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March 21, 2014

John Calipari

Willie Cauley-Stein

Aaron Harrison

Julius Randle


Kentucky – 56
Kansas State - 49

THE MODERATOR:  We're going to start with Coach Calipari with a statement, then open it up with questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH CALIPARI:  Great win for us.  I am really proud of these guys.  A little nerve racking for them.  A bunch of guys that have never been, my whole team, none of them have ever been in an NCAA Tournament game.  So I was pleased.

Q.  John, you've been in a lot of NCAA tournaments, been doing this a long time.  Can you think of a round of 32 match‑ups that will be more compelling or have more interest than this Wichita State‑Kentucky match‑up or Sunday?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, there haven't been many teams come in undefeated like Wichita and deserve their ranking, deserve their seeding.  Well coached.  Gregg has done a great job with these guys.
And he and I spoke.  I have a couple of teams that have gone through what he went through, I said I didn't do as good of a job you have, which is take it off the kids and just let them keep playing basketball.  I said, I'm telling you, I felt it with the teams that I had that were 26‑0, and I was almost happy we lost, like just get this off.  He's handled it superbly, he really has.

Q.  Cal, Willie talked the other day about some of the young guys talking to the veteran guys, Jarrod and Jon, who watched the team make runs about what was the thing, and a lot of it was they played great defense.  It seems like this guy has taken it to heart the last couple of games.  Do you see that?  Is that really the ultimate secret?
COACH CALIPARI:  We started him in the second half based on the fact that how active he was defensively.  And, you know, Willie, he's done this all year.  And he makes it‑‑it's hard to drive on us when he's in there, so you end up having to take jump shots.  He is 7‑foot tall.
You have Alex and Julius blocking shots, all of a sudden you have to shoot jumpers.  But he also rebounded the ball today, and I thought he did a good job.  He's just coming into his own.  All these kids are.
I was proud of them.  It was really fun to start the game, we had the two free throws and I said to Aaron, you or Andrew, whichever one of you two wants to shoot, because I can't really tell you apart, so just tell me who wants to shoot it.  And he says, Andrew, I'll shoot it.  And he shoots the first one and almost shot an air ball left and we bust out laughing.
Think about it, this kid is 18 years old in the NCAA Tournament, never been here, and it wasn't this one, it was the other one because you are looking at him, it was the other one.  And he goes and he makes the second one.  So there are a lot of plays like that.  They make a run and make the game close and these guys gutted it out.

Q.  John, stopping Marcus Foster tonight, how are you guys able to do that?  You took him out of his element early on in this game.
COACH CALIPARI:  Aaron did a great job and took on the challenge.
I'm going to be honest with you, we have a lot of guys playing well right now, but he's playing as well as anybody and what he's doing is starting to go like we always thought.  I mean, not only offensively.  See, you guys are looking at his numbers offensively, but he is also guarding the best offensive player every game and still scoring.  His length and what he was doing to chase and wasn't giving easy baskets and then gave focus and then we can switch.
We are one of those teams where our 4s can guard 1s and our 1s guard 5s.  So we switch some if he needs it.  But he did a great job on them.

Q.  Julius, you were a much better finisher at the rim than the SEC tournament.  What was going right for you tonight?
JULIUS RANDLE:  I just left the SEC Tournament behind me.  Coach did a great job of taking things off my shoulders, told me not to worry about offense, let Andrew create for me.  And Andrew made the game a lot easier for me and I was able to get the ball in spots where it was a lot easier for me to score.
COACH CALIPARI:  And he got 15 rebounds.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned how football practice had been a component of SEC Tournament practice.  It seemed like that was well suited for the game tonight.
COACH CALIPARI:  If you watched any of the games, from what everybody is telling me, they are all being physical, but they are calling.  They are calling the fouls.  So where there were plays at the end of our season the last month where they just wouldn't call it.  They're making those calls.
We played through some bumps, we're better.  We're better prepared to play a physical team because of what we did.  I wish I would have done it to start the season, I didn't.  I wish I would have done a better job of preparing him and Andrew, those two are really‑‑and Andrew had some turnovers today and lost a little bit of focus in the game, but, you know, again, when he speeds it up, we're pretty good.

