Kentucky defeated Fort Wayne 86-67 to move to 5-1 on the season.
Highlights from UK Sports Video
Fort Wayne Coach Jon Coffman
Final Score: #8/8 Kentucky 86, Fort Wayne 67
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky wins its third game in a row in improving to 5-1. Fort Wayne is 3-2.
- This was the first meeting between UK and Fort Wayne in men’s basketball.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK continues the five-game homestand on Sun. Nov. 26 as the Wildcats play host to UIC. Game time is 6 p.m. and it will be televised on the SEC Network.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the fifth straight game.
- Both teams came out hot, with Fort Wayne making six of their first 12 3-point tries, and an 8-0 run gave the visitors a 27-23 lead.
- Trailing 37-36, UK held Fort Wayne scoreless over the final 3:50 of the half. The Wildcats finished with a 9-0 spurt and took a 45-37 lead into intermission.
- There were eight lead changes in the first half.
- UK shot 70.4 percent in the first half, the Wildcats’ best half since shooting 75.9 percent vs. Stony Brook on March 17, 2016.
- Fort Wayne had eight 3-pointers in the first half, most that UK has allowed in a half this season.
In the Second Half
- Kentucky held Fort Wayne scoreless for the first 2:21 of the second half, extending the scoreless streak to 6:11. In the meantime the Wildcats got the first two baskets and two free throws of the second half, extending the run to 15-0 and the lead 51-37.
- UK added runs of 8-0 and 9-0 in the second half.
- UK extended the lead to 30 points at 79-49, the Wildcats’ largest advantage of the season.
- Kentucky’s 86 points is a season high for the Wildcats.
- UK led by as many as 30 points in the game and is 219-4 in the John Calipari era in games that the Wildcats have led by at least 10 points.
- UK shot exactly 60 percent from the field. This is the 10th time in the Calipari era that UK has shot at least 60 percent.
- UK won the rebounding, 44-21, the fifth consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork. The +23 margin ties for the 11th best game of the Calipari era. UK has had a +23 rebounding margin in two games in a row.
- UK’s board dominance led to a 16-4 lead in second-chance points and a 44-22 edge in points in the paint. It’s also a season high for points in the paint.
- Two Wildcats pulled down double-digit rebounds, first time that has happened this season.
- UK had a season high 24 bench points, winning that stat 24-10.
- Nick Richards totaled 25 points and 15 rebounds, his first double-double as a Wildcat.
- It’s UK’s first 20-10 game since Bam Adebayo totaled 22 points and 15 rebounds vs. Missouri on Feb. 21, 2017.
- It’s UK’s first 25-15 game since Terrence Jones went for 27 and 17 against Notre Dame on Dec. 8, 2010.
- Kevin Knox tallied 11 points and has scored double figures in all six games this season.
- Quade Green had 11 points and led the Wildcats in assists with five.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an all-around floor game with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals.
- Wenyen Gabriel almost got a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari is now 254-54 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 139-6 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari has a 699-194 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is 1-0 vs. Fort Wayne in his career.
On Nick Richards performance …
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, he was pretty good today. Kenny (Payne) has done a great job and Tony (Barbee). What we’re trying to get them to do, they’re trying to do. I was just happy for how he was reaching for balls and the stuff that he was doing. I got on Wenyen (Gabriel). Wenyen got 10 rebounds, 9 points. I was kind of on him. Again, he had four turnovers.
I mean, and let me say this about Fort Wayne – how well are they coached and how do they play to their strength, which is drive the ball and shoot threes? They’re a veteran team. They have a little bit inside. But the thing is, they’re going to take — they took 37 three-point shots. When you play a team that’s willing to take 37 three-point shots, you got a chance of losing because they can make 20. Now you lost the game.
Again, they missed some free throws, which is surprising because they’re a really good free-throw shooting team.
Like I said, we got better. The zone looked good. The zone kind of stymied them a little bit. It’s nice we can go to that thing a little bit if we need to, but we’re still learning.
Again, in one minute, they scored 10 points. I think it was a 10-0 run. We’ve had that every game. We’re up 30. All of a sudden you turn around and we win by 19. We still got some issues. When I watch the tape, I’ll figure out, again, here is why it happened.
I’m telling you, in most cases either someone was not engaged defensively or someone got selfish. Instead of making an easy play, they tried to make the hardest play or they just missed free throws, like missed them all.
I’ll say this about shooting and free throws. You don’t have to make them all. You just can’t miss them all. Hopefully you’re making more than you’re missing.
Q. John, any players tonight kind of felt like the light came on a little bit for them? Your demeanor in the second half seemed to change, things had been going better than previous games.
JOHN CALIPARI: We still have some guys that have habits that they’ve got to create new habits. If a guy has been doing something eight years, you’re not going to break that habit. So you got to create new habits so that thing is not there any more. We’re not trying to break it. Leave it there. But we’re going to do something different.
That’s what’s hard with these young kids. Hard. Kevin Knox — one-handed rebounds again. One-handed catches. Just got to keep running him. You’re going to run. I mean, Vermont game – one-handed rebound. We almost lost. Kansas game – one-handed rebound.
Those are things, it’s not breaking that habit, it’s creating a new habit that you’re going to go after every ball with two hands.
There was some good stuff. I’m anxious to watch the tape. Happy for the guys. Look, we found out yesterday that we have the youngest, most inexperienced team in the last 11 years since Ken Pom has kept track. What? So there are 350 teams a year for the last 11 years, and we’re the youngest ever. That’s only because he only did it from 2006 and ‘7. It may be the youngest ever.
We’re trying to win. I’m trying to challenge these guys. We’re trying to create new habits. I am losing my mind thinking that we should be farther along than we are.
But I’m proud of them. I’m happy. Again, I talked to them after the game. Really said very little about the game. Talked about Thanksgiving. I just said to the team, “How many of you in this room understand how thankful you need to be? I hope you understand. I mean, how did you get that body you have? You haven’t done anything for this. It’s been given to you.”
I told them this. I said, “Look, how many of you grew up where you didn’t have much?” I said, “When I see someone homeless or I see someone that’s struggling, I say, only by the grace of God that’s not me.” Where I came from, how I was brought up, it could have been me.
So for all of us to be thankful and talk to these players about that — we’re going to the Salvation Army. We’re going to serve food tomorrow. The Lundergan family has done it for 30 years. Jerry is going to let us be a part of it. I appreciate him. He’s a good friend of mine.
But I want them to feel. When we do the Christmas stuff where we bring in 12 families and we pay two months’ rent, do you know what those mothers do when they players give them the rent check for two months? They cry. They cry. I wanted my players to see that. Do you understand the impact by doing something little, by having an impact on somebody else?
But the only way you can be grateful or be that way is be thankful and be grateful because most of the stuff we have is not earned or deserved, it just happened that it’s us and it’s not him. He had a break the wrong way. I had a break the right way. Only by the grace of God that’s not me.
I said this. I’m not trying to get on a soapbox, even though I am. 2,600 homeless in our city – are you kidding me? Lexington, Kentucky, one of the wealthiest cities. We have 2,600 homeless?
I want my kids to know that. Then you have a chance to have an impact on stuff. How do you do it? What are you going to do?
This is a good time for a young team because these kids most of their life to this point — what have they thought about? Themselves. What did they dream about? Themselves. Now all of a sudden you’re put in this position where you can have an impact.
It’s why I love the fact when I read about my guys in the league, in the NBA. Not even those guys, even a Jon Hood. You see guys that maybe aren’t in the league, but you see what they’re doing in communities and how they’re being involved. I mean, this is the great thing about coaching here at Kentucky.
I’ve got to be grateful. I told them that. Can you imagine? There’s no reason I should be the Kentucky coach. You had people try to stop me from getting this job. There is no reason I should be the Kentucky coach. And I am. Now all of a sudden we got 30, 40 kids in the NBA. We’re having an impact on kids’ lives and families.
I shouldn’t be the coach. As a player, I was small, but I was slow. I’m coaching at Kentucky. I mean, for me, you know, just being thankful about that. I told them that. I’m able to put all of you on a stage where you have a chance to change the rest of your lives and the dimension of your family and the direction of your family by being in this program.
I will tell you all to have a great day tomorrow. I’m going to say this on the radio, and hopefully you guys will do this. If you’re having Thanksgiving dinner, there’s got to be someone in your community that you know is alone. Either bring them food, knock on their door, or have them come to your house and eat. Got to be some woman, some mother, you know they’re alone.
