Kentucky-Florida Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY MEN’S BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 31, 2024
Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Coach John Calipari Press Conference
Florida 94, Kentucky 91
Q I know it was off a missed free throw. Was there thought of a foul there? Was it the plan to foul?
JOHN CALIPARI: There was a little more time than we wanted. But everything we were doing was to make them shoot some, too. And the kid drove it in the lane and one of my guys just left his man and threw it out. So if we were going to foul with that much time against a really good rebounding team, it’s just dangerous and I would rather play it out. And I thought they played it out pretty good.
But, yeah, that was — we talked about it. I said, let’s play this out, make sure they are not getting 3’s. I thought about calling a timeout before his second free throw and then I’m like,
I will freeze the kid. Why? Let him shoot it, he’ll make it. So that’s basketball. Whatever decision you make, if it works you are a genius. If it doesn’t, ah, should have done it the other way.
I mean, the thing is, I mean, so many categories we did, we beat them in. And this was similar to the game down there, where you look at it and say how did we win? And the same thing here. We make a free throw, we are up four, it is a ball game, they come down and make that three, it goes to overtime. And we had chances before that to get it even more. So…
They deserved to win. They played it and made plays and we missed plays. But I’m proud of how the kids fought shorthanded; you know, they are a good team, just like South Carolina.
South Carolina is a good team. This league is good.
Q Cal, no subs in the last 10:25 of regulation, especially in a game that went to overtime. How tough is that not only physically but mentally to stay engaged at the end there?
JOHN CALIPARI: Hard. It is really hard. And you have a guy like
Ugo who has, like, an unbelievable game. And, again, probably should have had Aaron in for Tre a bunch more than I did because —
you know, but Ugo was playing so well, that’s why I did what I did. But, you know, we — you know, it’s kind of like we got tired out, but we didn’t — there was not a whole lot of subs. It was like here’s who we have. Adou hurt his back and was giving us whatever he could. So…
And, by the way, when I was at Massachusetts I played guys
39 minutes. And if it went to overtime, they played 5 more minutes. If you asked, would you rather play or sit, they all want to play. But it’s hard when you are in that kind of game.
Q Cal, Reed was one who played all 50 minutes tonight. Just how indispensable is he, especially when you have the injuries and Wagner can’t go and it is a short —
JOHN CALIPARI: He did good. You know, there were some breakdowns, like why did you do that kind of breakdowns. And I’m owning it up to they were exhausted. Like the last three, why did you leave that guy? We were guarding the three-point line and he stopped in the lane and you left your man. Why did you do that? Well, he’s probably exhausted. But we didn’t — you know, who are you going to take out and who are you going to put in? Robert even went back in with cramps.
Q Cal, there were some comments that you made last year, even before last, you thought Ugo could be one of the best if not the best big men in the country. Was this kind of what you envisioned when you made those comments last year?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah. And, but again, he was exhausted. So there were a couple of plays late where I kept telling him, you cannot get blocked out. They are going to try. Just don’t get blocked out, run, run left, run right. And he was just exhausted. But he blocked nine shots. Nine. He got how many rebounds?
JOHN CALIPARI: How many points?
JOHN CALIPARI: I mean, he made those free throws. He missed one, but he made — I mean, he played. And that’s why I left him in. The way he played and the way some of our other guys played, you need to win that game. We just needed a couple of subs and we didn’t have
But I’m proud of how we fought. I’m just disappointed because we had our chances to get it to six and, you know, why did you throw that ball back? Shoot it and miss it, Tre lays in it. I mean, we just did stuff. I’m like, what in the world? But let’s put it to played too many minutes. I had no choice. I had to.
Q John, you said you like those gritty games, like that Arkansas win. But you don’t love giving up 90 points. And I know it is frustrating to see the defense give up a ton, too. What happened there late in the game? You know, you got those stops down in Arkansas, just didn’t tonight.
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, this is a better team. And we were scoring on them the same they were scoring on us. And I thought we had the game in-hand and then all of a sudden you turn around. It’s funny, the last play was the same last play they had down there, to shoot it and miss it to win the game. It’s two pretty evenly matched teams, to be honest. But we needed a full roster in this kind of game. You can’t be shorthanded.
But, you know, we did some good things. They shot, what, from the floor? Forty what? You are asking me about defense. You should know it, right? I think it is 41 percent. It’s pretty good.
41 percent is like whoo. And a couple of 3’s late, if we don’t give those up, you know. Now, we lost the foul line. They had seven more makes from the line than us. Probably the major difference.
I look, we — more points from turnovers, more points in offensive rebounds, more points in transition, more points in the paint. And I said, how the hell did we lose when you look at some of these numbers? But that’s why it was an overtime game. And then we missed a free throw, they made a three, boom, now it goes to overtime.
