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March 15, 2014

John Calipari

Aaron Harrison

Andrew Harrison

Julius Randle


Kentucky – 70
Georgia – 58

THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH CALIPARI:  I would tell you that it showed this league how strong it was, and everybody wants to take shots, but Georgia should be in, Tennessee should be in, Arkansas should be on the edge.  I mean, they beat us twice.  For some reason, it doesn't get the credit it should.
Georgia won 7 out of their last 10 games.  You talk about how you play at the end.  Seeding don't matter in where we're placed.  I know Florida is going to be a 1‑seed.  Whether they win it or not tomorrow, doesn't matter, because it will be done.  The seeds will be done.
But where we're seeded, I mean, who knows?  But I know our strength of schedule's three or four, depending upon where you look.  Three or four.  Our RPI is anywhere 12, 13, 11, right in that range.  I mean, that sound like an 8‑seed to me, but I don't know.
THE MODERATOR:  Take your questions for either of the student‑athletes.

Q.  Aaron, could you tell me about your play today and also your brother's play.  Do you feel like you guys are getting close to your potential?
AARON HARRISON:  I mean, I just knocked down some shots, really.  My brother got me some great looks, and Julius got me some looks, so I just tried to do what I could today for my team, which is knock down shots.

Q.  Andrew, you set a career high in assists each of the past two nights.  What would you attribute that to?
ANDREW HARRISON:  Just my teammates.  They make me look good right now.  Just finding them and they're knocking down their shots.

Q.  Julius, you said after the game in Florida that you guys needed to make something happen.  You didn't know what, but you needed to make it happen.  Do you feel like you've made it happen now since that game?
JULIUS RANDLE:  Yeah, I feel like our chemistry is getting better.  We're becoming a better team, getting better every game.  We all know it starts on the defensive end for us.  We're just playing off of that.

Q.  Aaron, what kind of defense was Georgia in today that allowed you guys to have so many open three attempts?
AARON HARRISON:  I think that they played pretty good defense.  I think it was just us driving the ball and getting in the lane and getting each other shots.  I think that's what it was.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'll excuse you to the locker room and take questions for coach.

Q.  Obviously you played well last night, but this game with all the fouls and kind of stops, starts, kind of a gritty nature, was this maybe in your mind as impressive as last night to be able to ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  We're doing better.  We're not the same team.  You've seen us now, we're not the same team we were two, three weeks ago.  It took some stuff and tweaking some stuff and making us more physical in practice, because the games are becoming slugfest again.  You got to be able to play that way.  So you prepare for it.
That doesn't mean that you're fouling, but you got to play through bumps and grinds.  So you got to practice that way or they're not used to it.
The other thing I would tell you is they're just starting to come together.  It took time.  We're starting five freshmen, folks.  Five freshmen trying to do something unique and special.  This team, they're starting to come together.  We're now one of those teams that you would hope we would have been two months ago, but so what.  It took time.  I'm good with it.
I've already said we had a fabulous year.  If we would have won one more non‑conference game, there were two games if we could have won one of those and a couple league games that we lost an overtime game and another game, I mean you're looking at this team saying starting different and everyone of those games were close.  We had a chance to win all of them.  So this team just needed something to get them over the hump and they're doing it now.

Q.  Kind of like you said, the seeding's I think's probably going to be over.  The brackets are going to be over by the time you play.  Is tomorrow still something of a measuring stick?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, for what they did today, against a Tennessee team, and, again, if there are 15 teams playing better than Tennessee right now, I got to see who they are.  I mean Tennessee, they're not only playing, they're smashing people.  I didn't watch the game, nor did I watch the tape yet, but I heard the press got them for a few minutes and changed the complexion of the game.  There was a technical after a bad call, somebody told me, and that changed the game.
But let me just say this:  Tennessee is that good.
Now, what happens is the seeding is done before our game is played tomorrow.  This happened to us three years ago.  Three years ago we won this game and our seed did not change, and neither did Florida's seed.  What happened was the teams above us got hammered.  The 1‑seed and the 2‑seed in our region now, North Carolina and Ohio State, two Final Four teams, we beat them.  So the seeding's I think important.
It's not like we're getting screwed.  We're fine.  We're in.  But where you put us may hit somebody above us, like, Why are you putting them with us?
But that's what makes the committee what they are and makes it hard.  They can't watch the game tomorrow.  They can watch it, but it's not going to have any bearing on what happens.

