Kentucky defeated UCLA 86-75 to advance to the Elite 8.
From UK Athletics.
Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Kentucky vs. UCLA – NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
March 24, 2017, FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
Final Score: No. 2-seed Kentucky 86, No. 3-seed UCLA 75
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky has won 14 in a row – its longest winning streak of the season — and improved to 32-5 overall.
o UK’s winning streak is the longest active streak in the country.
o Kentucky reached 32 wins for the fourth time in the John Calipari era.
- UCLA finished the season 31-5.
- Kentucky leads the all-time series 8-6.
o UCLA had won the last two meetings.
o The teams met in the NCAA Tournament for the third time. UK leads 2-1.
o UK has won two in a row against the Bruins in the Tournament, dating to the 1998 Sweet 16. UCLA’s lone NCAA Tournament win against UK was the 1975 National Title Game.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK will play North Carolina in the South Regional Final on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS.
NCAA Tournament Notes
- Kentucky made its national-record 56th NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Kentucky reached the Elite Eight for the 33rd time since 1951 the most of any school in the country. (Elite 8 Records begin in 1951, the first year that all teams in the tournament would be required to win at least one game to advance to the Elite 8)
- UK owns a 124-49 record all-time in NCAA action.
- Kentucky is 26-5 (.839) in NCAA Tournament games under Calipari.
- In Calipari’s seven NCAA Tournament appearances with Kentucky, the Wildcats have reached the Elite Eight six times.
o UK is 6-0 in the Sweet 16 under Calipari.
- Kentucky is a No. 2 seed for the seventh time in program history.
o UK is 22-6 as the No. 2 seed.
o Kentucky improved to 4-0 in No. 2-seed vs. No. 3-seed games.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk,Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis for the seventh game in a row.
o Kentucky improved to 10-0 with that lineup.
o Adebayo is the only Wildcat to have started all 37 games on the season.
- Dominique Hawkins swished a 3-pointer with 15:26 on the clock, continuing UK’s streak of 1,012 games with at least one triple. That’s the longest streak in the country.
- Fox started 4 of 4 from the field to start, scoring UK’s first eight points.
o His 15 first-half points were the most he’s scored in the opening 20 minutes all season.
In the Second Half
- Fox scored Kentucky’s first four points of the second half.
o He finished with a season-high 24 points in the second half.
- Monk scored Kentucky’s next 10 as the Wildcats had a 50-46 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
- Kentucky opened up its biggest lead: 11 points, 69-57 with 5:58 to play. UK used a 9-2 run to open up its first double-digit margin starting at the 8:29 mark.
- Kentucky tied its season-low with just six turnovers. UK is 3-0 in the games it’s only coughed it up six times.
o It tied for the fewest turnovers in an NCAA Tournament game under Calipari, equaling the six turnovers UK committed against Wisconsin in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
- Kentucky made 10 3-pointers. UK hit 10 3s for the sixth time this season.
o UK hadn’t made double-digits 3s since the Feb. 14 win against Tennessee.
- Fox and Monk combined for 60 of Kentucky’s 86 points.
- Five Wildcats scored.
- Kentucky’s 17 free-throw attempts were the second fewest of the season (12 vs. Tennessee on Feb. 14).
- Kentucky shot 49.2 percent from the field.
o Kentucky improved to 29-1 this season when shooting at least the 42-percent threshold.
- Calipari has a 694-192 (.783) on-court record, including a 249-52 (.827) mark at UK.
- Freshman De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points.
- Per ESPN Stats and Info that was the record for any freshman in the NCAA Tournament.
- It was the fourth most by a Wildcat regardless of class in the NCAA Tournament and the most ever by a freshman.
- It was the second most by a UK player in any game under Calipari. Only Malik Monk has scored more in a game.
- Fox led Kentucky in scoring for the fifth straight game.
- He was 13 of 15 from the free-throw line, both figures were career highs.
- The 13 free throws is tied for the third most in an NCAA Tournament game for an individual player in program history.
- Freshman Malik Monkscored 21 points.
- He reached 20 points for the 19th time this season.
- He reached double-figures for the fifth game in a row, and has scored in double digits in 35 of 37 games this year.
