Monday, December 28, 2015

Tyler Ulis Tabbed SEC SEC Player of The Week

Tyler Ulis’ sensational performance in the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s victory over No. 16/15 Louisville was more than enough to earn him Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday. 

Ulis matched a career high with 21 points on a career-best four 3-pointers in the win over the Cardinals. The Chicago native also dished out a game-high eight assists, just one shy of matching a career best, and he committed just one turnover in 39 minutes of action.

The 5-foot-9 guard was named the Bluegrass Sports Commission Most Valuable Player of the game for the second straight season, becoming the first multi-year winner since the award’s inception in 2010.

In this year’s game, Ulis scored 12 first-half points to spark Kentucky to a halftime advantage. Ulis’ night was capped by a deep made 3 as the shot clock was winding down to give the Wildcats a four-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the contest.

Ulis was also named NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk’s national player of the week for his efforts.

In two career games against Louisville, Ulis has notched 35 points, 10 assists, one turnover and six made 3-pointers in 65 minutes.

Ulis also had a career day against UK’s other top-25 ranked opponent this season in Duke. In two games this season against top-25 opponents, Ulis has averaged 19.5 points, 7.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals per game and 1.0 blocks.

Over his last five games, Ulis is averaging 7.0 assists per game. For the season, Ulis is averaging 12.8 points, second best on the team, and a team-high 5.5 assists. He’s dished out five or more assists in eight of the 11 games he’s played in.

This week’s honor marks the second of the season for Ulis, who also won SEC Player of the Week on Nov. 23.

Kentucky has now won an SEC award a league-high five times and picked up an honor in all but two of the seven weeks they’ve been awarded by the league thus far. Ulis leads the Wildcats with two SEC honors. Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray have each been named SEC Freshman of the Week this season.

Kentucky returns home Saturday for its SEC opener vs. Ole Miss. That game will take place at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena on the SEC Network.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Kentucky vs. Louisville OFFICIAL Box-Score

Tyler Ulis Named MVP of Kentucky vs. Louisville Game

The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) named Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis the winner of its Most Valuable Player award of today’s men’s basketball game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Ulis also took home the award last year and becomes the first two-time recipient of the award since its inception in 2010. 

No. 11/12 Kentucky moved its record to a 10-2 with the 75-73 win over No. 16/15 Louisville who falls to 11-2 on the year. 

A native of Chicago, Ulis finished with a career-high 21 points and added a game-high eight assists in the two-point win. The 5-9 sophomore added one rebound, one steal and one block in the game.  

“The Bluegrass Sports Commission congratulates Tyler and the Kentucky Wildcats on their win,” said BSC President Brian Miller. “Today's game put the Commonwealth on center stage and showed the tremendous impact sports play in our communities.”

Ulis’ back-to-back honor (2014) adds him to the list of previous award winners including Josh Harrellson (UK-2010), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (UK-2011), Russ Smith (UofL-2012) and James Young (UK-2013).

This award winner, which is presented annually, was selected by a committee of the BSC Board of Directors.

UK/UofL Player and Coach Comments After Todays Game

John Calipari:

COACH CALIPARI: We spent two days doing all kind of drills to just loosen them up offensively. Let them shoot 3s in transition, getting back to how we play. We did a lot of screening in the last two, three days.

I really believe having Christmas off for these guys was great. Cleared the mind. Let's come back and let's do this. I've done that every year since I've coached. Part of it is for them, the other part is I like spending time with my on family.

But when we came back, we zeroed in on those areas and I thought it helped us today. But Louisville is a good team. They're well coached. Those guards are really, really good. The big kid, they were throwing it in and he scored on us. 10 rebounds, they out-rebounded us by 10 rebounds. We missed some free throws down the stretch and we had a chance to do some things, but it was a good ball game.

Q. Did you see the weakness in the zone for Alex Poythress in the first half? It looked like he really spurred the team from there on out?
COACH CALIPARI: We put Alex in the middle and told him to attack. That's what he did. Then I love the fact that Tyler(Ulis)  just threw him the ball down low and he posted and he was -- Alex is an elite athlete. Be that guy. Just play. Be that guy. Did you see the block he had coming down in front of our bench? It was ridiculous. Only Superman can make that play. And he made it.

So, again, we're still coming along. Skal (Labissiere), I wanted to leave him in the game. That one rebound he could not bring in. We got to win the game. I told him, you're getting better, you're way better, let's just keep this going and see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about putting Alex on Marcus Lee on that last possession for Louisville.
COACH CALIPARI: It was a switch. They switched out. That's what happened. We were just -- we told them to, if he comes off, just someone else take him. We were going to -- as a matter of fact, the goofy coaches, we were thinking about trapping a pick and roll. So thank God they didn't pick-and-roll because someone would have made a three and we would have lost by one. But I just didn't want to sit there and let them dictate what was going to happen. So, if they had gone pick-and-roll, we were trapping.

Q. Talk about the importance of Dominique's (Hawkins) offense other than when he passed up that last shot, but the shots that he made –
COACH CALIPARI: I had a flashback. What was the flashback to? What game? Oh my gosh -- how do you remember all this? And then what happened? The other guy came down and banged a three and we lose by one. Why do you bring that up?

He played good. He played good. We got to get Jamal (Murray).  Jamal's got to try to make easy plays. He's still trying to make the most difficult play. But he's going to be fine. He made 3s that really broke open the game. He's a great free throw shooter who went 3-for-6. So his numbers -- the turnovers, a lot of the stuff he tried to go all the way into the middle of the lane before he passed. He really didn't need to. And it's stuff that just we got to show him on tape and correct and that.

But it's great win for this group. They do know this is who we have to be and how we have to play. That kind of energy, that kind of aggressiveness, that kind of attack, that kind of loose offensive, how we played. And again, that's against a really good team. That team, Louisville's going to do damage and I don't know how we'll finish, but they will be one of those teams left standing. We may have them again.

