Kentucky defeated UIC 107-73 in Rupp Arena

Highlights from UK Sports Video

Notes

From UK Athletics
ATTENDANCE: 20,212

Final Score: #8/8 Kentucky 107, UIC 73

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky wins its fourth game in a row, improving to 6-1.  UIC is 2-3.
  • This was the first meeting between UK and UIC in men’s basketball.
  • Next for the Wildcats: UK concludes the five-game home stand on Saturday as the Wildcats play host to Harvard.  Game time is 3:30 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPN.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 700-194 all-time on-court record.
    • He is just the 39th collegiate coach to reach 700 wins, regardless of classification. Only 27 coaches have done it with at least 10 seasons at the Division I level.
    • He is the fourth-fastest to 700 wins. Only Adolph Rupp (836 games), Jerry Tarkanian (876 games) and Roy Williams (879 games) have done it faster.
  • Calipari is now 255-54 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 140-6 at Rupp Arena.
  • Calipari is 1-0 vs. UIC in his career.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the sixth straight game.
  • Ahead 10-7, Kentucky created cushion with a 10-0 run and the Wildcats led by double digits the rest of the game.
  • Buoyed by a .667 shooting percentage, UK led at half 52-35.
  • It is the Wildcats’ highest scoring first half of the season and largest halftime lead.
    • UK’s previous best half of the season was 45 points vs. Fort Wayne and the best halftime advantage was 41-25 vs. Troy.
    • UK’s last 50-point half was the second half of the 2017 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game vs. UCLA.

In the Second Half

  • UIC got no closer than 16 points in the second half as the Cats coasted to victory.
  • UK surpassed the century mark with 4:08 to play on a Knox layup to make it 101-63.
  • UK’s 55 second-half points is the highest-scoring half of the season.
    • It was the Wildcats’ highest-scoring half since netting 60 at Ole Miss on Dec. 29, 2016

Team Notes

  • Kentucky scored a season-high 107 points.
    • It was UK’s first 100-point game since Jan. 3, 2017 against Texas A&M. and the fifth-highest point total of the Calipari era.
    • It was the Wildcats’ most points since pouring in 115 vs. Arizona State on Nov. 28, 2016
  • UK had its highest victory margin of the season at 34 points.
  • UK led by as many as 38 points in the game and is 220-4 in the John Calipari era in games that the Wildcats have led by at least 10 points.
  • UK shot 66.7 percent for the game.
    • It is the second-highest shooting percentage of the Calipari era, trailing only 67.7 percent vs. LIU-Brooklyn on Nov. 23, 2012.
  • UK won the rebounding, 37-33, the sixth consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork.
  • UK dominated points in the paint, 60-34.
  • UK had a season-best 22 assists.
  • Six players scored in double figures for the first time this season.
    • The last time that happened was Nov. 28, 2016, vs. Arizona State.

Player Notes

  • Kevin Knox poured in a career-high 25 points and has scored double figures in every game this season. Ironically, despite the career high, this is the first game that he has not made a 3-pointer.
  • Hamidou Diallo had a career-high 19 points and tied his personal best for assists with four.
  • PJ Washington tied career highs with 17 points and four assists.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a career-high 14 points and tied his career bests for assists (six) and rebounds (five).
  • Quade Green had 12 points while collecting a career-high six rebounds.
    • He has four straight games with at least 11 points, three assists and one 3-pointer.
  • Nick Richards scored 11 points and tied his career best for blocked shots with three.
  • In only five minutes, Tai Wynyard tied his career highs with four points and three rebounds.

Interviews

John Calipari 

Kevin Knox

Hamidou Diallo

PJ Washington

UIC Coach Steve McClain

Box Score

Season Stats 

Quotes

John Calipari

Men’s Media Conference

Kentucky – 107, UIC – 73

On PJ Washington …

JOHN CALIPARI: We’ve got to figure both of those guys out and I know how talented both of them are. I have to put them in positions where they can be efficient, not turn the ball over, make shots and plays. And I got to help them. If you’re coaching freshmen and you just think, ‘Well, they should just figure it out,’ then that’s not fair. It’s not fair to the kids. So I think with each game, you see I’m starting to figure out Kevin (Knox), putting him in spots where he can make baskets. And I still want us to run. I’m all over Quade (Green). I told him after the game, “Who am I on the most?” Quade. I’m trying to get him to play a way that he’s not playing yet. If you remember, this was kind of like what happened with us when we had Marquis Teague. If you remember those first seven, eight, nine games, where everybody was losing their mind and I was trying to get him to play a certain way that he just wasn’t used to playing. And now, Quade, why do we need him — does anybody watch the games, or are you just watching your phones? Just a curiosity. So tell me why we need him on the floor?