It’s a great thing about this state. I’ve never been anywhere that people have bigger hearts and make it about community. They don’t talk about a city. They talk about a county. That’s what it is.
I would suggest to all of you, if you have a chance, bring somebody in your home. Make somebody else’s day. Take them food. Do something neat.
Q. Back to the end of the first half, start of the second half. 15-0 run. They go six minutes without a basket. What changed there?
JOHN CALIPARI: We just told them, “You understand they got eight threes, so let’s take away threes. You got to stay in front of the ball. If you don’t stay in front of the ball, you ready, I’m taking you out.”
He takes me out every time a make a mistake.
No. Every time you get beat for a layup, I’m taking you out. That’s energy, that’s effort, that’s desire, that’s fight. It has nothing to do with turnovers, missed shots, nothing.
All of a sudden we stayed in front. We gave tough threes. Now, it changed the game. First half, wow. Each pass, each drive, one more guy stopped. So when they got to the fourth drive or the fourth lane touch, two guys weren’t playing on my team. They had already stopped. It was pass, pass three.
But that’s what young teams do.
Q. When is the last time an opposing player tried to draw a charge on you?
JOHN CALIPARI: They asked me about it out there. The only thing I remember is one of their players — and you know I love this — he made a three in front of me, then turned and looked right at me. Like, How about that? I thought it was great. You know that don’t bother me.
“You don’t do that to me, you know my legacy, who I am.” That ain’t me. I was ready to hit him with five. I like that. Kid has some swag about him.
The kid that fell, I don’t know what happened. I don’t even know. Somebody said, “You hit him?”
I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Q. He took a little dive.
JOHN CALIPARI: Took a dive? Good for him. Good for him. It’s going to get him on SportsCenter. The kid is smart.
Was I even close? Was I doing that one? Was it the Heisman? Was it the Heisman? Was it a foot?
Q. With Nick (Richards), you talked about the work that Kenny and the guys have been doing with him. What has been the biggest focus for you?
JOHN CALIPARI: Let me just tell you what’s helped him as much as anything else. He called Bob Rotella. Then he came and saw me. He said, “Man, that guy is really good, got me in the right frame of mind right now.”
This is the game of basketball. If you think you’re going to struggle, guess what? You’re struggling. The only way, though, that you can build confidence is working harder than everybody in practice.
And the second thing is, you can’t have the weight of the world on you and play this game. You got to play like you got nothing to lose. That’s all I’ve been talking about to these guys. Every team that plays us plays like they have nothing to lose.
All right, well let’s us play that way. We’re the youngest team maybe ever trying to do anything, trying to win games. Let’s play like we have nothing to lose.
Then they looked at me and say, “Well, coach, you have to coach like you have nothing to lose.”
I said, “We’re not doing that.”
They said that to me, and they’re right.
The other thing is if I have more fun coaching, they’re going to have more fun playing. I have fun when guys are diving on the floor, taking charges, flying up and down, making extra passes, and hustling. I know we’re not going to make shots. We’re going to turn it over, freshmen. If they want me to have a ball, play like that.
But let me say this, it’s really hard to play that way. It is. Because you have to just go until you can’t go. It’s hard.
#32, Wenyen Gabriel , F
On big run to end first half and changing defensively …
“Well basically Cal (John Calipari) jumped on us at halftime. We let up I think eight 3s so we had to slow down their shooting.”
On Fort Wayne’s ability to shoot the three and move the ball …
“Obviously we were all pretty shocked in the way they were getting their shots off. Sometimes it caught us off guard, whether it’s a switch that we didn’t switch or running off a screen. So I mean they were getting their shots off quickly we just had to be more engaged defensively.”
On attacking inside while Fort Wayne was shooting threes …
“I mean that’s almost always our game plan you know we just always try to attack the rim first, you know we play fast. We got to get a lot of lane touches, getting to the rim, rebounds, layups and stuff like that. That’s how we want to play inside and out.”
#22, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G
On changes at end of first half/beginning of second…
“I think our defensive intensity and our attention to detail on both ends of the floor. Once we zero in, I think that’s when we go on our runs and really bury teams.”
On Nick Richards’ performance…
“Personally, I saw it coming. He’s been battling all week in practice with Tai (Wynyard) and eventually his hard work is going to pay off. I think that’s what happened tonight.”
