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December 20, 2014

Devin Booker

John Calipari

Tyler Ulis


Kentucky – 83
UCLA - 42

JOHN CALIPARI:  My only comment is these guys are so excited about going home for Christmas and spending four days with their families.  It showed on that basketball court.  They were excited about playing, and I think just as excited, they are running out of here right now.

Q.  Devin, could you talk about the way you were part of the 16‑0 run, you were watching and then came in and got the next eight points to make it 24‑0?
DEVIN BOOKER:  I think most importantly they started out with energy.  Everyone is excited, we're all excited to go home, and we knew we had to go through this first game and it wasn't going to be easy, but we just brought energy to the floor, and that's what put it over the top.

Q.  Devin, how does it play on your mind when you see the score is 24‑0 or 41‑7?
DEVIN BOOKER:  We have to deep playing against our self.  Coach always stresses to us that we're not playing against the other team, we're against ourselves.  Just keep playing, and you can't look at the score, just keep going.

Q.  Tyler, two days ago your coach talked about teams licking their chops to play you guys.  Can you imagine that anybody is licking their chops now?
TYLER ULIS:  I'm pretty sure people are still out there trying to get a game with us, to beat us, just because we're sitting at No.1 team right now.  But as a team we're not really worried about that.  Just like Devin said, we just got to keep playing against ourselves, which coach stresses, and just try to go out there and try to win and compete.

Q.  Tyler, how did this match‑up for your expectations for your homecoming?
TYLER ULIS:  It was fun coming out here, getting a big win like that, coming out with energy, like you said.  Andrew and Aaron started off the run so well, and then we came in and just pushed it from there, so it's great to win like that at home.

Q.  Tyler had six assists, Andrew had eight.  What is it like to have two point guards like that going at them and different looks defensively and offensively?
TYLER ULIS:  It's hard for them because we're coming in five in, five out, and we're just trying to wear the other team down.  They came out with energy, which made it even better.  When we came out on the floor they were really tired and gassed, and it just helps us even more.

Q.  Just curious, when it's seven points at halftime, how long do you say, hey, we don't want to give them double figures?  It was 22 minutes or so.
TYLER ULIS:  Yeah, we just came out trying to do the same thing in the second half.  They got a couple baskets early, but as a team we're just trying to push ourselves, play against ourselves, like Coach says, again, and just play hard.

Q.  Devin, is your shot different now than it was earlier when you were struggling with it, and if so, why?
DEVIN BOOKER:  I wouldn't say it's different at all.  I keep all my mechanics the same, always.  I always have my whole life.  I feel like shooters go through slumps sometimes and you have to shoot your way out of it.  When you have a team behind you that tells you to keep shooting it and a coach that tells you to keep shooting it, it makes it easy for me.

Q.  Tyler, you know Devin pretty well.  When his shot wasn't falling what did you expect to happen and what did you see out of him?  Did you see him going to the gym late at night?
TYLER ULIS:  Devin is really confident in his jump shot.  We go back and forth about who shoots better.  He was in a slump, but he kept playing, kept shooting.  Every time he was in a slump, he just told me I'm going to keep shooting the ball, keep shooting, and it's getting better.

Q.  Devin, what kind of looks were you getting today?
DEVIN BOOKER:  A lot of good looks.  I think Aaron started the game out with two big threes because they started out in a zone‑and‑one to cram the middle, but once he did that they had to open it up and give our bigs man‑to‑man looks so we threw them it into our big, and my man would help and it just gave me a wide‑open shot.  Dakari made passes and made it a lot easier on me.

Q.  Have you ever been in a game like that where you just sort of removed all hope from the other team so quickly?
DEVIN BOOKER:  Not at this level.  In high school, of course, playing against competition like that, but today I feel like as a team it was a great performance.  We came out with energy, and we just kept it up throughout the entire game.