Q.  Can you talk about the rebounding, particularly the offensive rebounding.
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, we have been a good rebounding team all year.  When you put two 7‑footers next to that basket, it's hard, and one of them is 270 pounds.  Dakari, Dakari missed some baskets today.  He never misses and he missed a bunch of free throws by the way, too.  But he has been playing well for us.
But Willie came in the second half and played well.  We're kind of spreading it out.  I just think that when you have James Young and Aaron playing as well as they are at those wings, it makes us a pretty good team.

Q.  Willie was saying how he wanted to see Florida again in this tournament?
COACH CALIPARI:  I don't (Laughter).  I've had enough of Florida.  For four years I've seen the same guys.  Some of them I think five years.  I think they got a special program down there where they keep guys for six years.
But what a great team.  What a great story.  What a great coaching job.  You're talking about a team that it's almost an honor to play a team like that.  I understand when this game is close, they will not give you the game, and if you don't fight like heck, they're taking it from you.  That's who they are and that's who they have been all year.  I don't see it changing.
Now, that means when we go against them, you're going to have to take it.  They will not give it to you.  As you're trying to take it, they're trying to take it from you.  So they absolutely bashed us down there.  We weren't even in the game.  Then we make a 15‑0 run and get it close, and then they bash us again.
My players can all say what they want.  I'm not looking forward to playing Florida again.  But you know what?  We are here, I don't think they're going to let us leave, so we're going to go play this game and see what happens.

Q.  What do you think Aaron and Drew kind of understood differently as compared to the last two weeks because their play has stepped up?
COACH CALIPARI:  I think a lot of this was the weight of the world on these guys.  All of them.  The weight of the world of it's not only playing at Kentucky, taking everybody's best shot, every game as a sellout, every game's the other team's Super Bowl.  It also is the clutter they're hearing.  All the stuff they're trying to deal with, all the high expectations, and then all of a sudden they stink.
These players don't stink.  Oh, they're no good, they're overrated.  They're very good players, but they're 18 years old.  They're 18 years old.  Today even they pouted a little bit.  When they made the run and it became a 2‑point game and I called a timeout, we had like four guys pouting.  One of my staff said, Are you crazy?  You should be laughing.  Why are you pouting?  Go play.
And then they kind of stepped on the gas and they started playing again.
So this is all different kind of ground for these guys.  But they're great kids.  They're battling.  I'm proud of them.  I'm proud of each of them and what they're doing.  We'll see tomorrow.

Q.  When you made these tweaks.  Whatever they were, were you pretty confident they were going to work?
COACH CALIPARI:  Would I have said anything if I wasn't confident (Laughter)?  That's why you don't give me a good team because you see I say stuff when I have a good team.
When I have a bad team, it is my fault and I don't say much.  I just hide.  You don't see me.
No, I knew after I saw it and thought about it, and then Andrew bought into it, Aaron bought into it, Julius bought into it, they all bought into it as a team.  Then I knew this is going to take us to another level.
But the other side of it, you're talking offense.  The other side of it was the physical play on defense for three straight days.  Folks, I never late in the season practice more than an hour.  We went two and a half hours, two hours and 15 minutes, and an hour and 50 minutes three straight days before we came down here.  Body to body, helmets, because we had no choice.
The games were getting rougher and rougher and rougher and bumping.  You have to play that way and you have to play through it and you had to learn.
It also brought out some confidence.  So instead of being passive defensively, not wanting to touch anybody, we were beating the heck out of each other.  So they got like muscles from that.
So, yeah, I was pretty confident that it would work, that it would change what we were doing.  But I was angry after I saw it.  Why didn't I do this two months ago.  Believe me, they will tell you, I was angry.  As I watched it unfold, I've been doing this 20 years.  What was I thinking?  And I hope when you watch us you say this is a different team.  Would you say that?

Q.  Yes?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, because none of you in the media know anything about basketball.  You have no idea what I tweaked.  You can't even read each other's blogs to figure out, like someone may know.  No, no one's hit it yet.  I may tell you, probably won't.

Q.  Would this be the next book?
COACH CALIPARI:  I'll do it in a book where you have to buy it (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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