Q. What did you think of the atmosphere tonight, especially at the end of the first half after the technical foul?
COACH CALIPARI: This is Rupp Arena. This is what Rupp Arena is. I just look up, I think it's 2:22, to make sure there's people in those upper deck seats and there are. They're packed in there. So we're good.

Q. How did you see -- what did you see that was different about Tyler today. It seemed like finally whatever's been bothering him, whether it's elbow or something else, he shook it off and also why was he taking the ball out so much?
COACH CALIPARI: Because I knew he would get it in (the bucket). And then we could get it back to them. The way they play, that guy, you can throw it back to him. So, they didn't -- even when they put a guy on the ball, that guy usually is trying to trap. So, that's why we did it.

I'm giving them two days off. They get the rest of today off. And they get tomorrow, we're going to have dinner and watch the tape at my house. And then we start up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and we're going, two-, three-a-days. We're going every -- just throw your phones out, throw your computers out, because it's on. We have to get better.

And what we're going to do -- I mean, I did two things. I'm mad at myself. The 3-point shooting stuff I should have done all year. It should have been who we were. I should have known we were struggling shooting 3s. You got to free up their minds.

And the second thing was screening and making Skal screen. I'm telling you, Ty (Wynyard) screens. Like he screens. He screens. His man, your man, and your the guy coming off, y'all get screened. And Isaac (Humphries) is the same.

So, now we're doing a better job. Alex (Poythress) did a better job. Alex is in a great frame of mind. You have it to understand, before the Ohio State game he didn't practice for four straight days. I could have told you what was going to happen in that game to him. I could have told you. And I told him. You were injured, you had to take the days off, but that's who you are. When you take days off, you come back, that's what you look like. He's practiced, when we came back and he went hard and he's really proud -- I'm really proud of him.

Q. What have you done or how have you talked to Tyler about his leadership style in terms of what players he might be able to go harder on, who he might need to kind of cajole?
COACH CALIPARI: I let him figure it out because they're in that lodge together. They know who they can get on. And my staff's saying I'm too hard on Skal, and I need to back up. But I said, you know, I talked to the team about it and the reason is, if I'm going to be hard on Derek Willis, and I'm going to be hard on Dom (Dominique Hawkins), if I'm not hard on Skal, they got to know why. Maybe he can't handle it as much. You know what I'm saying? He's growing, the growing pains of this. And that was my staff. So I still kill them today, but.

This is a work in progress. It's funny, we walked in, no Isaiah (Briscoe). What? What happened? He stepped on a foot. What? Where? On the way into the building. What? And then we got to figure it out. But this guy, that may have brought us together, who knows. It may have helped us.

Q. You're saying he got hurt not in the pre-game warmups?
COACH CALIPARI: He did, he stepped on somebody's foot. I wasn't out there.

Q. So is it a twisted ankle?
COACH CALIPARI: I guess. He'll probably go X-ray it.

Q. Tyler played almost 40 minutes. Is he just a superior conditioned athlete or he plays through that fatigue or how is he able to do that?
COACH CALIPARI: He was cramping up. I was just trying to get out of the game. That's all I was trying to do. One of the things that I saw,the players at Louisville were playing 29 minutes a game -- and not the Michigan State game. That game they played 39 and 37 -- and so I said, if they're not subbing theirs, I'm not subbing mine. They're not in better shape than us. So he didn't sub his, I'm not subbing mine. Now, you know, I thought Jamal tired out a little bit. I thought Dom really fought. But Tyler figured it out. With a minute to go, whatever it was, he was cramping, I said, can you get through this? He said, I got this.

Q. I think I remember you saying Isaiah's one of the toughest the grittiest guys you got.
COACH CALIPARI: I was surprised he didn't play. But I walked in, I said, are you going to give it a try? He said, let me go out there. They came back in and said, he doesn't want to start. I looked at him and I said, do you think you're going to play the second half? He said, I don't think so. Then I had no intention of playing him after he said, I don't think so.

Q. I wonder what you think about how much grit you guys showed without him?
COACH CALIPARI: I hope he didn't get Wally Pipped. Decide to take a day off and all of a sudden -- who is the player? Lou Gehrig. Well, he's saying it's Dom. No, I don't think Dom can hit a baseball. But you know -- I'm teasing him. He knows. He's a fighter. Now what he'll do is he'll come back and kill people next week, if his ankle is healthy. Because that's how he is. The other one, I wanted to play Derek more. I think Derek gives us another threat. We can space the court. You must play him. You can't say, like Ohio State, just don't go guard the guy. No, this, you know you have to go play him. But he's got to rebound. And there were two or three big huge rebounds that we could have got the game to 16 or 18 and put it away. And he just didn't get the ball. Like I said, that's what we're working on with him. But I'm proud of him and what he did. That three he hit at the end of the half was huge. It really started shifting the momentum of the game.

Q. Forgetting about the flashbacks of what he passed up, talk about Dominique Hawkins’ game. He hits huge shots, it's a career high, the lift he gave the crowd went crazy.
COACH CALIPARI: Never changed his emotion the whole time. He defended, he'll fight like crazy, he's got a great temperament, a great demeanor. One of the great kids of all time. I mean literally one of the great kids. He's kind of like Alex, you want him to do so well, but they got to do it. You can't do it for them, you could wish it, you could hope it, you could say that's the guy you really want to make it. But they got to go do it. They got to go fight. Telling them -- part of our issue, and I said this, is our -- we needed enthusiasm and I thought we had it today and we had it for two days in practice. I demanded it. But it's kind of like we're saying, we're throwing you a life raft, but you got to swim. Like, you got to swim. And I said, and all you guys on the boat that threw the life raft, you got to say, swim. Come on, baby, you can do it. There's a shark behind you. Swim. Or you could sit on the boat and look around at each other and say, do you see that shark behind him? The shark's going to get his leg. You watch this. Watch this. Watch it. The enthusiasm that we need for each other -- and that's the story I told them -- they think I'm crazy. But enthusiasm matters. Fight matters. Obviously you got to have a skilled team and good players and I think we do, but.

