him in the first match-up with all that he can do and the different aspects of his game. What do you have to do better against him this time around?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, he killed us on the backboard, too. It wasn't just what he did, but he was more physical than we had expected. He drove the ball more than we expected. That includes our staff, too, now. Again, we knew they were good. We didn't know how good they were. And I think a lot of teams in the country did not realize how good they were, how good their personnel is, how well they play together, how fit -- if you don't think they're physical, you're wrong. They're physical. So they're a terrific basketball team.

Q. Steve all Ford talked a lot about the meeting of the blueboods and all that, how grateful he was, how cool it is you guys have a series again. Can you talk about why that was important to you and talk about the fans and why the two programs with the most National Championships and how sexy it is for lack of a better word?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, they were one of the first teams I called when we were trying to put together the CBS Classic. We figured North Carolina, UCLA, and Kentucky should be in the same field, the same tournament, the same stuff together. Also, the history of both programs, you know, they deserved to play against each other. It's not about proximity, you're talking about two programs that have the most National Championships, the most wins; I would imagine NCAA appearances. I can go on and on and on.

And Steve and I are friends. I've known him for years. Always respected him as a coach, and I've respected him as a man. I know how he is with his family. I love seeing his dad. I just love that. I hate to tell you, his dad looks younger than he looks now after coaching UCLA a few years. My dad looks younger than I look after coaching Kentucky a few years. But I love seeing that. And he and I have known each other, and it's worked out for both.

Now, they've gotten the better of us the last few, so maybe worked out better for UCLA than us.

Q. Having freshmen who consistently stay one year at your program but also guys who carry you deep into the Tournament and have emotional experiences with, how does that affect your relationship with those guys that it's short?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, you know, I've heard people say, well, you can't create a relationship with a guy in a year. All I can tell you is anybody that goes and talks to our NBA guys or any of the players, this is a family, and they're fiercely, fiercely loyal. John Wall came back, and when he landed, the coach said he said, "I'm back home." DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony -- I can name any of the 30 guys. But we've had guys stay three years, four years like these guys. These three that were up here will have college degrees. You have guys that stayed one year that are coming back to finish up. Will they finish up right away? No. Brandon Knight has 60 college credits. He'll come back when he chooses to come back. Each of these kids have lifetime scholarships. If you choose to leave after a year, you can always come back. If you choose to say two years, three years, we're here for you. This is solely based on them, and that's why the relationships are the way they are.

Some people get married after six months because they know this person is more about me than himself, and I feel the same. We're getting married, and they're together 50 years. Others, you need three years to really start trusting each other. That's fine.

But you know, what we're doing here is right for these kids. I wish I could coach them four years. I wish I had some of the -- think of some of the teams I would have had if we had guys for four years. You don't think I want that? Oh, he wants everybody to leave. What, are you crazy? I'd love them to stay, but I'm not going to ask them to stay for me, and I'm not -- when kids choose to leave, it's based on what they want for themselves and their families.

Q. You honestly won a lot of games here. When you walk out there, there's no banner for the last time, and I'm wondering, given that they never proved that the University of Memphis knew anything or that you had anything to do with it, should that banner be hanging here? Have you thought about that?
JOHN CALIPARI: I haven't, but I would say that there's nothing that can take away what that run was about for all of us, including the city. It was a special time. I mean, special kids. Antonio Anderson last night hit me, and Robert Dozier hit me, and I know Chris Douglas is -- it's unfortunate, but I'll tell you what, that was a great run.

Q. Would you have done anything differently with the way you left and kind of the way you handled it or didn't handle it?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, I had been talked to probably by six other universities during my time here, and three had offered jobs and a couple I considered. But Kentucky is one that you leave for. It just is.

Could I have done -- I don't remember the whole -- it was eight years ago. I struggle to remember my players' names. I usually call them by numbers right now. So I don't remember all of it. But there was no intent to offend anybody. It was just -- it's Kentucky. It's Kentucky.

