Kentucky defeated Harvard 79-70 inside Rupp Arena.
Highlights from UK Sports Video
UK MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
HARVARD AT #7 KENTUCKY
RUPP ARENA | LEXINGTON, KY.
DEC. 2, 2017
Final Score: #7/7 Kentucky 79, Harvard 70
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky wins its fifth game in a row improving to 7-1. Harvard is 3-6.
- This was the first meeting between UK and HU in men’s basketball.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK travels to the Madison Square Garden to play Monmouth in the Citi Hoops Classic. Game time is noon and it will be televised on ESPNU.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari has a 701-194 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is now 256-54 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 141-6 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari is 2-0 vs. Harvard 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 seventh straight game.
- At the first media timeout Kentucky led 11-7 with Knox leading the Wildcats with five points.
- Kentucky went on a 7-0 run from 5:22 to 4:15 after Harvard cut the deficit to one point to increase the lead to 39-31.
- Knox’s 16 points are the most by a Wildcat in a half this season.
- Knox’s third game this season and second in a row that he has reached double figures before halftime.
- It is the third game in a row that Kentucky has shot 50 percent or better in the first half.
- Kentucky made 12 free throws, the most made in a half this season.
In the Second Half
- Kentucky went on a 13-0 run from 11:01 to 8:19 to earn an 18-point lead.
- Kentucky led by as many as 20 points in the second half.
- UK did not score a field goal over the final 2:31 of the game and finished 1 of 8 from the field.
- UK led by as many as 20 points in the game and is 221-4 in the John Calipari era in games that the Wildcats have led by at least 10 points.
- UK outrebounded Harvard, 37-36, the seventh consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork.
- UK won points in the paint, 42-20.
- Kentucky led 15-0 on fast-break points.
- UK has had more fast-break points than every opponent this season.
- UK tied it’s season low for fewest turnovers in a game with 10, also achieving that number against Vermont.
- With a 24-3 advantage in points off turnovers against the Crimson, UK has now had at least a plus-21 edge in that category in consecutive games.
- Kevin Knox scored 20 points and has scored in double figures in every game this season.
- It was his second game in a row with at least 20 points. The last Wildcat to do that was De’Aaron Fox against Georgia and Alabama last season at the SEC Tournament.
- Hamidou Diallo tied his career high of 19 points. It is the second game in a row he has scored in double figures and tied his career high (set last game).
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 12 points and tied his career best for rebounds (five).
- It was his third game in a row scoring in double figures.
- Nick Richards scored nine points and tied his career high for blocked shots with three for a second game in a row.
- Sacha Killeya-Jones was 4 of 4 from the field and scored a season-high nine points. He also had two rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes of action.
Tommy Amaker and Seth Towns
From UK Athletics
Kentucky 79, Harvard 70
Q: John, you’d said a couple times this week about don’t get carried away with how things are going. Was this an example of that today of there’s going to be issues at this stage?
JOHN CALIPARI: The issue with this team – and it’s just going to take time and I’ve got to demand it – if you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you’re going to get it every time, especially with young kids. Playing winning basketball, there are stretches that we don’t play winning basketball. I’m just going to make whatever play I want to make. We broke off plays at the end and guys just – why did you do that? Well, I was thinking of the tree, and then the bike came out, and the car almost hit me. What? I mean, why did you do that? So, we had a bunch of those today.
But let me give Harvard credit. They shot the ball. Tom (Amaker) did a great job of putting his people in positions. It was another good game for us to play where a team’s not just going to give us a win. This team needs that.
Again, we got some guys that should be better defenders that are just getting beat. Again, look, we hold them to 37 percent, but we don’t outrebound them the way we should. I’ll have to go look at it and see what it is, but we make our free throws. You know, there was some good stuff, but I’m expecting more.
The biggest thing is, like I told them, you will not be in the game, and if we have to lose games because you’re going to sit out, that’s just how it is because we are going to play. When you get up 18, you’re not just doing it, like, OK, I’m breaking off now. I’m doing my own thing. That’s freshmen.
Q. What you saw from Sacha Killeya-Jones and Nick Richards today, is that a winning formula?
JOHN CALIPARI: Sacha got exhausted. Sacha almost passed out in the hallway at halftime when he came off the court. I didn’t know who was behind me. I thought someone was going to get an ambulance.
Again, like, OK. You’ve got minutes now. You got to be able to – you don’t just stay out there and get exhausted. But, again, they’re doing better. Nick’s doing better.