On playing with a nothing to lose mentality…
“I think a couple games we played a little tight, just trying not to make mistakes. He’s just saying that to play free and do what we know we can do and just play to the best of our ability.”
On Cal’s advice on playing defense; not going for the steal necessarily…
“Just be disciplined. When the opportunity presents itself obviously take it. Not to pick up fouls over trying to gamble and have steals.”
On best the teams played…
“Yeah I would say so. For the whole forty minutes today, we played our best.”
#4, Nick Richards, F
On having 25 points and 15 rebounds…
“It was a good win for me and my team. We just came out here trying to have a ball, trying to have fun. I just happened to have 25 points and 15 rebounds.”
On how he has improved by working with Coach Kenny Payne…
“Me and Kenny Payne, we’ve just been developing hook shots, as you guys can see, that’s basically my go-to move now; my free throws, my mid-range jumpers, just how to read and react to certain plays, pick-and-rolls, how to guard pick-and-rolls.”
On only missing one shot in the game…
“Well Quade (Green) and Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) put me in the right positions. Quade threw me a lob in the beginning of the game that kind of got me rolling and then I started getting a little bit of rebounds, offensive and defensive rebounds, so that kind of got me going too.”
On playing from behind…
“I don’t think we are confortable with playing from behind. I just think that we’re not coming out with enough energy in the first couple minutes. We go to take time for us. At the same time, teams come out with their all in the first couple minutes and then you can see, they start to go down, they’ll lose energy, all their shots are not falling like they were in the first couple minutes.”
Fort Wayne Head Coach Jon Coffman
“I’ll start by saying you’re clearly disappointed when you come out on the losing side of the game. We don’t talk a lot about wins and losses in our program. We really focus on the process and it’s done pretty well for us with the success we’ve had in my three plus years as a head coach. I think our guys came in with the right mindset. It’s a tremendous tradition here, such an incredible environment and beautiful facility. I don’t think it had any effect on our guys. That was a phenomenal feeling to watch our guys, just the poise. Now, the players on the team that did affect the game. Kentucky has good players. They’re young but they’re very well coached. They created some obstacles out there that were very difficult to overcome. We knew coming into the game rebounding was going to be a challenge. We play undersized and try to throw our own mismatches out there. You all saw us, at points we were really hard to guard. We forced them into a zone, they were struggling to keep us in front and we were getting open shots and making it. They changed the tempo of the game with that. That was kind of where the game changed. Our energy levels changed and that’s an area where we’re usually pretty good. We have great, contagious, positive energy. We struggled in that area. I thought Kentucky came out at halftime and had a really good focus about it. That first five minutes of the second half and the last five minutes of the first half is where we let it get away from us. I’m disappointed, but I’m blessed to have the opportunity to bring our team here to play against University of Kentucky. What a great opportunity for our team. “
On Nick Richards …
“He was the game tonight. We couldn’t keep him off the glass. Now it’s hard, the game is moving so fast. It’s difficult to see in live time as I’m watching how our box outs are and where we are. He’s clearly longer than any guy we have on our roster. We were doubling down with our five. We were leaving our fives one on one but then doubling their fours where we play undersized with our five. We chose to do that. It’s tough to do both but we were able to figure it out with our young group. He made some shots early playing one on one with our guys. That’s a credit to him, and he got some deep catches. Where he hurt us was on the glass with his length. He totally changed the game with Kentucky. He had a great night. He’s a great player.”
On difference between watching Richards on film and playing…
“You guys have seen your teams come through the last four and five years. And it’s like that, there’s so much talent on those teams. On any given night, one guy is going to show why he’s going to be making money from basketball someday. That’s where he stepped up tonight with that opportunity. He did a great job. We were really worried about Sacha (Killeya-Jones), we were going to try to sag off. We were going to really try to protect our fours against PJ (Washington) with how aggressive he is. We go undersize there and so the fact that Sacha really shoots the ball a touch better than Nick at this stage. But man, Nick was really with good with his back to the basket. Really good on the board, just a good player. Going to have a nice year for him. “
On shooting 12 of 37 from the three-point line …
“It’s funny we don’t even talk a lot in our program about shooting a three. We talk a lot about making the right play. We talk about passing up good shots for great shots. When you draw a crowd, manage the crowd. We historically have done a great job at winning both lines. The free throw line and the three-point line. When you come into a game like this, you’re going to have a hard time getting to the free throw line and you have a hard time playing over the trees when you get in there. We knew we would have to make more. We’ve been really efficient at it. We really haven’t been there this year. The last two years we’ve been top ten in the country in three-point shooting and two-point shooting, field goal shooting, assist. This year our number is off a little bit. I spent more time working on our defense this summer, but that part will improve. Honestly, with the way they were outrebounding us, we probably would have needed about 25. And we haven’t done that in our career, or in my career, or our program yet. So not enough tonight.”
