Boise, Idaho – Kentucky defeated Buffalo 95-75 to advance to the sweet 16. After the game players spoke to the media about advancing to the sweet 16.
Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander and Gabriel at the podium
Transcript of Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander and Gabriel on the podium
Q. What I asked Hamidou yesterday about whether they were overestimating the importance of experience. Do you think you answered the question today?
HAMIDOU DIALLO: The same answer yesterday. We just try to come out and try to prove everybody wrong, and that’s what we did today. And can’t feel better about this one.
Q. At one point after you hit a 3-pointer, you turned to the crowd and silenced them. Do you enjoy when you have a crowd against you? Does that feed you guys?
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER: This whole group is a bunch of competitors, we go after it every day in practice. We love proving people wrong, and that’s what we did today.
Q. I’m sure you saw that Virginia lost yesterday. Is that a wake-up or a reminder to see when a huge upset happens? Is that something that reminds you that anything can happen in March Madness and makes you play more on your game?
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER: Yeah, Coach has been telling us this whole week, You never know what can happen in this tournament. And you have to step up and make plays. And we don’t focus on any team but ourselves right now. We try to get better each and every game.
WENYEN GABRIEL: Definitely. I don’t watch too many of the games, but when you hear about the upsets, it tells us to lock in more and focus on anything can happen.
HAMIDOU DIALLO: It makes us play with a little more chip on our shoulder because we don’t want to end the season now, we want to play to the last game. So we’re coming out there with more chip on our shoulder.
Q. Coach Cal frequently jokes about all the players that he sent to the NBA, telling them that he’s held them back when they’ve been in college. We know we haven’t seen all your full games yet. What parts of your games has he been holding you back on?
JOHN CALIPARI: Hami has a list.
HAMIDOU DIALLO: We’re just trying to get better every day. We know there was going to be a lot of adversity. We’re playing with a bunch of talented players. Every night can’t be your night. And that’s what we knew when we came here, and that’s why we chose to come here.
WENYEN GABRIEL: Just try to go out and play the game and show our strengths, and the other stuff will come. Right now we have to focus on what makes us look good out there.
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER: Myself, including this whole group, has probably felt like he held us back at one point in the season. If you really know the game and you watch the game, when we do what he’s asking us to do, we’re a much better team than you’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.
Q. You made it tough on them to start the game defensively, you jumped 20-10 you were up. Was there any talk about your focus, defensively, to start the game? They’re the underdog, was there talk, don’t let them get hope or match their intensity or anything like that?
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER: Our identity is defensively. So that’s the first thing we focus on going into every game. We know if we shut down the other team we’re capable. We just go into every game trying to lock up the other opponent.
Q. You show up with obviously the reputation of excellent defense. Clearly the last few games you have been a huge factor offensively. What point along the season did the offense open up for you in the sense that you saw where your shots were going to be and what you could do at this level?
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER: About midpoint during the season. I watched a lot of film. I was really taking what Coach was asking of me, what this team needed me to do. I just tackled it. Once I cleared that role out and stuff like that, I worked on my game and got better every day.
Buffalo coach and players at the podium
Transcript for Buffalo
Coach Nate Oats, Players; Dontay Caruthers, Wes Clark and CJ Massinburg
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Buffalo to the stage.
NATE OATS: You’ve got to give Kentucky a ton of credit. They shot it well from 3. We needed them to shoot a little more like Arizona did. They shot 7 of 15 from 3. So part of our game plan was to try to get them to shoot 3s and keep the ball in the lane. I didn’t think we did a good job.
They’re pretty good athletes and pretty good players. There’s a reason three of those guys are supposed to go in the first round. Probably some more that are going to be pros. They have more length all over the place. And I think it affected our shooting. Usually we shoot a lot better. We were 7 for 31 from the 3. A lot of that had to do with Kentucky’s length and just challenging shots. We had 8 assists, usually we’re pushing 20 assists. Our turnovers weren’t bad, but didn’t get the ball moving.
They’re a great team. They’re a great defensive team. Cal has them playing really well at the right time in the year. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 and we ran into a buzz saw tonight.
Q. Obviously a tough game, but you guys gained a lot of fans while you were out here in Boise. How would you hope that people that might be new to watching you guys remember this team?
DONTAY CARUTHERS: The type of guys we have and the coaches and the program we have. We’re unselfish guys, and play really hard. And things happen, because we’re a good team. And we felt that we could have done better. But things happen.
WES CLARK: On top of us being good looking, we did play hard and we got some great tools. So it’s fun. We’re a fun team to watch. And we appreciate Boise coming in with true blue.
CJ MASSINBURG: I just want to say thank you to all the Boise fans. We felt they welcomed us really well. When we pulled in for the game, they were lined up out there, they were waving at us. Boise has a lot of friendly people. We’ll definitely come back. And I want to say thank you to all the fans.
Q. Dontay, given the matchups, you had to guard 6-9 Knox, you didn’t do bad. What did you think? It was tough matchups. Have you ever guarded a 6-9 power forward?
DONTAY CARUTHERS: Not somebody his size. I think last year I guarded a forward from Nevada. But I know he’s a great guy. He’s a great player.
Q. What was your mentality really between Bonaventure, Buffalo, and Syracuse putting western New York on the map, and UNGC beating No. 1, then you guys going up against Kentucky, what was that like knowing that it would be yet another upset?