- He became just the third player in school history to hit 100 or more 3-pointers with four in tonight’s game.
- Freshman Bam Adebayo had a career-high five assists.
- Senior Derek Willis was solid all around once again.
- He dished out a career-high tying four assists.
- He scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.
- He has 18 blocks over the last eight games.
- Senior Dominique Hawkins scored 11 points.
- He had a season-high and tied his career-high with three made 3-pointers.
Kentucky taking the floor and intros
After the game players and coaches spoke at a press conference below are the transcripts.
NCAA Men’s Regional Semifinals and Finals: Memphis
Saturday, March 25 2017
Kentucky – 86, UCLA – 75
JOHN CALIPARI: It was a good win.
Q. De’Aaron, you were in attack mode right away. What was your mindset coming in and what did you maybe think you could take advantage of it?
DE’AARON FOX: Well, honestly since the postseason started, I’ve been in attack mode. My teammates just kept going for me. We came in with a game plan. We knew with their bigs, we weren’t doing pick-and-rolls, and I mean, I just made shots today.
Q. De’Aaron, did you notice Magic in the room, and if so, what did you think about that?
DE’AARON FOX: I saw him during warm-ups, but I mean, it didn’t change it. We’ve had celebrities at games and stuff, so I mean, playing on this stage, there’s going to be a lot of people there, people we probably don’t even know that were there. We’re coming out to play basketball, and that’s all we’re worried about. We’re not worried about who’s in the crowd, and we’re trying to put on a show, but we’re trying to win a game at the same time.
Q. Malik, yesterday De’Aaron kind of said it’s all about the game, and he wasn’t worried about the one-on-one match-up. Do you think he was motivated going against Lonzo? There was so much talk about these are two of the top point guards out there going to go high in the draft.
MALIK MONK: I think he’s motivated just to win because they beat us the first time, outfought us the first time. He just did not want to lose, and we did not want to lose, either, so he kept scoring and we kept giving him the ball.
Q. Malik, seemed like De’Aaron was very vocal out there, talking a lot. How much did that help you guys?
MALIK MONK: I mean, he’s a point guard, so he’s got to talk. He’s always talked throughout every game, he’s always talking, and we’re always talking together. If he does that, we’re going to be fine, and we know we’re going to be way more comfortable.
Q. De’Aaron, at what point did you realize this is a special night for me; this is a career-type night? Was there a moment, a play, anything?
DE’AARON FOX: I think I scored like the first eight points of the game, and after that, I was like, you know, it’s going to be a good night for me. I mean, I just attribute that to all my teammates. We knew what the game plan is. Nobody is going to help off Malik, nobody is going to help off Derek, and literally every time, no matter what game, if I get it going, ‘Lik and Derek are literally like, come to my side if you want a layup, if you a floater. Just do this or do that, and I listen to them. Even when I’m taking my guy one-on-one, it’s still a team thing because they’re telling me what to do and I’m just doing it. At the end of the day, Coach is putting me in position, my teammates put me in great positions, and all I’ve got to do is execute.
Q. For both of you guys, you’re now one win away from a Final Four; you’ve had a really tough road from Wichita last round to UCLA today. What makes you guys so fearless? Doesn’t seem like anything intimidate you.
MALIK MONK: Every game we played in was a tough game all season because we’re going to get every team’s best. Coach Cal put us in great positions, and he’s coaching us and we just listen to him. Every game in the tournament is going to be tough, too, so we’ve just got to focus in and listen to Cal, and I think we’ll be all right.
Q. Malik, how much has De’Aaron grown as a leader from the time you guys got to camp to who he is now?
MALIK MONK: Crazy. He’s been a leader since he’s been playing basketball because I seen him on the circuit before. I mean, nothing changed, but he’s got way more physical and more smarter, and just listening to Coach, like I said, he’s gotten way more physical and way more smarter.
Q. Malik, you had a breakout game against Carolina earlier this season, had 47. What do you see against them that you can probably get even better on Sunday?
MALIK MONK: I think they’re going to play me even tighter, so that means Fox is going to have his way or anybody else is going to have his way. We’re just going to see what they’re going to do at the beginning of the game, and we’re going to go off that.
