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Postgame Quotes: Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44



Jan. 31, 2012

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Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

Opening statement
"I felt like they did a great job of setting the tone early. They did a good job of executing their offense. Anthony (Davis) did a tremendous job protecting the lane and making plays defensively. I've said it before; he's the difference, probably one of the best, if not the best in the country at changing the game with his presence on the defensive side of the ball."

On Kentucky's defense
"I think they do a good job, (Michael Kidd-) Gilchrist battled. They do a good job with their press; they are a good, sound defensive team. I think what happens is when you have a presence like that, I thought there were several times we had an opportunity to score the ball and (Anthony Davis) makes a great play. When you have a guy like that, they come along once in a lifetime, he just changes the game for you. You can do more things on the perimeter, you can pressure more, you can push guys in to him and make plays. He is a presence down there."

On Anthony Davis making jump-shots early
"(I thought) it's going to be a long night. But you know he is a guy, I saw him in AAU basketball and he can make shots from the perimeter. He is a very intelligent basketball player and he does a tremendous job of playing to his strengths. That's a credit to he and their coaching staff and he accepts that. Like I said, on the AAU circuit, he can make perimeter shots, but in order for their team to be successful he does what is necessary and that is what's special about him."

On Renaldo Woolridge
"I thought he did a good job of knocking those shots down but he has also put the time in to improving his shot and shooting consistently. He did a good job, especially in the first half, of keeping us at bay."

On Kentucky making its first 11 shots
"You have to give them credit, they are playing at home in a great atmosphere but I didn't think our stars did a good job of setting the tone early. We had a couple turnovers, allowed those guys to get post position, allowed them to turn the corner in transition. I didn't think our stars did a good job of setting the tone for us."

On how to respond to Kentucky's momentum
"Just being a ballplayer, that's all. You can draw up a play any day of the week and I've said it from day one, at the end of the year, this time of the year you want a better basketball player, you can draw up all the plays in the world but somebody has to execute the play and that's what it comes down to. You can talk your guys through, get them ready to go but you have to be able to make plays and get stops."

TENNESSEE PLAYERS

#1, Josh Richardson, G
On the Rupp Arena environment
"I didn't pay attention to it. I just wanted to go out there and play basketball. It shouldn't have affected anything."

On the start that Kentucky had
"It hurts you a little bit, and your confidence. They play great defense and they come out and hit stuff you have never really seen before. You just have to keep playing hard and keep playing solid defense."

On Anthony Davis blocking and effecting shots
"He is a shot changer. The dude is like 6-foot 10 with 7-6 arms. If you get in the lane, you've got to go at him, but it is always going to be in the back of your mind. That this dude is huge and he is probably going to block it."

#3, Renaldo Woolridge, F
On people comparing his shooting performance in the first half to former UT great Chris Lofton
"I take that as a compliment. (Chris Lofton) is one of the greatest shooter of all-time, recently. It feels good, but we have to get wins. (Kentucky) was a tough team, they are number one in the country."

On playing at Rupp
"It is kind of like when we play at home, we can feed off the atmosphere. It is always tough being on the road, especially at Kentucky. But that atmosphere mixed with being the number one team in the country makes it really difficult and they are a great team. It was tough for us."

On the mental impact of Kentucky starting the game shooting 11-11
"It's a long game and basketball is a game of runs. You just got to stick to it and keep playing. We try to keep battling, but a few runs over and over gets tough. We tried to stick in there."

UK Head Coach John Calipari

Q. On a scale of 1-to-10, 10 being the highest, how good was the defense?

COACH CALIPARI:  We were really good defensively. We were really good. You know, the way we scored the ball in the first half, we were able to create a gap.  But (Renaldo) Woolridge came out and makes five 3s, and I'm looking at guys, after he made two, and then he made the third, you're like, `Are you not watching the game?' But they were tough shots, and he made them.

Again, I thought we were good, and we played good in a rough game. It was a rough game. I mean, we played good in it. But again, you go back to Terrence Jones playing like he played physically, it makes us better.

Q.  Coach (Cuonzo) Martin talked about Anthony Davis for a second, called him one of the best, if not the best players in the country and said a player like him comes along once in a lifetime.  Your thoughts about the way he played tonight and putting that in perspective?

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I had one already. I had Marcus Camby, so that's twice in a lifetime now, and I'm hoping for three and four in a lifetime. But he doesn't command the ball. I mean, he's just playing. If you pass him up, he doesn't get mad about it. He rebounds, he blocks shots. Today (he had) three assists, one turn(over). He's a special player.

