Updated 2 years ago
Post-game quotes following Kentucky's win over West Virginia.
COACH CALIPARI: Hard fought game. It was a hard fought game, and it was a good win for us. I was really proud of how we played those last five or six minutes.
Q. Brandon, obviously a different night for you than on Thursday. Did you come out trying to be more aggressive and find your shot early today?
BRANDON KNIGHT: Not really. Just in the beginning they went under like two screens, and I noticed it. So as a shooter, if somebody goes under the screen I'm looking to shoot the basketball.
Q. DeAndre, could you talk about playing defense against Mazzulla in the second half? Looked like they switched you on him and why you were able to have some success stopping him?
DEANDRE LIGGINS: In the first half, we let him do what he want. He had some uncontested lay ups. I just wanted to make it tough for him in the second half, which I did.
Q. Josh, can you talk about the play towards the end where you got the rebound, shot, and missed, then got it back and shot and got fouled? I think that was a key play in the game.
JOSH HARRELLSON: You know, I just sought an opportunity to go get a ball, and I missed the first one and I saw an opportunity to go get it again and just tried to keep it alive. I knew we were down a little bit and I was trying to fight for my teammates to get us back in the game, and there was an opportunity there to get us a couple points, so I had to go get it.
Q. Brandon, I know you said that you never got down on yourself Thursday when you were struggling early in the game, but making that game winning shot Thursday, what did that do for your confidence going into this game?
BRANDON KNIGHT: I felt more confident. My teammates continued to have faith in me even though I didn't play such a great game. They still had faith in me, and they really helped me out today, finding me and stuff like that. And they really stepped their level of play up, which got me more shots.
Q. For Josh, just curious, was there a moment where you didn't think a day like this would happen for you when you're contributing on an NCAA Tournament stage?
JOSH HARRELLSON: Every day until about I guess our first game this season, I never knew it was going to happen. I never thought I'd be the type of player I am. I just worked hard and did a lot of conditioning and changed my body and changed my mindset, and it helped me out in the long run.
Q. Terrence, they got up 55 51, and Coach Cal called a time out and both times on the floor they went to you for a lay up and a dunk to tie the game. Is that what they were looking for in that time out, to get you the ball going to the basket like that?
TERRENCE JONES: Yeah, coach wanted to post and get some inside points because he felt we were settling a lot in the first half and taking jumpers instead of driving all the way to the hoop. So he just wanted to go off the pick and try to post me.
Q. Josh, talk about getting whacked near the eye there, and do you have stitches?
JOSH HARRELLSON: Yeah, I got four stitches, but it came after I blocked, I guess, Matthews, I think, or K.C. something. I blocked him, and then he elbowed me on accident, but it was an accident, and it happens in basketball games.
Q. Another question for Josh. Just curious, is it weird being a four year guy in a program that changes a lot of players in one year?
JOSH HARRELLSON: Yeah, definitely. Coach Cal is my third coach I played for in college, one JuCo, and then Coach G. So I've played for a lot of different coaches, and just being around a lot of different coaches you learn a lot of different things, a lot of different playing styles. Playing now and just all the stuff I've learned over the years, it helps now.
Q. Brandon, you've now been in two NCAA Tournament games. Can you tell a difference when you're out there and the environment and the excitement? Are you more nervous?
BRANDON KNIGHT: Definitely for me I feel a lot more anxiety, especially coming into today's game, not playing so well yesterday. But just playing these type of games where you know if you lose your season is done, I think guys really come out and they fight a lot harder, they go after rebounds a lot tougher. It kind of changes the game. Guys play tough throughout the season, but I think they step it up a notch in the tournament.
Q. Brandon, talk about playing in your home state and having a breakout game and leading your team to a Sweet 16. What's it like?
BRANDON KNIGHT: It's good to play in my home state, come back close to home. It's not exactly home, but I didn't really think about trying to lead our team to a victory or anything like that. I just wanted to come out and play hard. And like I said, my teammates did a great job of stepping up, doing their roles, and I think guys are doing a great job doing what they need to do to help our team win.