Q. That makes Tyler Ulis Michael Phelps. Take us through that, the deep 3 he hit when the shot clock running down and he's out by the logo.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, courage. Courage. He's not afraid to miss. I've said to all these guys, the guys that make game winners or make big plays that are like just the knife in the back, they're not afraid to miss that shot. The guy that's afraid to miss it will ball fake it and take a tough one. That I was trying to draw a foul. No, you weren't. No, you weren't. You did not want to take that open shot, so you ball faked, you drove and you threw a lefty up and then look like I got fouled. The guy -- I had Sam Cassell. That's when I said, Sam, you, like you like throw daggers, what is it? He said, I'm not afraid to miss. If I miss, I go to the next game and I'll try to throw a dagger next game. If I miss that one, I know eventually I'm going to make it, because I'm not afraid to miss it. And that's Tyler.

Q. Jamal had the big second half against Ohio State and then struggled today. Alex I think you said struggled, then big game today. How much going into each game are you kind of looking to see what am I going to get today how am I going to handle it?
COACH CALIPARI: No, I'm not. I'm trying to get them to play the way I'm asking them to play. If I'm getting that they don't have to make every shot. It's like I told Derek, he missed that three in front of our bench, I don't care about that. It was the rebound you didn't get the play before that cost us a basket and one. I can't leave you in the game. Like if you rebound the ball, you can miss a shot. It's even. Even Steven. But, you don't get the rebound, and you miss the shot, and you get beat on defense, I can't leave you in. Oh, he takes him out. No, I'm trying to win. You won't believe this. We're trying to win the game.

So they understand it. And I told them and he's, he's doing great. He's practicing good. I would like him to be our stretch four. I like him to be Alex's sub. I would like Skal or one of those bigs to be Marcus Lee's sub. I would like Dom, Charles Matthews, to be that guard sub. That's who I would like. But they got to do it. They got to earn it.

Q. Speaking of enthusiasm, your kids did respond, could have been a coincidence after the T, what was going well for you in that stretch when you built that big lead?
COACH CALIPARI: I think he got a T, too, didn't he? Mine was not deserved. His probably was deserved. I don't know. I'll watch the tape. Merry Christmas, everybody.

                                                   Kentucky Players:

#3, Tyler Ulis, G:

On the win …
“It was a great team performance and we came out with a lot of energy from the jump ball. As a team I feel like we played really hard and that’s what got us the win.”
On his made deep 3 in the second half with the shot clock running out …
“The clock was running down. I had no choice but to shoot it. I shot it in rhythm and it went in.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ performance … “Great performance with Zay (Briscoe) being out. He came in and hit two big free throws that probably put the game away for us.”

On UK’s veterans playing well …
“I realized late in the first half and early in the second that Alex had it going and that they could not guard him. Alex knew they couldn’t guard him. We kept going through him.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F:

On the stretch where he had an assist and three straight layups ...
"We just tried to have energy. We ended the first half with energy and so we tried to play that way in the second half."

On playing tougher today ...
"Every time we want to come out and make a statement. This is a big rivalry and we wanted to make a statement. We came out and wanted to compete."

On UK’s veterans stepping up ...
"This is the kind of game that veterans have. We have played Louisville before and the freshmen may not know how big of a game that it is. We had to step up and they will figure out that in big games you have to make plays."

#25, Dominique Hawkins, G
On the game …
“It was a big game, I’m so glad I was able to get the opportunity to play in this game today. I’m blessed. This was a huge rivalry game and I know what it means to Kentucky folks so I think everyone is pretty happy today.”

On what made him play so well today …
“I had a good warmup plus this was a big game. I feel like I play better on bigger stages as well. I was also very confident today. Every shot I threw up I thought it was going to go in.”

On his thoughts after being told Briscoe wasn’t playing today …
“I was thinking that it is my shot and I would probably get a lot of playing time today, which I did. Briscoe would have been great for this game getting in the lane and getting open shots for people as well.”

On the atmosphere in Rupp Arena …
“It was insane. I think it was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in to be honest. Definitely at Rupp.”

                             Louisville Assistant Coach Ralph Willard:

Opening statement…
“I thought our guys did a great job coming out and competing in the second half.  They made some really, really tough shots, shots that normally you wouldn’t want to take in that kind of situation. But they made them and you’ve got to give them credit.  They did a great job.  We fought 3s that they made in the last 10 minutes of the second half and that really, really hurt us.  And the shot clock, inside the six seconds, they had the fortitude to bang them.  So very difficult for our guys, proud of the fact that they came back and battled.  Now we’ve just to work.  The important thing at this time of the year is, ‘Why?’ Not ‘what.’ So we’ve got to go back and look at the form and dissect it and figure out why that happened.”

On the strategy for the last play of the game…
“Well, we were looking for Damion (Lee) off the high screen. They did a good job; they switched and we had Nanu (Onuaku) posting up inside.  If they did switch, we had to throw inside, unfortunately.  The guy did a great job of switching to Damion and he didn’t and see it and took, unfortunately, a less than perfect shot.”

On the bench’s attitude when down by 16 points…
“It was just a matter of getting stops.  We weren’t getting stops.  The last three minutes of the first half until the first two and half minutes of the second half, we weren’t getting stops.  And we just started to make a few adjustments in the zone and it worked out pretty well.  And our guys just dug in.  I mean, these kids have character.  This team is not going to surrender. They’re never going to surrender. And we had a chance to come back and win the game, which is what you want in a game on the road against a very good basketball team.  But I guess, they made some really tough shots so you have to give them credit for it.  It takes a lot to make those shots.”

On Onuaku’s foul trouble early on…
“It kills us.  But unfortunately it’s been a recurring story.  Not the kind of fouls (you want), both of them were offensive.  I don’t know how we got the second one on a handoff, so I don’t see how that happened.  But the bottom line is we need him in the game.  We can’t pull him out and play three or four minutes in the first half. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.  You’ve got to adjust, and we have adjusted up until the last three minutes of the first half.”