P.J. (Washington) got in foul trouble, and I told him at the half, when a guy gets two fouls, I’m not losing the game in the first half if we’re OK without you. I’m not going to do that. I never have. So I left guys out that had two fouls, which is what I’m going to do in league play, so we’ve got to get used to it, and I’ve got to get used to it.
Q. Will they benefit more from the semester break that’s coming up soon?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, it all depends. I mean, they’ll benefit if they’re choosing to benefit and really focus on what this team needs them to do. Like there are certain guys that are playing a certain way, they can’t have success. They’re going to turn it over, they can’t make plays, and, you know, you have baskets you can make. On every team there are play starters, there are play makers and there are finishers. The issue you have when your finishers try to be play makers, it leads to turnovers. So we’ve got that right now.
You’re a finisher, score the ball, shoot the ball. Well, I’m not sure I’ll make it. Then get in the gym at night and shoot more, but you’re a finisher. You’re not a play starter. So we’ve got some of that rolling right now. But this team should be a great defensive team. This team should be a great rebounding team, and we’re not right now. This team should be a team that can beat you different ways, scoring, shooting, I mean, we missed a bunch of threes. I wanted Quade (Green) to take them, but I could tell he didn’t feel like he had it, so he passed up probably three or four 3s that I wanted him to take. I’m telling him on the side, “Shoot it.” He didn’t want to shoot it. Then when he did shoot it, he missed, so he knew before I knew. That’s why he wasn’t shooting them.
But we have to have guys that are willing to take the shots. We’ve got enough guys that can make them. I liked that Kevin (Knox) was driving the ball and doing some good stuff that way. But we’ve got a ways to go.
Q. This team needs games like this where the other team competes. What do you hope they can get out of it, the big lessons?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, they’ve got to be reflective on the self-reflective. You’ve got to look at what you’re being asked to do, and are you really listening or you’re not listening. And if you’re arguing the point, this is going to be a long time before it changes. If you understand that, all right, I’ve got to change and I’ve got to get this right. The stuff we’ll do over break will really help, because guys will focus on the areas they need to focus on.
If you’re delusional, like delusional, and you’re good, I’m good, well, you’re really going to change? How are you going to change? You can’t accept you need to change. So, I’ve told them over and over and I’ll say it again, I’m asking the impossible of this team, but that’s what I do for a living. I’m asking individuals to do stuff that’s probably impossible for them to do right now. But I’m asking them to try and strive and do it. There are guys that will break through, and there are other guys that will look for alibis or whatever.
This team is a bunch of good guys. They’re really trying. They’re really trying to please me. They just don’t know yet, and they shouldn’t. I’m playing all freshmen. They shouldn’t. But I’m expecting them to make strides, especially when we get up a bunch that we don’t revert. We play the game as though it’s a four-point game because we’re going to have a bunch of those. We’ve got this weekend on the road, and then we’ve got four games, bam, bam, bam. Just believe me, you could go 0-4 in that stretch of games, easy.
Q. During that second half when you guys pushed out, you’ve been kind of struggling offensively, but that happened because of your defense.
JOHN CALIPARI: Right.
Q. Do you feel that that identity could be emerging here? That we could be a great defense?
JOHN CALIPARI: Then we get up and we have two or three guys that back up and stand up and lose their man. You know, we break off. But, again, it’s what freshmen do. All right, I did it. Now I’m tired and I’m going to take a few plays off. You can’t do that here. You don’t take plays off. You sub yourself. You’re jogging the floor, come out. Don’t make me have to sub you. You sub yourself. We’re not subbing for missed shots or turnovers. If I did that, folks, we’d have a lot of subs.
But I will sub for energy. You’re not talking, you’re not helping your teammate. You don’t dive on the floor. You don’t come up with the tough rebound, I’ll take you out. That’s all energy and effort. That should be expected of everybody. And they know they have the ability to sub themselves out and then if they do, they tell me I’m ready to go, and they go back in. Basically, they’re subbing themselves in and out. Unless you never in your life will sub yourself, and I’ve got a couple of those, I am staying in the game.
Q. Any thoughts on the passing of Perry Wallace who broke the color barrier in the SEC?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, it’s a sad day. I always say whether it’s Sam Newton or others, the courage that they had, and I always wonder if I were put in that situation, would I have the courage to do the right thing? And a lot of times the right thing is not popular. I would hope that I would. That I would go against the grain, which I’ve tried to do most of my career, but I don’t know.