Q. John, can you talk a little bit about the long embrace you had with Bob, and obviously you've been on the other end of that a lot of times.
COACH CALIPARI: Most times. Most times. That's why I wanted to hug him and let him enjoy what I've enjoyed.
You know, it's just two teams going after each other with a lot of fight when we play against each other. It's what happens. You know, we got them a little bit this game, but it's one of the things I want to tell you in this profession, you hate to play against friends, because I know what it feels like to get beat, and you don't want to play against friends. You want to play against people you don't like. Beat them. I mean, you certainly don't want to I won't schedule non conference games. I don't want to schedule them against former coaches or assistants of mine, not trying to rack up a record against those guys. I know what it's like to lose. If they ask me for a guarantee game I may do it, but you don't really like to play against friends. I mean, you don't want to.
Q. Can you talk about the way Josh played both in the first half and then that play at the end of the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: You're on the money. I thought that was the play of the game. The three rebounds and the stick back. But let me go back to DeAndre Liggins had nine rebounds. If he rebounds, we're pretty tough to beat.
Darius Miller didn't play one of his better games but made the biggest three of the game. That's the only shot he made. He was one for seven.
Terrence Jones shot an air ball, folks, an air ball. It was 18 inches short. And he comes back and he rebounds and he gets baskets, and because he's growing up, it didn't have an effect on him. And then Josh just he's fighting and scrambling and scrapping, and then Brandon does what he does for us. He ran our team, only had ten turnovers for a team that really gets physical, and he gets 30 points because he makes baskets for us when we broke down. There was a lot of good efforts today from a lot of different people.
Q. It looked in the first half like you went a little two three zone. Can you explain why you did that? And secondly, in the second half can you talk about what DeAndre did against Joe Mazzulla?
COACH CALIPARI: There's two things that happen. In the first half, we had some foul trouble, and we were trying to get out of the half. I needed to give Doron or Brandon a break, and I stuck in Doron. I said, now, don't foul. The basket is not a touchdown, okay? If you get in trouble, don't foul. He left his feet and he finally gets his third foul.
So we went zone. We don't play zone that much, but it kind of changed up the game a little bit. But at the end of the half when we go down eight and then really at the very end of the half with the way we played, we came in and talked about it, they went to I don't know what he calls it. It's a funky zone where they're switching and you don't know who's coming and who's going. So we did some stuff in the first half, even though we shot 56 percent. I wasn't comfortable with how we were attacking, so we went to some different ball screens, and I thought that was more effective. But when you look at the stats, it wasn't. And I think what happened for us was we defended better in the second half.
You're right, DeAndre got on whoever, Mazzulla, he went on Mitchell, he went on whoever, and I thought Terrence came up with balls and so did DeAndre.
Q. I'm just wondering, at what point did you start to get the sense that Josh could be this kind of contributor for this team this season? Was it before the season, the Louisville game, or what was the turning point for him?
COACH CALIPARI: Might have been the Louisville game, but I didn't know if that was a fluke. He said it; with young people out there, when you watch a player like Josh, it's not me. I don't have a magic wand. What you try to do is talk to them about what they have to change to change the result of how they're playing, which means you've got to change your body sometimes.
Other times, you've got to change your mentality. You have to stop listening to people say, well, if they did this with you and didn't give him all the shots, if you played this position better, and then you listen to that and you buy into it, you can't change, so you've got to stop listening.
And then the other thing is you've got to change your skill set. You've got to change.
If you don't change, there's no way the end result is going to change. You're going to be the same player. He's changed all that. But so has Darius Miller, and I keep telling them, you can't listen, stop. You've got to change your mentality. You do that through hard work, you do it by spending extra time in the gym, you do it by conditioning extra, going in on weekends, going in on the evening. And these kids have done it.
We're playing six guys, so we can't practice long. Our practices are an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and 20 minutes. So if anybody needed extra, they did it on their own, and those guys that I talked to you about, Brandon and those guys, they did it on their own.
Q. At one point at the beginning of the second half I saw Brandon take Terrence to the side and he kind of yelled at him and said, "Get on the post." Do you like seeing that from Brandon?
