Their defense was smothering. Their offense was clicking. The shots were falling. There was not much the Texas A&M Aggies could do on Tuesday to stop the Kentucky Wildcats, as the team in blue rolled to a 100-58 victory.
Even in victory, Coach John Calipari has been known to harp on areas for improvement and things that may not have gone well during a game. And while he acknowledged that things were not perfect, even Coach Cal could find little to criticize about his team’s performance on Tuesday.
With four players in double figures and eleven getting into the scoring column, he praised his guys for sharing the ball. After causing 25 turnovers and outscoring A&M 35-2 in points off of turnovers, Calipari loved the more disciplined look his team had on the defensive end.
To see all of his post-game remarks about how much Coach Calipari likes his team, see the full transcript below, courtesy of UK Athletics.
“We were focused on what we were working on, and guys, if they broke down, it's not a missed shot or turnover, it isn't. I told them again, discipline. What I'm talking about is not tucking your shirt in, pulling your socks up, combing your hair. We're talking about this is how we're playing as a team. This is your job, do your job so we can trust you, and then you have to trust each other. I'm just trying to build trust within this team.
“On offense, we shared the ball, we did some good stuff. We got a good team. I told Billy after, that's about as well as we can play. Other games, we had played well for 20 minutes, and then 10 minutes we look looked like an AAU team. Today we were grinding on defense, didn't take crazy chances. So it was pretty good for us.”
Q. It was a 35-2 turnover, points on turnover differential in your favor. What do you attribute that to?
“Well, they have two guards out. They had their starting point guard and the backup point guard are not with their team because of injury or whatever else, I think it was both of them got injured. So now they're playing with their third point guard and sometimes they're playing without point guards. What he's been able to do thus far to keep this thing afloat, and doing what he's doing playing big lineups, playing some zone, playing a 1-3-1 at times, he coaches. Billy's good.
“But today, again, what our forte is, is putting pressure on the ball. So, his guards are out, our guards put pressure on the ball and that's what you would see.”
Q. Billy said when Isaiah's an offensive weapon like he was tonight you can win the whole thing. What's been the difference for Isaiah with his jump shooting recently?
“He's in the gym working. He got away from it for a while, and his shooting went south. Now, he's in there after every practice. He stays after at the shoot around. And De'Aaron Fox now we're forcing him to do the same thing.
“Isaiah's doing it on his own, trying to master his own craft, but he's doing good. He's still getting too many shots blocked. I'm telling him he's leading the nation in shots blocked and not blocked shots.”
Q. His overall numbers weren't huge, but, again, tonight it felt like Bam was taking a step forward. Some of the offensive moves that he made was active in a lot of different areas defensively blocking shots. Do you feel like he keeps improving?
“He was great. How about the break away lay up? He looked like a guard. It was crazy. I only -- we got up, that gap was, and I subbed with seven minutes to go, that's a lot of time. I even put Brad in with what? Five or six minutes to go?
“So, I didn't want to put Bam back in. But Isaac and -- I thought Ty was pretty good today, he just can't play the extended minutes. Two or three minutes of him banging and going after balls is not bad.
“Sacha got a chance to go a little bit. Now we can watch tape and try to build on that.”
Q. Was there any one or two players that you saw had really benefited from Camp Cal in this game that really took their games to another level?
“Wenyen is starting to become disciplined. Derek broke down about three times in a row in the second half, but is better defensively. I think our guards were not, we're playing -- this is starting to look like a team I coach.
“Like we, we're -- defensively. They shot 45 percent, but again, this was a game where everything was tough for them. I thought we did a good job trapping in the post. I thought we did some good stuff today.”
Q. What can Isaiah do to get his shot off when he drives to the basket?
“Shoot it higher. Like shoot it up. I told him, don't get it blocked. Shoot it higher. You're shooting it like the guy's six foot three. Shoot it high. Good news is, if he shoots it high, and he misses, Bam is going to tip dunk the ball. He's just trying to get -- I told him, ‘you got to shoot it higher.’
Q. Did you see more of that trust you were talking about earlier?
“Yeah, and I told them, I said, look, we had some breakdowns, but we didn't have 10 minutes of it in what we have seen in just about every game we have played. I'm just, I told them, their focus should be on their competitive spirit.
“I put Isaac in and he played behind that kid and the kid bagged. Then after that he started fighting and battling. Just have a competitive spirit. I'm beating this guy, you're not jamming me under the goal, I'm not accepting it. The same with Derek, have a competitive spirit.
“We are going to work on discipline as a staff and, as a coach, that's what I'm about right now. Discipline play. In other words, here's how we're going to play, then play that way. Here's what your job is. Do your job. If everybody's doing that, you can trust everybody.
“You don't go like, is he going to do right this time, is he going to go under, is he going to help me. So we just have to stay with it. We're young. We're playing all these young guys. Our veteran, the guy that's getting it is Isaiah, and he's a sophomore. But it was a good win.
“Again, Texas A&M, they just hit us on a good night. That's as good as we'll play. We shot the three, we made free throws. I mean, that's as good as we go.”
Q. Not about the game, but just wondering your reaction to the news about Orlando today or if you talked to him today or not.
“He and I talked. I'm disappointed. What's he been there two and a half years? I mean, that's how this is now. You have two and a half years to get it going or we're going to get somebody else. Just kind of disappointing. But that's why coaches want contracts. That's why coaches -- they fire us and we leave. I mean, it's just, it's crazy. But he'll be fine. They owe him money, and he'll either be a head coach again or be an assistant.”
Q. This is the fifth time that you've scored a hundred points this season. What's different about this UK team offensively that's different than some of the teams you coached in the past.
“More possessions. We're getting more possessions. When you end up getting 10, 12 more possessions and you score on half of those. What's happening is we go from an 80 point scoring team to a 90, 92 or 93. That's the biggest thing. We're really fast. This is a fast team.
Q. How tough a guard is Isaiah when he's making the outside shots to add to the drive to the basket?
“No, he's playing well. He's making free throws, he's -- I was going to put him back in so he could get the triple double, and then I looked and said, "Can you get nine rebounds in three minutes?"
Q. What did he say?