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March 11, 2011

John Calipari

Brandon Knight

Doron Lamb



THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kentucky. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Calipari.
COACH CALIPARI: First tournament game for a young team, happy we get out with a win. I thought Mississippi played well and shot the ball at the end to give themselves a chance. We had some guys not play some of their better games and we hung in there.
I told Brandon at the end, those rebounds down the stretch were critical and he chased them down to help us win, and there were three or four.
Didn't play one of his better floor games. I know he's a better player than he played today, but did what he had to to help us win.
What happened was Doron Lamb offensively kept us in the game. And we have a seven-point lead. I believe, Brandon and Terrence barely made a shot, and Doron took over. So we were going to play through him.
But again, it was a good win for us, a young team. It's their first tournament game, and to do it, I was happy with it.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Brandon, it appears as though you and coach had some fairly animated conversations out there, particularly early in the second half. Other than saying just play better, what were those?
BRANDON KNIGHT: Just to make sure, no matter what I'm doing, just to keep running the team. Make sure that even though my shot's not falling, make sure that my main purpose for this team is running this team, making sure we were getting our sets and stuff like that.
COACH CALIPARI: And I said I loved him (Laughter).

Q. Brandon, on that, how hard is it to do that when your shots aren't falling?
BRANDON KNIGHT: It's not really that hard. It can be difficult if you let it get to you. But you got to know it's for the good of the team and you know your team's trusting on you to run the team. You got to focus on that no matter what's going on offensively.

Q. For both players, I'm sure you had heard some stories from your older teammates who were here in 2008, but what was it like to see all the blue in the stands? Did it feel like a home away from home?
BRANDON KNIGHT: It definitely felt like a home game. Just in the beginning, all the crowd would all chant "Blue and white, go Cats go," and stuff like that, just gave us a home atmosphere. And I think we were able to feed off of that and get energy from it.
DORON LAMB: Yeah, we're used to the fans following us and traveling with us on the road and home, so we love our fans. We hope they keep following us.

Q. Doron, can you talk about the job you and DeAndre did on Chris Warren?
DORON LAMB: Yeah, we know he's a little small point guard, so would he wanted to stay in front of him, make it hard for him, contest every shot and just play hard and just keep him out of the lane.

Q. He's short, but he's awfully quick. What was your thinking going in, particularly in the second half?
DORON LAMB: Coach just said fall back a little bit, just because I'm long, just contest his shots, and just make sure he don't get in the lane and go by me and create for other players.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for coach.

Q. You talk about first tournament game for a young team. What do you think they got out of it the most out of this game?
COACH CALIPARI: I kept telling them late in the game, I'm really happy this is a close game because we're going to be in some other ones. And we need this. And I want to see which men step up and make plays.
We got to all defend and we got to chase down these rebounds, because you know they're going to take tough. And if they make a couple tough shots, I don't care, just play.
I thought there was a point there we played not to lose. Can't play that way. And I kept saying, Just attack, man, play, we're fine.
But Brandon didn't have one of his better floor games, and Terrence didn't play very well throughout the whole game. But they should have been anxious. They're 19 years old. I thought Doron played well. If Darius hadn't been in foul trouble, I think he would have had one of his better games. Josh played well. Eloy played well. Jon Hood played well.
So the other guys gave us what we needed to get what we needed from them. DeAndre was terrific. DeAndre's numbers again, you know, two blocks and a steal, six rebounds, and he guards. He was good again.

Q. Talk about the first half where you're scrambling because you had guys in foul trouble?
COACH CALIPARI: We walked in and I said -- are we up seven? Are we up seven or five?

Q. Seven?
COACH CALIPARI: I think we were up seven, and I'm like looking around, and I told them at halftime, "With all that went on, Eloy, what you did, you were great. What you did, Jon Hood to keep us in there, and Doron, you carried us. We're up seven."
A seven-point game in a situation like that, I was happy.

Q. Obviously Warren hit the big shot against you guys in Oxford. What were you thinking there at the end when he had a couple that had they gone in, might have changed things or at least for that point of the game?
COACH CALIPARI: I said, Man, I'm glad he missed those.
But your choice is to let him get to the rim and you foul him. Now, if you know their team, if you foul him, he's not missing. And then it stops the clock and it gives them a rest.
And what I told our guys, "I want you to be big, high hands. We're going to stunt off their other players, and make him take tough shots. If he makes them, too bad. We'll figure it out on offense down the other end."
And then the other side of it was chasing down balls. If these guys are shooting threes, we got to run these balls down. But again I thought that both DeAndre and Doron did a good job of guarding him.

Q. The game going down the stretch got a little emotionally testy. Talk about how your young players handled that?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, the stretch of the game I wasn't happy with was we were up 12, and what happens is, young guys think the game's over. Well, I saw a team down 19 win today. Another team down 15 win today. Every possession matters, and if you take your foot off the gas, you're going to get beat.
And at that point Andy calls a timeout, I don't know what he said, but I would like to hear what he said and I would like to use the same thing, because they came roaring back. And we got tentative.
Then there was a point in the game we kept shooting all jumpers, when I didn't believe they could guard us on the dribble. And then the one guy I wanted to shoot the jumper, DeAndre at the top of the key, because we were just screaming at the other guys to drive the ball, he drove it. And I said, I can't get mad because we're all over these guys about driving, and he should have taken that one.
But I thought they did well. We made free throws down the stretch. We did what we had to do. Your first, the hardest game is the first game. The hardest game.
Obviously our next game's going to be a monster because Alabama is so good and so talented and plays so tough and defends so well and rebounds so well. We know how hard it's going to be.
But the first one is the hard one mentally to get by.