At the enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, I wish I would have said something different. When I talked to -- they asked me about Kentucky, being at Kentucky, what does it do? My intent was to say, the Power Five, to be able to be in those leagues, that's what the advantage is, and I can't remember exactly how I said it. I think I said something about a little table, and everybody became offended. And they could have been offended at UMass. But I didn't mean a program. This program and UMass became No. 1 in the country, both of them, No. 1 in the country.

What I meant was the Power Five advantage, if you've coached in any other league, is enormous. You must play a non-conference schedule if you're non-Power Five that's off the chain. You must win every league game. You've got to scratch and claw and do whatever to be significant. If you lose a league game, ask Gonzaga, all of a sudden they're saying Gonzaga shouldn't be a 1. Gonzaga is an outstanding team. They lose one game, and you're like, well, they're not that good. That's what I meant.

Never meant to offend, and at that time the question was about what has Kentucky done for you. We were in a Power Five. It gave you a chance to do what all these other teams have done over the years.

Q. You talked about the match-up with UCLA. Would you have expected to see them at this stage of the tournament, and what kind of a thing is this for fans, the two of you guys plus Kentucky here?
JOHN CALIPARI: They had the kind of season that if they hadn't lost in the tournament, their league tournament, I thought they were going to be a 1 seed, but I'm not going to get into the seeds over the years. But I can remember all of them, and if you ask me about them, I could tell you the disadvantage of a higher seed playing in California against UCLA. I remember that one, too. I remember a higher seed playing in Houston and playing Texas. In Houston?

I remember a higher seed playing Texas A&M in San Antonio. I remember being an 8 seed and having to play Wichita State. I'll remember all of them.

Playing this game is kind of how it played out. And I will say, I thought the Committee this year, because they were more transparent, it was the best -- the least arguments that we've ever had in the last eight years that I can remember. So I would tell them to be more transparent and keep being transparent. Talk about league tournaments before they're played, what is the significance of a league tournament this year? Tell us all.

The S curve, so that we all know. We can all see it. We can do an S curve. I mean, the more transparency, the less arguments, the less -- it's about the games.

This thing right here, other than I'm in Memphis, and I knew I would get some Memphis questions, this is about two unbelievably talented teams. That's what this is, and people are going to watch this game, not because I'm coaching and not because I came back to Memphis and not because Steve is coaching. They're going to watch it because this is a talented two teams. Both teams. And it should be a lot of fun.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Notes From Kentucky's 65-62 Win Over Wichita State

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Kentucky vs. Wichita State – NCAA Tournament Second Round
March 19, 2017, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, IndianapolisAttendance: 18,293

Final Score: No. 2-seed Kentucky 65, No. 10-seed Wichita State 62
Team Records and Series Notes:
·        Kentucky has won 13 in a row – its longest winning streak of the season -- and improved to 31-5 overall.
o   Kentucky reached 31 wins for the fourth time in the John Calipari era.
o   UK’s winning streak is the longest active streak in the country after snapping Wichita State’s nation-leading 16-game streak.
·        Wichita State concluded the season 31-5.
·        Kentucky leads all-time series 2-0. Both games occurred in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
·        Next for the Wildcats: UK will play in the NCAA South Regional Semifinal in Memphis on Friday.

NCAA Tournament Notes:
·        Kentucky made its national-record 56th NCAA Tournament.
·        Kentucky reached the Sweet 16 for the 25th time since 1975 (the first year that all teams in the tournament were required to win at least one game to advance to the Sweet 16), tied with Duke for the second-most appearances. (Duke is playing South Carolina for a Sweet 16 berth later on Sunday).
·        UK owns a 123-49 record all-time in NCAA action. 
·        Kentucky is 25-5 (.833) in NCAA Tournament games under Calipari.
·        In Calipari’s seven NCAA Tournament appearances with Kentucky, the Wildcats have reached the Sweet 16 on six occasions.
·        Kentucky is a No. 2 seed for the seventh time in program history.
o   UK is 21-6 as the No. 2 seed.
o   Kentucky improved to 3-0 as a No. 2 seed against a No. 10.