Q Coach, you guys have number 5 or 6 Tennessee coming in Saturday. How do you expect your team to bounce back and do you see there being a chance you do get to full health?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know about if we will have a full roster. But, you know, we have got no choice. They are coming in. They’re really good. They’re really veteran. They have got a couple really
— guys that can just break you down and score.
Rick does a great job. You know, like, this — if anybody watched this game, they were — this was a fun game to watch. It was not a fun game to coach. But to watch the game and how the guys went at each other and, you know, wide open kind of game and they broke us down. Their guard was able to jump over our guards and I thought we fouled a couple jump shooters. Again, that’s four points. In a game like that, that is huge.
And, you know, we have got stuff to work on. You know, I haven’t lost any faith in this team. I believe in the team. We just have to get healthy and have a full roster. In these wars like this, you are going to play a 45-minute game, 45 minutes, and some of the guys played 45 minutes. If Antonio didn’t get in foul trouble, he would have probably played 42 minutes of the game. Thanks.
MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. FLORIDA
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
January 31, 2024
KENTUCKY PLAYER QUOTES
#0, Rob Dillingham, G
On how he feels after the loss …
“I’m just looking at it as we have to get past this game, but definitely down because I feel like we could have won that game and there’s a lot of things I could’ve done to help the team but definitely down.”
On takeaways from this game to prevent overtime and close battles…
“I would say locking in on the defense and not scoring back and forth with the team thinking we’re going to outscore them and just hitting free throws, making the easiest plays. Just making it as easy as we can.
On how different the team is when DJ Wagner isn’t available …
“Definitely different, a lot different. He brings a lot to the table when it comes to having the ball and moving the ball.”
#15, Reed Sheppard, G
On playing every minute and facing fatigue end game…
“That’s part of it. That needed me to stay in the game and try and do anything I could to help the team win but you got to give a lot of credit to Florida. They played a really good game. You know, I was proud of proud of the team. You know, I thought we fought. We did what we needed to do, but just a few things down towards the end of the game that hurt us a little bit but we were able to learn from it. And we have got a couple of days to get ready for a really good game on Saturday.”
On staying locked in mentally while playing significant minutes…
“Florida’s a really good team. You know, at the end of the game, you just got to stay locked in. It doesn’t matter how many minutes you play or what, what’s going on. You can’t be into your own mind. You can’t worry about yourself. You got to worry about the team and do what the team needs you to do.”
On overtime execution in SEC games…
“I mean, every team in the SEC is really really good. You know, it’s hard to win SEC games home and away. It doesn’t matter. You know, well we’ll keep getting better. And late game situations on what to do. And we were we were right there today. We just made a few errors. missing shots, left some guys open. But we’ll be okay. We’ll learn from it and well, we’ll keep getting better.”
On finding the balance in finding his own shot vs. looking for teammates…
“Don’t force anything. If your shots open, shoot it and if it’s not open someone else’s open just pass it. You know, I trust every one of my teammates no matter what, whatever you pass on to something good that’s going to happen. So you just got to make the right basketball play.”
#33, Ugonna Onyenso, F
On his game and what went right …
“I just, it was the trust that my teammates had for me, you know, they believed in me. They believed in me more than I believed in myself. So, you know, the fact that my teammates were there to you know, to push me, you know, I did what I know and how to deal with that helped me build my confidence. So, I’m gonna say it’s all owed to my teammates.”
On what this kind of game does for confidence …
“Um, there’s just a lot going on still getting ready to fight over time. Because if you come into the game ready to fight, that’s going to be the confidence. I think the first the first block I had, was also one of the reasons you know, my confidence went up. So it’s all about coming in ready to fight for me.”
On if there’s a certain part of his game he’s proud of …
“Free throws, yeah. I know most people are gonna say points, but I’m gonna say no, like, I’m gonna say that for almost 10 blocks on tonight’s game, but I made a promise to get 10 blocks in the game. Um, I got it I was this close to getting it.”