On the team’s maturity…
“Yeah, you know, this team is really together.  A lot of young guys who are trying to feel their way. Damion is hurt obviously, so he’s just getting back into shape.  And those guys provide great leadership to the younger guys.  They really do.  And they’ve been really positive and will continue to be positive as we move forward into the ACC.”

On how the freshmen are playing…
“We believe they’re further along than they were.  The biggest thing with these freshmen is getting them experience.  Unfortunately we have a schedule…when you schedule the teams that you’d like and unfortunately for us the teams didn’t present as big a challenge as we would have liked.  So they got experience, but they didn’t get the experience of fight.  This was an experience of fire.  This was an experience of fire.  Michigan State was an experience of fire. So we fight and we find out that basically, our freshmen have ability but they’ve got to get experience.”

On going into ACC play…
“I think we know we have character.  We know we have fight.  We know that we have guys that play for one another and are very unselfish.  The thing we’ve got to continue to get better at is expanding our offensive game, getting the ball inside a little bit more. Hopefully we will make an attempt to do that as we move into the ACC season.  But we’re looking forward to the season.  We think we’ve grown and we need to continue to grow. And like I said, we need to find out why the Michigan State loss happened and why the UK loss happened.  If we do that, we’re going to continue to get better, which is the name of the game.  It’s all about heart.  Not minimalizing what happens now, but the goal is to continue to get better as March approaches and that’s going to be our goal.”

On if they thought about getting out of zone…
“Well, we did play some man and the zone is a match up. Look, they had four of the deepest 3s and you have to give them credit. But if you had to say would you want UK to be going inside in that situation or would you want to take a 26-foot 3, well they want to take a 26-foot 3.”

On Tyler Ulis’ play
“He’s outstanding. If you looked at everything tonight he was the difference. It was a two-point game but he was the difference. He controlled it, he gave a lot of other people shots, and he made a lot of tough shots. He is a difficult guard to speed up and play against.  Again though, it’s five on five not one on five.”

On the team’s confidence after two road losses…
“No, I don’t at all. You are talking about two teams with RPIs in the top-10, road games two points in one game and we were winning until the last two minutes in one game. So no, I don’t think it’s a matter of taking hits at all.  It’s a matter of those kind of games helping you in your RPI.”

On Quentin Snider…
“Q played well. He backed off a few times of the 3s and that is just a matter of time and score. Q is going to continue to be a guy on our team that makes the team better. And again, he is a sophomore. He is continuing to get better game by game and day by day and week by week. We are very happy where Q is and we think he going to be better when we get into January and February.”

On Donovan Mitchell…
“Donovan is great. He comes off the bench and scores. He is a great athlete and he can get to the rim. He did a good job coming off the bench and giving some energy. Like a lot of freshmen, defensively, he’s got to continue learn to accomplish during a possession and with certain personnel.”

                                             Louisville Student Athletes: 

#0, Damion Lee, G:

On the game as a whole…
“It was a tough game. The first half we gave up a lot of baskets, a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of 3s. We weren’t really playing our game. We just didn’t execute down the stretch.”

On the last play of the game ...
“In my mind I didn’t want to leave the game in the refs’ hands knowing that we were down two. I am confident in myself and my game and I wanted to go for the kill.”

On what they learned from the game …
“We fight, but we have to end that fight with the end of the game. Our two losses were against two great teams and the games were both pretty balanced, but we came out with losses so for us it is finishing and executing later on down the stretch because in ACC play we are going to go up against some hostile teams.”

On the emotional effects of the game …
“For us we have to have more of a sense of urgency. That would be the emotion that I would give us. And what we do, preparation and execution when we are out there in the game.”

#45, Donovan Mitchell, G:

On the difference in the game …
“We came in the locker room and said this is not Louisville Basketball. We need to come out with more energy. We came in the second half like that. There were a few plays that were pretty good but we made a bunch of mistakes defensively. That’s one thing that we will work on when we get back. Just focusing on time and score and especially on the boards.”

On the 3 point shooting of UK …
“Yeah sometimes you have to live with those shots. Credit to them for knocking those down. Some of those shots were far away but we knew they were going to pull them. Coach even yelled ‘get up, get up.’ We were a little bit late getting there and those shots ended up costing us the game.”

On Chinamu Onuaku getting in early foul trouble …
“It showed today. Definitely having a player as dominant as him out the whole and we get down 10. He came in, he was aggressive in the second half, didn’t show any rust or anything. He just came in and took over and that was what we needed.” 

Some Notes From Kentucky's 75-73 Victory Over Louisville

Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Dec. 26, 2015
Attendance: 24,412

Final Score: Kentucky 75, Louisville 73
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is 10-2 on the season. Louisville is now 11-2.
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 34-15.
  • Next up for the Wildcats: Kentucky opens Southeastern Conference action by playing host to Ole Miss on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Series Notes Since the 1983 Renewal
    • UK leads 25-12 since the series was renewed in March of 1983, including 14-4 in Rupp Arena.
    • UK is 17-7 vs. UofL when the Cardinals are ranked.
    • UK is 21-6 vs. UofL when the Wildcats are ranked.
    • UK is 15-2 vs. UofL when both teams are ranked.
    • UK is 8-1 vs. UofL under Coach John Calipari and 12-5 vs. Rick Pitino.

In the First Half
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Tyler Ulis, Charles Matthews, Jamal Murray, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee for the first time this season.
  • Louisville scored the first basket before Kentucky scored six points in a row. UK capped the 6-0 run when Ulis made a 3-pointer, extending UK’s streak of 951 consecutive games with a triple.
  • After scoring a basket on their first possession, the Cardinals didn’t get another bucket for more than five minutes. UofL did make two foul shots during that stretch, but in the meantime, UK built a 13-4 lead.  
  • Trailing 17-12, Louisville put together a 12-2 run, including three consecutive 3-pointers, to go up 24-19. It was the visitors’ largest lead of the game.
  • Tied at 30 with 2:52 remaining in the opening period, a UK personal foul and technical foul sent UofL’s Damion Lee to the free-throw line, where he made four straight to give the Cardinals a 34-30 advantage. The Wildcats replied with a 14-2 spurt and went to halftime ahead 44-36.