Q. During this difficult run in the tournament, you guys had a really tough draw. Why do you think you and Malik have been able to play so well under this pressure?
DE’AARON FOX: We’ve came in with game plans. Malik kind of struggled in the SEC tournament, but he’s picked it up. We’re playing tough teams like that, we know we’ve got to come out and play our best. Our first two games weren’t the best, but today we really picked it up defensively. That’s why we won, not because of our scoring. That team averages like 90 points a game, and we held them to 75, 15 less than their average. We attribute that to our defense today.
Q. It looked like you guys might have three SEC teams in the Elite 8?
JOHN CALIPARI: No. There are not three SEC teams in the Elite 8. We’re supposed to be a bad league. That’s got to be all these other leagues, right?
Q. What does it say about the competition in your conference?
DE’AARON FOX: We lost two games in conference play, and everyone wants to say other conferences were better or our conference isn’t as strong. But I mean, when the tournament comes, not necessarily — sometimes the best teams win, sometimes it takes luck. But Florida, Florida blew us out at their place. We found out then that they were a good team, and South Carolina was ranked when we played them. And I mean, right now, they’re just showing them how strong our conference is. Three teams in the Elite 8, man, that’s tough to do. That’s almost 50 percent of the field.
Q. How much has De’Aaron Fox grown as a leader from the time he arrived on campus to who he is now?
JOHN CALIPARI: He’s grown, but what he’s learned to do is play physical, not take a hit and fly, and throw a ball. He’s learned to play through bumps. He’s learned to work. He’s understood the grind now. It took him a while. They think, well, I’m just going to go play. He shot 15 percent for a while. Like, dude, you can’t miss every single shot. Now all of a sudden, if he’s open, that ball is down.
Second thing is he goes to the rim, and I know if he gets hit, he can still make it. Well, early in the season, he wasn’t doing that. But I am so proud of him, and today all I did at halftime is say, guys, are you watching this game? They said, yeah, okay, good, then you know we’re playing through De’Aaron Fox. The rest of you take a backseat, play off of him, but everything we’re doing good is through him the whole half. And they were ecstatic. Good. Let’s do it.
Got a good team. They share. Malik started slow, but then came on and made some shots that created a gap. Bam struggled a little bit but still did good, rebounded, and did his thing. Derek made a couple threes, spread it. Dom did what he does again. I thought Isaac was really good today. I thought Isaac played well. So it’s nice that we got some good guys and good guys playing well at the right time.
Q. When you played UCLA earlier this year, when you took that loss, did you learn something that helped you to this win tonight?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, we learned that we have to — we had to do a better job of coaching defense, and we had to get them to understand transition defense better, playing elbows and blocks better, taking more pride in defense. Because we lost to Kansas, UCLA, and that Florida, all in a stretch. You know, again, you’re talking, I mean, they’re really good teams, but it was our defense that hurt us. I think right now people are looking and saying, he’s got all these freshmen, he’s playing freshmen, and they’re defending like they’re seniors like they’ve been around.
Well, let me just tell you, every game we play is a Super Bowl, not just this one. Every game in our league is a sold-out war, different shirt, coat, hat day, whatever you want to say, and I think it also helps South Carolina and Florida. And Vandy, Vandy should have won that game. Arkansas should have won that game.
Our league had 11 teams in the top 100, and I believe 70 in the top 50. But again, well, that’s ACC, they play football. We’ve got terrific coaches, we’ve got terrific programs, and out of 32 leagues, we were the youngest league in the country, out of 32 leagues. So it’s only going to get better.
Now, I have a feeling my young guys won’t be around next year, but I’ve got another crew coming in, and I’ve got to shout out to Devin Booker. Ms. Veronica, his mother hit me today, wishing me luck, and I said I’m so proud of your son, and he goes for 70 to night. How do you get 70? Like he showed up our team. We just have a great win and they’re going to be talking about Devin Booker all night now.
Q. All year long you’ve talked about the importance of playing situational basketball, about the team making good decisions. How happy were you with that aspect of the game?
