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March 17, 2012
Kentucky – 87
Iowa State – 71
THE MODERATOR: UK Head Coach John Calipari and UK student‑athletes are on their way to the interview room. We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Calipari and then direct questions to the student‑athletes. Coach?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm proud, really proud of the entire team, but what I like is they competed. They played smart. They knew what we had to take away from Iowa State, and they did it. They were resilient when Iowa State went right after them.
And Iowa State is a really good team. I just said‑‑ they were asking me about Royce. Royce is Charles Barkley. He slow dribbles you and then makes a move. He controls. He'll pass. No, Charles would not pass. Let me restate that. But plays with that kind of big hands and gets head on the rim.
We did a good job. I'm proud of all these guys. The way they played, the way they competed on every possession was really special.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll direct questions to the student‑athletes.
Q. Terrence, could you just talk a little bit about your defense tonight and also your rebounding, how important you felt both those things were and what you were trying to do.
TERRENCE JONES: Going into the game, the game plan was to make sure the other guys didn't get a lot of points. If he could beat us by himself, then we'd do that. Pretty much when it came down, when we needed a point and it was real close, I just wanted to get a couple stops just so we could spread apart.
Once we got it going with a lot of transitional threes and Marquis getting a lot of layups, then we just spread it out.
Q. Darius, you seemed to be playing with a little extra emotion tonight. Is it just you don't want to take that jersey off, or what was it?
DARIUS MILLER: Yeah, I felt like it was the same way for all of us. We all came out with a lot of intensity, really focused on what we need to do. And we know this the last time this team is going to be together. So we're not quite ready for that yet.
Q. Marquis, could you talk about getting your career high points tonight. How do you feel about playing Indiana, since they were one of the two teams that beat you this year?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: I didn't really care about scoring points really. I just wanted to get my teammates involved, do whatever it took me to help us get a win.
We're ready to playIU. They beat us last time, but we're just going to take it like another game and just come out and play hard. Do whatever it takes to win.
Q. Marquis, what did you take advantage of in transition to get those kind of points? And how much did Iowa State maybe limit you guys on the inside, making it a good time to shoot from the perimeter?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: I was just trying to push the ball in transition and take whatever play they gave me. They gave me the layup a lot of times tonight. Also, I was able to kick out to open players like Doron, Darius, and they knocked down a lot of shots.
They were trying to double Terrence and Anthony in the post. So we wanted the same guys to cut through, and they was giving us easy layups.
Q. Doron, could you just talk about what was kind of going through your mind when you picked up that fourth foul and went to the bench, and the game was right on the line as you were sitting there and watching it run.
What kinds of things were going through your mind as you were watching that?
DORON LAMB: I was happy for my team. They picked it up when I was in foul trouble. I was cheering for my team and telling them what to do on the court. And when I got in the game, just be aggressive and make shots.
Q. Anthony, can you talk about the performance defensively in the second half? It seemed like you guys really picked it up after halftime.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Definitely. We had the lead at halftime, and we wanted to come out and be more aggressive on the defensive end. We knew the key to winning the game was playing defense.
Like Terrence said, Royce was beating us by himself. That's what we wanted to do, not give him wide open shots on the perimeter. They kept feeding the ball, we just kept digging and making sure if he kicked it out, that we closed double high hands. Make the drive the ball into our shot blockers. So that was our main focus of the game. Just lock down defensively.
Q. Darius and Terrence, you guys are so young. How do you not get rattled when Iowa State makes that comeback? You kind of huddled the team together. How do you think‑‑ what do attribute that to, you guys just don't get rattled despite being as young as you are?
TERRENCE JONES: We take pride in our defense. We feel, if a team is coming back on us, it's because we're not doing something right on that end of the court, not because of the offensive end.
So we just pretty much said we need to get a couple stops, and that's just pretty much what we did is just lock down and get more stops.
DARIUS MILLER: Just like Terrence said, we're pretty confident in our defense and our abilities. So we never really get down on ourselves. We kind of huddle together. Coach does a good job of talking to us. We talk amongst each other and just get each other focused again.
Q. Marquis, did that feel‑‑ were you expecting, when you got to college, that you were going to have some games like that where you kind of had everything working, getting to the basket and stuff like that?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Yeah, I expected that. I've been playing like that my whole life. So I was confident coming in. I kind of struggled in the beginning. My teammates just kept supporting me, and I was just trying to get better every day.
Q. For both Terrence and Anthony, what was going through your mind, especially early, and you knew he was going to do it when Royce was backing his way into the rim and really using his bulk to try to score against you guys.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Just make him score through our chest. Put our hands up without fouling and hoping the weak side defender will come and block the shot when possible.