In the Second Half
  • UK opened the second half with a layup by Lee and a layup/layup/dunk sequence by Poythress, giving the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 52-36 at 17:54.
  • After that, the Cardinals gradually cut into the UK advantage, coming within one at 65-64 with 5:34 to play.

  • With expiration of the shot clock looming, Ulis gave the Cats some breathing room with a long 3-pointer with 4:57 left.
  • Again with the shot clocking expiring, with 2:47 remaining, Dominique Hawkins made his third 3-pointer of the game to improve the edge to 73-68. Hawkins hit two foul shots with 1:57 to go to keep the lead at 75-70, UK’s last score of the contest.  
  • Louisville got a layup-and-one from Trey Lewis with 1:39 to go which proved to be the game’s final points. Louisville got two more chances but a turnover and missed three at the buzzer preserved the Wildcat win.  

Team Notes
  • With 2,187 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader in that category. 
  • UK extended its streak of 28 straight wins in Rupp Arena.  
  • Kentucky hit 11 3-pointers today, a season high for the Wildcats.
  • Louisville shot 42.9 percent from the field. UK has held the last 53 home opponents, and the last 81 non-conference home opponents, under 50 percent from the field.

Notes on Coach John Calipari
  • Coach John Calipari has a 645-180 (.782) all-time record, including a 200-40 (.833) mark at Kentucky.  
    • Calipari is 110-4 (.965) in Rupp Arena, including 62-1 (.984) against non-conference opponents.
  • UK is 29-6 in bounce-back games (after losses) under Calipari.
  • Calipari is the fifth coach to win 200 games at Kentucky, joining Adolph Rupp (876), Joe B. Hall (297), Orlando “Tubby” Smith (263) and Rick Pitino (219).
    • Kentucky is the first school with five coaches to win at least 200 games.  Four other schools have four coaches who have won at least 200 – Alabama, Kansas, Maryland and Villanova.  
  • Calipari has 200 wins at two schools, Kentucky and Memphis.  He is the 11th head coach in men’s Division I history to accomplish that feat.  The others are Jim Calhoun, Hugh Durham, Lou Henson, Neil McCarthy, Ralph Miller, Johnny Orr, Rick Pitino, Norm Sloan, Eddie Sutton and Roy Williams.
    • Calipari is the only coach in Division I history with at least 189 wins at three different schools, including his time at UMass.
  • Calipari is the second-fastest coach in Division I history to reach 200 wins at a school, hitting the mark in his 240th game at Kentucky.  Only Clair Bee, who earned 200 wins in his first 231 games at LIU-Brooklyn from 1931-41, did it faster.

Player Notes  
  • Senior Alex Poythress contributed 14 points, six boards and had a season-high three blocked shots.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray had 12 points, his 10th consecutive double-figure game.  
    • He has made at least one 3-point shot in every game this season, the first player in program history to make a triple in each of his first 12 games.
  • Junior Dominique Hawkins had a career-high 13 points. 
    • He had eight points in the first half, already surpassing his previous career best of seven.
    • He made 3 of 4 on 3-point shots, the first time he had made more than one triple as a Wildcat.
    • Hawkins is the first Kentucky native to score in double figures for the Wildcats against Louisville since Darius Miller did so in the 2012 Final Four.
  • Junior Marcus Lee had eight points and led the Wildcats with seven rebounds. After making 4 of 5 field goals today, Lee has made 26 of 34 (.765) shots in the last six games.
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis paced the Wildcats with 21 points, tying his career high set earlier this season against Wright State. 
    • He also tied a career high by making four 3-point shots, accomplished twice previously. 
    • Ulis had a game-high eight assists, just one shy of his career best.
    • He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. He is the first back-to-back winner since the award was instituted in Dec. 2010. In two games vs. Louisville, he has totaled 35 points, 10 assists, one turnover (65 minutes) and made 6 of 9 on 3-pointers.  
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe injured an ankle during pregame warmups. Briscoe, who had started the previous nine games, was replaced by fellow freshman Charles Matthews, who made his third start of the season.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kentucky PRE-Louisville Press Conference QUOTES (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

John Calipari

On taking a few days off… 
“I think every team that I’ve had it’s been a good time to get away. You know you go hard for a couple of months and you just get a couple of days away from each other, and you come back excited because it’s a long season. I mean, it’s a long season. We’ll practice later tonight when everybody gets in and probably not go long – an hour and a half. Then we’ll practice tomorrow and on Christmas Day to get ready. I think historically I’ve done this and it’s been a good thing.”

On whether or not this team needed a few days off… 
“It didn’t matter. We were going to do it anyway. Whether they needed it or not, I needed it.”

On if Skal Labissiere needed a few days to regroup … 
“I don’t think he’s – unless he’s reading stuff (it would mess with his psyche). Hopefully he’s not. What you find out is this is really hard, and it’s really hard here. It’s even doubly hard. For all of these guys, all of the freshmen – returning players now all of a sudden, ‘Wow, there’s more stuff on me.’  There’s a little of that awakening of, ‘Wow. We’ve really got to come back and regroup and get this thing right.’ ”

On what the players who were unable to go home did … 
“I think most of them went home, most of them did. They’re on their way back. I’m trying to think if anybody didn’t go home. I mean, obviously Tai (Wynyard) and Isaac (Humphries) didn’t go home. Isaac was with the family that he stayed with (in Indiana), I believe, and Tai was here. He had just gotten in.” 

On whether or not Wynyard worked out with anyone these last few days … 
“Kenny (Payne) did. So, Kenny spent a day or two with him.” 

On the feedback he’s received on Wynyard … 
“He’s just got to get into shape. It’s just hard playing the way that we play at the level that we play. We’ll have to see. I haven’t seen him really practice. These few days will be the first time that he’s with us practicing.” 