In the First Half:
·        Kentucky’s starting lineup featured De’Aaron FoxBam AdebayoMalik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis for the sixth game in a row.
o   Kentucky improved to 9-0 with that lineup.
o   Adebayo is the only Wildcat to have started all 36 games on the season.
·        Briscoe swished a 3-pointer with 11:00 left, continuing UK’s streak of 1,011 games with at least one triple. That’s the longest streak in the country.
·        Kentucky went on a 10-2 run over 3:34 to take a 14-8 lead at the 9:37 mark. That was UK’s largest lead.
·        Wichita State fought right back. The Shockers’ largest lead was by three with 2:57 to play in the second half.
·        Kentucky led 26-24 at the break.

In the Second Half:
·        After Wichita State edged ahead in the early going, Kentucky used a 7-0 run over 2:51 to take a 40-37 lead and force a Wichita State timeout with 13:07 on the clock.
o   Wichita State’s last lead of the game came at the 15:58 mark.
·        Kentucky took its largest lead of the game, seven: 58-51 at the 4:01 mark.
o   Wichita State scored the next five points to get within two with 2:30 to play.
·        Monk and Zach Brown then traded 3s. Then WSU’s Landry Shamet answered a Fox dunk with a 3 to close within one of UK at 63-62 with 55 seconds remaining.
·        The Shockers got no closer as Monk knocked down two free throws with 10 seconds to play.
·        Monk and Adebayo blocked Wichita State’s attempts on its last two offensive possessions, respectively.

Team Notes:
·        Kentucky’s 65 points was its season low.
o   UK’s 23 made field goals tied its season low for the sixth time.
·        Kentucky committed a season-low 11 fouls. 
·        Wichita State’s 14 fouls were the fewest by a UK opponent this year.
·        Wichita State scored 62 points. UK is 21-0 this season when opponents score 72 or fewer points.
o   During UK’s 13-game winning streak, it has held opponents to 70 points or less 10 times.
·        WSU shot 38.7 percent from the field. UK is 19-0 this season when the opponent shoots less than 43 percent.
·        Kentucky shot 41.8 percent from the field. 
o   Just shy of 42 percent, Kentucky entered 28-1 this season when shooting at least the 42-percent threshold.
·        Kentucky won steals 6-2. 
o   The two-teams tied with two steals apiece in the first half.
·        Calipari has a 693-192 (.783) on-court record, including a 248-52 (.827) mark at UK.
·        Kentucky improved to 146-5 under Calipari when holding the opponent under 63 points.

Player Notes:  
·        Freshman De’Aaron Fox tied Malik Monk for the team-lead with 14 points.
·        Fox led Kentucky in scoring for the fifth straight game.
·        Freshman Bam Adebayo had his eighth double-double of the year – 13 points, 10 rebounds.
·        His 28 rebounds through the first two rounds are the most ever by a Wildcat in his first two NCAA Tournament games (originally noted by the SEC Network).
·        Per ESPN Stats and Information he became the second UK player since tournament expansion in 1985 with a double-double in each of his first two NCAA Tournament games (Julius Randle 2014).
·        He became the third Kentucky player overall to have double-doubles in each of his first two NCAA Tournament games (1951 Frank Ramsey).
·        He has two double-doubles in a row, three double-doubles in the last five games, and five in the last nine.
·        He is averaging a double-double during UK’s 13-game winning streak (13.8 points, 10.5 rebounds).
·        With four dunks he now has 98 on the season, which is the Calipari-era record.
·        Freshman Malik Monk tallied 14 points, tied with Fox for the team high.
·        With his two free throws in the final seconds he tied and then passed Jamal Murray for the Kentucky freshman season scoring record. He has scored 721 points this season.
·        He reached double-figures for the fourth game in a row, and has scored in double digits in 34 of 36 games this year.
·        Senior Derek Willis was solid all around once again.
·        He scored nine points, grabbed eight rebounds, had a season-high and career-high-tying three steals, and blocked a shot.
·        He has 17 blocks over the last seven games.
·        Senior Dominique Hawkins scored seven points – all in the first half.
·        It was tied for the fifth-most points he has scored this season.