And mainly because he's about his teammates. It's not just what he does. Look, there are players out there (who are) really good players and all that, but their teammates don't want to play with them, don't like them. This kid    let me just say this:  He whistles and skips going to class he's so happy.  I heard him the other day.  I said, `Who's that whistling?' and it was him going to class, just skipping like he's having fun, he's enjoying himself, he's not putting any pressure on himself, he's just playing.

Q.  When you look at Terrence (Jones') numbers tonight, not like they were Saturday.  What things did you see that you liked just as much as you did Saturday?

COACH CALIPARI:  The biggest thing is he's being physical. See, you can't negate how we're being played. Hopefully people watched tonight and know that kind of game plan    even if it's not coach wise, it's player wise watching us, looking at this and saying, `You know, it's hard to play them that way.' But Terrence gives us a physical presence.  He can score the ball.  He's a skilled player.  He's got to compete and battle, and that's what he's doing now.

Q.  I'm wondering with (Anthony) Davis hitting a couple of face the basket shots, blocking (Jarnell) Stokes early on, how much credit should he get for setting the tone early?

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, he should get a lot, but again, we're a team, and I thought a lot of guys did a lot of stuff.  We're not even talking about Michael (Kidd-)Gilchrist; he goes 16 (points), 8 (rebounds), and again, two steals, and he defends and gets a steal late. I mean, he's just    he's playing.  You know, you can go right down the line.  Darius (Miller) and Doron (Lamb) didn't play great, but they played good defense. And it's not like they played bad.

We're not going to be pitching shutouts now, so I'm happy with the team.  We've got to get better.  We've got to keep improving.  You know, we're not turning it over that much.

We play and you saw us at the end of the game, we love to play fast.  We want to play fast.  But if we have to grind it out, we can, and we did at the end.  The last seven (to) eight minutes, we just grind it out.  We want to grind it, we're going to grind it, so we can play both ways if we have to.

Q.  It looks like this team is really starting to come together and create some continuity among each other.  Talk about that.  These guys have only known each other six months.

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, and really it's less than that.  But they have    they want to win above how they're playing.  So a guy like Marquis Teague, who scored 28 a game in high school, is running our team, not scoring as many points. A Michael (Kidd-)Gilchrist who scored 25 a game.  We're not running one play for Michael Gilchrist, not one play.  Well, we ran a slice cut twice, so I ran two plays for him.  Whether it's Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones or Darius Miller, veterans, quote, two sophomores and a senior, and they're accepting that these freshmen are really good, yet they're still stepping up and playing.  So there's a good thing going because they want to win.  They like each other.  They really do like each other.

The one thing I like that happens during that    we call it Camp Cal where we're together, they just get together and they get with one another, and I love road trips.  I love going on the road because it's just us.  You know, you've got 11 players and our staff and that's it, and we're together for two, three days.  So that kind of stuff helps this team because we are four freshmen, two sophomores and a senior playing most of the minutes.

Q.  You may have answered my question with that right there, but do you feel like just in the last couple of weeks this team has made a lot of strides, and if so, what's been the key to that?

COACH CALIPARI:  Marquis Teague.  The guy that has the ball, if he's playing well, you've got a chance.  If he's not playing well, you have no chance.  Now, he can play well and you still lose because everybody else is playing bad, but they can all play well and if he's playing poorly and you can't win.  He is really listening.  He's playing the way we need him to play.  Again, we go 1-for-10 from the 3 point line, and he found guys, they just didn't make shots.  So his four assists could have been eight.  They were wide open, they just missed them.

So he's playing (and) that's helping us.  Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) is getting better, Anthony (Davis) is getting better, Terrence (Jones) is finally more physical, Doron (Lamb) and Darius (Miller) are doing things to help us.  Kyle Wiltjer is way better than he was.  Today Kyle Wiltjer got five rebounds.  Come on now, we're use to him shooting 3s.  So they're all getting better.  But it's kind of like having a quarterback and that guy has to get us all in tune, and he is.  He's doing really well.

Q.  Off the beaten path a little bit, you guys both have your teams to worry about, but do you have a chance to chat and compare notes with Matthew Mitchell, both being highly ranked teams?

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, he and I talk twice a week.  I'll stop in the office, he'll stop in my office.  I'll stop in his practice, he'll stop in my practice.  You know, he has done such a fabulous (job). He's selling out Memorial.  We played Alabama, sellout; Valerie Still was back.  And they're really good, like they're really good.  They're fun to watch.  My players love watching them play.  Coach, why don't we play a little like them, let us go a little bit.  So it's been a unique experience in that there are other programs that have had teams like this, but I just don't know if they've gotten along like our two teams have.