On the intensity of the Louisville game and whether that will motivate the team … 
“I don’t know if they will. I mean we have guys who probably don’t know that part of it. The Kentucky kids do. The other kids know that, hey they’re a ranked opponent, they’re playing really good and we’re going to have to play well to win. If we don’t play well it’s going to be a really, really hard game for us.”

On the team’s identity … 
“We’re still working on it. We’ve got things that we’ve got to do. We’re still tweaking offensively exactly how we have to play. I saw some good stuff in the second half of that game (Ohio State). But, we’re a ways away.”

On if not having an identity at this point in the season is unusual for him … 
“We’re not searching. We’re a team that applies pressure. We pressure the ball. We play fast. We have that identity. The question is exactly how are we playing. It’s not an identity thing. The second thing is we are still trying to figure out ways of getting to 50-50 balls and beating people to balls. That’s normally what our team is built on and right now we’re not winning that battle and that’s where we’ve got to get to.”

On if he believes that Tyler Ulis is completely healthy …
“I don’t believe so. I think he’s not one that’s going to worry about that. It’s like anything else: You have to adjust a little bit to how you’re playing and what you’re doing. I would tell you again, I think the guards are playing too many minutes, so we have to figure out ways of cutting their minutes down. I thought Marcus (Lee) and Alex (Poythress) played too many minutes at the end of the game. The two or three plays that we had to make, they didn’t have the energy to make the plays. I’m probably playing them too many minutes right now. That’s the kind of stuff that we have to figure out. It’s not what we are. We’re a fast, guard-oriented and a great driving team. We put pressure on the ball as well as any other team in the country. We’re a good pressing team. It’s just, ‘Ok. What do we need to do offensively?’ Are people sagging? Are people playing zone? How are we doing this? That’s the kind of tweaking I’m talking about more than anything else.”

On the slow starts to the games …
“We are concerned about those. A friend of mine called me and said, ‘Cal, what your guys have to understand is that the other guys have the Five Hour Energy drink before the game. You have to know they’re going to come out like that.’ Every team does. We are still learning that. I want to do some stuff for the start of the game to get us in a different frame of mind. I want to do some stuff up six and down six. We’re trying this week, next week and the next two weeks to work on situations. That’s part of the issue. We just have to clean it up a little bit and get them to understand the important plays. There were eight or nine possessions each half in the Ohio State game, simple things, and then three or four plays in each half were critical. All of those breakdowns led to baskets. You try and eliminate those.”

On the guard matchups with Louisville …
“They’re guards are playing well. They’re shooting the ball well, scoring well, and have three really good older players. They’re playing aggressively defensively. They’re really playing well.”

On what Damion Lee does for Louisville …
“He is a catch-and-shoot guy, but he’s doing more than that right now. He has some size and they can throw him in the post when they need to. He’s done some good stuff.”

On if the situational practice is the winning basketball …
“Winning time. I have to do it every year. Winning time. It’s getting guys to understand the kinds of shots you have to take and the defense that you have to play. There were two switches that we had to make, simple switches, and we dove and they led to baskets. That game, they were struggling to score. That’s when you’re more alert and focused. Offensively, we had it rolling and have our chances, then take a tough shot or run someone over. If you have to go and take that kind of play, then you do it late in the clock; not with 25 seconds left. These kids need me to coach them through it. I’ll say it again: I like the team. I like the kind of kids that we have. I like the kind of talent we have. I like my team. We’re just not where we’re going to be in a month. Right now it’s, OK, we have a tough opponent coming up, how are you going to respond? We’ll throw them out there and let them know that we’re with them. I believe in these guys.”

On Derek Willis’ status last game … 
“Derek was hurt. Did not practice the day before. Limped around the shoot around. That’s why I didn’t put him in the game. And that hurts us. He gives you another guy that stretches the floor. ”

On if it was an ankle problem …

On if he’s getting a better feel for the substitution rotation …
“No, but we’re trying to figure out how. Do we leave Marcus Lee at the No. 5? If you watched him in the games, he played well when he was under that basket. Because when you have him out on the floor, they’re not really guarding him at all. So now you put him there. And if you do that, OK, Alex can play about 22, 23 minutes, 24. Do you put Derek at the other No. 4? Like I said, we’re tweaking stuff. When we tweak it and it’s right, you all look and say, ‘Alright, I like that.’ Because we’ll all be watching the same thing. We’ve got to play a little looser offensively. Make the plays you make. We’re still making plays that you shouldn’t be making. You shouldn’t do that, but if you have 10 of those shots, you’ve got to shoot them.’ They go under pick and rolls you’ve got to shoot the ball. I took a guy out in the first half twice, because I didn’t think he was being aggressive enough offensively. Now think about that. ‘I told you once, took you out. Now I put you back in. I told you again: You’re out. Be aggressive.’ “

On if he started playing more aggressively …
“Late in the game. But these kids, they’re feeling each other out. It’s just a process. I wish we had played better those two games, but I said it: if we had won against Ohio State it wouldn’t have changed the issues. It wouldn’t have changed what we have to get better at. They have been the same. So we now have to figure out are we playing guys too many minutes? Different things we have to do. I just want them to have a ball playing. They’re not right now. They’re not and it’s based on being a little bit tentative here and there. It’s hard to say, ‘Well, he takes me out when I make a mistake.’ You’re playing 37 minutes. ‘Yeah but those two he took me out. I sat 32 seconds then he put me back in.’ It’s hard to say that so the tentativeness becomes ‘I just don’t want to let it go.’ Just let it go. Shoot the ball, let it go. I’d rather have, well I’d rather you not go 1 for 10, but I’d rather have you go 1 for 10 shooting it not being tentative.”

