LOUISVILLE – Transcript from Kentucky press conference after win over Cincinnati.
COACH CALIPARI: It was a good win for our team. I thought Cincinnati played well. They didn’t back away. They came right at us. I always like it when my team shoots 37, 36, 35 percent and wins in double digits. It shows them they don’t have to make shots to win. You can miss them all. No, you can’t miss them all. You can miss most of them, and you can still win games if you defend your rebound and you play that way, make your free throws, and they did.
Q. Take a deep breath, and if you could just indulge me and talk to me for a minute about what Cleveland people can expect next week when Big Blue comes rolling up I-71 and the connection that you guys have with your fans, which in that part of the country we don’t have a lot of big college basketball.
COACH CALIPARI: Our fans, I just use one term to kind of define — they define themselves, but they’re crazy. They come — our building seats 25,000, and many of the people that will be in Cleveland could not get tickets to our building. So they go to every tournament game. I mean, we had 10,000 people at the early rounds of our conference tournament because they couldn’t get tickets to our rounds. They were like watching the other teams just to be able to say they were a part of it. I would say all the restaurant/bar owners are going to be very happy because, if they can’t get into the games, they’re going to be sitting right there. I don’t think they drink, but they will be there watching those games. You would say, well, they can’t get all the tickets. They somehow figure out how to get tickets. I have no idea how they do it. There will be a lot of blue in Cleveland, no question.
LOUISVILLE — After Kentucky’s 64-51 win over Cincinnati in a Midwest Regional game at the KFC Yum Center on Saturday, freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns was asked about Willie Cauley-Stein’s dunk late in the first half that seemed to ignite the Cats. Towns hummed the SportsCenter theme.
Sometimes in a tournament, you need a game to settle into a rhythm. That’s what happened to Kentucky on Thursday night. The NCAA Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed didn’t play poorly in beating Hampton 79-56 at the KFC Yum Center in UK’s Midwest Regional opener. It would be a stretch, however, to say the Cats were on top of their game.
I expect John Calipari’s club to settle in and play better Saturday afternoon against Cincinnati. Four freshmen made their NCAA debuts Thursday. Devin Booker missed five of six shots. Tyler Ulis committed a season-high (thus career-high) four turnovers. Trey Lyles was pretty good. Karl-Anthony Towns was better, producing a double-double. Maybe Towns is such a kid he didn’t realize the stakes. Or he’s just that good.
Cincinnati is pretty good. The Bearcats are 23-10 and have done an admirable job adjusting to the loss of head coach Mick Cronin, forced to take a leave of absence because of a non-threatening medical issue. Associate head coach, now interim head coach Larry Davis has done a terrific job steadying the waters. Davis was born in Mt. Sterling and graduated from Asbury College. Here’s my column on him.
LOUISVILLE – Transcript from Kentucky’s press conference on Thursday at the Yum Center:
Q. Willie, what was it like having the game end that late — start that late and end that late. How much rest did you get overnight?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: It wasn’t that bad. I think we got back to the hotel — by the time we got done eating and everything, it was probably like 2:00-something. But Coach let us sleep in until about 11:30. So we got good rest.
Q. This is a question for all three of you. When you guys were up as much as 35, it seemed like Coach didn’t let up. How important is it for you guys to continue and not have any complacency in your game, even when it looks like it’s in hand? And what does Coach do to make sure you do that.
TREY LYLES: He just makes sure that we stay on top of our game and we don’t let down even though we’re up by that much. Coach requires us to play as hard as we can at all times of the game no matter what the score is.
LOUISVILLE — Three quick things from the Kentucky and Cincinnati press conferences previewing Saturday's Round of 32 Midwest Regional game at the KFC Yum Center.
1. Rested (sort of) and ready
With the late start and after-midnight ending to Kentucky's 79-56 win over Hampton on Thursday night, there was concern on how much rest the Cats would get after such a long, long night. The players reported that after a post-game meal they were in bed by 2:30 a.m. and were allowed to sleep in. “I slept until about 11:30,” said junior center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Aaron Andrew Harrison reported that most of the players felt fine. “We're young,” he said. (We media are old guys and gals, of course.) The players can adapt and they'll start preparing for Cincinnati as the day progressed Friday. Kentucky being Kentucky, the players said John Calipari is more concerned about UK's play and avoiding the slow start that happened against Hampton.