We all just scrambled to pick up the other men. But when he wasn't backing down, we tried to use our strength in our legs and force him out. He like to catch the ball on the mid‑post instead of backing all the way down. And face up and try to beat you off the dribble.
We were just watching his eyes. If he's looking up and looking to pass. And if he's down, he just want to score the ball. That's the main focus, we just had the defender watch his eyes to see what he's going to do.
TERRENCE JONES: Yeah, I just pretty much try to make him score through my chest. With the timing and the score situation, I pretty much try to figure out what I felt he was going to do and when I felt he was going to score, I tried to be more aggressive. And when I felt he was going to pass, I tried to back off a little bit and just keep my hands around the ball.
Q. Darius, can you kind of comment a little on Marquis' play tonight, just from your vantage point, watching him kind of control the team and get to the rim like he did?
DARIUS MILLER: He was the main part of us winning. Not only did he score a lot, he had a really good floor game. He got other guys involved, myself included. Most of my shots that I had came from him, whether it was in transition. He hit us all in the right spots.
He did a great job. He was even talking to us, being vocal, talking to us about what we needed to do. He was putting guys in great places on the floor and just being a great floor general.
When he saw scoring opportunities, he took them. That was a huge part, and we needed them tonight, especially with Doron being in foul trouble.
Q. Marquis, that day on December 10th at Indiana, in sort of the melee after the game, some of those Indiana fans were kind of screaming things at you. I know that was a tough day for you, just even trying to get off the court. What do you remember about that? Is the feeling of that‑‑ and maybe also to Darius. You were sort of swarmed under after that shot. Those memories of that day and how that felt and all the things that happened there. How much have you guys been thinking about that since?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: That was a rough day for us. We hate to lose any game. But the way we lost, that just made it that much worse.
Like we said, we've had to move on past that day. We had other games we had to play. So I guess we got them again. We're just going to come out and play our hardest. We're not really saying anything about revenge or anything like that. We're just going to come out and play like we would any other game.
DARIUS MILLER: Like he said, that was a tough loss for us, but so was Vandy. We've got a lot of competitive guys, and we don't like to lose.
So we're going to come out. We were a totally different team than back then, and so are they. We're going to try to see what the outcome is. I know both teams are going to be ready to go. So it should be an exciting game.
THE MODERATOR: We're going to excuse the student‑athletes now. Guys, thank you. We'll begin with questions for Coach Calipari.
Q. Fred was in here a few minutes ago, saying you came up to him at the end of the game, and said you felt that was the best you guys played all year.
COACH CALIPARI: I said that's about as good as we can play. We played good. I've got a good basketball team. You won't believe this. I've got good players too. But they're a good team.
They're efficient. They play defense. They play hard. They are skilled. They're all skilled. I just got to keep them in the right frame of mind.
I want them to have fun playing. I want to keep challenging them. I want them to just look at this and be happy but not satisfied. Let's just keep stepping.
Q. Coach, Marquis was very contained tonight. Is that why you brought him here, just that play right there?
COACH CALIPARI: I brought him here because, when I watched him play, I absolutely loved his game. He's the kind of player I love to coach in this regard. He is a tough‑‑ I call him a pitbull. He's a pitbull.
Great athleticism but really smart floor game. Now, for us he could score more, but why would you score more on this team as a point guard?
But today, they really left him. They left him to trap in the post. They left him on the perimeter. And I told him, look, you've got to keep people honest. Score the ball. I know you can score. He scored 25 a game in high school. He can score, but he doesn't have to on this team.
It says a lot. We have seven players on this team that scored 25 points per game in high school, and they come out here, and they shoot 11 shots a game. Think about that. They share.
I've got a good crew, a good group of guys.
Q. John, the Vandy loss today, did that have any meaning for what we saw tonight or not?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we were up five with a few minutes to go, or up four, and we missed every shot down the stretch, and then they made plays down the stretch, and they wanted it worse than we wanted it, and my team knew that as we walked off the court.
Vandy is an outstanding team. I've said from day one, Florida and Vandy are Sweet 16 teams, minimum Sweet 16, and they may be better than that. And I look at that game and just tell you, it was our third game in three days, and they played great, we played pretty good, and it wasn't enough.
It's like Indiana. Right now Indiana, we're better than we were, but so's Indiana. Tommy's done an unbelievable job. Think about where that program was and what he's got that thing going now. He's got a great recruiting class coming in.
So I said this beginning of the year. They'll be a top five program in short order. Everybody looked at me and thought I was crazy. Shoot, they may be a top five now. They've got terrific players. They've got competitors. And as far as game preparation, you're not going to have a better coach than Tom. He's as good as they get.
Q. Coach, how different is Darius as a player when he's as emotional as he was in the first half, and how important is he when he's that engaged?