On if Jamal Murray has a bright green light to shoot …
”He’s had the bright green light. He really has. I just would rather not see a lefty runner from the foul line. My thing is you’ve got to have discipline in this, which means no one is telling you, ever, not to shoot. But then you’ve got to work hard to get great shots and if you’re covered you’re just not going to take a bad one because you have the green light. You’ve got to respect your team, but the team needs you to score balls. Like somebody was saying: We’re a guard-heavy team. May have to have Isaiah (Briscoe) shoot more balls. He doesn’t need to shoot 3s. Pull up. You don’t have to go all the way to the goal. Shoot the 15-footer. We’ve been telling them that. But, again, if you’re not comfortable with a 15-footer, what do you do? Put your head down and keep going. You gotta shoot those balls. And we’re going to get to that point. And when we do, we become a totally different team. Because if we can make you spread out – if you want to press us and spread out and do all that – we’re a way better team. If you pack it in, right now we haven’t been as good. If we shoot the ball a little bit better, put pressure on the other team where they’re not playing this guy and they’re not playing that guy, now we become a little bit better if we’re making shots.”

On what he’s seen from his team when teams try to pack it in … “They’re not being played. It’s a hard deal when you’ve got the ball and no one’s guarding you. (Laughter). ‘I’m open!’ ‘Yeah …’ But like I said, we’ve got some guys that are better drivers, we’ve got some guys that are better shooters, we’ve got some guys that are better at, you know – we’ve got some veterans, we’ve got some strength inside, we got some length. Let’s just pull it together. This wasn’t last year where I went and took a team down to the Bahamas and spent three weeks and got us ready. Jamal didn’t get here until September. Isaac the same. This is a little different deal.”

On his message to the fans with Louisville coming in town … “I would hope our fans – and again, you bring that up; it has not entered my mind. I’m watching tape. I think they’re doing a great job. I think Rick’s doing a great job with his team. And I would tell our fans enjoy the game. Don’t be bringing in banners. Don’t be bringing in posters. Don’t. You don’t need to do it. Let’s just enjoy the basketball game. Let’s be classy. We have the classiest fans, and I would expect that’s how they would be during this game.”

On why he feels that way … “Because you asked me. I didn’t even think about, to be honest with you.”

On him telling fans to be classy in the past … “You probably asked me the question and I probably answered it the same way. I have not thought (about it).”

On why he wouldn’t tell fans to “give them the business” … “Because I have never done that. When I was at UMass, I can remember a school had an issue with a gambling thing and I can remember saying, ‘If I see one thing, I will walk off and won’t coach the game. Let’s just play basketball. We don’t need to relish in anyone’s struggles.’ I’ve always been that way. The stuff we do is very hard. Not everybody handles it that way. Some of them encourage that stuff. I’m not one of those guys. Let’s just have some class. Let me just tell you, we need to worry about how good their team is and how well they’re being coached; not anything that happened five years ago. Let’s just play ball.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes:

25, Dominique Hawkins, G:

On what he has told the new guys about the rivalry …
“We just got off of break. We haven’t been home so I really haven’t talked to them about it, but we’re just going to take it as another game pretty much, is what I’ll tell them.”

On his appreciation of the rivalry …
“I really don’t—I know as a fan I look at it like a rivalry, but once I came here I don’t look at it as a rivalry (anymore) because, as Coach Cal says, we’re just trying to play to the best of our abilities and we really only focus when we are in the SEC Tournament and March Madness. So we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

On how nice it was to have a couple days away …
“It was real nice to see family and friends. I noticed that a lot of other schools don’t do that, is what Coach Cal says. And we appreciate that. We’re just glad to be back and be able to start practicing again, figuring out what we need to do to start winning again.”

On where this team is through 11 games …
“It’s early. It’s in December, so we have a long ways to go. We’re not where we want to be right now and that’s why we’re going to start practicing. As Coach tells us, everybody’s gotta figure out how to play their role and once everybody gets their role and starts playing really well we’ll be all right.”

On whether he would prefer to play again soon following a loss …
“In my opinion, I would like to be back out there. I feel like when you lose you really want to play another game and make sure you win and get that confidence up. But the days were also much-needed too. We’ve been practicing and playing a lot of games, so it’s great to get some days off.”

On the youth of Kentucky’s backcourt vs. Louisville’s experience at guard …
“I guess just expect a battle. Great guards, as you mentioned. Everybody’s going to be focused on that and we’ll see what’ll happens once the game starts.”

On his memories of the rivalry growing up …
“I can’t really remember so much. I know when I was a kid I was a big fan, but when I started growing up in high school I kind of wasn’t as big a fan as I was but I was a fan.”

On what they need to work on after Saturday …
“I would say defensive-wise we definitely need to stop perimeter shooting. I feel like Ohio State definitely made a lot of jump shots and got some good looks, but I just feel like we gotta have more fight and figure out how to keep the lead and control the game more.”

On what the Louisville game means to him …
“It’s just another game now. My freshman year, I was so hyped about it because I never got to play against Louisville. Now, it’s just another game and we’re just going to go in there and be prepared to play them.”

On whether they learned something about Jamal Murray in the second half against Ohio State …
“I definitely already knew that he had that in him. In practice he shows that he can hit shots in a spurt. He caught on fire during that game. I see it in practice a lot and it’s tough to guard somebody like that that’s got that size and his ability to shoot the ball as well.”

On what they can gain from the Louisville game …
“Playing Louisville, we know that they’re a great pressing team and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re going to prepare for because my first two years I know that they love to pressure the ball and do that as well. To carry on, it’s just another game and we’re just looking to win and be able to continue during the season and play some more games and try to win those as well.”

On Tai Wynyard …
“I haven’t seen him work out at all, but I’ve seen him conditioning and stuff. When we were practicing and stuff I saw him conditioning and doing some drills with KP (Kenny Payne).”

On what he could add …
“He’s going to add a presence inside. I really don’t know what his strengths are and stuff because I really haven’t played with him, but from what I’ve heard of he’s going to be—he’s a good big, a big body, he’s good at rebounding and stick-back shots and stuff like that, is what I heard about him.”

On how the freshmen have responded to the losses …
“They definitely didn’t like losing, as anybody wouldn’t like losing. But they took it hard on themselves. Definitely coming into this program, you notice that winning’s a big deal and they notice that as well.”

On what the rivalry means to him …
“It’s a rivalry to me. I know how big it is. Some of the guys probably don’t know what it means, but we’re just going to take it one game at a time, just like any other game.”

On whether it’s a good or bad thing the freshmen don’t know what to expect …
“I really don’t think it’s either, but I’ll say it’s a good thing because it could put a lot of pressure on you if you’re thinking about it as a big rivalry game, we gotta win this. You just gotta relax when you go out there and play. Hopefully they just go out there and play and be relaxed.”

On whether it was nice to get away …
“It was nice to get away, but you’re always going to think about the loss. When I was flying back here to Lexington, I was thinking about how could we have won that game and stuff like that, but it was good to have those days off because now we’re more focused on the next game and ready to play.”

00, Marcus Lee, F:

On if he went home for Christmas … “I actually didn’t go home. I stayed here with a couple of my friends here and my girlfriend.”

On if he was able to get back in the gym or did he take the days off … “No, I definitely took some time off. But I also got some work in the gym. You can’t just totally – You get unfit pretty quick.”

On if the team needed a break … “I think it’s good that we did take a little break and get our minds reset. We do that every year and it always helps us in the end.”

On explaining what getting their mind reset means … “I kind of call it our halfway point, where you’re halfway in the season and you’ve already gone through a lot with freshmen, basketball and school. All that is in your head, so now you have the time to relax and kind of start over.”

On if that is big for freshmen players … “Definitely, just because it’s a lot to go through when you’re here at Kentucky. You have to deal with a whole lot. Your body goes through a whole lot. And even if it’s just a day or two to get your body and your mind back on track, it helps a lot.”

On if it’s especially important knowing that SEC play is coming up … “Yeah, it definitely helps a lot. Especially since we’ll be – Actually, I don’t think we’ll be gone as much as we were last year. I’ve seen our schedule and it’s a whole lot easier with a whole lot more home games. But it definitely helps a lot.”

On how much it helps being an older player trying to help the younger players through a tough patch … “I just try to remind them that it happens to everybody. It’s not something that’s totally new or it’s not something that they’re just going through. We just have to let them know that we’re there for them and we understand.”

On Coach Calipari saying that opponents “smell blood” in Kentucky and think that they’re vulnerable … “I mean, it’s great. I don’t want to play somebody that fears us or is scared to play us. I want somebody coming at me with their all, and if we beat them with somebody that comes at us with their all, then we know where we are.”

On how he sees the UK-Louisville game compared to when he saw it when he first came in … “Now that I have the total story of it - I‘ve been here a while, I understand it – it starts growing on you. It’s more of a gift to the rest of the state of Kentucky, and that’s how I go through it. I see it as we do it to give back, especially during Christmas time and the New Year’s. It’s something that everybody enjoys.”

On if he enjoys it … “Oh definitely, without a doubt. It’s something that it’s just fun. It’s time where we can play basketball and enjoy Christmas and everything else.”

On if he knows it’s more than “just another game” … “No, it’s still just another game. No, you have to go through this game like you go through every other game or you’ll mess up if you do something totally different or your routine different. It’ll throw you off, and you have to go through it like it’s a normal game like it is.”

On what he sees being a common thread in the two losses … “I think there were two different ways of losing. But there are also two different ways of learning. We’ve learned a lot out of those two games, and once we get back in together, we’ll start breaking it down and fixing it point by point.”

On what they learned from each one … “Both games we started out pretty slow, and that’s what we’re trying to fix immediately. It just took us some time to notice that we can’t start that slow.”

On facing a physical frontcourt in Louisville …
“I think it’s a great thing that we’re playing against a lot of different bigs throughout our beginning season. It shows how our bigs are able to change up and play differently and that’s what we’re really trying to show.”

On why he thinks they started slow against UCLA and Ohio State …
“I think it was just learning. A lot of people that are new, that haven’t really been in the game a lot. So, we’re just learning and trying to feel each other out and that’s what happens throughout the season.”

On if he feels like he needs to step up offensively with Skal Labissiere struggling …
“Skal is doing just fine for the time right now. That’s where most bigs are at this point. He’ll come back and surprise most of you guys, and I feel that happening. It’s just more time, and that just takes time.”

On if the intensity he feels from the fans for this game has an effect on them, as players …
“No, we just see how much they enjoy it and we kind of just know that we have to work hard for them.”

On if they have a chip on their shoulder after the Ohio State loss similar to the UCLA loss …
“There’s always going to be something that we’re going to have to prove as bigs. We’re not the biggest bigs, but that’s something that we’re going to have to continuously prove is that we’re not soft and that we’re able to battle. That’s something that we’ll continually try to prove each game.”

On his initial impressions of Tai Wynyard …
“I like Tai. He’s become one of my favorites already. I was able to hang out with him on a couple days off and he’s a real cool guy and we’re excited to have him through our practices.”

On what he likes about Wynyard …
“Have you heard his accent? That’s all you need to know. His accent is pretty awesome. He’s just easy to talk to. He was able to blend with our team immediately, especially when we went on our trip, and that’s what we really liked. We just liked that he was able to come in and just act like one of us immediately.”

On Wynyard’s tweets about Lee’s celebrity status on campus …
“Yeah, he got that little freshman notice of once you get here it kind of blows up. I was like, ‘Just wait, it’s coming for you too.’ He saw it as amazement just as the rest of us did.”

On what kind of player Wynyard is …
“That’s something for you all to figure out. You guys all always do all the analysis and all that.”

On Lee having played against Wynyard rather than media observing him …
“I haven’t played against him.”

On Wynyard not practicing yet …
“He’s been at practice, but (he’s only been through) our pregame practices where we don’t go body to body. I mean, I’d have to see what he can do throughout our practice and how we can fill him in in our practice.”

On how much Wynyard can help the team …

“I think he’ll help tremendously. Having another big always helps. I’m just really excited to have him here.”