Q.  Willie, you talked at the beginning of the year that last year you weren't ready to lead and Cal said you are just now coming into your own.  Do you feel that, feel that here at the end of the second season is really you coming into your own, maybe being comfortable taking that energetic role and leading these guys?
WILLIE CAULEY‑STEIN:  Absolutely.  I thought at the beginning of the season that, you know, I did a pretty good job of coming in and doing it.  And you know, for a couple of games I lost focus of what I was really trying to do.  And now it's just picking up again.  And I mean it's a difference of the game, for real.

Q.  Aaron, can you just talk about you got to see Wesley on the floor today.  Talk about how you've seen him play, just grow in general and did you talk after the game?  What did you have to say to him?
AARON HARRISON:  I have known Wesley since I was 7 years old and I remember when he couldn't play at all.  And he was, he was the last player on our bench.  And I think one summer he grew like five or six inches and became a great player and one of my best friends.  I was happy for him.  I gave him a hug after the game and just laughed.

Q.  What kind of challenge does Wichita present to you guys?
JULIUS RANDLE:  Well, we haven't really prepared much.  Well, me, I haven't prepared much for Wichita State.  I know they're a great team.  Obviously their record speaks for itself.  They are a number 1 seed.  I saw them a little bit in the first half.  I know they're a great defensive team and they have a lot of really good players.
Basically all of us are competitors and this is what we came here for, for a challenge.  And tomorrow or Sunday's game will be a great challenge for us and I am looking forward to playing a great team.
COACH CALIPARI:  We haven't done any preparation right now.  We get back to the hotel we'll do some.  I've watched them a few times but I wasn't scouting them.  I was just watching them.
They play really hard.  They have really good players.  You don't go 35 or 36‑0 or whatever they are without having really good players.  And they have really good players.  And they play hard and compete.

Q.  Just bouncing off of that a little bit, even though you haven't scouted those guys, obviously you are aware of them from seeing them around.  As a basketball fan can you appreciate maybe the contrast of this match‑up just as young as you guys and still finding yourselves a little bit, and these guys have been together and grown together.
COACH CALIPARI:  I have been in a few of those.  You have to remember now, I only got a BCS job five years ago.  I was at UMass and Memphis trying to take on the big dogs.  So you have a chip on your shoulder and Xavier, who I coached in New Jersey said, Play angry.
It's us against the world and no one thinks we're going to do this, and now you're going against Kentucky who had a good season, but not a great season.  And, you know, I've been there.  I've been on the other side.  I haven't been on this side going against it.
Believe me when I tell you folks, I had three or four teams start the season with 20 wins or more to start a season and I can't begin to tell you how much you try to push it off as nothing, and you say it's nothing.  Oh, it's something.
And he's made it a blessing, not a burden.  And like I said, we had some teams who had a chance, 38‑2 a couple of teams and 35‑2.  I mean we had a chance on a couple of different teams, but I'll tell you, I felt it as the head coach, which I knew my team had felt it.  So he's‑‑he's done great stuff with his team.

Q.  For Aaron, you guys are all used to getting your points, but tonight it was a bit of a grind‑it‑out game.  How well do you think that this style of game will prepare you for Wichita State?
AARON HARRISON:  Well, we hadn't done a lot of scouting, like coach said on Wichita State.  But coming into that game we were prepared because coach said they were a physical team, a grind‑it‑out team, we were prepared for this one.  I am not really sure how that gets us ready for the next game.

Q.  For Willie, you guys talked about shocking the world yesterday.  What do you think a win Sunday would do?
WILLIE CAULEY‑STEIN:  I mean, a win's a win, it doesn't matter who you're playing against.
COACH CALIPARI:  Willie got killed yesterday for the "shock the world" statement, let me tell you.  Just try to win one game, shock me.  [Laughter.]
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else for the Wildcats?  All right, gentlemen, thank you very much.  We'll see you tomorrow and then on the court Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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