CJ MASSINBURG: Well, western New York has a lot of good basketball. We came into this tournament to make some noise, trying to be remembered. We felt like we could play with a lot of High Majors, and we showed it. But, yeah.
WES CLARK: Western New York, I think a lot of people overlook some of the good players, just because we come from Mid-Majors or lower division schools.
DONTAY CARUTHERS: We just show what kind of program we have, coaches.
Q. Knowing what you guys went through this year and where you got to, it’s hard to do right now, but how fantastic was this ride to get to the first NCAA Tournament in program history and do it the way you did it?
WES CLARK: It was phenomenal for me. I know we had a loss right now. It was definitely a win for me. I’ve never been to a NCAA Tournament, and to get here and win a game, it’s phenomenal, it’s a great feeling. It’s exciting. I’m glad to wear the Buffalo jersey.
Q. I guess CJ or anyone who wants to take it. You lost the game tonight, and there’s a lot of happy talk about putting Buffalo on the map. You expected to win this game so how disappointing is it to not go any further?
CJ MASSINBURG: It’s very disappointing. Trust me, we didn’t go back in the locker room and it was all happy talk. We were down on ourselves. But at the end of the day, after all is said and done, we can be proud of what we did for Buffalo and as a collective group.
Q. You’ve got another year here with the Bulls. So what does what you guys have built up over the last couple of years, what does that say about how much there is to look forward to next year?
CJ MASSINBURG: Man, this program was just trending in the right direction, even our women’s team, they just got a win today in the NCAA Tournament. This whole school is just trending in the right direction. After we get a couple of weeks off we’re going to get back to work. And we say a term of: Making our ceiling our new floor. This is our ceiling; we won a game in a NCAA Tournament.
Q. After that dunk from Hami that put them up 20 you called a timeout, about 3 minutes left to go, and then you went back on the floor. Cal apologized to you. Was he apologizing because Hami posed in front of the band?
NATE OATS: I don’t know what he apologized for. He didn’t need to do that. They’re playing basketball. At first I thought he was telling me they were going to a zone. And then he apologized.
I’ll tell you this, I apologized to him before the game. I used the word “whining,” that’s a bad word choice of him talking about their youth all year. I don’t know why I chose that word. Big Blue Nation certainly let me know about it, don’t want to let them mad, they’re tweeting all day long.
I apologized to him. He said he didn’t take it the wrong way. I’ve got a ton of respect for him. Used to go to his program in Memphis, we ran the dribble drive at Romulus, basically because of what he did at Memphis. We had a good talk before the game. I don’t know what he felt bad about. He’s a good guy. I appreciated it, but he didn’t need to.
Q. I believe both teams ended up making 7 3s, and it took you twice as many to make those.
NATE OATS: It was huge. It took us longer. They were 0-6 against Davidson. We wanted to make them shoot a lot more than six. But we did not want them to make half of them.
Jeremy has been our best shooter, him and CJ. But Jeremy has been on fire these first two tournament games. I think their length bothered him a lot. They’re great defensively. I talked to Sean Miller after our game, he said they guard way better, and it’s true. They’re unbelievable defensively. Cal gets them to play hard. And they were playing with a chip on their shoulder.
They have a great chance to make it. I think they play Cincinnati if they can get by the next round. But they have a good shot to go to the Final Four. And they’ve got a chance to win these next two games.
Q. Two things. One, could you just talk about the problem of defending Shai? You did move CJ on him, but that meant you had to put Dontay on the 6-9 guy. And comment on Wes Clark’s performance and his season.
NATE OATS: I told the guys, there’s a reason this guy is projected to be the lottery pick. He’s the best point guard we’ve seen all year. He passes it, scores it, he’s 6-6, he’s long. They can usually take other guards out of it, but we started out trying to deny him the ball back, once he gave it up.
But he’s so long at 6-6. He gets open. And then he gets it. I saw some teams try to trap him; he throws over the trap, they dunk it. He throws it, they dunk it. He finishes at the rim. We really didn’t have an answer for him tonight, that was a major problem for us tonight defensively. We were supposed to be loading up and tightening the gaps, then they start making some 3s. We cut it to four or five — was it four — four or five, and then they hit back-to-back 3s, if I remember right. That kind of killed us right there. And then they got some dunks at crucial times. To me, Alexander makes them go.
And what was the question about Wes? Listen, I told him I’m so proud of him. We’ve got a history. I coached him in high school. But for him to come in with the one semester. He took this program to new heights, we don’t do what we did this year without him. I think the guys welcome him in, if guys were selfish, they would not have welcomed him in. They wanted him and he showed up in a big way. He’s 0 for life against Kentucky, he didn’t beat Kentucky or Missouri. He was trying to make this his first. But it’s a good program.
He had 26 and six assists. I thought he showed he belonged out there. Alexander is a pro, I think Wes is right there with him. He’s pretty dang good tonight.
Q. 22 dunks and layups. Were you a little worried about that, because your post defenses —
NATE OATS: We gave up 22? I wouldn’t doubt it. It was bad. They got it in the lane too much. They hit the 3s. They didn’t shoot enough of them. We wanted to keep it out of the lane and make them shoot more 3s. We got out-rebounded by 12, too.
Three things had to happen: We had to keep turnovers down, keep them out of transition, but defensively we had to keep the ball in the lane, keep them off the O boards. They were in the lane all night. We didn’t do what we were supposed to. They’re just that good. We’re a pretty good defensive team, but not — we weren’t good enough tonight and they are a great offensive and defensive team, as well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports