Kentucky defeated Vermont 73-69 in Rupp Arena.
Highlights from UK Sports Video
From UK Athletics
UK MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
VERMONT AT KENTUCKY
RUPP ARENA | LEXINGTON, KY.
NOV. 12, 2017
Final Score: #5/4 Kentucky 73, Vermont 69
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 2-0 and this was Vermont’s season opener.
- This was the first meeting between UK and Vermont in men’s basketball.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK takes on Kansas on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET in the State Farm Champions Classic. The game will be played in the United Center in Chicago and it will be televised on ESPN.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the first time this season.
- Kentucky got a 10-0 spurt to take a 13-4 lead but Vermont rallied to re-take the lead at 16-15.
- From there, Kentucky controlled the remainder of the first half at went to intermission ahead 36-24.
In the Second Half
- Kentucky stretched the lead to 14 points early in the second half, UK’s largest lead of the game.
- Vermont battled back, gradually lowering the deficit to three on two occasions.
- With 28.7 seconds left, Trae Bell-Haynes missed a pair of free throws but Vermont claimed a loose ball on the rebound.
- Ernie Duncan missed a 3-pointer but the ball was tipped out of bounds and awarded to Vermont with 5.7 seconds to play.
- Payton Henson missed a final 3-pointer and Washington grabbed the rebound to preserve the Wildcat win. He added a foul shot for the final of 73-69.
- Kentucky shot 78.3 percent at the foul line, making 18 of 23.
- Kentucky won the rebounding 36-27, leading to a 10-4 advantage in second-chance points.
- UK has had at least three players with three or more assists in both games this season.
- PJ Washington totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds, the first double-double by a Wildcat this season.
- Washington’s final rebound with less than a second to play clinched the win.
- Hamidou Diallo had 16 points and three assists.
- After two games, he is the team’s leading scorer with a 17-point average.
- Quade Green had 15 points and a team-high four assists.
- Kevin Knox had 11 points and four rebounds, including a crucial 3-pointer with 3:13 to play that was UK’s final basket of the game.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari is now 251-53 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 136-6 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari has a 696-193 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is 3-0 vs. Vermont in his career.
Vermont Head Coach John Becker and Guard Trae Bell-Haynes
From UK Athletics
Q. As I suspect you’re going to say that you needed one like this. What did you need and get out of a close game obviously we got to see what your lineup would be in a close one?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, there’s — look, I say this every year, but even more so with this team — we’re starting all freshmen, we bring in two sophomores who haven’t played that much, with a freshman off the bench. You cannot play Popcorn State and learn anything. You got to play good teams. Now, I didn’t realize how good this team was until I watched the tape and then I’m like, who scheduled this to be our second game? This is ridiculous. (Vermont) just do an unbelievable job. If you watch them, they create good shots for each other. Each time down they’re either shooting layups or threes. Defensively they fight like crazy, they’re a terrific rebounding team. We got them in a little bit of foul trouble, which affected them. And how about this, I knew they wouldn’t give up and I told my team at halftime, these guys know how to win, man, they won 29 games last year. They had Purdue beat and then Purdue made some shots and stretched it out and they beat them. But that team, they’re going to win a lot of games. So, for us to be able to — I would rather have won it by more — but to have to make the plays down at end I’m just going to tell you the plays. How about Kevin’s (Knox) three? That was big. I need to know late in the game that he can make that shot. How about Quade making free throws? He needs to be in the game at the end. Quade played well today. And the reason I started him, and I told Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), ‘This has nothing to do with you.’ We need him to make shots and play well for us. That’s why I did it. I thought P.J. (Washington) was a beast, finally. First time this year. I just called him in I said, ‘That’s what you need to be every practice and every game.’ Now, how many one-handed rebounds did we go after today? Now do you know why I’m nuts about one hand? How about the one-hand catch on the elbow pass that we’re ready to — the game’s over — and they steal a ball and go down and score on us on a pass entry to the elbow. One-handed stuff loses you games. Kevin Knox had one, one out of bounds with five seconds. P.J. had one before that. But the game winner P.J. grabbed with two hands. Maybe two minutes before that, Kevin Knox put his head on the rim literally and grabbed the ball with two hands in traffic. So this is a freshman team, we’re learning. We learned against an execution team that can really shoot. And we out rebounded them, did — I tell you what, for 20 minutes, but I know the next 20 would be kind of like, you know, they shot 85 percent in the first five minutes of the second half. But I knew that. Our guys just, okay, we played good, now let me do my thing and I’ll run a gap here and I’ll give a guy a layup and what’s the big deal, Coach, it’s still nine. What? But that’s what young teams do.
Q. What did you think of the point guard matchup and did you have to take Quade (Green) out to try to get him, to improve the defense?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we just – we’re not staying in front of guards right now and it’s scary because the teams we have coming up all have guards that are going to try to break you down and score by themselves and try to get 30 (points). So, you either guard — look, you have to guard somebody, wouldn’t you say? And there’s some things you can’t guard. You can’t guard the officials, can’t guard the other coach. There’s five guys they have. One of those guys you got to be able to guard. And Quade though, I tell you what, if he plays that way and learns to stay in front of people, he’s good. I mean this kid has courage, he’s not afraid to take shots. We were dying at that point when he took those shots and made them.
Q. I think aside from P.J. Washington none of your other players missed multiple free throws. What kind of comfort does that give you knowing that when they get fouled they can make those?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we’re, Sacha (Killeya-Jones) making those free throws was big. By the way, let me not forget him. Sacha played his butt off today. You just saw him, the work that’s put in. This is what he’s looking like in practice and now he’s carrying it over into the game. His confidence is going to be demonstrated performance, not me telling him, ‘You’re great, you’re the best, you’re –‘ no. You do it in practice, you go in a game, you demonstrate that performance to your self. That’s how you build confidence. I can’t build it for these guys. He was terrific. Nick (Richards) struggled because they had five men that shot threes. But Nick will be fine.
Q. Does it concern you at all that down the stretch you missed seven of your last eight shots?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, I was trying to figure out who we go to. And I don’t know yet. Do you know? If you know, write me a note, because right now we don’t know. I tried — if you notice, I was trying all kind of different things to see. What I did like is Kevin making that three. It shows me he has courage enough to make it. Couple other guys missed all their shots. Well, maybe late, I’m not going to have you shoot it. Somebody who can make it and, ready for this, and if you get fouled, make free throws, you’ll have the ball in your hands at the end. I kind of like Quade with his hands on the ball at the end, to be honest, I thought it looked pretty good.
Q. How significant of a play was that Wenyen Gabriel defensive play it at the end of the game? Does that show you anything about his growth in that area?
JOHN CALIPARI: Where he went out on the guy that — yeah. There was a couple plays he got beat on the dribble and recovered and blocked shots. He did that. But even this one – free throws. We have worked on it, but we don’t do it every day, but we didn’t block out on free throws. What? You’re going to lose a game that you played for 40 minutes because you are not going to block out on a free throw? Really? Really? And that’s what 17 and 18-year-olds do. They think, well, someone will get this one. You don’t have guys hitting heads going for balls, all of them with two hands. So we have got some stuff to do, but this, I told them prior to the game, I’m so excited about this game because we’re going to learn about ourselves. And we’re going to learn about individuals, what they’re capable of and maybe what they’re not capable of. And we’re going to learn. You’re going to learn against an NCAA Tournament team that is going to beat a lot of people this year and I thought in the first half we were really good. In the second half not quite as good. Shot 60 percent in the second half. Come on.
Q. This game had a little bit of a March feel, I’m curious how you think it’s going to carry over Tuesday against Kansas?
JOHN CALIPARI: Different. Different atmosphere, different team. They will play more mush mouth. They will play fast, bang bang, shoot threes and their guard play is unbelievable. (Bill Self) has a really good team. And they’re veterans, he’s got veterans on that team that have been there and done that and so it will be a hard game for us to win. But it’s another game. Let’s see, neutral floor, Top-5 team, where are we? They’re top four, three, whatever they are, No. 1 in the country, whatever they are. Where is a freshman team, playing on the road, against a team like that? Where are we now? And we have a lot of time to prepare. So, I haven’t looked at anything for Kansas. I will go to my office tonight and break down this tape. I’ll watch some Kansas stuff, I’ll be home by 9:30. I might bring the dogs to the office so I may stay a little longer. But tomorrow at 10 they will, 10:15, they will watch the Vermont high and low lights and then we’re on to Chicago and it’s all Kansas. So I can’t — it’s against the rules for me to show them any tape tonight, which is fine — but we’ll go back and break it down and be ready to show them stuff and then get on with what we know is a tough game. Look, this game was in doubt as soon as I started watching the tape. I told them, I said, ‘Coach, loved watching the tape of your team, how they play and how they play together and how much courage they played with.’ I watched the Albany game in their tournament. Wow. No way they’re winning this game. Oh, yeah, you don’t know who we are. And they came back and figured out away to win. And Albany played great in the game. I just told them, I said, I like the tape, I’m not going to like what I see today and again, in the second half, you knew (Vermont) — they’re just a good team, they’re well coached, they’re not going to quit. It’s a fun way to coach, even if you’re down 10 or 12 at half and you look and say, ‘We’re fine.’ I mean that’s what I — I’ve had teams that way — not this one, but I’ve had teams that way. Where I know we’re fine let’s just keep playing.