JOHN CALIPARI: We’re getting better. We’re getting better. Still in the first half, there were a couple like, why did you do that? I did it because I’m 19 years old and I’m on the biggest stage I’ve ever been on in my life, and you’re asking me why I did that? These kids aren’t machines, they’re not computers. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to miss shots. They’re going to do stuff that you look at and shake your head. But my teams always do it because they’re always so young.
But they’re getting better, and they knew whose hands the ball was going to be in. Now, next game it may be we play through Bam, or it may be Malik, and they’ll be fine with it. De’Aaron will just get Malik a bunch of shots.
Q. Is there an advantage to playing a team that you’ve already played in the regular season in the tournament? You’re playing another team that you beat this time, but is there an advantage to it?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think for Roy and I, being that we know each other’s teams, and we played for a few years, and it’s a quick turn, you know, so the more information I have, the better. Because we’re going to practice tomorrow at 3:00. That’ll be the practice. And then we play the next day at 4:00.
You know, it helps both teams that we play because we’ll know each other pretty well. And let me say this: North Carolina is so good, and they’ve been so good all year. Guard play, size, rebounding, fly, being able to score, Jackson will get 40. He had 40 on us last game we played. Roy has done a great job with his team, and I’m looking forward to the game just because I like my team, and we’ve got a good group of kids, and I’m like jacked up. I’ll sleep tonight because I’m getting old and I’m tired, but I’m excited that we’re still doing this with this group of kids.
NCAA Men’s Regional Semifinals and Finals: Memphis
Saturday, March 25 2017
Kentucky – 86, UCLA – 75.
STEVE ALFORD: Well, we knew it was a tough draw. Somebody that was really good wasn’t going to win this game in advance. I’m just really proud of our basketball team. I’ve been in the locker room telling them that, that I’ve been doing this 26 years, and to have a group of young men, and it starts obviously with my two seniors that have just had brilliant careers, not just on the court, but how they’ve grown as young men, which is what the college experience is supposed to be all about. What they’ve done for us in the community, what they’ve done in the classroom, how they’ve represented UCLA in every way, shape or form has been magnificent.
I really think these two seniors, and then the team as a whole have taken us coaches — sometimes there’s coaches that maybe can take a group of young men on a journey that’s fun. This year was definitely a group of young men that took coaches for a great journey. We started blending this thing back in June, coming off a tough year last year after two Sweet 16s, and to get back to the Sweet 16 and win 31 games, I told the guys, that was one thing, and obviously winning is fun, but how we went about it was remarkable. The character on this team, how they were as teammates, the unselfishness was so fun to watch. They were so fun to coach.
As fans, there’s 36 times fans got to watch this group. I got to watch it every day for about 100 practices. I’m very, very blessed that I had that opportunity because it was a blast watching these young men compete and improve and get better, and we just got beat by a very good team that played very, very well tonight.
Q. Bryce and Isaac, obviously it’s very emotional, but has it sunk in yet that your careers at UCLA are over?
BRYCE ALFORD: I don’t know, it kind of sinks in pretty quick, I think, knowing that you just lost a game in the NCAA Tournament. Yeah, it’s very emotional. I’ve been with him for four years, played for my dad for four years, so it’s been a great four years. Can’t really complain about anything. Being a senior, in four years, having three Sweet 16s, it’s just been a blast to play at UCLA. I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet, but it’s definitely emotional.
ISAAC HAMILTON: Yeah, same thing, piggy-backing on what Bryce said, real emotion. I’m just blessed to play under Coach Alford. And the whole idea of me coming in and my three years playing, it’s been a blast. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but couldn’t ask for a better coach and coaching staff.
Q. What was it about Fox tonight that was so hard for you guys to stop, and if you could do it again, how do you think you would try to play him differently?
BRYCE ALFORD: Well, yeah, all credit to him, he’s really, really good. There’s a reason he is who he is and he has the hype around him. He’s very, very talented. Isaac and I were just talking about it. It’s tough to stop a guy who has as good of a mid-range game as he does. That’s a lost art in college basketball, and it’s very hard to stop. The way he used pick-and-rolls, and he could get to the spot that he went to just about every time, and he didn’t miss a whole lot of shots tonight, so you’ve got to give credit to him. If we had to do it all over again, I don’t know if we’d change our game plan. He was just phenomenal tonight.