Q. His shooting.

JOHN CALIPARI: Because he can shoot. Like that’s one out of 30 of you that recognized that, but that’s okay. Because he can really shoot the ball. So now I don’t need him dribbling 12 times. I need him to get rid of it and get away from it so we can get it back to him and score baskets.

And then defensively I thought we were a little bit better. We still broke down some at the — there was a stretch in there in the beginning of the second half. But I feel we’re getting better, we’re trending the right way, and now we got to sustain. The kids will be off, they’re going to have the rest of today off and then they have got Monday off and they have Tuesday off. So they got a long stretch off. We’ll come back Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, practice. Play Saturday, off Sunday, come back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, light, and play Saturday. So we basically have seven days of practice, finally, to where we can try to get better and I can try to focus on some areas that I know we got to get better at and I can try to focus on some areas that I know we got to get better at.

Q. How much more did you guys post up Kevin Knox tonight and is how important is that in his overall game?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well we posted him some and we also put him near the rim where he can pop out and make shots, but we also — I’m trying to get him to drive the ball. So today he shoots four threes and it’s the only shots that he missed. Normally he’s not going to miss all those, but I don’t mind him taking four threes. I don’t want him taking seven or eight threes. Quade goes 2-of-3, he probably should have shot five or six. He’s the one guy that I would say and you would say let him shoot more threes and I’m telling him to. I like that Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) hit a shot, Wenyen (Gabriel) made one and missed one I thought would he make later, but when someone said, “Well, you’re not taking a whole lot of threes.” Well, when you shoot 66 percent like we did, and you’re getting it around the goal, and you’re shooting at that high a percentage — if you’re going to shoot a bunch of threes, you’re going to have to shoot 41, 40 percent, 41, and not many teams doing it.

So we’ll figure out. I would like to get about 15 to 18 threes a game up. Some games a little less, maybe some a little bit more, but not much more with this team. It was better.

Q. This seems like a really exciting team and yet attendance is down in Rupp Arena this year. There were a lot of empty seats tonight. I was just curious as to what your take on that was?

JOHN CALIPARI: Sunday at six. TV. This is a fun team to watch and I think people will — they will come here. Our attendance is down and it’s really sad because we’re No. 1 in the country in attendance and — we’re No. 1 in the country in attendance. It’s kind of like you guys saying to me, “Cal, you only won by 22, can you tell me what’s wrong with the Cats?” I think people will jump in and do it. And some of it is students — Sunday night. I’m not — we have a large student section and I think they’re trying to do something with some of the student tickets. But I get it. I mean there’s some games I don’t feel like coming and I got to come here anyway, geez.

Q. You mentioned that you’re looking forward to having more practice time. So as the schedule starts to open up more, how much do you think that practice time is going to help your team or how do you think it is going to affect them?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well, there’s so many things we got to figure out. A lot of scrimmaging to, again, to build these players into more efficient team and more efficient individually and better with the ball, limiting turnovers, trying to get them — I thought this was the closest we played to a 40-minute basketball game this year. This is the closest. So that’s good to see.

But there’s some stuff we need to do in the press if we want to change the game up a little bit. We’re so long and so big, I just don’t believe stretching out the court for any serious amount of time is a smart way to go. Because if you’re going to get one contested shot with a 6′-10″ guy over the top of you and you’re 6′-2″, I would probably rather give you that than scrambling in a press and give you that three in the corner with no one on you or a lay up. So there’s different ways of looking at it. I like the zone, the way we’re playing it. But, again, today we — did anybody watch the game, by the way? What did we do defensively in the second half a little bit, not playing zone in our man-to-man? Don’t be embarrassed. We switched everything. Did you see it? You got to take your face up from that phone and look at this game. We switched everything.

