Kentucky led by 25 at one point, but finished the game very poorly to hang on for a 92-85 win over the LSU Tigers.
Wenyen Gabriel had a career-high 23 points to go with his 8 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while Malik Monk had 23 points of his own.
Coach John Calipari saw a lot of things he liked during the game, but he knows the Cats still have a lot of work to do.
See below for a full transcript of his post-game comments, courtesy of UK Athletics.
Q. Are you more encouraged that you were up 25, or bewildered by those last eight minutes?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, first of all, I thought you saw what I wanted and I thought we did some good stuff. Defensively, again, Bam (Abedayo) got his third foul. He just stopped playing down that end. He just, like, ran from layups.Look, he fouled, not us. You're the one that fouled 94 feet from the basket. You got to go play now or you can't play. Just stay out.Eight minutes to go, what we did, we reverted. I don't know if we were tired or reverted back. Might have been a combination of both. If I could practice tonight, we would have gone three hours. I would have had them meet me at the gym at 10 o’clock, and I would have gone three hours until one in the morning until people were puking. That's what I would have done. That's the old days. I can't do that. But we will practice three hours tomorrow. I told them, If anybody says they can't go, you won't make the trip to Alabama. So don't go, or you'll go.We're going to get after this and continue to build what you saw for three quarters of the game.
Q. Was Wenyen Gabriel fully rebooted tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: It wasn't Wenyen. What happened was Isaiah Briscoe created 12 shots and had three hockey assists at halftime. He created three shots. Now, he only had three assists because a bunch of guys missed shots. But he created 12. We're looking for him to create 18, 20 shots a game. That's what we want from him. And he started now. After he did that those last eight minutes, he didn't do any of it. He stopped doing it.We had a lot of guys revert. I liked the fact that what we talked about with Malik (Monk), he was doing. Turnovers came down. We had one late. Throw it to them on an out-of-bounds like it doesn't matter? Whoa! What happens is as an individual you look bad. It's not our team, you look bad.We got some stuff to do. I'm going to say it again. I know now and I feel comfortable we're on the right path. Disappointed in the last eight minutes. But let's say this: How about LSU didn't stop playing. How about Johnny (Jones) just kept them going. They're making threes and they weren't afraid. We had a couple of guys I had to call in the office. I said, ‘Look, you're a finisher for us. If you don't want to shoot open shots, you're not going to be in the rotation. I'm not going to play you. I don't need you to do anything else. I don't need you to drive, and roll baseline, and throw a bounce pass. I don't need any of that. I need you to shoot open shots.’Okay, you don't make them. Then it's my choice to keep you in the game or let you keep shooting. Malik missed six in a row. Then he made three and we're up 25. Whatever you're supposed to do you must do. I've made it very clear individually and made it very clear as a team, not mean, I just said, ‘This is what we're going to do.’Yesterday's practice was one of our best of the season. Not energy-wise, (but) what we look like as a team. Now we got to continue on that path and shore up the problems we're having defensively. Some of those problems are personnel. They either got to step on the gas or they got to step back. Not being mean, I'm just being real. It's that time. Either you step on the gas and get this right or you got to step back.Don't want to shorten the rotation to five or six guys, but I will if I have to. I'd like to play eight or nine guys so they all get a chance to play, have fun, morale, all that. But you better deserve to be on that court, or... We're at that time of the season.
Q. In the second half, teams have shot much better against you guys, LSU included. Is that a fatigue thing?
COACH CALIPARI: Maybe focus, fatigue, not getting back, not talking. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on. But, again, what the major thing I wanted to get out of this game and that practice we got ‘til the last eight minutes, then they got tired and reverted back to: I'm going to pass this. When I've exhausted every opportunity to shoot this ball, I will then give it to you, maybe by your ankles, maybe over your shoulder, but I'll give it to you.We got away from that. Today the ball moved. It was crisp. It went to the extra pass. Guys found each other. It's fun to watch and it's fun to play that way.Then the last eight minutes, we kind of reverted. But, again, they were scoring. They made probably four threes. Hate to tell you, three of them were on Wenyen. Kid, what are you doing? You're leaving a guy. Tell me what you're thinking. Oh. So, we got some work to do. But let me say this: I told them, ‘Enjoy the win. We won. We were up 25. What we're working on, we're on the right path. Now we got to go.’
