Men's Basketball
Kentucky-Tennessee Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes

Kentucky-Tennessee Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes


February 3, 2024 Lexington, Kentucky, USA Coach John Calipari
Press Conference


Tennessee 103, Kentucky 92



JOHN CALIPARI: We had a chance. I watched a lot of tape and I have to give Tennessee credit. They played and made shots and did stuf. When you look and you say we shot what we did and we shot from the 3 what we did. They had a bunch of ofensive rebounds. We had 22 second chance. 22. Three plays hurt us out of bounds. Three plays. Two out of bounds. And again, when you don’t have the right guy on the ball, that stuf happens. But the kids fought. I haven’t lost any faith. We don’t have D.J. Teams are playing good against us and all our goals are still there. I have a good team.

We are young and still make some errors. We’ve got to get healthy.



Q Cal, you knew Tennessee was going to come out and play physically. What did you think of the way your guys responded to that physicality, especially early on?



JOHN CALIPARI: Well, early on they were making every shot and doing it which is fine but we were down 4 at the half. If we make a 3 it’s a one point game. We had our chances. Again, I will have to watch the tape. Again, some stuf that went on – some shots that we missed. You got to have a bunch of guys playing at their best when you’re playing against a team like that, top-five team, and they are playing well. You got guys making shots that haven’t made shot. Making 3s. You have to play. I like the fact we were there and we’re down 7 and we missed 4 free throws. It’s the end of the game – you know, let’s go. Some of that stuf hurt us. I don’t want these guys to lose any faith. Your confidence does get shaken when you’re young. I thought Justin did a good job today. It’s great to have him back in there where he can go. He did some really good stuf.



Q Cal, you mentioned the out of bound plays killed you. What did you see on those, what went wrong?



JOHN CALIPARI: The guy out of bounds was supposed to be standing under the basket and he wasn’t. They threw it right at the basket. The guy that got screened had to fight a little more.


Knocked the guy down, do whatever you have to- you cant give them that. And then we fell asleep on the corner. They had two layups and a corner 3.



Q More broadly on defense. As this continues to be a thing trying to keep teams under 80-90 points. Is there a common theme you have seen in that?



JOHN CALIPARI: Some of it in this game – there were things that we talked about. You can’t let this team get to the elbows. And we were saying the same thing. We have to be a little more sound defensively in what we are doing and we are going to have to be a collective defensive team. I keep saying it. If one guy stops playing, it’s going to hurt this group. We do it together, we can hold our own. But you’ve got to rebound. To start the game. Come on- you know. They had too many attempts. Just about each one of them – they scored a basket. That’s defense too, by the way.



Q John, the last two games Tre struggled a little bit. What are you seeing from him out there. Tonight, I don’t think he scored tonight?



JOHN CALIPARI: He struggled a little bit and we will sit down with him and figure it out. Last game I stuck with him way too long and this game I said look, maybe it’s not your game, and we got to get you back. We play Tuesday. We are on the road. There will be another sold-out game. Vandy won tonight. Now we are playing a team that’s confident and they been in every game and now we are walking into their place. You’ve got to bounce back. We are still one of those teams. We lost two games to teams that played well and deserved to beat us.



Q Coach, you had a great game from Ugonna last game. And kind of all of the bigs seemed to kind of struggle, especially on the ofense end tonight. What is the message to those guys playing the 5 with some of that playing time going up-and-down playing at that position? 


JOHN CALIPARI: Here is what happens. Guard, so that they are not pushing you out away and wanting to rebound. And two, so they get layups. Just don’t accept it. That’s the first thing. Again, we are still missing a lot of baskets two feet from the goal- that we’ve got to make. We had a dunk to Aaron that should have been a dunk in the first half. Those kind of plays, like I told them, we have to make those. Those are easy plays. We are a perimeter oriented team which should open up the lane for some of these guys. And we’ve got some stuf, but we’ve got to be better.


Q Cal, back here with the two losses at home back to back. How do you rally the guys and get their confidence up if you think they need it.


JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, I told them after – that team played really well and you fought and had your chances. Some of the breakdowns we can talk about and get better. But I told them, every goal that we have is still out in front of us. We are fine if we come together and understand. I said Justin played well and did some good stuf. Robert did well. Robert kept us in the game. In the first half we were down 4 because Robert made basket after basket. Reed did some good stuf. We got to get healthy. It’s hard to get a rotation going when you are shorthanded. I thought Adou did some really good stuf today. Adou rebounded and scored at the rim and made free throws. He did good stuf today.

Q Cal, obviously you’re never going to be happy when you give up more than 100 points. For you, how much more frustrating is it, you guys pretty much held Dalton Knecht in check he finished with 15 but four of those came on free throws late in the game but it seems like you held him in check these other guys beat you.


JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we talked about – you want to guard him but you also know the other guys can play. They’re dangerous. What those guys have done, they had five guys in double figures. They hadn’t had that. They had him and the other guy is getting 6-8 points. Those guys are capable. Zeigler is capable, Vescovi’s capable. Obviously James, the way he played tonight, is capable. One of the things I told my guys before the game is some of you guys are going to have to have some big games here. You’re just going to have to. That’s what happens in these kind of games. Two top teams that are top five, we were top 10. It’s hard for these young kids. I just got to keep being positive and let’s go. Next game move on. We got everything out in front of us. The league is really good. We’ll see where it goes.

Q Cal, you look around the country and certainly Tennessee is going to win a lot of games on the road but home court has not been as big of an advantage for even top 10 teams this year. What do you attribute that to?


JOHN CALIPARI: New teams. Most guys have new teams. We have a young team. We got the youngest team in the country. Most teams are new teams and when stuf hits you are still learning what and who is what and what they can do. Some veteran teams may be better at it but most of the teams – you know, Tennessee is a veteran team. The have added one piece and that piece is pretty good. They are a veteran team. But it’s the same whether it be losing at home or losing to teams that are unranked. It is happening to everybody. That’s why I keep coming back to. I’d say today’s game and South Carolina. We were possessions away from all of these other games. That’s why you got to stay the course. You can’t listen to the negative stuf. You can’t listen to all of the clutter. We are still a good team and now we have to get healthy and we have to get back on track. But, there is a lot of people that would like to have my team.


Q Cal, with D.J. and the ankle how much is this trying to manage this now so it’s not a problem in March with his health?


JOHN CALIPARI: He is probably – I’d say – I don’t even want to say. Okay. I’m expecting him to play soon. Sooner than later. But you know, he did the high ankle sprain and came back against Penn. He’s done okay. He’s freshman of the week four diferent times. So its not like he played awful but we need him healthy. If it was really bothering him. We’ve done some things and I think he’s getting healthy. It’s like you all know, when he doesn’t play, we don’t win. You know that. We can go crazy about this and it’s that and it’s this. Let’s get our team together. We’ve still got good players. Thank you.




FEB. 3, 2024


UK Student-Athletes

#3, Adou Thiero, G

On Tennessee coming out hot …

“Yeah, I mean we dug ourselves a hole to start off the game. We should’ve come out and kept it close at the beginning and we probably would’ve been fine at the end of the game. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

On his message to the team after back-to-back loses…

“I mean we have yet to play with our full team but not making excuses you know we going to figure everything out. We are going to find a fight in ourselves. We are a group of competitors you know. We got to get it figured out.”

On Justin Edwards becoming a factor and breaking through …

“You know I see him every day in the gym working he’s just grinding his trying to break through and I’m going to stick with him that’s my brother so I’m going to stick with him. I know he’s going to do it at the end of everything he’s going to be fine.”

On offensive frustration …

“Definitely. Just knowing we are a couple stops away from winning most of the games, you know, but we are going to get it figured out. We are going to go in tomorrow and watch film, figure everything out, and talk as a team. Just figure everything out.”