Q.  Coach, you're heading into the Louisville game undefeated.  You held one of the best scoring teams in college basketball to seven points at the half.  At what point in your mind do you start thinking you could be in the middle of something historic this season?
JOHN CALIPARI:  I'm day‑to‑day.  I'm in a grind and I'm staying in the moment.  The one thing I'm doing is really enjoying these guys.  We can all talk about defense and blocking shots and playing hard, but you've got 10 guys, 11 guys sharing minutes.  You have two point guards that are two of the best point guards in the country, both of them, and sharing minutes.  You have big guys, Karl Towns and Dakari Johnson, sharing minutes.  You have Willie, one of the best big guys in the country, sharing minutes with Marcus Lee.  You've got Aaron Harrison, who's really good, and then you've got Devin sharing minutes.  That's the story, and I would say to all of you, if it were your son and he had pro potential and he was on that board to be drafted, would you be okay with him playing 20 minutes?  I mean, we've got a great group of parents that accept and trust that we have their sons' back, and we've got a great group of kids.  I mean, that's the story.  We're playing‑‑ today we played 11, but no one played more than 23 minutes.  Andrew and Aaron played 23 minutes.  No one else did.  That was it.  Everybody else played 18‑to‑20 minutes.

Q.  After the Kansas game the first thing you said was we're not that good.  What about are you guys this good?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, this game, the way we started, we haven't always done that, and that's why these two kept saying about energy.  I thought Andrew Harrison was unbelievable.  I mean, he did stuff, flying up and down the court.  He had eight assists.  He could have had two others that were kind of dropped, and he could have had a 10‑assist game in 23 minutes.  What?  Missed a couple shots, and I keep telling him, quit playing to get fouled.  Score.  You can get 10, 12 points in the time you're playing and get assists, and then it's‑‑ Tyler is different.  He's just a different kind of point guard.  But see, I've been in there where there are times where smaller point guards, you just can't leave them in the game if you're trying to win at the highest level.  Late in the game, they've got a 6'3" point guard that can just score over him, he couldn't be in at that point.  But I'll tell you this, he makes a difference in the game just pressuring the ball, sprinting it up the court.  I had to get on him.  I said, score the ball in the second half.  Shoot the ball and score, because he's getting away from that, and that makes him even better as a player.

Q.  What did you tell‑‑
JOHN CALIPARI:  Again, I just said, that's our good game right there.  That's as good as we go, and I told Steve that, and to be honest with you, I think we're both worried about coaching our own teams.  I didn't look at the score like in the first half, I did not know what the score was.  I knew it was pretty good, but I did not look‑‑ to be honest, I couldn't find it in the arena.  I didn't know where it was.  The second half I glanced up there one time because they said it's over there in the end zone.  That's up there.  Which is fine, and that's the best way to coach if you don't have to look at that scoreboard, you're just looking at your team.
Believe me, Karl Towns, he's got to be better, and he's better.  Ten rebounds, but he's still a scorer, but you can't run plays to score for him because they double‑team, then you're a passer.  So that means you've got to fight down the court and create positions so we can throw to you early so they can't double‑team.  There's things, Dakari, the same thing.  Marcus Lee has got to be more focused.  I thought Trey Lyles was great today, too.  He played a great ballgame.  And Trey is playing guards.  Here's a 6'10" center in high school playing guards, and then Willie is 7‑foot and all of a sudden you are a 6'3" guard, and you're like, why are you on me?  And he can guard him.  See, I think Marcus Lee could do it, he's just got as confident or focused as Willie right now.