COACH CALIPARI: Michael Gilchrist did one of the great things of all time. Michael Gilchrist came up to me prior to the Vandy game and knew Darius hadn't scored in two games and just played like he was a deer in headlights.
He said, Coach, why don't you start Darius? I said, what are you talking about? He said, let him start. So Darius got going a little bit. He wasn't great. He took too many shots, but he played pretty good. But it got him and kick started him for what happened today.
And I got to give credit to Michael for that, and there's just not that many players who would say, let him start. Let me come off the bench. Let's get him going. We need Darius in this NCAA Tournament. That's basically what he said to me.
Q. Coach, speaking of Michael, can you just kind of assess where he's at? Seems like maybe he was bothered by a cramp or something tonight, he mentioned. What do you need from him going forward in the tournament to get the most out of him?
COACH CALIPARI: He's fine. Michael Gilchrist may be‑‑ when you say to a player‑‑ and I say this to my team‑‑ what do you do to help us win when you're not scoring the ball? Well, he has a list of about nine things that he does when he's not scoring.
If he is scoring, he's as good as anybody. Right now on this team with Doron, with Darius, with‑‑ I mean, he goes‑‑ he scored how many today? He scores 2 points, but he gets 7 rebounds, he defends like crazy. He gets toughness.
And he's fine. He's in there happy as heck. It's what's unique about this team. They know they're not being judged by numbers. They're being judged by how they're playing as a team and as an individual.
Q. John, during the first half, I think you guys went on a run, and they call time. You walked out on the floor and kind of intercepted Marquis before he could get back in the huddle and you were talking in his ear. You remember what you were talking to him about?
COACH CALIPARI: I told him, you just created two unbelievable shots for your teammate. Now just keep playing. And what he said‑‑ this is really interesting. This is when you know your team is tuned in.
He knew they were double‑teaming them off of him. So he said, guys, I'm cutting to the rim. I'm cutting to the rim. My man is the guy that's leaving.
And we all looked, and I said, do you guys understand what he's saying? And they did. If you notice, he got a couple of baskets underneath the goal.
They were all focused on this. They were all‑‑ I thought we started the second half. Terrence wasn't the tough, vicious. He got bumped and threw a ball and then misses a tip and then gets scored on. I have to call two time‑outs just to get the thing under control. After he started playing and Doron came back in and played better, we were fine.
Q. John, as close as you are to Tom, you don't like playing him in the regular season.
COACH CALIPARI: I don't like playing him anywhere.
Q. Much less the tournament. Could you talk about facing him now in a Sweet 16 game?
COACH CALIPARI: He and I talked, and I told him that you were going to be in our region. Before he publicly said, I knew we were going to be playing him. No question. Has nothing to do with match‑ups or story lines or any of that. I knew we would be playing him.
What I would hope is we were playing him for the final game, but we're not. We're playing in the Sweet 16. I cannot stand playing friends because, if they win, I'm sick after the game. And if I win, I enjoy it, but I don't enjoy it because I know what they're going through because I know how it is.
But this is two programs that are storied programs, both of them. I can't again tell you what my respect with how he coaches and preparation.
But, Tommy, if you're watching, I'm putting in new out of bounds plays. I'm going to put in side out of bounds and two new offenses because he will watch every tape and know everything that we're doing except for that stuff. He won't know that stuff.
Q. John, I just wondered how well Iowa State guarded the basket area and sort of made you shoot from the perimeter.
COACH CALIPARI: No. What they did and what they've done throughout the year‑‑ and we talked about it‑‑ they will collapse their defense. That's how they play. So they collapse. In our league with Vandy and Florida, you cannot collapse your defense. Those teams will take 30 threes and make 20. They collapsed their defense in the tapes that I watched, and you had perimeter shots.
I told our guys, look, Darius, you and Doron must shoot the ball because they're going to give those to you. If they rush you, drive them into the middle of the lane. They're not going to leave Anthony Davis. You'll get something.
But the other thing is they were really physical in the post. They even trapped a little bit, and they trapped off of Marquis Teague. So they had a good game plan. They had some good stuff that we did.
And everybody‑‑ they want to talk about our three‑point shooting. We're one of the best in the country. We just don't shoot a lot. And we don't shoot a lot because we get to the rim, we throw lobs, we play different. We get a lot in transition. If you make us shoot threes, we will shoot them.
It's not like, okay, we got to make nine or ten threes to win a game. We just don't play like that. We haven't played like that all year?
Q. And how was Wiltjer? He didn't play in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: Only because of the game we had going, and I want to get the guys to run with the game that they have. Kyle went in and made that shot. It was a huge shot. He defended and did some pretty good shots. He got hurt, and I took him out. But Kyle is a terrific player for us.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, we're out of time. Thank you. Good luck in Atlanta.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports