Derek Willis followed up a huge game at Auburn with another big performance tonight. Willis put up 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 1 steal, making the most of his second start of the season. Derek attributed his consistency and confidence to his father and his girlfriend, telling reporters that his dad told him this week that the Auburn game was nice, but what he did after it would be what mattered.
“I just want to stay consistent. That’s the thing — my dad, I hate to bring him up in media, but honestly, he’s the one who’s been pushing me towards this thing, he and my girlfriend. He said the first game you had against Auburn was an amazing game, you played really well, but what’s going to keep you going is the next game and the next game. I’m just trying to play consistent and do what I can and hope for the best and try to win.”
Willis said physical practices this week were also a huge help.
“I think we all have been making really good progress. It all started in practice. Wed’ve been doing really had work, also Kenny Payne, a lot of conditioning, a lot of physicality. It’s been tough, but it’s paying off in the game and I think that’s why we were so well prepared for this one. We were the aggressor and it stayed like that the whole game.”
There was a hilarious moment when someone asked Derek how much emphasis Kentucky put on guarding the perimeter. (Kentucky held the normally hot-handed Razorbacks to 2-12 from the 3-point line.)
“Honestly, the two kids, I want to say it was maybe 5 and 3 — the white kid — those two were the shooters,” Derek said to titters of laughter from the media room. “We always had someone switching out on him and always around him.”
Then Derek endeared himself to the entire Big Blue Nation a little bit more with this quote:
“I just want to make [my dad] happy, I want to make people in the state of Kentucky happy, all the fans. That’s what I play for, or else I wouldn’t play this game anymore, honestly.”