#15, Reed Sheppard, G


On how it’s been going against more challenging teams…

“Well, first off, Tennessee is a really good team and they played really well tonight. They didn’t miss many shots. But I mean, that’s what the SEC is. That’s what we go against every time out on the court, we get everyone’s best shot. But you know, we just got to keep getting better and keep, keep fighting and keep talking as a team and we will be alright.”


On how it will do for the team once DJ (Wagner) is back…

“Yeah. DJ is a great teammate. He’s very vocal on the court. And he does everything that we need him to do. You know, he’s really good at keeping guys on the game. And then on defense and offense, he’s just a dog. So, he’s really fun to play with. But you know we got to win without him as well. So, we’ll keep working and we’ll keep getting better and we’ll keep fighting as a team and this game isn’t going to define the rest of the season. It’s a long season.”


On how second chance points have been a struggle…

“Yeah, we just got to – we got to be more physical. We can’t let them hit us and get pushed down to the basket. We got to hit them and get them out of the way, and we got to go get the ball. They went to get the ball with two hands, and we tried to stick one hand in and when they did that, they came up with everyone.”


#0, Robert Dillingham

On getting behind early and having lots of ebbs and flows …

“It was just like we couldn’t win anything. That’s what we got to learn and get better at. We go out there and we come to play but we’re not competing. So, we got to learn to get the little plays and do the gritty stuff to win.”

On what this team needs to get the little plays …

“It’s a mindset, it’s how everybody comes to play, it’s how everybody looks at it. If everybody comes together, we’ll win games, but if everybody’s not connected all the way then we’re not going to do the little stuff. We’re still young.”

On how much the team is missing DJ…

“Definitely missing him a lot because he helps us with like being a leader and helping us be together and he’s our point guard. He’s another piece of the team that’s not at it where he’s got grit and DJ wants it. DJ comes to play every day and not everybody has that mindset. That’s why when we play, we miss him as our point guard. He comes to play every day and gets our starting five a push. So, just his mindset, leadership, and want to win.



Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes

On Josiah’s effort during the game…

“I do not know if you expect anything else. He is a huge part of this program. Since he walked on campus. He has struggled the past few days in practice. He got back in and has been having good results. What we told our guys is we aren’t going to sit around and watch Dalton do it. We have too many food players. It’s simple, we want you to do what we do.”


On road games and starting strong….

“Well, the key is, we play fast too. This is going to be a different game. We have been in a low-position game. And Kentucky is a fast team that moves with it. And we do too. We try to concentrate on defense early so they couldn’t do that. We want to do what we do which is get to the other end of the floor as best we can and shoot it. We made shots early. We have been having highly competitive practices. Proud of the effort they made tonight.”


On the importance of seeing what the team can do…

“Yeah, I don’t even know how we got to that point. We have never been that kind of team. There will be other games where he will need to come through. I think Kentucky did a nice time guarding and as the season goes on, he will have to deal with that. I think John had a great game plan going into today. They did a great job getting some missed matches were they wanted.”

On what Santiago Vescovi brings to the team…

“What we tell our guys is that we want you to do what you can do with confidence, and don’t do things you’re not comfortable with. Santi is very unselfish. You guys have watched us practice, and we’ve told him through the years that he has to take those shots. Because when we turn down shots, which we have at times, it really messes our spacing up because guys are coming in to rebound, then we don’t know where to go and we just get discombobulated. But Santi impacts the game in so many different ways, regardless of whether he takes a lot of shots or not. I love it when he’s driving and I love it when he takes his shots, but it’s what he does all around. His defensive game is just tremendous and he’s not afraid to mix it up. I think he and the other older guys really have a lot of trust and confidence in each other, and they are very real with each other. They all are willing to talk through a lot of things and do an incredible job at fix-it plays, and really just cover each other back.”


On the high score of tonight’s game…

“This was a high possession game, and Kentucky is lethal. When they get out on a run and get down the floor, they really attack. We play fast. That’s what we talk about. So I knew it was going to be a high possession game without a question. But it goes back to what I’ve said. Each game takes on its own personality, but we knew coming in here would be a lot of up and down, and a lot of shots.”



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