John Calipari had a lot to smile about after Kentucky's 82-48 demolition of Georgia Tuesday night.
It was easily one of UK's best games this season, which has become a common occurrence over the past month as these young Cats are hitting their stride. This, despite an injury to senior forward Alex Poythress that will knock him out about two weeks.
Cal talked about that, the Georgia win and other topics following Tuesday night's game. Here's a recap of it all.
On UK's suffocating defense
"Well, it was us and them both. I thought, again, we end the game with seven turnovers, you're not losing many games when you turn it over seven times. We still gave up 16 offensive rebounds, and you know the guys that are giving them up. They just can't fight and hold their position and go grab balls yet.
"But I thought overall, the way we shot the ball, the way we moved the ball, I'd like us to have a little more of a post presence, but our post presence may be Isaiah [Briscoe], but he lost his mind today. I don't know what he was thinking. It was a good effort and one of our better efforts this year."
On Derek Willis' rise
"Yeah, I'm really proud of him. He's rebounding the ball. He's getting better defensively. Still not there. But this team believes in him and he believes in himself more. You know, everybody, because of what's happened here, I keep saying this, he's like on a normal path. His path is like the normal path.
"And everybody is like, ‘wow, he's still here?' What? You know, and I'm just happy for him, and you know, if Dom [Hawkins] hadn't been hurt, you'd probably have two of those guys.
I thought Charles Matthews was outstanding today. And it's not because he made shots. It's because he came up with balls and he blocked shots. He did some good stuff. Happy for him, too."
On Jamal Murray's shot selection
"Better. He's getting better. He had the one baseline flip, he could not help himself. It's like crack cocaine; I've gotta do this. And he flipped it under, had no chance of making it. But he's getting better.
"He had two threes that he was casual on and I'm like, ‘kid, you're going to get two or three, four more baskets. Why would you not with five minutes to go, I was going to leave you in for another minute or two.'
"But he's trying. He's getting better defensively. We're scrambling better. A lot of our issues defensively were because we had shifted to really work on our offense, because I thought our offense a month ago was just pitiful. And so we spent most of our time trying to figure out, how does this team need to play.
"Now we're back playing defense, and if you walked in our practice, you're not seeing us play much offense. We're really working on our team defense, the ability to fight through a possession, to finish off a possession, to scramble, to not only play your man, play one more, the stuff we normally teach here.
"So you see them, like I said, if you make it an emphasis, they will do it."
On Alex Poythress
"He's going to be out about two weeks, I would say. He'll be out about two weeks. So you know, he's out two weeks."
On there being nothing more to his injury other than it being a minor procedure
"No, I'm not — I don't think there's any reason to talk about it. It's a hemorrhoid, but he'll be fine (laughter from audience)."
On defense leading to offense
"Well, they just, they really put pressure on them. You know, one thing that when we — I watched the two games we played Georgia last year. Georgia was really good. We had no business winning the game at Georgia, and we were lucky to win it here. I was scared to death all day after watching those two games.
"If you let them get in the halfcourt, Mark Fox is one of the best at creating angles, creating fouls, putting his team in a grind-it situation, getting three-point shooters the shots. If you let them â if you don't go up and play them, that's his forte. That's what he does.
"Aside from that is they have really been guarding. I thought we really hurt the zone. A couple teams they played, they played all zone. I knew they would throw some. They went triangle and two, did you see it? Most of you guys don't know basketball, so you probably didn't see it."
On establishing more of a post presence
"Well, you've got to have someone around to go and you've got to get layups. I thought we did some good stuff defensively when they tried to throw it to the post today.
"But maybe that guy is Isaac [Humphries]. He missed a couple. Skal [Labissiere] missed a couple. It's hard â it becomes, when you really work it and you get it to that two-foot spot and that guy can't make it, it's demoralizing. Not only do you miss it, it just takes the wind out of your sails so we are going to keep working.
"All we have done with this team is continue to not only teach team, but individually. These guys have been doing that breakfast club themselves probably three, four days a week. I don't even ask who goes. Like some days, there's 12 guys. Some days, there's eight. But they are doing it three, four days a week.
"And what they are trying to do on top of that is we are spending at least 30 minutes a day on guys individually. No reason for him to get in there and get pushed. We are doing it every single day. We did it with Isaac. Isaac was coached like he was a starter, so he's able to go in â he was coached like he was a starter. And the same with Charles Matthews, trying to get him ready.
"But it was, like I said, guys are doing it. This was a good win. They have got a day off tomorrow. We come back Thursday, Friday and we've got to go and play at South Carolina, which is always a tough game for us. So it doesn't get any easier."
On the resolve this UK team has shown
"Again, we've got to help them as coaches. These are young kids. First of all, you've got to teach them what it means winning plays and losing plays. And we have to do it every day in practice. We just keep doing it. But you also defensively, aside from individuals getting broken down, our team defense stunk, and we got away from it. It stunk in the second half at Kansas. It was all off.
"So we got back to the basics of ‘let us do our job and teach what we're supposed to teach, team defense,' and these guys respond. So a lot of times, with us, and I say it all the time, it comes back to me. It comes back to me. If I'm not doing what I'm supposed to.
"When you have young teams - it's easy when you have veteran teams, you can blame them. ‘You've been here three years, you should know.' When you have all these young guys, it's hard to blame them now."