Now when we start switching everything, think about it, what are you going to run? Now I told them after the a game the reason we haven’t worked on that is because I need them to learn to play half court defense and know how to crack down and scramble and rotate to a teammate, how to help the helper, which we didn’t do again today. All those kind of things, but, again, you think about us at this size. Denny Crum used to do it. Do you remember Denny’s team? He had big guards and they switched everything. They won national titles switching everything. Took you right out of your offense, now you’re playing man-to-man. Right? No you’re not, you’re playing one-on-one.

So we did some of that. We can work on all of that, we can work on trapping the post, trapping pick and rolls. We can do some different things in a zone press that try to change up the game, keep people up. This has been a grind. We have had how many games? In how many days? 16 days. And all freshmen. Youngest team maybe in the history of college basketball. I know the last 11 years it’s the youngest team. But I tell you this, it may be the youngest team to ever try to do anything special.

Q. You know what it’s like it to rebuild a program. Two years ago UIC had five wins, last year they were the youngest team in the country, they had 17 wins. I would imagine you think Steve’s (McClain) got this going in the right direction, right?

JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, and Steve and I have known each other for a long time. As a matter of fact, Tony Barbee worked for Steve and so — as a matter of fact the staff I hired at Memphis, it was his staff that was at Wyoming that I brought to Memphis. So I’ve known Steve and respected him for a long time. The hardest thing for young guys, which I can see he’s going through, it starts with defense. All the other stuff aside, you got to guard. If we guard, we got a chance to win every game. That’s a talented team. Their guards are talented, they’re big guys, they have got size. But getting them together, that’s the challenge we all have. He and I talked before the game. I said — he looked at me and said, “You know –.” I said, “Don’t talk to me, I’m doing this. You know you want to hear my story? I’ll tell you mine before you tell me yours.”

But that’s what makes this fun, especially when you’re rebuilding. But guys got to really buy in. I mean, I got a team that’s bought into what we do. Like today’s shoot around was a bear. I’m not worried. It’s a shoot around, you got a game that night, we got to get better in this hour. We got to use this hour to improve ourselves. You’re not trying to just go through the motions.

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#3, Hamidou Diallo, G

On the team’s growth the past few games… 

“I feel like we get better every game. We just have to come out there, keep competing, and keep working hard in practice, that’s what it’s all about.”

On if this is the most complete he has played so far this year…

“Oh no no no, definitely not. I feel like there is much more we can do as a team and much more I can do on the court like stop taking plays off. I mean there are a lot of things I need to work on. I am going to get much better as the season goes on.”

On what he needs to work on…

“Right now I’m just trying to work on picking my spots and trying to find where I’m most efficient on the court. It’s been great, Cal has been helping me with that. I just gotta keep working on my shooting, keep working on my strength, keep working on my ball handling, and keep working on getting by defenders, it a bunch of things.”

On having conversations with Coach Calipari on his game…

“Yeah definitely, I mean I speak to Cal almost every day. That’s my coach, I speak to him about basketball things almost every day about how to get better, how he feels about me, and how I can get better.”

#5, Kevin Knox, F

On more posting up tonight …

“Yes sir. That’s something we worked on in practice prior to this game was getting more post touches for everyone on the wing. They really couldn’t guard us in the post in the first half and I think that’s what we took advantage of.”

On Coach Calipari figuring out Knox. …

“I’m getting real more comfortable with the offense, playing with my teammates. I think we’re all kind of clicking. I think this was one of our best games of the season. I think we all just clicked. We’re all making shots, just playing together as a team. And, like Cal (Calipari) said, he’s kind of starting to figure everyone out. So, that’s really good for us and hopefully Cal (Calipari) can start getting us clicking more.”

On career-high points while not making a three pointer …

“I mean that’s just something, I mean, I’m very versatile. I can really do pretty much everything. I get to the basket, post-up, hit mid-range shots, like Cal (Calipari) said, I did a really good job with just being able to find open spots and being able to get in the post and score early baskets in the paint. So I mean it was good. I mean just imagine my three point shot is hitting. So like Cal (Calipari) said, just keep moving on with this game, just keep getting more comfortable.”

