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John Calipari and Wildcats recap big win over Miami, plus postgame notes

Hear what Coach Cal, Reed Sheppard, and others hard to say about Kentucky’s impressive win over the No. 8 Canes.

Reed Sheppard Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats scored their biggest win of the season in awe-inspiring fashion Tuesday night, defeating the No. 8 Miami Hurricanes 95-73.

Reed Sheppard led the way with 21 points, followed by Antonio Reeves (18), Tre Mitchell (14), and Rob Dillingham (12).

After the game, head coach John Calipari and select players met with the media. Here is a recap of what they had to say via UK Athletics.

JOHN CALIPARI: Got out-rebounded again. Wow. Pretty good.

Q Coach, after last game you talked about you wanted to see how the team finished tonight. When you were playing Kansas, then kind of lost the lead. What was different tonight to make them step on the gas?

JOHN CALIPARI: The only thing I did was we played it as an eight-point finish. We wanted to keep shortening the game and make baskets. We are still not quite there. We didn’t finish off. We got too late in the shot clock. Some of them you want to go and shoot it and rebound it and you kick it out and you go again. And now you just used the minute off the clock. They don’t have a chance to beat you.

We hadn’t worked on any of that with Kansas. I was just trying to get them to be a basketball team, pass to each other. So we really didn’t. Now we are beginning to. I’m trying to put guys in situations in these kind of games and see how they play. We still had some break downs, discipline. You can’t just do what you want to do. We’re a team. There was a game plan, stick with it. And we kind of got out of it.

But to be honest with you, the way we run and fly up and down the court, you know, I don’t know if you can remember some past years where I’m just yelling “Go, go.” You could hear me through the TV. Because that’s how I wanted us to play. But to play that way you have got to run. And it can’t be me telling you to run. Just run.

And it was good stuff today. I did not see D.J. (Wagner), but I think they said his ankle, he just didn’t — he wasn’t going to come back. So we were really shorthanded, but a good game against a good team. I mean, defensively we were saying make the 3 hard, make them take tough 2 ‘s. They can beat you with 3’s. And they also beat you if you turn it over, because they unbelievably finish at the rim. And we just didn’t turn it over that much.

Q John, what did you see in Reed (Sheppard) maybe during his recruitment or even in Toronto that maybe indicated that he did have this kind of impact this early in his career?

JOHN CALIPARI: He’s — the biggest — my best players that I have coached mand I’ve coached NBA, MVP’s, you know, those players are even-keel. Now, they will get emotional about a play, but they are never up and down. Those guys, they just are like that (indicating). And that’s how he is.

Now, I was just with Chip Rupp. The family, the Rupp family, has been unbelievable to me. Chip and his son, Brad, they grew up together and, so, I saw them last night. And he said, I watched Reed as a 9th grader, a 10th grader, 11th grader, 12th grader. And everybody is talking to me like is he a knock-down shooter. He was never a knock-down shooter. When I saw him, that was — you know, what he has done? He lives in that gym. He works. And he’s made himself kind of like Shai. And some of these other kids that I have had, they build their own confidence. It’s not me saying you’re great or you are bad know, it is them.

But I always saw his ability to have a feel for passing. His hands, I am not joking when I say this, that’s Stacey’s. That’s who that is. Jeff wasn’t that way. Stacey was that way. And, you know, you just see him get his hands on balls. But, again, he had about five break downs today that were discipline. He just, like, why did you try to steal that? Why are you leaving your feet? We are not playing that way. But he was young. He is young. I don’t know, his plus-minus was probably off the charts again. Yeah, 35. So...

But it was good. I mean, you know, we didn’t take as many 3’s. And I know some people would be so mad because you’re telling me how to coach and we need to take thirty-five 3’s and he doesn’t listen and all of that stuff. There are games you are going to take more and there are games you are going to take less. It is just how it is.

Q John, I always thought overrated was about the dumbest cheer ever. I noticed you had to get after the student section late in the game.

JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, I just — you know, our fans are the best. Our students are the best. But I just — you know, that kind of stuff I’ve never been — you know, we get it everywhere we go. And sometimes we got some coaches that would encourage that. I just don’t; you know, they don’t deserve that. They are young kids.

You know, let them — we may end up playing them again and then all of a sudden, you know, that’s living with them. So, no, I just said don’t do it. And how about the fans? They responded and just stopped. That’s how good a group that we have.