On what happened tonight that could translate later in season …
“Well, the fact that I don’t think the environment really affected us. You know, I think the guys played with poise through that. I mean we came out with an attack mentality. You know, there was no fear in our guys. You know, not to this extent, but in our world when you’re going to South Dakota State or your going to so conference tournament where there’s 12,000 at sold out in our league tournament, like those are tough environments for us too, and so that was really, really good. You know, and I think you can learn a lot from failure too. I mean there were some areas that we failed in today. We didn’t play well against the zone and those are some areas that we’ve been really good, I mean no one zones us. I mean we shoot it so well no one ever zones us. Now, we’re not going to see a zone that long the rest of this year, you know, it’s hard to mimic that in practice and we had enough obstacles other than that we worked on in our two days of practices. But, that’s an error. We failed there. I thought we let a period of time go where our energy level dropped. There was too much. We didn’t have that contagious positive energy and what happens when you lose that is you stop stacking your details on top of each other and we had too many details. And you know, we had to play an almost near perfect game in terms of details, or at least a fix it coming behind it as detail, and so that’s where we learn there. But also, this is just part of an experience. What a great life experience for these guys. You know, what a great opportunity for our University., You know, the media coverage that you get when you play someone like Kentucky and it’s a pretty cool thing. Heck, for my family pretty cool. My son sat on the bench. He’s got a heck of a week. He’s at Kentucky, then he’s going to the Michigan, Ohio State, game with his grandpa this weekend. It’s the winningest basketball program in the country and the winningest football game in the country. Pretty good week for a little kid.
What makes Kason Harrell so special …
“Well, it starts with he’s a relentless worker. I mean he took forty thousand shots during our eight weeks of summer school this summer. It was the second year in a row he’d won our gym rats competition and that’s all outside of our basketball workouts, you know, and he’s just relentless with how hard he works. And, you know, when you have that in your program you’re going to have a culture of workers. He’s a guy that can change the game with the way he can shoot the basketball. He’s got much better at putting the ball in the deck and getting into the paint. He did it a little bit tonight and you know he’ll do a little bit better in the Summit League than here tonight playing against Kentucky. But, you know, he can really change the game and they were tagging from the back action and we through back and he was getting really, really good looks early. And uh, you know where they were struggling to guard us was on the second and third reversal and swing and I thought our guys did a great job of swinging the ball side-to-side. It was a good move. They were struggling to guard us in man-to-man and the zone shifted the game up. I wish we had more time to work on that and that’s where we have a young team too. I mean like you all have a bunch of freshman, we got eight new comers and we’ve got six freshman and we’re going through the same growth as well. You know, we lost three guys that are playing for money last year so it’s the same sort of progression with our guys.
On free throw shooting …
“Yeah you know, I said to my assistants late in the second half, we stepped off the line. Whenever we back off it is part of our progression. We are really detailed on how we coach our free throws and we weren’t staying on the line at the end of it. You know, I think that was all associated with our energy that came out. I think our guys were disappointed in their play during that stretch where Kentucky kind of attacked us. And so that was just a detail that wasn’t getting executed. Because you’re right, we do. But, it’s also, even thought we weren’t getting the rebounds on the other side, I assure you our guys, I mean we missed some box outs and stuff, but I mean they were working their tails off. I mean our guys left their hearts out there. They played hard tonight. You know, they didn’t execute perfect. But, they played hard and so that’s really draining when you’re giving up four, five or six inches on every position and so that probably has an affect on it too. Uh, that’s something that Kentucky’s going to continue to see as they progress and they’re playing in the SEC too, you’re going to have other SEC teams come here and miss free throws too because of it. I don’t really think it was the environment. I mean you saw how our guys shot the ball and played and the flow of the game, and you know, it’s funny, we usually do shoot free throws well.”