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John Calipari recaps Kentucky’s impressive SEC debut at Ole Miss

The young Cats put on a show in Oxford, Mississippi Thursday night, led by Isaiah Briscoe’s triple-double.

Indiana v Kentucky Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats came out at a dead sprint on Thursday as they put up 60 points in the first half against Ole Miss, the most for a Kentucky team since 2004.

Any other night, Malik Monk’s 34 points or Bam Adebayo’s career high 25 points would be the story. But after a monster first half, Isaiah Briscoe pulled off the third triple-double in Kentucky basketball history to lead his team to a 99-76 victory.

With 19 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, Briscoe’s historic night just happened to be the second triple-double by a Cat in the last 30 days.

Despite a lackluster second half, Coach John Calipari was pleased with his team’s performance. Particularly happy with Bam’s performance underneath the basket, Coach Cal emphasized a need to get him some help down there. Of course, Cal is never satisfied.

For a complete look at Coach Calipari’s post-game comments, see below for the transcript courtesy of UK Athletics.

On Ole Miss’ new arena

“The one thing you know about Ole Miss: When they do something, they’re going to do it right. But they won’t do it. So when you go around this campus, whether it’s the theater, the museum, classrooms. They built a hotel that they use for football games, I think. This building looks like it seats 16,000. Took care of the students. Let them be on the bottom.

“Took care of all their fans by having dugouts or bunks behind there. I mean, I went through the building and I was like ‘holy cow’ and I told DeWayne (Peevy), ‘You gotta look at this and get some ideas for our building because we gotta do a better job of taking care of our people. Then the one thing that really got me is Andy (Kennedy) got a parking space.

“I don’t have a parking space. I went to DeWayne and said, ‘How the heck does he have a parking space and I don’t have a parking space. That’s crazy.’ But anyway, I saw Matt Insell yesterday, who was with us at Kentucky for a while. We played really well today, guys. The first half, that’s as well as we’ve played in a long while. So it’s not—then they came back at us in the second half and I was a little bit upset with some of my guys because we got sloppy.

“What I’m trying to do with my team is discipline. We have to have discipline. And you saw in the second half when we didn’t and I went crazy because it’s not the score. It’s—whether it be defense or offense, it’s the defense we don’t have right now. But it was a good road win.”

On Bam Adebayo

“Well, again, what we’re trying to do and what they do doesn’t always match because we just don’t have the discipline. We went back to a little of AAU. Like, we’re throwing look-aways, cross-courts. I’m like, ‘What just happened? Who threw that ball? Why would you throw it?’

“He pointed. ‘There was nothing there! Why would you throw it? And then you threw it to him and he threw it to him and then you threw it away!’ So they don’t always—we’re young. We’re playing all these freshmen and it makes it hard. But Bam’s getting better. He’s somebody that, again, you know, 12 out of 19.

“And still, I don’t understand the free-throw shooting because he is a better free-throw shooter than that, but the last couple games he’s like 2 for 10.”

On whether it takes longer for big men to develop

“Well, if you come to our practice, we’re working every day and it’s a process. And then we’re trying to get them to do what we’re working on in games. They don’t always do. They revert back to what they know and what they’ve been doing their whole lives and he does occasionally. Malik Monk, I had to get on him. He started with a step-back.

“I’m like, ‘You’re not doing that. No.’ I thought he played well. De’Aaron Fox started the game so strong and played so well and part of the reason we were up so much was because of that and then in the second half he just didn’t have the energy, probably because he didn’t play in the first half.”

On the significance of Isaiah Briscoe’s triple-double

“Twenty-four assists and only eight turn(over)s. I’m not satisfied, but that’s just me. I thought we did a pretty good job of defending them and let me say this: They may be the best free-throw shooting team in the country.

“So if you foul them, you’re losing. It gives them a chance to stop the game, to get in their 1-3-1, to get in their stretch defense. And the one thing – and you guys that follow us, the Kentucky guys here, the ones that aren’t at the football game – we like a team to spread out the court on us because it opens up lanes for us to drive and do stuff.

“That’s how—when a team does that, these guys are pretty trained to be able to attack.”

On what difference it makes having a post presence

“And Sebastian (Saiz) for them. I mean, both of us. We both have a post presence. If you don’t have a post presence, your team is a fraud. It is. Because there’s going to be a game that you miss shots and you’re going to lose. And if you’re trying to win six in a row at the end of the year and you don’t have a post player, I’m sorry, it’s not happening.

“You look at Villanova last year, the biggest reason they won was because of that big kid. If they didn’t have that big kid, they had no chance of winning. I mean, that’s what set them apart. They had those perimeter guys that could play and they had a big guy.”

On Adebayo being a willing passer

“Yeah. We work on it. We spend time. Because you know if he gets going, they gotta double-team him. Our big guys—the thing is, they’re going at each other every day. I tried Tai (Wynyard) today because I just—the backup, I have not been satisfied that he’s been playing, whether it’s Isaac (Humphries) or Sacha (Killeya-Jones) and Tai didn’t get a chance and I gave him a chance tonight.

“I probably should have gave him another chance, but he went in the first couple minutes and did OK. He hadn’t played much. But we gotta get somebody else that can play like Bam’s playing. Maybe not doing the dunks and all the stuff that he’s doing, but somebody that can hold his own defensively, that can rebound balls and then can make a shot next to the basket.

“We just haven’t been getting that. Guard play, Mychal (Mulder) was better today. I thought Dom (Hawkins) played pretty good defense.”

On Ole Miss giving him a squirrel

“I’m taking that squirrel with me, too, by the way. This one was a dead squirrel. The other one was alive and he peed on my shoes before I left in that Tad, whatever that thing was called over there.

“But I’m going to say it again: You gotta give it to Ole Miss. I don’t care of it’s with football, academics. If they do something, it is going to be done right or they won’t do it. This building right here, it’s already helped them in recruiting.

“They got a kid from Oak Hill that we would have taken. A kid who’s really good. And it’s going to help them in recruiting. I mean, that was a great environment for the fans. They got the band going, you got the food court, you can go under if you’re—on the bottom 10 rows you go under and the top 10 rows you go—I mean, this is—for Andy to go do what he’s trying to do, you have to have this.

“The support that he gets here—and he is the veteran SEC in basketball and football. How about that? He’s it. He’s the senior coach.”

On where he’s going to put the squirrel

“I don’t know yet. I may put it in my office because it’ll be a great point of ‘what do you have a squirrel for?’ ‘You really want to know the story?’ I don’t know if I will, but I told my—I asked our equipment manager, ‘Go ask them if it’s OK that I take it.’ I didn’t know if they did give it to me to take or like they want to keep it. I don’t know. So we’re asking. If they let me take it, I’m going to take it with me.”

On Ole Miss forward Sebastian Saiz

“He missed some shots because of our size early that he’s made. I’ve watched all the tape of him, and what Andy is doing – and again, he’s just one of the best coaches in our league and one of the best coaches in the country. He knows he has to play through (Saiz) to get easy baskets, and then he’s got these other guys shooting 3s.

“And again, they’re making 3s. Today they didn’t make as many and we kind of jumped up on them a little bit and made them drive. But they’re making 3s, so now you have an inside presence, you have guards that can beat you on the bounce and can shoot 3s and that’s how they’re playing.

“The games I’ve watched on tape, the 1-3-1, the 1-2-2 press really has thrown people for a loop. Today I watched the Memphis game. I hadn’t watched that one. I watched the Memphis game and they got up big on Memphis and then Memphis came back. But again, that 1-3-1, the 1-2-2, they muck up the game to get those guys involved.”