Q Cal, similarly, along those lines, in the past you have talked about, saying to your players, you know, I want you to be a team that people love watching play. It seems like the reaction, people love watching this team play. What is that interplay? How important is that, sort of how the players maybe feed off of a fan base that is kind of anticipating?

JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t think they do. I think they are into each other and they really like each other.

Q Cal, you guys against Kansas got off to that hot start in the second half and then let it go and you talked about learning how to finish. You guys kept it on the gas.

JOHN CALIPARI: How about we were up and then all of a sudden I look and we were down, call a timeout, and then we are up five at half time, which was the Kansas score.

Q Right.

JOHN CALIPARI: But I’m just — to play as fast as we play, it doesn’t — it is not just what it does for us, it is what it does to an opponent. And especially Jim’s like I am, he is not playing a whole lot of guys. He was riding those guys. And now all of a sudden in that second half that’s when it hits. But, you know, I thought, again, we passed to each other, 26 assists. I loved the one where Robert got it and threw it right back to Reed and then Reed hits the....I mean, come on. People are not holding the ball, they are getting rid of it. So it is good stuff.

Q Cal, another superb assist-to-turnover ratio for you guys tonight as well.

JOHN CALIPARI: When you have players that can dribble, pass, and shoot, like Shai Alexander said, you play this way and you won’t turn it over that much. We only had three at half time and Adou had two that were easy. What did you just do? Why didn’t you look at him and throw it underhand to him? You rocket it to him. And the other one, you threw. Like, we would have had one at half time. And the speed of that game, now think about that, how fast we are playing.

Pretty good stuff.

Q I was going to say, what is the confidence level in this team being able to continue that even in fast paced tracking at games like tonight was at times?

JOHN CALIPARI: This is how we play. And, again, I would say this and I know I am not — every team I’ve coached I’ve had to coach different. If I tried to play this way last year, why are you laughing? We have got people laughing. I couldn’t have played this way, who we had. Now, I am not saying they are not good players.

Oscar’s getting 30 rebounds a game in there. But he’s not Tre, Tre’s not him. I wish he rebounded a few more balls. But you can’t play this way if the guys are not good with the ball and confident

three-point shooters. So we’ve had three guards when we had Maxey and Quickley and Johnny Juzang and Ashton. I mean, we played that way but we didn’t have a five like Tre. We had Nick Richards. So he is more of a rim runner and a shot blocker and...

But I’m anxious to get a couple of the bigs back. And, I mean, the people that come in my gym, we have got people that have never walked in my gym that are giving their opinions of what these big kids are or when or why or this or rumors or...I don’t get it. I mean, I really don’t understand it. Like Aaron, the guy’s on TV watched it today and yesterday, watched him. So I’m hoping he plays Saturday. But what if he doesn’t? Was I lying? No. I just think he will play Saturday. If he doesn’t he will play the next Saturday.

Z finally, did not practice today, got sick. I don’t think he is telling the truth. I am telling the truth. Had 104 fever. Isn’t it going to be fun when we get these guys back? How about we talk that way? So it is what it is.

Listen, I appreciate you all. I have got to go do this radio. This is a half hour later for my body than normal. So I have got to get home. So let me do this radio. I appreciate it.

#1, Justin Edwards, G

On what was clicking for them tonight....

A little bit of everything. Our buildups, and our practice has been really good the past couple of days. We focused on the gameplan and went out and played good.”

On how the team having fun on the court plays to their success...

It plays a lot because that is how we are off the court. We are a bunch of friendly guys hanging out together, so I think it plays a big part in our success. I feel like us being young plays a part in it, so we try to get everyone to go out with us. Even the vets like Tone (Antonio Reeves) we go bowling with sometimes and we just try to get everybody out.”

On how their pace of play feels when on the court...

It is really fun because we have a whole bunch of guys who can do a little bit of everything, so it opens the floor for all of us.”

#12, Antonio Reeves, G

On the crowd tonight…

“Electric. Everybody was so in tuned to the game. It brought us together as a team.”

On handling Miami’s run in the first half…

“Just stay solid as a team, on defense and offense. Just focused on the scout report, we stayed locked in on what they are doing on the offensive end and try to get a stop.”