Q. Bryce, eight minutes into the second half, you guys were trailing by six, yet you were shooting 80 percent. How deflating was that to be playing that well and still be behind?
BRYCE ALFORD: Yeah, we couldn’t get any stops to start the second half. Felt like they were making everything. Felt like we were shooting — like you said, 80 percent, you can’t really do much better on the offensive end. Credit to them. They made shots tonight. They made a lot of shots. Some that they normally don’t make. They’re a team that’s playing really well right now, and they just got the better of us tonight.
Q. In the first half it’s going back and forth, one point here, one point there, swinging. What was the turning point in the game where you weren’t able to match them?
STEVE ALFORD: I think most of the turning point was in the second half. The first half, I thought was pretty even, and neither team really got in a rhythm offensively and got out and did things in transition, which I think they’re very good at and what we’re very good at.
The second half, it got more up-and-down. I really thought the difference in the game, we had 13 turnovers, they had six. So you get seven more possessions, they got eight more shots. Board play was about even, I think, and to play them about even on the board, I’d take that before the game because they’re a very good rebounding team.
But 16 assists, 13 turnovers, that’s not who we are. So we got a little stagnant in the first half. I thought the second half, our offense opened up and we got to playing the way we normally play offensively. Scored a lot of points, we just didn’t defend in the second half the way we were defending in the first half, and, for whatever reason. One, they’re very, very good, they’re very talented, and Fox had one of those special nights, and Monk got going in the second half, as well. We had foul trouble with Tommy Welsh, which affects kind of the things we want to do, especially rim protection. But we got beat by a very, very good team that played very well today.
Q. Coach, there have been a lot of rumors out there about Indiana and your name being in the mix; have you talked to them, and do you expect —
STEVE ALFORD: I talked about that last week. Our guys have been very focused. I’ve been very focused. I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles. To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.
This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.
I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully that’ll continue.
Q. Ball didn’t have his normal game today. Was it something that they did or he was not healthy or something just wasn’t flowing —
STEVE ALFORD: No, Zo was healthy. I haven’t talked to him other than just to tell him thank you because he’s been a part of this very special ride. It’s been a phenomenal year. Might not have been one of his best games, but it wasn’t a bad game, either. He’s just a very special talent, and he’s going to go on and have a phenomenal career. I’ve said it from day one. In my mind he’s the No. 1 draft pick. He’s just been — the way he can orchestrate a team is phenomenal.
So one night where things didn’t click, I don’t think is going to change anything. We’re 31-5, a very special team, and he was obviously a big, big part of that, and I appreciate how he wanted to be coached. For somebody that in my mind is the No. 1 pick, we’ll have to wait and see how that works. But sometimes those guys aren’t real coachable, and he was phenomenal to coach. I mean, phenomenal. I’m talking never had a bad practice, never showed up just to put in time. He worked, he worked on his game. He watched film with us. He took care of his body. He was just the absolute perfect individual to coach.
You don’t see that a lot in the one-and-done era. I give him a lot of credit, and I think because of those characteristics, I think he’s going to have an incredible career.
Q. You talk about one-and-done. He said in the locker room that he’s done at UCLA. Had you all talked about this beforehand or did you expect this to be the end if there was a loss?
STEVE ALFORD: Look, I assumed. I probably don’t like to assume anything, but he’s pretty good, so — and we want our guys, whether we like the era or not, I always tell our guys that I played in the short-short era, and I played in the era where nobody left school. It’s a different era. Guys can make a very good living sooner than what it was two decades ago, three decades ago. We’ve had our share of some very good one-and-dones. Last year doesn’t get talked about a lot, but year three, part of our struggle was that in a two-year frame we lost seven guys to the NBA. Now we’re going to lose some in this group, too.
But we’ve been able to, I think, get that culture back, and whether it’s Zo or others, they’ve had a lot to do with it, and how Bryce and Isaac have handled two Sweet 16s and then a rough year, how they never wavered, they never complained, they never whined, they stayed the course, too, they’re going to have as much about this going forward, as well.
Like I said, a tremendous recruiting class coming. We’ve just got to continue to build on it.