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Wildcats discuss win over Duquesne

Kentucky gets to 2-0 as Sahvir Wheeler makes his return.

Sahvir Wheeler Dylan Ballard - A Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats picked up a big win against the Duquesne Dukes ahead of the Championships Classic on Tuesday vs. Michigan State.

Kentucky received big games from multiple players, including returning point guard Sahvir Wheeler with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his return to action. We also saw Jacob Toppin pull in eight rebounds, but John Calipari stressed getting more from him.

Perhaps the most impressive performance was from freshman Ugonna Onyenso, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

We heard from all three after the game.

Sahvir Wheeler

Jacob Toppin

Ugonna Onyenso

Here is a transcript of what they said after the game via UK Athletics.

#0, Jacob Toppin, F

On what improvements the team can make before Michigan State…

“We’re giving up too many offensive rebounds and we’re not getting enough offensive rebounds. We’ve got to play more physical. Me personally, I’ve got to be more physical. I’ve got to be better. Going into this next game against Michigan State, it’s going be a rough one, they are a physical team so we need to punch first. So that’s what we’re going work on, just being physical, grabbing rebounds and just doing all the dirty work.”

On having Sahvir Wheeler back…

“Very nice. He speeds the game up for us and makes it a lot easier for us as a whole because he can get downhill, dish it out to our shooters who can make shots. He looks for the open guy, so it’s definitely enjoyable for him to be back.”

On if the physical game prepared the team for Tuesday…

“I mean I feel like every game prepares us for the next. Obviously we’re going to go back, watch film, see what we can improve on, and improve on that before the Michigan State game.”

#33, Ugonna Onyenso, F

On how he was playing on defense…

“I am working on being more vocal on the court, you know. Calling out screens, knowing where to be, and helping my teammates when it comes to the screens.”

On what’s it like to play in front of so many fans in Rupp Arena…

“I am still adjusting to the crowd. I have not been in front of a big crowd before. As time goes on I will feel more confident about playing in front of a crowd. I will have to wrap my mind around playing in an environment with many people.”

On what his shot blocking ability does for the defense…

“I would say it helped the defense. I feel like I have the ability to stay in the game because of what I do. The fact that I help the team by blocking shots. I think it is going to get me more minutes. I am still working on other things. For now I am just playing a role on the team and doing my best to help the team.”

#2, Sahvir Wheeler, G

On what it felt like being back in Rupp Arena and getting back out there with his teammates again…

It was great, it was great. A lot of fun, happy to play basketball again, you know, for real this time. Cal is on the record books, getting back in front our great fans and just to get another W in the W column was great.”

On what it’s like playing with Cason (Wallace)…

“He makes the game way easier on both ends. On offense, he can be the primary ball-handler as well, I don’t always have to come back and get it. He can initiate, he can create plays for himself and others, and defensively, that kind of speaks for itself. We’re probably two of the premiere, elite on-ball defenders in the country. We try to guard, we complement each other in that way, we’re both athletic, we’ve got speed and ultimately, we make each better and we make our teammates better.”

On how good the team is when they have a freshman seven-footer in the back…

“It’s crazy. Go ahead, you got to go by me and Cason and everybody else and we’re going to funnel you down there – so that’s big time. You know Coach Cal always talked about that his teams that were successful, they had a shot-blocking presence. So, when he’s (Ugonna) back there, when Daimion (Collins) gets back there when he gets back, all of that’s going to be hard for teams to go against. We’re going to wear you out, we’re going to get into your legs, pick you up full court, then you have to go finish over Ugonna and Daimion and hopefully at some point we get Jacob (Toppin) to get a couple blocks as well. Lance has been protecting the rim – because I think he had a couple blocks today again so, all those guys are chipping in.”