Q. Cal, LSU shot 62 percent in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: Believe me, I know. I know. I watched it. I'll tell you that with Bam, when he got a third foul, 94 feet from the basket, reaching for a ball he had no business (reaching for). He couldn't have got it whether he knocked the guy over, kicked, tripped, whatever. He couldn't have got the ball, but he fouled. Now he went back and didn't want to guard because he didn't want to get a fourth foul. If you can't play with three fouls, then you can't be in the game. They were shooting layups. He literally saw the guy coming and moved the other way, like, four times.But I felt better with him in there than playing some other guys, so... Let him learn from it.
Q. You've been doing this awhile. When your teams finally get it, is it a light bulb-type moment or you look up suddenly and you've arrived?
COACH CALIPARI: First they have to accept that what they're doing is good for them individually and good for our team. Not sure we're quite there yet.Then they take great pride in defense, because they know that's how you're going to win and that's how we can get out and run. They haven't done that yet.We had more breakdowns. Again, it's a young team. We have so many breakdowns, we don't stay connected on out-of-bounds plays. Just stay connected and chase the inbound. We'll help you. I get hung up on the screen, the guy gets a shot in the corner.Wait a minute, we work on that every day. Is that focus? Is that effort? Is that I'm just not very tough? I don't know. But we have those kind of errors.We're playing pick-and-roll. Why did you do it? That's not how we're playing it. I thought... No, you're trying to do it the easiest possible way. You can't.We got Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to practice. Let's see if we can just keep stepping up. I mean, I don't know if Alabama is going to win, but they're at South Carolina up five.
Q. They're going into the fourth overtime.
COACH CALIPARI: Three overtimes?
Q. Going to the fourth overtime.
COACH CALIPARI: I just walked out, they were down five. It's amazing. That's our next one. Think of that.
Q. Your turnovers were 14, but you gave up 23 points off those turnovers. How did you feel about that?
COACH CALIPARI: That's the same thing. Look, we were giving up 10 turnovers a game, and maybe one or two led to a basket. Now they're the type, again, instead of the easiest play, I'm going to make a hard play, which ends up us being out of whack, they throw ahead, it's a two-on-one break.That's why I keep on them. The turnovers, they got to be lower. Eleven or 12 is fine. If they're good turnovers, aggressive turnovers, not cute passes or the hardest play I can make. Just make easy plays. The beginning of the game, that's what we did. We had 10 turnovers in the second half, is that right? Think about it – 10. That's why in the end, I bet you the last eight minutes we probably had five or six of them, seven.
Q. After the last game, you said rebounding was a big emphasis. Malik said yesterday that the guards had to do more rebounding, yet he got shut out for the second straight game. How would you assess that aspect?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, again, he's probably got to play less minutes if he's not going to rebound the ball. You're going to have to be in there less. It's not hard in the equation. There were two or three opportunities, again, and I took him out. You didn't get the ball, you're out. It's just making an effort to make them go get balls. I'd like Bam to be in double-figure rebounding. He had nine today. He's close.
Q. If you're on the right path, other than ball movement, what do you see that you like?
COACH CALIPARI: The biggest thing for us is sharing the ball and creating easy opportunities. I think, again, you take away the last eight minutes, there was some good stuff we did. That's the main thing that I'm focused on.Then it's the defense. What hurt us in the first half? What were they doing that hurt us? There was one thing. Pick-and-roll, put our five in a pick-and-roll. Bam is out. Put the five in a pick-and-roll, beat them. We were going to do some different things in the second half. I think that's the major thing we've got to work on right now.
Q. Were you putting more pressure full court tonight? Was this an LSU thing? Bring more energy?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but we got tired. It thought De'Aaron Fox got tired. I showed them tape of last year, Tyler Ulis. When you were looking to Tyler from behind him, you saw him going crazy on the ball, it made the rest of us play that way. If that guy on the ball is playing casual, looks exhausted, that's the energy we have on our team. Right now he's just coming back. He's only been back a couple days. We got to get he and Dom (Hawkins) and those guys on the ball, pick up playing, so it affects the rest of us.
Q. Can you remember a guy as athletic as Malik going two games without a rebound? Can you figure out why?
COACH CALIPARI: Probably should ask him that question. Probably a good one to ask.