I mean, would I have the courage enough to say I’m doing right even though it’s going to hurt my career? Or I’m doing right even though this is going to be the most uncomfortable thing that I could do, but I know it’s right? And I’m going to do right? I don’t know if I were put in that situation.
I know this: When Sam Newton was put in that situation, you know what he did. When they had players come in the SEC or Kentucky or other places, they had to have courage now. And they had to know – I don’t know at the time if they thought what they were doing was groundbreaking, but it was.
Q. What happened on the technical on Nick Richards in the first half?
JOHN CALIPARI: He said something. He came over and apologized. I mean, I said, what are you doing? Why would you do that? Coach, come on, I’m a freshman. I do stuff. Yeah, you’re right. There was a lot of freshman stuff out there today.
Q. Was the second tech on you? What happened there?
JOHN CALIPARI: Just what I demand of officials is just be consistent. If you’re going to call one here, then call one there, I’m fine. But that’s my whole thing. I’ve always been that way. If he’s not consistent, I’m going to let him know. But the officials had nothing to do with this.
Q. We saw a little bit of Sacha and Nick together in the first half. Is that a lineup you could use more often or is that just foul trouble?
JOHN CALIPARI: Sacha’s been playing a lot of that in practice, as a matter of fact, he’s playing a lot more of that than he’s playing in Nick’s space. But, yeah, we can do it. We can be really big then. Now all of a sudden you’re like, holy cow, are we big. But, like I said, we’ve got a lot of work to do in what we’re trying to do. They’re going to be off tomorrow and then we’re going to have two or three good days and then give them an individual work day, then get ready for the trip this weekend. Then come back and probably give them off Sunday next week. Then we’ve got a bunch of days to get ready for another really hard game. Then we have another off day.
We’ve got time. But it’s got to be a team full of guys saying tell us what we have to do to win. What’s winning look like? And I told them after the game, I’ve done this 30 years, I’m not saying I’m a genius. I’m not saying I’m the best. I’m not saying that I could even do this. But I do know what winning looks like, and it doesn’t look like what we’re doing right now.
If you want to argue with me, I can’t get us to where we need to go. And they’re good. Look, I’m maybe sounding frustrated, but when you think about what I’m asking these kids to do, they should not be able to do this. They’re all freshmen. They’re all freshmen. We’re in the top 10 defensive efficiency in the country, and I’m not pleased. What? Because I think we could even be better.
I’m not pleased with our rebounding, and we’re a pretty good rebounding team. Well, why don’t we try to be the best? You can’t be the best with all freshmen. Cool out, man. You’re old right now. Just relax. You’re getting angry and nasty, you’re too old to be doing this anymore.
Some of you are too old to be doing what you’re doing, so don’t smile at me.
#22 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G
On how they played overall…
“I think we played OK. We let them back in it a little bit at the end. We’ve got to cancel that out to be where we need to be, but I think we played OK. We played well defensively in the second half to really stretch the lead out.”
On how comfortable they feel in zone…
“I think we’re comfortable, we do it every day in practice for a good amount of time. And with our legs and our athleticism, that it is just going to really help and we’re comfortable with that.”
On picking between zone or man to man…
“Man to man, because I think we’re all just really competitive. We like to take it to teams and we like to pick up full-court and stuff like that, and man to man allows us to do that.”
On what it is that makes them switch over with defense taking foot off gas…
“I think it is because we are all so young. We think that once we get ahead we can take our foot off the gas and take it a little easy, but Division I basketball at this high level, you can’t do that and teams will get back in it. And in some games, teams can win, and we’ve got to cancel that out.”
#5 Kevin Knox, F
On what Coach Cal is trying to get across to the team…
“Just when we go up 20 or go up 30, just being able to put our foot on their throat, be able to get good plays and good shots and not turn into a selfish team. I think that’s what we do when we start to get up, people start to get their own. Then, next thing you know, they’re down eight. What Coach is trying to get us to do is, when we get up by that much, be able to put your foot on their throat. Then we go up by 50 and have fun.”
On Coach Cal screaming, ‘Why!’ during the game…
“Oh yeah, every time we take a stupid shot, that’s when he’s always asking why are we taking that shot when we’re up by 20. Why we’re not getting a good shot. Running the offense, we’re playing good team ball and we’re up by 20. Why not make it 30? Then next thing you know they go down and hit a couple 3s and it’s a close game.
