The Kentucky Wildcats are now 2-0 in SEC play after a wild in over Georgia on Tuesday, 78-69.
It was a game that saw the young Cats have a near-meltdown in the first half, allowing the Dawgs to go on a 11-3 to take a nine-point lead into the final seconds before Ashton Hagans hit a big three to put it at 37-31 going into halftime.
From there, both teams would battle back and forth before the Wildcats finished the game on a 28-14 win to pull out the nine-point victory.
After the game, head coach John Calipari and select players met with the media to recap the 11th win for his team this season. Here is a replay of what they had to say via UK Athletics:
On the game ..
”Well, they came out, Tom had them ready like he always does, and we got in foul trouble. This is one of the few teams that has shot more fouls than we have in a game. And then, not only that, we missed five in a row. We’re one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the country. But, we had foul trouble. The end of the half was kind of--we don’t get a rebound, one of my freshman just gets knocked out of the way and it’s an and-one and we get beat on a back door by another freshman. What I did in the second half, just so you know, three guards and the two fresh big guards which were Nick [Richards] and Nate [Sestina] because they didn’t play that much and then I road them. Just said, ‘How much can you play?’
“You know what’s amazing is they don’t want to come out, and I’m good with it. Play. They made the plays, they made the defensive stops. We rebounded the ball. Anytime you win on the road in this league, it’s big. Especially when you walk in the gym and the students are back on campus for the first time and it’s a sell out. It was really hot in there, I don’t know if you guys noticed. I was soaked in there. Our kids fought it and won the game.”
On team assists ..
”Yeah, well, first half Ashton [Hagans] had 10 shots and they were mostly jump shots. What [was he] doing? I said, ‘What are you trying to get 12 shots coming home?’ You average 11 shots a game. You have 10 in the first half. But it wasn’t just him, it was a bunch of us. We wouldn’t pass the ball to each other. When you play that way the game is hard.”
On Immanuel Quickley’s shooting …
”You also have Nate now. So you have Nate, Immanuel, Tyrese, who hasn’t been shooting it as well as he needs to, but Ashton can shoot 3s too.”
”They’re different kinds. Ashton is, ‘I’m gonna show …’ and EJ is, ‘I hope I play …’ Three’s a difference between the two. (Montgomery) is that guy for us. He’s that, ‘Let’s go.’ I think Nick is trying to do everything he can; got away from rebounding a couple balls late, but our guards came up with those balls. Nate played well, which is why EJ didn’t play as much. But we need him to be what he’s capable of doing. He should be the best offensive rebounder, a shot-blocker, a runner; some of the stuff Nick’s doing, dunking around the basket, that should be him. And again, my goal is by the end of the year, that’s who he is.”
On Nick Richards making tough catches that he didn’t used to be able to …
”I didn’t say, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘Easy. EASY! Good pass, kid, good pass!’ “Amazing, right? How about that? He’s getting better. He started playing basketball when he’s 14, so it’s taken him more time – but who cares how long it takes? It’s the point of, can I get to that point where I’m a significant player? And he is now.”
On only making 10 of 20 free throws …
”We won without making free throws today. It’s good to know we can do that.”
On Ashton Hagans playing through his injured ankle …
”I think he didn’t want to practice for two days. His floor game, he is so confident and comfortable in his own skin that he and I are like laughing at halftime. He knows this is his team to run. He knows I’m giving him space because he’s making great decisions. And I’m telling you why else I’m giving him space: Because he is a tough hombre. This guy is physically strong and tough and uses it. So you give him a little space.”
#3 | Tyrese Maxey | Freshman | Guard
On playing against Anthony Edwards on the Georgia stage ...
”It was amazing especially on the road in front of their home crowd. We had a lot of fun, we couldn’t really talk during the game. After the game we exchanged words, hugged each other said keep doing what your’e doing. See you in a couple of weeks.”
On the caliber and toughness of Edwards ...
”He’s great, he’s really tough to guard especially when he has the green light like that. He has to make plays for that team to win and it’s really hard to guard him. Proud of him, keep working on his game.”
On what this win says about Kentucky ...
”We were very resilient down the stretch. It was a stretch in that first half, I think we were down seven, we came in here and our leaders like Ashton [Hagans], Immanuel [Quickley], and even Nick [Richards] had shots up early and said were good. This is my first road game, me, Kahlil [Whitney], Keion [Brooks Jr.], it was really crazy out there. It was a great experience and we’re ready to get back to the lab tomorrow and get ready for Alabama.”
#5 | Immanuel Quickley | Sophomore | Guard
On today’s game ...
”Honestly it was just a big win for my guys today. We came out fought hard, it’s tougher you know, guys like Tyrese [Maxey] it’s their first road game, true road game so I am proud of them.”
On this significant road win ...
”Definitely felt great, especially getting the first one. With a young team, like I said it’s always hard, the crowd is against you, everyone is booing you, things like that. I even missed a free throw, normally that doesn’t happen, but credit to my guys they came out fought hard. We were down and came back so credit to my teammates.”