COACH CALIPARI: Yes, and we were somebody asked a question, did we come out saying we're trying to post the ball. Yes, we did. But we had done it earlier, too, and he didn't post. He stepped off the lane. And Brandon looked at me, and I said, "You tell him. Why are you telling me to tell him? You're out there with him, you tell him." And they love each other so there's no big deal about it, and they can laugh about it later, but that's what a good team can do. They can get on each other; they know it's not personal.
DeAndre came in on a couple of timeouts and said, "Finish these off." And I mean, he was mean about it. I was more or less calming people down at the end.
Q. Brandon said he was nervous a little bit going into this game because he didn't have
COACH CALIPARI: Anxious.
Q. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to misquote him, because he didn't have his best shooting night. He comes out in his next NCAA Tournament game and throws up 30 and leads your team, what does that say?
COACH CALIPARI: He is an terrific player and an unbelievable person who I've never seen all the players I've coached, and I had guys that would live in the practice facility, literally, I've never seen a guy with this kid's work ethic. His focus on where are my weak areas, and he goes after them.
I've had a couple. One is the MVP of the NBA, so he was kind of that way, too, who called me today, by the way, what a great young man, called me before the game to wish us well. But this young man works like he does, and both very bright basketball players.
Any time you spend that kind of time, you expect good things to happen. If you're trying to get over, if you're cutting every corner, if you're trying to fool around in practice, the minute it goes wrong in the game, you expect it to continue. If you're a hard worker and you spend the time, you expect good things to happen, even if I miss two. Everybody says, why would you give him the ball when he didn't make a shot? Because I knew he expected to make the last one, and you have to give it and he's not afraid to miss the last shot. You can't be afraid to miss it, either, now. It means if I miss it, I miss it.
He's had a couple of those this year, and he missed them. But he was fine with it.
Q. What value do you place on experience in the postseason here, and from Game 1 to Game 2 how did you see those freshmen grow?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, it's very important. Teams that have done this and have advanced deep in the tournament have a better understanding than the young guys and the inexperienced guys we have. I can remember us having teams that went to the Elite Eight that expected then to be in the Final Four. You expect it. If you haven't been there, it's a little tougher for you. I think things happen, an inexperienced team is at a disadvantage. But if the choice is talent or experience, I'm taking talent. Then you can blame me for us not winning. But I'm taking talent. That's just how I've been throughout my career. I'd rather have that than experience. And if you've got both, you're in the final game trying to win the whole thing.
On his struggles shooting the ball today...
"I was just missing, I couldn't hit a shot. My teammates came out and did what they had to do to get us a win."
On the big three-point basket he hit in the second half...
"[Terrence] Jones drove to the basket and my man collapsed on him, so I yelled his name and let it go. I wasn't going to quit shooting. I have still had confidence in my shot."
On the win...
"It feels real good to advance and beat the team that beat us last year."
On whether the team could have won this game a month ago...
"I don't know. We definitely have grown as a team, and have come a long way. It would have been a lot tougher if it was a month ago. We have grown and gotten better."
On falling behind in the first half...
"We just stayed focused. We talked and stayed focused and stuck with the game plan."
"We just wanted to keep them off the boards because they are a really good rebounding team. They still rebounded well offensively, but we wanted to keep them off the boards and not give them any open looks."
On Josh Harrellson...
"I didn't know Josh [Harrellson] could do all of this. He has been shocking all of us and we just love him. He is playing really well right now."
On the win...
"It feels great. This is my first time in the tournament and we are in the "Sweet 16," so I am happy."
On the players who lost to West Virginia last year...
"They were pumped before the game walking into the arena saying we had to beat these guys. We just wanted to come out and work hard out there."
On the defensive effort in the second half...
"We locked down in the second half. We wanted to be tougher since they pushed us around in the first half. We couldn't worry about the referees, but just came out strong in the second half."
On his ankle...
"It still hurts, but I have been fighting through it. I still get treatment, but I still have to fight through it."
On the adjustments at halftime...
"We knew we let them score to end the first half, but we knew we had to be aggressive to start the second half."