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John Calipari talks Arkansas, Skal, Derek Willis, refusing to lose and more

Calipari recaps UK's win over Arkansas and talks Skal, Willis and refusing to lose.

Gunnar Rathbun-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari has been stressing to young Cats to play more desperate and with urgency on the road in order to match the home team's intensity.

Not doing so is why UK entered Thursday's game vs Arkansas with a 1-3 mark in road games, but these Cats grew up and played like a team desperate for a win vs the Hogs. That helped the Cats pull off an 80-66 win that was easily one of this young team's most impressive wins this season.

Calipari had a lot of praise for his team following the win, but still pointed out several areas that had UK been better in, would have resulted in an even more dominant win. Here's a recap of everything Cal said following the game.

On Skal and his good game:
"Well, I'm trying to figure out this team and I'm trying to figure out individuals. So, in my genius ways I'm trying to post him up and make him - maybe he's a jump-shooting big man. So let him shoot jump shots. Well, that's not on him. Now, he's got to get in better shape, he can't stay out there long. You do have to fight and play tougher, but he had confidence because he made a couple shots. So that's not on him, that's on me.

"We did some stuff today we haven't done: middle pick-and-roll. If you've watched us play, I'm trying everything to try to figure out what is this team. Derek Willis makes us a better team, got to put people on the bench and get him his minutes. Jamal (Murray) and Isaiah (Briscoe) still gotta learn to win. They made plays that gave you a chance to lose - they still did.

"You gotta give Arkansas credit, they didn't stop playing. They just keep playing and tried to win and made 3s and they don't care about score, here they come. It was a good win. Anytime you can win on the road and do it is a big game. And again, Tyler Ulis was ridiculous today. He was really, really, really good."

On winning at Bud Walton Arena for first time as UK's head coach:
"Have I ever won in this building? I thought when I was at that other school maybe I did. OK, I wasn't sure, so I had. This is a hard place. You don't come here expecting to win, let me tell you that. You just don't."

On committing just six turnovers:
"Well, we had six turnovers and that - look, we may be a grind-it-out team. That may be what we are, and that's how we kind of played today if you watched. We raced if we had it, and if we didn't have it we tried to grind it out. Now, you may say, ‘Why haven't you done that?' We're trying everything. Like, even personnel. Like, Alex (Poythress) and Marcus (Lee) are going to have to - they're fighting for their lives now.

"If these other two play like they played. I love Marcus Lee and I love Alex Poythress, but if those other two are better they're playing. Just how it is, and it's a great thing to do. I love what Charles Matthews did today. I mean, he was out of the lineup and now he's back in that lineup. He did good today."

On holding Hogs to 2-of-12 shooting from three-point range:
"You know, and (Dusty) Hannahs killed us anyway, but we were just saying make them beat us with tough twos. That's what we were trying to do. Both of those guys (Hannahs and Anthlon Bell), we knew, one, if you turn it over they're flying. Two, they're the best team at creating threes that we will have played against. Because we didn't get many turnovers, they didn't get many in transition.

"Then the rest of it comes in the halfcourt. Then you're just saying, you're driving the ball. How about the one where the two guys are together and they both left Hannahs, the one guy you don't leave. Both stay on him and leave the other guy for a layup, they left him and the kid makes the three."

On building Skal's confidence:
"He's got to build it up, I can't do it for him. It was good, it was good after the game, I said, ‘How was he?' after the game and the team all (clapped). I said, ‘Guys, let me tell you, a lot of this is on me. Maybe he is a jump-shooting big guy. What do you think?' And Tyler looked around and he must have said that to Kenny (Payne) weeks ago. ‘You dudes are trying to make this guy something he's not.

"He's not Shaq (O'Neal), he's a jump shooting big man.If he rebounds and blocks shots, I'll let him shoot jump shots. How about the first one he took? You all looked at me like, ‘What is Cal going to do?' The first one he took. It was like a 3. And you all looked at me and I was like, ‘If he ...' and it went in. I said, alright, good play."

On starting Derek Willis:
"He earned it. I didn't give it to him. He earned it how he played at Auburn. Then he earned it in two days of practice. He was the leading rebounder in two days of practice. I thought in the first half he was a little tentative and I got on him. Because he had two tipped-back balls that he fumbled for no reason. No one was near him. And I got on him at halftime and he came out and performed, which tells me he's building his own confidence. I can't take it away from him."

On UK's offensive rebounding:
"Big. That was big for us. One of the things we did was on drives: If they bring that big, just throw it over his head. So those are—you want to say second chance, but they were passes over the—you know what I'm saying? Like we drove, the big came and we just said, ‘Throw it,' and we got two or three of those."

On winning with Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee doing so little:
"Well, one of the things I did: I reached back into the 1990 playbook and all we talked about was ‘refuse to lose' for two days. You may run into time, but you refuse to lose. Refuse to lose. I don't care what happens. Keep playing. You do not—now you may run out of time, and that's OK, but we haven't played that way. And today we did, I thought. We played one game that way."

On Willis and Labissiere being rim protectors:
"Both of them were good. I didn't see how many blocks we had. We had nine."

On pressing early:
"Yeah, and a lot of times you press a pressing team. You just, you know, instead of them being the aggressor, we wanted to be the aggressor. I mean, I'm not trying to act like I did anything, but that's what our plan was."

On his postgame exchange with Mike Anderson:
"It's fine. He and I talked after and he apologized. I just said, ‘If I said anything to make you mad, I apologize.' I say all kind of stuff. So probably something I did say and he deserved to react the way he did. We're fine."