Q.  You said a few times throughout the early part of the season, different times you said if this or that happens, when this or that happens, this will be scary.  These last two games when you watch this team, is that in your mind's eye when you would say if this or that happens this will be scary, are these last two games sort of what you saw?

COACH CALIPARI:  I would.  I would tell you, they're different games.  Now, LSU was rougher than this game, and it was allowed to be rougher.  This game was not allowed to be rougher, but we didn't make any 3s.  Last game we were 7-of-14 or 15 from the 3 point line.  This game we missed them all.  Lucky we made one.  What was the streak?  We have knocked down the streak there.  How many games have we made a three?  It almost went down the drain today.  Who's the one guy that made it?  Doron Lamb.  I know it wasn't Darius (Miller).

Q.  Is it overstating it to say that your guys are starting to relish that physical play you've talked about, or are they getting much closer to where you were   

COACH CALIPARI:  We had our guards at times.  Doron (Lamb) went in there, Darius (Miller), there's still plays    you've got one where Terrence (Jones) went baseline and (Skylar) McBee kind of pushed him and he never got to the rim.  Come on now, that's got to be a dunk.  Just go dunk the ball.  So we're still not there.

What they did to Anthony Davis is absolutely    when he caught the ball at the top of the key, mushed it, and again, that means toughness, and he just got rid of the ball a couple times.  He wasn't ready to really be physical.  So we've got a long way to go with that.  But we've made strides.

Q.  Earlier today the task force recommended a renovation rather than a new (Rupp) Arena.  What was your thoughts on that and the tentative plans for the renovation?

KENTUCKY PLAYERS

#23, Anthony Davis, F
On whether he feels the success he's having
"A little bit. My teammates always tell me, `I'm going to hold him down. You just come over and block the shot,' so they really depend on me to block shots or at least alter shots. I kind of feel like but I don't want to jinx myself."

On whether he's trying to be more tough when there is physical play
"Most definitely. I know I'm going to have to be tough in order for us to win games. It's all about staying in front of your man and fronting them in the post. You have to three-quarter them, both feet, stay on the high side. It makes it harder for the post passer to throw it into the post. You just do that and I'll be fine."

On how the team has been clicking recently
"Lately we've just been hanging out together. We've been doing everything together. We just feel it. Everybody is trying to get everybody into the game. No one is doing their own stuff. We're just kind of clicking and it's really showing on the court."

#3, Terrence Jones, F
On if this game was pretty much what they expected in terms of physical play
"Yeah and I think we did a great job of executing on offense and just really locking down on defense and controlling the rebounds."

On how the first game in Knoxville helped them in this game
"I think it helped a lot. We just played a lot tougher. I think we learned from the first game that we played them and we've just been learning from game-to-game since and just playing stronger and through bumps and it's just been working for us and helping us get better as a team.

On Anthony Davis and what makes him so special
"Just how hard he goes on offense and defense when it comes to just rebounding, blocking shots and you can also go to him in the post. He's just so active and he plays with a whole lot of energy without the ball. So it's just hard to stop guys like that that are just being so active on defense and offense when it comes to getting offensive rebounds on missed shots and just putting them back with dunks or just blocking shots or helping out any guy's man that drives."

On if other teams' physical play helps bring them closer together
"Yeah, we protect one another. Anything that happens we feel like it's happening to all of us, so any situation where something happens, we always run to each other to pick a teammate up or to defend another teammate."

#14, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G
On the fast start to the game
"We are just getting better and better. Our defensive intensity is crazy right now, so that helped us get off to a fast start."

On the difference in the last week
"It's just about that time. It's almost March time and I am getting excited."

On the technical fouls in the first half
"I don't even know what happened. Just a whole lot of chit-chat. We just had a few words but that's just basketball. I think it helped us a lot though."

On embracing the physical mentality this past week
"We are getting used to it now. There is a lot of chemistry on this team now and we are just playing our game."

#25, Marquis Teague, G
On Coach Calipari's comment that they are improving through Teague running the team
"I'm just trying to stay within the offense, get everybody good shots and do what Coach (Calipari) asks me to do."

On whether the team is approaching their potential
"Yeah. We just want to continue to get better everyday. Just want to get better and ready for April."

On the scramble in the first half
"Somebody pushed Terrance (Jones) and we all just came to help him and to clear it out. Then it got a little heated. No big deal."

 

 

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