On how often the team takes stupid shots…
“It’s happened a lot this year. There have been a couple of games where we’re up by 20 or 30 and the dudes came back. Then, next thing you know, we’re losing or they’re only down four. It’s happened quite of few times. He’s just trying to get us to change our mentality.”
On Coach Cal saying this is not a winning team…
“We play solid in the first half. We have to grow on that. Defensively we did really well in the first half. But second half we gave up too many 3s. I think we’re starting to gel as a team, dudes are starting to figure out how to play with Coach Cal. Nick (Richards) had a really solid game for us. We need him to have a really good effect in the post for us to have a good season. A lot of players are stepping up and taking their roles. I think we’re getting better every game.”
#1 Sacha Killeya-Jones, F
On Coach Calipari saying the team still not playing its best…
“I mean, yes, because he knows we can be better. We have potential to be a great team and that’s what he’s pushing us to. It’s his job to push us to be better and we’re going to do that.”
On being really tired after the first half…
“Oh yes, for sure. It’s a good part of the game I guess. Go out there and give everything you got, and just try to stick it out for the rest of the half.”
On things the team needs to improve on…
“I think we just need to keep taking strides. It’s really all over. Offensively, we’re forcing things, forced turnovers, stuff like that. We’re still having small breakdowns on defense every now and then, and we need to clean up. I think it’s just going to be a process, keep going and keep learning as we go.”
On how the team is pulling themselves out of stretches they’re not playing well…
“Just by leaning on each other and talking to each other, helping each other through it. It’s never everybody messing up, it’s a couple guys, and we’re all there for each other. We’re brothers and we’re going to fight through that. We’re never going to let that take us down for a whole game.”
Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker
“We knew we had to kind of play almost a perfect game with their size and their athleticism and certainly how talented they are and how hard they play for Coach Cal, especially in this environment. I thought we were putting things together for a while to kind of keep it interesting and I thought our kids competed, but their length and size on the backboard and not having some of our better players inside and out with Chris Lewis and Bryce Aiken not having really good offensive games certainly hurt us. I was pleased with how Seth (Towns) came off the bench for us and gave us a shot in the arm, and I’m hopeful that we can use portions of this game to get our team to become a better basketball team. We’re certainly still searching for that rhythm, and maybe today in some way of some of the things we were able to do can help us.”
On his team’s overall performance …
“At the end of the day, I would think, competitive game here and you try to put yourself in the position to win. You’ve got to manage the game, and we thought we were doing that four minutes at a time and that led to runs and leak-outs and turnovers and live turnovers. I thought at times we shot the ball too quickly. I thought at times we took bad shots, which can be basically a turnover, especially for a team like this who can get it off the backboard so quickly and transition to the other end. It got away from us a little bit, and I thought that was our inability to maintain composure on the offensive end, which was a little disappointing for us. And we have to do that. In an environment like this, we have to do that.”
On the Kentucky team …
“Well, their front line. They’re incredibly long. They’re an NBA-sized basketball team. Perimeter, front line, those kids, in particular they’re shot blocker, they’re rim protectors. They finish up obviously well above the rim. We put so much pressure on the defense and their offensive rebounding is outstanding.”
On trying to throw off the Kentucky team …
“Yes. We were trying to see if we could disrupt rhythm. Obviously in an environment like this they can really get it going, and if we can kind of slow it down or create the tempo that we want, and we can do that by sometimes changing defenses, so we were doing that. For the most part it was having moments when it was effective, but no matter what defense you play they’re just hard to keep off the backboard. I thought they did a tremendous job of that. Driving it, slashing to the basket, and certainly at attacking the glass.”
On things he seeks to exploit on the UK freshmen …
“Well, they’re an outstanding team now, and I’m sure they’re going to get a lot better. They play really hard. They’re unselfish. Coach Cal has done an amazing job with all his years in coaching, and certainly with what he’s done here. I just see this team as a ball club that has a chance to be one of the best in the country if not the best. And I think as they continue to grow and get better, I can’t see why they won’t.”
#31 Seth Towns, Sophomore, F
On his hot shooting in the game…
“Well, I mean, credits to my teammates. They found me for a lot of open shots. Tonight I was just able to get them in. A lot of them came from assists, and when we do that and move the ball really well is when we play our best. That showed a lot today, but I give credits to my teammates for finding me.”