Q. What was the referee’s explanation on the technical and what did you say to P.J. in the huddle afterwards?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well I just, he said he, boom, and then everybody saw it and it was like, well wait a minute. I didn’t see it yet, but he said he hit him and if he hit him — then I looked at P.J. and I said, ‘Do you understand we were shooting fouls and getting the ball?’ Now they shoot fouls and then they get the ball. We’re trying to win a ball game. This is all stuff winning basketball. How about Hami’s (Diallo) one-handed foot kick throw? The game’s in the balance, my man, this isn’t like a horse shot. So, again, they’re all freshmen, they don’t get it yet. And I’m trying to be as positive as I can. Was I positive today?
Q. Pretty positive. Not as positive as the other night, but pretty positive.
JOHN CALIPARI: I just hope I’m not trending down. I’m trying to be positive. It’s so hard. I punch walls when I get in my office. I smile.
Q. You started the same lineup first half, second half and then of course we saw who you had out at the end. What, I guess I’m wondering how far, is this the experiment?
JOHN CALIPARI: This is going to be game to game. Nick (Richards) backed up off that five man and gave him a three and I said he can’t play in this game right now with them. Then, if they put 25 in, we could have put him back in, but then Sacha gave 25 a three. I mean, we were telling him the whole time that’s what they do. You got to make them bounce the ball. But Nick has been so good all year. It just was one of those games. It’s a game that it’s a hard one for him to play because of how they play. Kansas will be a different story. They got big guys and physical guys that are going to play around the rim. But he had a one-handed rebound that if he grabbed with two, then he could have dunked the ball. But he grabbed with one and fumbled and he said, ‘But I saved it.’ You saved it? You could have dunked it. Just grab it with two. So like I said, I got to go back and watch the tape. I would like us to shoot probably seven or eight more threes than we’re shooting right now. But this is a team that can throw it to the post. They decided not to double team the post, which means you’re not going to shoot many threes. If they double team the post, it’s a kick out, a swing, swing and a three or a drive and kick out for a three. That’s usually how it goes. And they made a choice to say now we’re going to make them beat us making those baskets. And I thought P.J. was good in there and the other guys too.
#1, Sacha Killeya- Jones, Sophomore, F
On how this will prepare them for Kansas …
“Today is a game we really needed. It’s good that it was a close game because we got to learn how to play down the stretch, finish the game out and play together. It was a good game.”
On what they learned about themselves today …
“That we can finish games. We also learned that we can’t come off flat in the second half and can’t lean on a lead too heavy because they can go away quickly. You know, just playing together and finishing strong.”
On stepping up to the free-throw line and hitting big shots compared to last year’s struggles …
“I, personally, was just happy to make my free throws today in general. I know I am a very capable free-throw shooter, but I’ve just been kind of slumped so far this season, and I guess a little bit last season. Y’all know what my numbers were. I was just happy to get to the line and knock down some free throws like I should be doing and keep that going.”
On how good it feels knowing they can win when their backs are against the wall so early this season …
“I mean it’s great to get this win, like I said earlier. It is just good to have this experience for these young guys and to know how things get when the game gets close – the game is on the line, how the refs are, how the crowd is, how the other team reacts – it’s all just a good experience.”
On how he has earned Coach Calipari’s trust this season …
“Just doing what he asks me to do: rebounding, defending, doing the things that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet but just playing harder and playing with effort.”
#0, Quade Green, Freshman, G
On the point guard match up …
“(Trae Bell-Haynes) was a very good point guard today — very good. He kept us on our toes, hit open shots, went to the lane and ran everything how a point guard should.”
On what they learned about a game like this …
“To keep our composure on tough games like this because it is going to be a tough game on Tuesday. We want to keep our composure, keep strapping down on defense and execute on offense.”
On not starting but being on the court at the end of the game …
“It doesn’t matter to me. We can all just play. Everybody here can play at the end or the beginning. It doesn’t matter. Whatever Cal wants, he gets. Everybody has to just do their job.”
On being comfortable down the stretch…
“I’m very comfortable. Those game shots are practice shots. I work on taking those. I’m very comfortable with taking those, so I take them.”
#25, PJ Washington, Freshman, F
On helpfulness of being a young team …
“It helps a lot because Vermont was a really good team, and I felt like they made us play defense. It showed us where we were and how many things we need to get better on.”
On his preparedness for Tuesday vs. Kansas …
“I feel like we have a little bit of an idea where we are now and what we need to work on. We’re going to get some film in, then a couple practices and be ready for Tuesday.”
On what the team learns from a tight game like this one …
“Just playing a veteran team like them, we learned that we got to talk on defense more – just be more engaged on the defensive end and fighting more the whole game.”
