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John Calipari talks Alabama win, Alex roaring, physicality, more

John Calipari was pleased with his Cats' performance, but still knows there's a lot of work to be done.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

You couldn't have asked for a better bounceback than what Kentucky had in Tuscaloosa in their 77-61 win over Alabama.

It was game UK led by as many as 16 in the first half, and though the Tide made a run in the second half to cut it to six, the Cats finished strong and pulled off win No. 12 of the season. It was also the first true road win UK has scored this season after being 0-2 in such games.

The theme in both of those losses was the Cats being too soft and getting pushed around by their opponent, something they made sure didn't happen vs Bama. That pleased John Calipari, who offered up some nice praise after the game, but like any coach, still knows there's a lot of work to be done.

Here is a recap of what Calipari had to say following Kentucky's impressive win.

On rebounding better and being more physical
"Well, we thought we could get them on the offensive glass. Even though we're playing small, those guys can go after it. But the biggest thing is that we've got guys - We've got good guard play and they were making the great decision making. We had some turnovers. As a matter of fact, they didn't have a single turnover in the second half. That's amazing to me. But we fought and did pretty good."

On Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee bouncing back
"Unbelievable. Unbelievable. I told Marcus if he had made some free throws, that's who he is. You can't 0 for 6 from the line and play basketball. Not winning basketball, you just can't do it. They rebounded, defended, they talked better. Alex finished around the goal, made his free throws.

I thought Jamal (Murray) played winning basketball more. He still has a ways to go. And it's nice that when Isaiah (Briscoe) will make it a shot with the elbow and do those things because he's capable of doing it, it makes us a different team. I told Avery (Johnson) after, ‘We played really good.'

On Tyler Ulis
"Yeah, he was really good. He had eight assists, one turnover. Isaiah Briscoe, four and one. Alex Poythress, no assists, four turnovers. But other than that, he played pretty good."

On the pick-and-roll with Ulis and Poythress working so well
"Yes because of how they play pick-and-roll defense. They try to trap, they were doing stuff. So we wanted to draw them into a trap and try to play off of it. And it was both of these guys because then they started leaving Marcus Lee, and that's when we were finding him. They were leaving Marcus to go guard Alex is what they were doing.

But I told them after the game. I've got a pretty smart team who can make adjustments and tell them. They can understand what I'm saying. Look, any time in any league you win on the road, especially against a team that has been playing like this team has been playing, it's a great win. And for us, it's something - I asked them, ‘How bad did you feel after LSU?' I mean, this is how basketball is. This is like life, you move on. You make up for it in the next game and you feel good."

On featuring Poythress on offense more
"We were going to post him up one way or another to start the game and just let these two play. Because, look, bottom line is, folks, if you don't have post presence your team's a fraud. Can I tell you that again? If you don't have post presence, your team's a fraud. We should have it and there's been games that we haven't had it and those games we lost. So like I said, good win. Good road win. And yeah."

On Lee's critical offensive boards
"Yeah, he did a great. I say it again: He's gotta get to where he's comfortable shooting free throws. Again, for the game we shoot 63 percent but he's 0 for 5."

On Poythress and Lee can becoming more consistent
"I'm going to let you ask them that."

On if having more veterans helps with mid-game adjustments
"Yeah, well, it's why I play old guys (laughter). No, it's that they're smart kids. They're not only they do well in the classroom, but they're smart. You can coach them through, you can do things, they can make adjustments, we can do some of it on the run.

"Basketball's fast. It's not like you can stop, show them a picture and say, ‘Look, this stuff's happening.' And you got 30 seconds to say, ‘OK, here's how they're playing. Let's slide up.' Marcus Lee slid up and that's where he was making those baskets out of that timeout."

On Alabama under Avery Johnson
"Oh, he's going to do great. It's funny: I was talking to Del Harris today and I said, ‘Del, Avery,' - he was an assistant for him - ‘he's really got this team playing, playing hard and playing confident.' And if you watch their games from the beginning of the year to now, they have played better. I said to him, ‘He's a hell of a coach.'

"And he said, ‘Cal, the guy won 60 games a year in the NBA, no (expletive) he's a good coach. What are you talking about? So no, he's doing great. And I told him after, ‘Look, that's as good as we play. You hit us at the wrong point.' If we'd played like we played the other day, we'd have had the same result as we did down in Louisiana."