Q.  You said a few games back that this team could, if it wants to be, a defensive team for the ages.  At halftime you guys were on pace for NCAA records for points allowed and field‑goal percentage.  Have they truly bought into that idea, and do you think this is an all‑time defensive team?
JOHN CALIPARI:  I don't know.  We're going to let this thing play out.  I can tell you, again, we gave up 20 offensive rebounds.  We are the worst defensive rebounding tall team in the history of basketball.  We give up too many offensive rebounds, and it's going to cost you.  This team missed a lot of shots, a lot of open shots, and after they settled down, they made those shots in the second half.  As we go forward, we've got one thing, how do we continue, let's make this world class.  How do we become that world‑class team, and it's real simple.  One, you have few errors and you have no unforced errors.  That's what a world‑class team is about.  The second thing a world‑class team is about, they absolutely enjoy, even the tough times.  They enjoy playing.  You know, we're trying to build something here to say, you're going out, playing against yourself, and you hear these kids talking about it.  World‑class teams play against themselves, they don't play against the opponent.  So if we're to be that, but please don't compare us to teams in college that have three Hall of Famers on their teams, like real Hall of Fame, like Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame, three and four, and don't compare us to them.  What we are, playing the way we're playing is a high‑energy team for 40 minutes, but it's not helter skelter.  See, in my opinion, 40 minutes of helter skelter doesn't teach the kids how to play to prepare them for that next, where they're trying to go.  How do you play pick‑and‑roll?  How do you play your man?  How do you stop straight‑line drives?  How do you dig off the weak side?  We're not just going to scramble and trap‑and‑run and all of a sudden we're playing a game, but‑‑ so we are playing aggressive and we're playing fast, but we're trying to make sure‑‑ loved it.  We set up some stuff for Dakari and Willie to shoot jumpers.  Walking out, I said, let them shoot that elbow shot, Dakari, because he can make it.  Here's a kid who's in the gym every night working on that.  Why shouldn't I let him do that?  Why shouldn't people know that he can do it?  These kids are spending extra time at night on their own with the coaches.  They deserve all these good things, but more important, you think of the kind of kids they are that they're sharing these minutes.  It's hard now.  And then they're being compared‑‑ well, he's not that good.  How about this statement:  Are you ready, this statement?  He's not going to get the numbers to be the best player in the country.  Was that your hope or your opinion?  See, people can watch these guys in 20 minutes and know how really good they are.  They don't need 40 minutes, and these kids are great.  We're a really good team with a bunch of guys, 10 guys that all can score double figures.

Q.  With playing 11 guys like that, going into the season, it had to be a big concern of yours, just how the players and like their families would handle it.  When did you become convinced that wouldn't be a problem?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, we went to Bahamas and it worked, and that's why we went to the Bahamas, and we played professional teams, older teams, professional.  We didn't play the normal team that you're going to beat by 100.  We wanted to know against good teams would it work, and everybody ate, if you know what I'm saying.  Everybody felt full.  And then I knew.  Jay Bilas gave a great talk about the clutter that the media will try to break you down, they're going to evaluate one against another.  They'll really promote one guy to try to separate the team and make the other guy out to be a schmo.  I've got no schmos on this team.  And he went through what would happen.  We call it clutter, you know, the clutter of what's going on around.  They also have to hear clutter that's close to them, and they've got to withstand it all, and they are.  I think the story is how good are these kids, and how strong are these families and how trusting they are.  Willie said it after the Kansas game.  He came in and said, we trust the coaches, and we trust each other.  That's what this is.  It's a group of kids that trust.  Now, it doesn't mean we're not going to get dinged.  It doesn't mean there's not something‑‑ I'm not married to platoons, folks.  I'm not.  I'm doing it because it's the best thing for the players.  I've never done this in my life.  I've never coached this way.  I'll tell you the truth, I kind of like it.  I don't have to worry about subbing.  Think about taking that off a coach's plate.  I don't have to worry about subbing.  You're going in in two minutes.  Like Marcus Lee, you don't get a rebound, you don't block out, things that we worked on, you're out.  That's an easy one.  But I don't have to worry about who's tired, who's not.  But will I ever do this again?  I doubt it.  I'll go right back to the seven, six, eight guys I'll have.  Next year that's what we'll have, and we'll play that.  But I'm enjoying this.  There's nothing that anybody is going to say or do to get me to not‑‑ I wake up every morning.  If we don't practice I'm antsy, and I'm sending them emails, and they're like, oh, please, Coach, stop.

Q.  It seems like the bigger the stage, the better your guys have been.  How much have they embraced these big settings?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, the veterans, you know how well Andrew played, how well Aaron played in the NCAA Tournament.  You think about the veterans and how they play, if they're kind of dragging all these young kids.  But my young kids are really‑‑ Tyler, Devin, Trey and Karl are really‑‑ I'll take mine, you take yours.  I like mine.  They're really good.  But they also have these veterans that are there for them.
But each of them are feeding each other.  Each group is feeding the other.  Like they said, when that first group starts like that and they can go in and just run it right down too, we're really good.  Listen, we were down 11‑0 to Columbia, like no, it was going to go 15‑0.  It was 11‑0 to Columbia.  We were down five to Buffalo at halftime.  We were down to Boston U at half.  They're not machines and they're not computers.  They don't play great every time out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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