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TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari breaks down Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On Johnny Juzang and the team’s mentality…

“He’s got a great attitude and he takes responsibility for how he’s playing. You are what your stats say you are, and he just kept fighting, and I was so proud of him. Here’s the biggest thing, you have got to have a team full of guys ready to go. We had a couple guys not play well, they’re not machines they’re not robots. Maybe it was a bad matchup, whatever you want to say. So here comes Keon, and here comes Johnny, because we just didn’t have the energy and effort out of Tyrese that you need to win a basketball game. So, Johnny went in there and had an offensive rebound on a free-throw, that’s a real skill, just effort and energy and that’s why we left him in. Now I put Tyrese in at the end because he said ‘let me get back in, I understand, I see it,’

I mean he missed a free-throw earlier that could have put us up 10. Then he went in and made the last two, he’s getting better, but we’re holding these guys accountable. Nick asked me for the ball, so we ran some stuff to throw him the ball in the post and the kid came through, made shots, made free-throws and made baskets. Ashton didn’t play great in the first half, but it doesn’t matter, the biggest rebound of the game is that rebound that he grabbed in traffic, which is what he always does. No one else on our team can get that ball except him, and he grabbed it.

This is hard, they’re playing well, they’re playing better and we had to do some stuff. We had to trap Fulkerson and then he was still scoring if he didn’t get fouled, so we trapped him a little bit, and then in the end Rick kept going back to that little pick and roll throwback drive, so we tried to switch it late just to try and give him a different look because they were killing us. They’re good, they play really hard, and they make threes, so we had to leave somebody and we gave up some three-point shots, but it’s a good road win for our young guys.”

On Ashton Hagans and his decision making…

“Sometimes he’s trying to make a harder play than he needs to make. The play that he walked, Nate was flying, all he had to do was look and throw a bounce pass to Nate, instead he went like this and wanted to lay one off to him and they called a walk, he didn’t need to do that, just make the easiest play. He’s so physical, he defends so well, he rebounds, now we just have to get his decision making to where he’s not just turning it over, and we need him in the game. We ran a play and Tyrese just couldn’t lob it and he couldn’t make a play that you know Ashton is going to make, and the ball gets tipped.”

On playing a new Tennessee team at Thompson-Boling Arena…

“You know they kind of told me we haven’t done well up here, I don’t go team-by-team and coach-by- coach, but this is a hard environment, this is a tough place to play, and Rick’s teams are not going to give you the game, you’ve got to take it. They’re not going to do stuff to cost them a game, you’re going to have to take the game in this building, and that may mean making two outrageous threes. That may mean lock them down and go rebound balls which is hard to do against them. They’re one of the best rebounding teams in the country. We’ve had four ridiculous environments like this four weekends in a row, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Auburn, and I’m still alive.”

On Johnny Juzang’s full-court game…

“There are two things that happened. On the rebound on the free throw, I said, “Pull it out!” Then he made it. “Great shot, Johnny!” On that play, I’m like, “Easy, easy, easy! Ah, great pass, Johnny! Way to play, kid!” He’s building my confidence in him, like you guys are saying where’d this come from? So, when I’m watching it and I haven’t seen it, you’re like ok. But again, you have to own your performance if you want to change, you have to come every day and know there’s no easy way to do what I’m trying to do, and every game you play is someone’s Super Bowl and their team is playing, so if you come in and decide you’re not going to play hard, you’re not going to get open, you’re not going to play strong with the ball and you’re going to look bad.”

On Tennessee cutting the lead in the second half and UK’s response…

“I believe I called a timeout after that, think it was a four-point game. Until I watch the film, I don’t remember the specifics. But I told them, “You all expect someone else to go get the ball when they have three guys chasing down every ball. And you all want someone else to get it. If you want to win this game, you’re going to come up with loose balls. That’s all I can tell you.” We talked about what we were going to do offensively and how we were going to play, but I think at that point we said we were going to look at Nick a little. I’ll have to go back and watch the tape.”

On Kentucky’s dominance from the free throw line…

“That’s why you don’t want to take a quick, contested jump shot. We are a great free-throw shooting team. We’ve had one game where a team has shot 20 more free throws than us this year. One game, and they are a three-point shooting team, so it’s kind of unusual that that would happen. But we are a team that wants to foul, we want to go to the rim, we want to post the ball, that’s how we play. We went 5-10 from three. Someone asked, “Why aren’t you shooting threes?” Because we’re a great free throw shooting team and there has only been one game where a team has shot 20 more free throws than us. That’s it. Most of the time we are going to go to the line.

“Fulkerson probably had as many free throws as he did. What’d he shoot? He was 10-12 by himself. They were 19-24 from the line, they were pretty good too.”

On whether or not there was a defining moment with Johnny Juzang…

“Johnny is not afraid to shoot balls. You saw him in the South Carolina game, did you want him to shoot that three? I didn’t either. Three point game with a minute and a half to go, and he has a shot and shoots it. You haven’t played that much, and you shot it? There was another play he missed the shot, grabbed the rebound, and put it back up. He is not afraid. Now, he’s got to get in tune with his teammates. Because he’s not afraid. You can’t cop out, it’s demonstrated performance. Today is going to help Johnny enormously. The team, I can’t tell you how much they were happy for both he and Keion. They were ecstatic. For us to get where we need to go and get better, we’ve got to have EJ, Nate, Keion, and Johnny Juzang. They’ve got to step up. So does Tyrese. Your effort and energy needs to be where everyone else’s is. If it’s not, you can’t be in. You just can’t be in.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR