CLEVELAND — This being the so-called “off” day between Thursday night’s Midwest Region semifinals and Saturday’s final, there was time for press conferences and — yes — video.
We have video from Kentucky players Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Trey Lyles. We also have video from Notre Dame players Zach Auguste, Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant.
CLEVELAND — Full transcript of the Notre Dame press conference Friday talking about Saturday’s Midwest Region final against Kentucky.
MODERATOR: We’re joint right now by student-athletes from Notre Dame, Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton, Steve Vasturia, Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson. If you have a question for the student-athletes from Notre Dame, please raise your hand.
Q. This is for Zach. As you recall going into games against Jahlil Okafor; what you felt going into those games, the challenge, how it felt, what you thought about, how is it alike or different from going against this Kentucky team with multiple guys that size?
ZACH AUGUSTE: It’s kind of the same. I give a lot of credit to him. He’s a great player, very talented, has a big physical presence as well. I know Kentucky has three physical bodies in there, it’s just going to be another challenge for us, individually and collectively.
CLEVELAND — Turner and CBS say the ratings for Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament games were the best since the current television format was adopted in 1991.
Here’s the news release:
“The 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship continues to deliver record-setting numbers across multimedia platforms. CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive coverage of the Regional Semifinals on Thursday, March 26, generated the highest rating ever for the Sweet 16 Thursday of the NCAA Tournament (since the tournament began its current television format in 1991). Thursday’s games averaged a 9.1/16 overnight rating/share, up 30 percent compared to a 7.0/13 in 2014, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.
“Thursday’s coverage also generated record ratings in both telecast windows. TBS and CBS averaged a 9.3/17 overnight rating/share from 7-10 p.m. ET, the highest rating for the game window since 1991 and a 39 percent increase over last year. From 9:45 p.m.-12:45 a.m., the networks averaged an 8.9/16 overnight rating/share, tied with 1992 and 1993 as the highest rating for the game window since 1991 and a 20 percent increase compared with 2014.
It’s time to root for Kentucky, says ESPN’s Ian O’Connor. “The Kentucky Wildcats are likable, embraceable overdogs. Root for them to pull this off. Now that they have blown West Virginia out by a staggering 78-39 score in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and find themselves halfway home in a sudden-death event set up for them to fail, go ahead and get behind these tall and remarkably poised kids as they try to deliver the only 40-0 college basketball season we’ll see in our lifetime.”
These Cats are not to be provoked, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. West Virginia’s trash talk on Wednesday caused Kentucky to come with energy and focus in 78-39 win on Thursday night.
Kentucky shows nearly best version of itself, says my column. “Kentucky doubled the Mountaineers in both the score and shooting percentages. UK shot 48 percent. West Virginia shot 24.1. Kentucky got 44 rebounds to West Virginia 32. The Cats committed just 10 turnovers against WVU’s much ballyhooed press. UK led 44-18 at the half. Name your stat.”
Tennessee fires Donnie Tyndall after one year, reports Ben Frederickson of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “It is disappointing that we have to take this action,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a news release. “It is highly likely that Coach Tyndall will face significant penalties at the conclusion of the NCAA’s infractions process. We believe that this decision is in the best interests of the University of Tennessee.”
CLEVELAND — Here we have post-game videos from Kentucky’s romp in the Midwest Regional on Thursday night.
Above is John Calipari’s post-game press conference. After the jump you’ll find E.J. Floreal interviewing Karl-Anthony Towns. Aaron Harrison talks about UK playing with a chip on its shoulder after WVU’s pre-game comments. Devin Booker talks about getting his shot back. Back in Lexington, UK fans celebrate on State Street and Tin Roof.
CLEVELAND — In addition to my column, here are three more things from Kentucky’s 78-39 win over West Virginia.
1. If you go by the amazing numbers, this was Kentucky’s third-best defensive performance of the entire season, which has been a ridiculous defensive season. West Virginia’s averaged just 0.619 points per possession. Only the 0.599 that Kentucky held Missouri to on January 13 and the 0.409 by Montana State on Nov. 23 were lower.
It was the fifth time this year Kentucky has held an opponent to less than 30 percent from the field. West Virginia shot 24.1 percent from the game, including 19.2 percent in the first half. South Carolina shot 23.6 and 22.6 percent against UK this year. Montana State shot 19.7 percent. Kansas shot a ridiculous 19.6 percent in the Champions Classic.
“We couldn’t score, which was my biggest fear,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
CLEVELAND — Transcript of Kentucky press conference after the 78-39 domination of West Virginia at Quicken Loans Arena.
MODERATOR: We’re joined now by Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari as well as student-athletes Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker.
COACH CALIPARI: I was really pleased with the energy of our team. I was pleased with how zoned in they were, with how we were going to attack the press, how we were going to finish and we were going to just, hey, if we could score a hundred, score a hundred, just play. I wanted them to play loose offensively and they did, but I was proud of the guys. It was a great defensive effort and that’s what it was. For Marcus Lee to Dakari, I thought they were excellent. Obviously you know that Andrew played a great basketball game and drove us, Trey played well. Devin made a couple shots, Tyler played well. Willie did what he does. The only guy, I said, was Karl was not as engaged with the team as he normally is, and I don’t know why he wasn’t but we’ll need him for the next one.
MODERATOR: Questions first for the student-athletes from Kentucky.
CLEVELAND — Transcript from West Virginia’s press conference after its 78-39 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional semifinal.
MODERATOR: West Virginia has arrived at the main interview room. We’re joined now by West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, student-athletes Devin Williams and Juwan Staten. We’ll take the first question for the West Virginia student-athletes as soon as there is one.
Question. For both players or either player, can you just talk about the start of the game when you fell behind, what do you feel like was the key to that particular start of the game?
JUWAN STATEN: They came out with a lot of energy. They shot the ball — I watched a lot of film on them, and that was probably the best I seen them shoot the ball all year. You know, they got the ball in the right places and they played great defense on us, which made it hard for us to even set up our defense, because we’ve got to score in order to get in our defense. They came down the other end and they shot the ball well.
DEVIN WILLIAMS: I don’t know, I guess for me I picked up two early fouls and kind of let that frustrate me, and I think that’s just a little maturity on my side, I got a little bit more growing up to do and things like that, but just like Juwanie said, they got a game plan and they went by and they stuck by and they just had a very balanced night tonight, the whole team. It was a team effort tonight for them, and that’s pretty much it right there.