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Kenny Payne talks John Calipari ejection, Tyler Ulis coaching and more

With Cal ejected, Kenny Payne and Tyler Ulis took over coaching UK to a dominant win over USC, which also happened thanks to a big game from Marcus Lee.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With John Calipari ejected less than three minutes into Saturday's game at South Carolina, assistant coach Kenny Payne was left with the task of coaching a UK team 2-5 on the road against a Gamecocks squad unbeaten at home.

Maybe Kentucky used Cal's ejection as inspiration, or maybe these Cats were just too focused on the task at hand to let that distract them, but whatever the case, there's no questioning the end result.

That was UK winning 89-62 in a game they lead by as many as 34 points and looked like one of the best teams in college basketball, something they've been doing more commonly as of late.

Here's a recap of what Payne had to say about the big win, as well as his first real chance to coach an entire college game.

On if it was part of the game plan for Coach Cal to get ejected

"Not at all. He didn't get out of the way. I think one of the telling things about this game is that you saw the influence of what Coach Cal has been teaching offensively. I never touched on offense - didn't have to. Between Cal and Tyler Ulis, they're on the same page, and Tyler Ulis ran the offense.

"Every now and then I may have interjected something, but at the end of the day it was his show. The only thing I cared about was that we rebounded the ball, played great defense and shared the ball."

On how impressive it is to have a point guard where he can do that

"I can't begin to tell you how important that is for any coach, but especially for this team because he guides the other four guys that are on the floor with him and he makes their game easier."

On how an ejection can sometimes fire a team up

"I thought that when Coach got kicked out or whatever for the officiating, whatever that was, I thought it set a fire within our guys. I thought they played with, ‘You tried to take one of our guys out, we're coming out and we're going to play with more energy, more effort, we're going to fight more,' which is what we should be doing anyway.

"But again, the story isn't someone else coaching the team, the story is Coach Cal coached the team through Tyler Ulis."

On if he's ever been a part of a game where the coach got ejected that quickly

"Never. Never. I know a couple years ago Coach Cal got tossed in a game and it was the same thing. At the end of the day, our staff is one of the best staffs in the country, we recruit the best players in the country, so we have the best players that go out and try to win games."

On why Calipari was so fired up after the first technical foul

"I don't know. I didn't see what happened. I really can't comment on it because I have no idea."

On how angry Calipari seemed

"Very. Very."

On the other coaches restraining him

"Yes, a lot of effort."

On if he had contact with Calipari at halftime

"Yes, we talked during halftime. He felt like he didn't need to talk to the team, and I told him I thought it was important that he did because his influence really coached the game. It was like he was still there."

On what Calipari said at halftime

"Just, ‘You're doing a great job. Keep doing what we're doing.' He apologized to the players for whatever, losing his cool whatever, wished it wouldn't have happened. But at the end of the day, again, his influence coached this game."

On the importance of rebounding

"I'll say this to you: South Carolina is the most physical team in this conference. They are the toughest, fighting-est team in this conference. They win games because they absolutely beat you up, physical play, offensive rebound, defensive rebound, attack you constantly and for us to play the way we did makes a statement about who we are.

"And I told the guys during the end of the game: I can't explain to you how proud I am to be a part of guys that played a team, €”there was no reason for us to believe that we were going to go out and maybe outrebound or not get dominated rebounding-wise and get stops against a team like that."

On Marcus Lee

"So proud of him. He played well. I don't know what he ended up with. Eleven (points) and 13 (rebounds). That says a lot. That says a lot. He did a great job."

On shooting well

"I just think guys are getting comfortable. I think Coach is giving them more freedom to play offensively and they're just getting in a rhythm. Every guy is playing well. I was proud of Isaiah (Briscoe), the way he played. He doesn't have to make shots. He just has to shoot them with confidence. Eventually good players will make the shots."

On the game being chippy

"I like it because it says a lot about who we are. Some people, some fans may say, ‘I don't like the way Kentucky handled some situations. They reality of it is this game is about fight. That team wanted to physically intimidate us.

"That team wanted to beat us up and show they're superior to the way we play, that we are soft. Well, we went out and fought for what we fought for and we had success doing it."

On not giving up a second-half lead as in past performances

"Just defending. We get a lead, we gotta get stops. Having a killer instinct. If we go up 15, let's try to get it to 20. If we go up 10, let's try to get it to 15. And they got stops today. Consecutive stops is the key. And then when we get stops, which ends in rebounding, fly up the court and play with freedom."

On struggling on the road

"Well, I would say that when you say we struggled and it's on the road, I think it comes down to defense. I really do. The last game we played—who did we just beat? Georgia. That game, they shot 19 percent. I mean, that game—we dominated that team because we defended.

"We played well tonight. Yeah, we had great offense. We had great movement and ball sharing. But at the end of the day, we defended and rebounded the ball. That's the difference."

On whether Jamal Murray is healthy
"Murray's good. He's good. Played a hell of a game too."