Florida Head Coach Todd Golden
Opening Statement …
“I thought it was a pretty even game, looking at the stat sheet. We hit 12 threes, and they hit 10. We made 18 free throws, and they made 11. We outrebounded them by two, and we each had the same assist and the same turnovers. It’s kind of factually incorrect, to be honest. Again, my say is just that it was a heck of a game, man. It was a heck of a game, and I thought it was a very similar game at our gym — where they built a little lead on us in the first half, and the opposing team was resilient and kept battling and didn’t let the home team off the hook. There’s that stretch in the second half, where I felt like we really couldn’t do anything to stop them. They just kept putting the ball in the basket, but we did a really good job executing on our end and stepped up and hit a lot of big shots. [We] made six threes in the second half, and at the end of the day, really proud of the way we executed down the stretch. You go down four, and Rese [Tyrese Samuel] had a big-time layup. I think it was Robert [Dillingham] that missed the back end of a two-shot foul, and then our guys played really poised in that last 15 seconds. It would’ve been easy for ZP [Zyon Pullin] to come down and take a hero shot to try to win the game or extend the game. He did a great job of playing off two fouls, Walt [Walter Clayton Jr.] on the rep. — as Walt said he got this defender up in the air, side-step, that’s a great shot for him. Any shot that he gets up, we feel like is a really good shot for our team. Once we got it to overtime, it kind of felt like we were playing with house money at that point. We weren’t nervous about anything, and it was a five-minute game. Obviously, if you would’ve asked us coming into the game tonight — “would you have taken a five-minute game to determine the winner”, we would’ve said absolutely. And again, in overtime, Rese [Tyrese Samuel] hitting that baseline jumper kind of got us going and just made some big shots. I thought [his team] down the stretch, we guarded very well. I think we held them to 25% in overtime. Heck of a win for us. We’ve been knocking on the door for a win like this. To be honest. I thought our win against Mississippi State at home last week was a big one for us because they had been playing really well — just beat Tennessee and then another really good team at home in Auburn. Huge win for us, and again, this team that we have, we really only have two guys that played last year. It was Riley [Kugel] and Will [Richard]. Brand new group — we have some veterans, mixed in with some young guys, but this team I feel like is really coming together at the right time.”
On if he was expecting Kentucky to foul at the end of regulation…
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it a whole lot during the heat of the moment. Looking back on it, it would’ve been an opportunity probably. But, honestly — analytically, it’s 50/50 on whether you foul or not. My thing is we try to be consistent in those opportunities, but they played it out. Reed [Sheppard] is a really good help defender and takes some chances, but he had just blocked Walter’s shot in the corner a couple minutes before. He was showing the ability to close out in rotation. Walter was just really poised being able to put that ball in the basket.”
On being 3-0 in overtime games…
“Yeah, that Georgia one was a little different than the one tonight. We had a 21-point lead in the second half and they found a way to trick that off but found a way to win. We definitely are comfortable in those moments now, I don’t necessarily think it’s a great strategy to be successful all the time to go to overtime, but the balls bounce their way a couple of times in those games. We played really well against Michigan in overtime, in the second overtime, Georgia we played great and tonight we obviously played really well, so our guys are proving to be comfortable in those moments. I would prefer to win in regulation though to be honest.”
On going against Ugonna Onyenso…
“He’s definitely coming on, you know the first time we played him I think he played under 10 minutes but you can tell by the way they’ve been playing, and how he’s been playing that he’s become more of a focal point in the front court, he had the offensive 4-11 from the field I can live with that, he did a great job making his free throws, I know he was 45% coming into the game if I remember correctly and he dominated us on the glass and I think he is providing Kentucky with some toughness and some physicality and rim protection with eight blocks, I didn’t realize that. He had a heck of a game man. Goodness gracious, he’s playing really well, and you can tell that he is becoming more confident out there as well.”
On facing Kentucky for the second time in a month…
“Well obviously DJ Wagner being out it’s a big loss for them. He’s done a great job of playing the point for them and keeping them organized and I think that’s lost to UNC Wilmington without Wagner also back in November, early December mindful of that. Coming in here winning was huge for us. We felt like we missed an opportunity at home, and they did their part to earn it, but we led for 40 minutes at home, and we didn’t get the win. So, coming into this game we felt like this was an opportunity to kind of make amends for that first loss, and we feel like we’re more confident in this moment. We had won 3 in a row coming into tonight. That was our first SEC game and our guys were playing really well together. We did a good job on different games, but I think this is our program’s first top-10 road win since 2003 or something like that. We’re making strives, we’re headed in the right direction with the right guys in the program and we’re just really excited to see where the rest of the year goes, but it doesn’t get easier for us. We’re on the road to College Station on Saturday. That’s going to be a really tough game, but this should be a good confidence builder for us to come into Rupp, and win is obviously really hard to do. I think I saw something that “Coach Cal” has won 91% or 92% of his games here since he’s been a coach here, and that speaks for itself. Huge win for us and hopefully we can build on this moving forward.”
Florida Player Quotes
#1, Clayton Walter Jr.
On was there something schematically/on film you noticed that gave you better success from the three-point range…
“I was just letting them [Kentucky] pass it and then getting the shot off that. Shoutout to my teammates for finding me in my spot.”
On were you surprised you were able to get an open look on your last three-point shot in regulation…
“I wasn’t surprised at all. ZP [Zyon Pullin] does a great job at attracting the defense. He is a threat obviously. So, with him driving to the middle I was able to raise up to the left wing and Reed [Sheppard] was a little far off me. I came up, closed it out, jumped, and hit the shot.”
On would you consider this win a program maker for the season…
“I would not say this is a program maker. This win definitely helps but the guys and I have been saying all year that it is us versus us. We know what we are capable of and tonight we came out and showed that.”