Q. You did mention the comeback wins and Alabama did a have a comeback win today?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, down 10, right?

Q. Down 14 with seven and a half minutes to go.

Q. But how impressive is that in terms of their resiliency?
COACH CALIPARI: I didn't watch the game, so I can't tell you that, but all I know is they're really good. I went down and talked to their tip-off club, and I said, "You people don't realize how good this team is," because they lost early because they had some guys out.
But look, if you watch that game you're telling me both Alabama and Georgia shouldn't be in the NCAA tournament? They both should be in. Georgia should be in. They beat us and they should be in. Obviously Alabama should be in.
So I hope those guys get that fair shake at a look. But Alabama's good. They're really physical, they're really great defensively, and they all play to their strengths. Alabama had us down 20 down there. We were down 20 points. I don't care. Don't look at the final score. They smashed us. And we made a little run and made some shots. They smashed us. So we're going against a team that smashed us.

Q. He sort of took my question, but how has your team changed since then do you think?
COACH CALIPARI: Hopefully we're a little bit better than that. But we're figuring it out. We are. It's hard. We're starting three freshmen and three inexperienced guys who didn't play much last year. So it's a new team that's just learning to play together. It's not just me teaching them.
And we're playing totally different than we played a year ago. This isn't how we played last year. So not only those three new guys, but the other guys that didn't play a whole lot, it's a new way of playing. We're just trying to play to our strengths.

Q. Since obviously Brandon and Terrence didn't shoot the ball well, does it help the confidence of the others that you can win a game without those two guys shooting the ball well?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, yeah. It wasn't just that they didn't shoot it well, Brandon's Florida game wasn't up to snuff, and Terrence aggressive tough play wasn't up to snuff. So, one, just that they couldn't make shots, it was all other stuff, too, and we won anyway.
So I tell you, Mississippi did things to get after those two. They trapped the pick and roll and made it hard for Brandon. They just said, We're not leaving him, we're trapping. And they did a good job of getting him a little out of kilter, and they were physical with Terrence, so...

Q. Given Alabama's size and bulk on the front line, this would seem to be a bad matchup game for you. Do you see it that way?
COACH CALIPARI: I know this, it was a bad matchup down there (Laughter). Believe me, it was 20. I remember looking up and sayings, Oh, I hope this doesn't go to 40.
So they have had a heck of a year now and again. I don't want to take away from their start, they didn't have guys. They had guys out and injured, and I think he sat a guy out or did something. I mean it, you know, they're terrific.

Q. I think Darius had 15 and 8 today. Can you speak to his development since the first Ole Miss game, the infamous "the game," the shot at the end?
COACH CALIPARI: He made a big play today, and I went at him and told him, Drive the ball and go at this guy.
And then he posted up the little kid and that was a big play. The game was still in the balance. What he's done the last three weeks, you think of the big shots we have made, he's made probably half of them. Threes, layups, and ones, one-on-ones, he's made them. So you think of where he's come from to where he is now, wow. Really improved.
But I think our team's better. I'm looking, and I may be biased, but I think we have improved as much as any team, maybe more than any team in the country. We have improved. From the beginning of the year until now.

Q. I think you led the entire way, but there was one point when it got to within two, 53-51, something like that. Do you think that was a turning point?
COACH CALIPARI: Possible. But just so you know, I was in every huddle. I was saying this is the greatest thing for us. We need to be in more close games because we're going to be in a bunch of them to finish this out, and we got to make plays. I need to know who the men are. We need to know who is going to get the big rebounds, chase down a ball, who is going to make the big block, who's going to make the end one, who's going to make the free throws, who is going to make the open three, who is going to drive the ball instead of settle for jump shots to make us finish this game off.
And that may have been that area. I think we came down and made a three after that. They got it to two. But like said, it was a good game, great a opponent tomorrow.
But my staff said, this quarter finals, you think of the teams, the eight teams that are playing, eight terrific teams. Eight terrific teams. Eight teams that could all be in the NCAA tournament. Everybody had to win, but the eight teams that are playing, wow, all good teams. So the SEC is going to get multiple teams.
And like said, I hope that the guys get the consideration they deserve. And I trust the selection committee. I trust that they will. But it's just a hard one to lose Georgia, for them to lose that game.
And I've been there where I've called a timeout and the kid makes the shot. I've been there. I've done that. Because you are just going by feel, I don't like what I see here, I don't like what we're going to get. And you blow. I did it at South Carolina a year ago on a play. We made the basket, and they're looking at me, You called a timeout. I didn't think you were going to make it or I wouldn't have called the timeout.
And that's how Georgia loses, right? That's how they lost. But all year Georgia's done a great job, just as Alabama has.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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