Vermont Head Coach John Becker
Opening statement …
“I’m really proud of our guys today and the effort they played with out there. We were close. We were close, and I’d like to thank Coach Calipari and Kentucky for giving us this opportunity. We got to bring a lot of our fans down, which is great. It was a great event for us, and I appreciate the opportunity. Rupp Arena is everything. It’s the first time I’ve been here. It was just a great environment – great fans. We’re a little bit disappointed right now that we couldn’t make one more shot, but that’s a really talented Kentucky team that’s playing a heck of a schedule. They’re going to be really good and be a team to be reckoned with for national championship. Our aspirations are to win these games. I have a pretty experienced group, a team that won a lot of games last year with the NCAA tournament. We hope to be back there this year. We played a lot of these top ten teams really well. I think there’s a feeling of frustration that we’re not quite there yet, but we’re excited to get back to work. It’s just a possession or two, especially against a team like that. All of our guys battled some foul trouble today, but I thought guys came in off the bench – I thought Drew Urquhart was great. He hit a huge three late for his game. Really proud of our team and looking forward to getting back to Burlington and continue to get better.”
On the experience level of his team …
“I thought we got good looks there at the end. Ernie Duncan’s our best shooter. We got two good looks in that situation. They know we need a three, and then at the end there they get the ball back. (Wenyen) Gabriel makes an amazing play to get a piece of the ball. I thought we were open there for a second. I was happy with our end of game situation and execution. That team is really big and long and athletic so they don’t get him any clean looks even though I’m sure they have more breakdowns than they want, they’re able to recover from those. I thought we were getting to the rim, and we had a couple clean looks that they came in and blocked later. Rushed a little bit, so credit to them. But as far as the experience, obviously, I thought that was going to be a big advantage for us. Our team is experienced, has won a lot of games, has played a lot of big games, and this is a lot of these guys second college basketball game. I don’t care how good you are, it takes a little while to adjust to the college game. Again, you’ve got one of the best coaches in the country, if not the best coach in the country. He’s doing a great job of getting these guys up to speed.”
On being able to penetrate Kentucky’s defense …
“A lot of that was this guy sitting next to me (Trae Bell-Haynes). He’s just special and he can get to spots on the court. He has an amazing ability of finishing. Our bigs help the cause because we have bigs that can shoot threes, so it spaces the court out so it allows teams to have to decide if they’re going to help at the rim or if they’re going to stay shooters. So I think the combination of our big skill set and the ability of Trae Bell-Haynes. I thought Stef Smith, who played his first game, had a huge play late to get Drew with an and-one where he got down hill. Cam Ward, who’s our other kind of penetrating guard, rolled his ankle, so he wasn’t available in the second half. So, I think it’s a combination of those two things. It’s hard to guard in today’s game.”
On if the point guard matchup is how they planned for Kentucky …
“No we didn’t look at any matchups thinking we wanted to take advantage of anything. It’s just how we play. We play like we play. A lot of people probably haven’t seen us, but that’s how we play. Bell-Haynes is a player of the year on our team. He’s out with foul trouble that hurt us. That hurt us because you can see what he can do when he is out there and not having to worry about fouls. So, he has to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble to keep him on the court.”
On opening with Kentucky will prepare them for other tough games this season …
“Yeah, we have a really challenging non-conference schedule. You know at this point we are looking to play anyone, anywhere, anytime. You know 12 or 15 games on the road – we do play some really good teams. We like to challenge ourselves that way. League play – we are in one big league, so we understand league play means everything. We need to make sure we understand who we are exactly by the time league play comes around. Only way to do that is to play the best teams you can play. You know we will watch the film and there will be stuff that we need to take from this game to prepare for Bradley on Thursday.”
On being able to play at Rupp Arena and promoting their program …
“The fact that it was on ESPN was huge. I think this is the first regular season ESPN, the flagship ESPN the main station, game that has been on there. From that sense, it is great that the country got to see how good of a program we are and how good of players we have. You know that certainly helps, and playing Kentucky, which in Rupp Arena for our fans, it was a great opportunity for our school. It’s a great opportunity see what the best of the best looks like from the facilities from that standpoint. Certainly they have some of the best players in the country so it was good to kind of see what the top teams are doing, what the best facilities look like and how things are run, so that is good for everybody.
#2, Trae Bell-Haynes, Senior, G
On the Kentucky defense …
“Obviously, they’re really good. I think Coach touched on them being able to kind of hide their deficiencies because of how long they are, especially certain lineups one through five. But, for the most part, we kind of attacked it patiently, picking our spots. I think we have a lot of sets and a lot of players that can score the ball. So, I think we were able to kind of find holes and pick them apart in a sense because they have to respect one through five guys that are on the court all the time. They can’t really help off. It is really tough – when they have, at times, 6-(foot)-6, 6-7, 6-8, 6-9, 6-11 out there – for us to kind of get into the paint and make the right plays because they’re effective in passes. I mean, the last play of the game, Gabriel was kind of able to jump back into the play when we thought we had an open three with Payton (Henson). So, I mean, they’re length is really something.”