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John Calipari talks MSU win, UK being erratic, Powerball, and more

How does Powerball apply to UK?

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky showed flashes of greatness during a win over Mississippi State, highlighted by a 20-point lead in the second half.

It was also a game full of errors and shortcomings, as evidenced by the Bulldogs cutting UK's lead to just

All of this had John Calipari praising his Cats at different points while expressing frustration with them at other points during his postgame press conference. He also had an interesting story about gathering his players and comparing their basketball careers to a Powerball ticket.

Here is a recap of what Cal had to saw following his Cats' win over the Bulldogs.

On UK's performance:

"Yeah, we did all right. You're up 20 and then you just -- we need Dom (Dominique Hawkins) back, badly. We're playing some guys that don't deserve to be in there, and then you end up playing them a lot of minutes. See, people see a shot made and think, well, the guy's OK. But when you watch the tape, it's just like, oh, my God, you score six and you give up 12.

"We need Dom back. But he's got a high-ankle sprain. It is what it is. The other thing, we have to do something when we have guys no-show us, we've got to figure out how we win anyway and how do we play then? Like I said, we were up 18, 19, whatever it was, when they weren't playing well, and we figured out a way.

"So there were some good things. But give them credit, they didn't stop playing. If they hadn't turned it over as much as they did in a couple of stretches, they'd probably beat us.

On Isaiah Briscoe improving:

"Well, we put him behind the zone because we couldn't get anybody with size back there that had any confidence to score a ball. So then we put him under the basket. That's what the adjustment was. You dude's are afraid? We'll go to him, and he got behind the basket and he scored.

"He's getting better. He's getting more comfortable."

On continued technical fouls and Skal improving:

"I don't know. I'd just have to see the tape and what happened. I know it wasn't generated by us. The first push was not ours. That's not how we are. That's not how we play. But you get pushed and you're defending your teammate.

"But I didn't see it. So when I watch the tape, I'll tell you. I thought Skal (Labissiere) was better today. Showed some signs. Now we've got to just keep giving him minutes and see where he can go. (He) did some good stuff today."

The Powerball story:

"I did a thing with them at my house last night. I got 15 lottery tickets, Powerballs. I had them put $2 each, and they each took out a Powerball ticket. I asked them what they would do with the money if they got it. Asked a couple kids and then I said you're going to tell me what, later, I want you to write three on four things down. It was really an interesting conversation.

"Then I said what are the odds of you making it, hitting this ticket? They said they didn't know. I said it's 292.2 million to 1. That ticket is not a winner. You're not winning with that ticket. Would you like to get your money back? One kid took the money back and left the ticket. Then one of the others bought his ticket with another $2.

"Then I said you better hope that that ticket doesn't win, you're going to want to jump off a bridge. But I then said you already own a ticket, you. It may be 50/50 that you're going to hit the lottery, 70/30. But you've got to fight. You've got to want it. You have a ticket.

"A lot of people buying these lottery tickets have no chance in anything else other than 292 million to 1 to be that. So, again, I don't know the answer. That comes from within. We have good players. We're learning. We made some dumb errors, but that's what happens when you have a young team. But, again, when we have a lot of guys no-show, it's hard to win. It's just hard."

On what he told players after this game:

"I just said enjoy the win. You had a chance to bury them. We have a couple guys in here. Again, we've got to figure out if they're not playing well, how we're going to play, because we've got to try to win anyway, and we were for a while.

"I thought Alex (Poythress) made the free throws down the stretch and showed a lot of courage. There were things that he did. But in the guts of that game, he was not a factor, and when you're that good, you need to be a factor."

On UK's past two games and figuring out his team:

"Part of it is us. Me, as a coach, I've got to figure out where he's most comfortable playing. Like today, I put him under the basket. You know what? He's really comfortable under there. Alabama we put him in pick-and-rolls and he had flashbacks to play in AAU basketball and he made shots.

"So there are things -- if you expect him to be a spot-up shooter, spread the defense, why am I doing that to him? That's not who he is. So part of this is me figuring out how do I make it where he's comfortable? But, again, we had a nice lead, went to the bench, and all of a sudden, it's like a tie ballgame. You know, we're up at half ready to -- we give up a three. It's something we do every day in practice. Something that you're not giving up that shot, we give it up.

"So there were a lot of things that I look at and I just shake my head. But this is what happens when you're this young. And we did win the game, and we march on."

On Jamal Murray:

"We're doing a lot of different kind of shooting. Again, for him, he didn't know that he was open if a guy was in the lane running at him and he's at the 3-point line. He thought, well, I couldn't get it off. So now we're doing drills for our guards where there are guys running from you at the lane but you're open at the three. Get it off. If you can't get that shot off, you can't play basketball. You're really not a basketball player.

"So that's kind of how we said it to him. If you can't get that shot off, you're not a basketball player.

"I mean, the reality of it is, the guy's 15 feet from you, 18 feet, you catch it, get it off. We've done a lot of that and lot of three-point shooting stuff that's really helped us. I was surprised. Again, we're now a normal three-point shooting team from where we were."

On getting the most out of all of his players:

"Trying to get those guys to deal with it themselves. I told Tyler (Ulis), you say it before the game and you say it during the game, then you're allowed to say it after the game. You don't say something to him before the game and during the game. Do not speak to him after the game. That's not fair. But if you got on them prior to, you're on them during the game, and you're telling them what they need to do and they're not responding, then you have a right to say something after.

"I thought Tyler was great again today. Made big-time baskets, had some turnovers that really surprised me down the stretch, had a couple that kind of hurt us."

On the play of Mychal Mulder:

"He did not play well today. Like the games that he played where we stuck him in, he was so excited. There was an energy to him, he was rebounding and bouncing around and running, and today he was tentative. Like I'm walking on egg shells. Like where did that come from?

"But, again, we've got all these young players that are trying to get in there and prove themselves. Charles the same thing. I mean, you know, but like I said, we need Dom back because he's a veteran. We'll just have to see when we're going to get him back. I don't know, high-ankle sprain."

On Tyler Ulis getting more open looks:

"They're playing pick-and-rolls different ways. They're going under and now he's shooting the ball. We're telling him you've got to take that shot. He's coming off pick-and-rolls. Our bigs are doing a much better job of screening so that he can.

"We had one late where Alex flipped out of the screen again instead of setting a solid screen, so that either Tyler gets it or you get it. He just did not want the contact and he ran from it, so now we end up with nothing and we end up with a shot clock violation.

"But more during these games now, even Skal, we're doing it every day. Every day we're doing 15 minutes of screening, just teaching them how to screen. And I know you may look at that and say you guys are a Division I basketball team, and you're spending 15 minutes a day on screening? Yes, we are, every day."