On only having eight turnovers and if the team is doing anything different…

“No, just how we are on the offensive end. We just guard our play and take care of the ball. It came natural for us.”

#15, Reed Sheppard, G

On the crowd …

“The crowd was unbelievable. I don’t think they sat down. It was so loud. From the first possession to the last possession, they made a huge impact on the game. They made it tough for Miami to run plays. It will be a moment we will never forget.”

On his plus/minus …

“I don’t really worry about any of that. I do everything I can to help my team to make the right play. With these dudes around me, it is easy. We were hitting shots left and right tonight and everyone was passing and having fun.”

On beating a really good team…

“Yeah, it’s huge. We are going to enjoy this win tonight. Then get back at it tomorrow. We knew we had a good team and now we know for sure we have a good team. We just need to keep doing the little things, keep sharing the ball, keep passing it around. It’s going to be a fun season.”

Here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics.

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 6-1 on the season, Miami is 5-1.
  • Kentucky leads the series, 4-1, including 4-0 in Lexington.
  • UK concludes the five-game homestand Saturday against UNC Wilmington. Game time is 4 p.m. and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

Team Notes

  • Tonight’s 22-point margin of victory …
  • Is UK’s largest over an Associated Press top-10 ranked opponent in Rupp Arena. The previous high was 21 points against No. 6 Louisville in November 1983.
  • Is UK’s second-largest over an Associated Press top-10 opponent since Coach John Calipari took over in the 2009-10 season. The largest was a 32-point win over Kansas in November 2014.
  • UK has scored at least 81 points in all seven games this season, the first time that has happened to open a season since 1970-71, when the Wildcats did so in the first nine games.
  • Kentucky had five players score in double figures, the fifth game this season that has happened.
  • Kentucky shot 59.7% from the field (37 of 62). It is UK’s fourth straight game over 50%.
  • Kentucky had only eight turnovers tonight. UK has had single-digit miscues in six of seven games this season and now is averaging just 8.1 TOs per contest.
  • UK entered the game leading the nation in turnover percentage (10.8%), second in the nation in turnovers per game and second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.45).
  • Kentucky had 26 assists, the fourth straight game of at least 24.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 29 points. UK is 334-15 (95.7%) under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points at some juncture of the game.
  • Kentucky is 653-81 (89.0%) in the 48th season in Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

Player Notes

  • Reed Sheppard totaled 21 points, his second 20-point game of the season, adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
  • He led the team in plus/minus at +35.
  • He has had at least two steals in every game this season.
  • Antonio Reeves had 18 points and has scored double figures in every game this season.
  • Has made a 3-pointer in 18 consecutive games.
  • Tre MItchell totaled 14 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and a career-high seven assists. He has had at least four boards in every game this season.
  • Rob Dillingham had 12 points and a season-high nine assists with no turnovers. He also had five rebounds and two steals.
  • He has scored double figures and had at least three assists in every game this season.
  • Justin Edwards had 11 points, his fifth double-digit game of the season.
  • Adou Thiero had nine points and a team-best six rebounds.
  • D.J. Wagner had five points with one assist and one blocked shot. He exited the game with 4:22 remaining in the first half and did not return. Coach Calipari referenced an ankle issue after the game.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has an 838-254 (76.7%) all-time on-court record, including 393-114 (77.5%) at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 70-50 (58.3%) at UK against ranked competition.
  • Calipari is 1-1 vs. Miami.
  • Calipari is 226-21 (91.5%) in Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky started D.J. Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero and Tre Mitchell for the sixth time. UK has a 5-1 record with that lineup.
  • Both teams were hot early, tied at 10 at the first TV timeout, when Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard were UK’s first substitutions with 15:38 remaining.
  • Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats went on an 11-1 spurt, coaxing a Miami timeout at 11:35.
  • Out of their timeout, the Hurricanes roared back with an 18-2 run, taking a 29-23 advantage.
  • Miami led 37-34 when the Wildcats scored the final eight points of the half to take a 42-37 advantage at intermission.
  • UK has led at halftime in all six games this season.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky began the second half with Sheppard, Reeves, Edwards, Thiero and Mitchell.
  • The Wildcats stormed out of halftime with a 25-6 run, upping the lead to 67-43.
  • The Cats made 15 of their first 17 shots of the second half and ended up making 66.7% in the second stanza.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 29 points at 71-62.