More assists than turnovers …
“Oh yes that was good. I mean, He’s been on us about turnovers; he really hates that. So, we are just kind of sharing the ball. Like I said, everybody was kind of clicking tonight. We had multiple guys in double figures so with that happening I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a lot of assists. But it was a really good team win and I’m really glad for my teammates.”

#25, P.J. Washington, Forward

On if Coach Cal saying this was the best they have played as a team this year…

“Yeah I feel like we were making everything tonight.  We just played great as a team and we got the ball moving. We also had some great stops on the defense.”

On if there is anything can attribute to success on the free throw line…

“I have been in the gym working on it a lot. Every time I go to the gym I work on my free throws. I get up my shot attempts, and get up my reps.”

On if you think the team needs more practice…

“This stretch of games coming up is great for us. We have time to practice and work on everything. So, I mean we are going to be way better in these upcoming games.”

UIC Coach Steve McClain

Opening Statement… 

“You know I told Coach Calipari that I’m sorry we didn’t give them more of a look today, but I say that in a sense that I give his team a lot of credit. They ran their sets really well, I thought from watching them on film and watching them in person, they were really crisp with what they were doing. Some things we felt like you could do all of a sudden and I thought the guy they really got going for them is Kevin Knox. I think as they continue to grow and I know Coach talks a lot about them being the youngest team, and they are. That is what I haven’t seen on film that I’ve seen today. Everything they did was very sharp, crisp offensively.  It created problems for us all over the place. We came in thinking we could play zone, every time we went zone, they moved the ball and got a shot. Again, the key is not only to get the open shot but to make the open shot. They put us in a predicament of thinking we could play some zone, but we couldn’t. I give them all the credit. They shot 66%. I’m sure I’ll watch it and see our defense real good but that’s an excuse. I give them credit for being really sharp in what they were doing.”

On early turnovers…

“Well I think anytime you bring a team, I say this everyone acts like I’ve got a veteran team. I’ve got four sophomores out there and a team of guys that have never walked into this kind of environment. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve walked into these kind of environments. They haven’t. They showed that, and why you go do this. If you don’t take anything out of this as a player or as a coach well then you shouldn’t go to these experiences. Don’t go play these games. I like my team, and I know I’m still dealing with a very young group of guys that doesn’t have a leader, doesn’t have all the things you need to go into an environment like this and have an opportunity. I also know I’m going to watch it and take some really good things we’ve done at times. I think it was a situation for us we got anxious early, we turned it over early. We got them comfortable and when they got comfortable, they really executed.”

On Kevin Knox being versatile…

“I think everyone’s been waiting for him to have a game like that. I think he’s really hard to guard because you want to come out and shoot the gap on that pin down and yet when we started shooting that gap he started coming underneath and posting us. Again, that’s a credit to him, he’s starting to figure out okay people are going to do this how do I adjust. There’s no question you know, and then the fact that when you do close him hard he can put it on the floor and gets to his little floater and knocks that down and, so it creates a whole different environment.”

On Tai Odiase Being around the basket…

“And well I thought both the big kids, I thought when I put him and (Clint) Robinson out there again is when we got a little momentum going and felt like we could rebound the basketball with them. Again, I like my team. I don’t like the result today, but I knew what we were walking into. So you bring your team to this environment, and go this is reality and now how hard will you work to change that so that if you get this opportunity again you’ll be better for it. I thought we had a lot of good things in the second half, we got some good offense going, and it’ll be things we can build on.”

On more of Dikembe Dixson going into the half…

“Well I thought he finally settled down. I thought early he was anxious. I thought he wasn’t sure in the second half dribbling the ball. Getting to the free throw line, he didn’t make his free throws. Again those are things for all the negative you can take out of a game, you’ve got to go find positives. I think that’s things these guys will be able to watch and see that we can do that against anybody.”

On how Kentucky closed out the game after getting big lead…

“Well, pretty well. I didn’t think the game was ever going to get over, but you know what and that’s what I kept telling our guys because I know that’s something he’s been getting on them about. So, I felt like they did. They kept coming down when we took transitional ways, he got them in the set he wanted them they really executed. As he’s been talking about, that’s the growth of a young team. That’s a thing I’m going to take back and show my young group of how it’s got to be.”

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