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Listen to Audio (8:05)
Opening Comments -
"I'm ecstatic with the win. It was a hard fought, hand-to-hand combat kid of a game. It was an ugly win, but I'll take that. I was extremely impressed with our toughness down the stretch except for one time when they miss it, the ball goes on the ground and they come up with the offensive rebound. But other than that I loved our toughness and going to the free throw line and making those...
"They are hard to guard. When they went so small, it's hard to keep John and Z in the game because we want to go inside. We didn't make a lot of shots, but we made free throws, were tough on the defensive end of the floor and I feel very fortunate."
Would you talk about Larry Drew's second half?
"He had that one turnover were he just lost the handle, but otherwise he made good decisions. He stepped up making both free throws ... some pretty daggone big free throws. There at the end he knew what we were trying to do, he understood, and that was important to us."
For a young team trying to grow up, how important is the positive of a win like this?
"I hope it will be very important - you can never tell what 19-, 20-year-olds are going to take from something. But I know the scene in our locker room after the game was a fun time and the thing you coach for. Hopefully they'll enjoy that feeling and realize what we need to do to have it again. Guys, we made 1 of 11 from the three-point line and were not a bad shooting team."
On Tyler Zeller's performance -
"This summer, last spring, I talked to him and he understood that we need him to step up and be the big time player he can be. And he was that today..."
Listen to Audio (6:46)
Before this season began, you talked about how you needed to step up and be a big contributor to this team. Would this performance qualify?
"Tonight was my night to be able to step up. Every game you need someone to step up and I'm not going to say it's going to be me every time, but tonight was my night."
Looks like you acquired a bunch of cuts on your face tonight ...
"Yeah, when I'm playing I don't notice them - I actually have one all the way down my arm. I find them later."
What's your thought process at the foul line?
"Nothing, really. It always goes back to how if you tell yourself you're going to miss it, you're going to miss it. I try to either think of nothing or 'this is in' and give myself a little motivational talk."
Listen to Audio (4:58)
You did a key job defensively today - what's your approach on that end of the floor?
"When I know that we need to make a run, or something extra, I want that to be [my defense] ... I think it started during the Vanderbilt game. The coaches have been telling me 'It all starts with you in the backcourt.' I felt that we made a run and I felt that my pressure in the backcourt is what set the tone."
What's it like to be in a big game like this?
"These are the type of games I dreamed of playing. It's really excited and in my book it's fun. I love big games where every play counts, it makes guys play harder and want to work harder."
Is this a game you guys can build on?
"Definitely. If shots aren't falling, we need to find a way to impact the game. I think this team is extremely close and one of the things about defense is you have to rely on each other and trust each other and we do."
Listen to Audio (9:21)
How badly do you think this team needed this big win?
"It was a big game, us showing ourselves what we can do, listening to each other and playing for each other."
Can you talk about defending Terrence Jones tonight?
"He's a tough player, I did my best to guard him. I think he was 3-of-17, so as a team we did a good job on him. ... I think sometimes when my matchup shoots the ball, they're not used to seeing an arm so close to their shot and I think that affects them too. ... I'm going to give you the scouting report: 'Camp on his left hand, he's a one-on-one player, don't foul him going right and contain and box him' -- and that's what we did. Coach Haase said it perfectly. That's what I had in mind, that's what I remembered and that's what I did ... I sensed him getting a little upset and as a player you like to see that and you feed off that. I think I played well on defense on him, the team, and that was good because he's averaging 20 and 10."
Did that player's only meeting this week help the team come together as a group?
"Yeah, we did have a team meeting and talked about everything - roles, how we need to be playing, and things like that. I think that helped us out."
Listen to Audio (5:20)
It seemed like the team played with more energy and had more fun. Could you tell the difference?
"No question. When we came back from Illinois we agreed as a team that we didn't have enough energy and enough passion - it was more overthinking things and not being good teammates. So we tried to step up our emotion and let it show."
How about Tyler Zeller's contributions today?
"He played great. Without him we wouldn't have won - that's what we need from him. ... We needed guys to step up because we knew coming into this that we had to play as a team, we couldn't play as individuals."
Can you describe that sequence where you hit that three and then got the rebound-dunk?
"Coach emphasized today losing yourself in the game and playing as hard as you could. ... At that point the game was moving so fast, I hit the three and got the offensive rebound. That was the loudest I've heard the Carolina crowd ever - that was louder than the Duke-Carolina game last year. It was good to see our fans behind us and see our team come together."
UK COACH JOHN CALIPARI
Listen to Audio (1:32)
"To have the run that they were on, and then make those free throws, and make plays down the stretch and beat us to balls and beat us the way we did, my hat's off to them. I'm stunned we were in the game at the end. For us to have a chance to win the game, I was happy. Obviously, you all watched the game, we were not fouling 44 [Tyler Zeller]. Do not touch him. So we kind of broke down there a little bit. But that happens with a young team. And it was 2 young teams. There were some plays made that I just shook my head. Roy said to me after, 'Not real well played, but a good game.' And I said, 'Well said coach, well said.' But we got a lot of work to do. I have a young team, we didn't have leadership on the court. WE weren't running into stuff. Believe me, there were a lot of things that were happening. But we had a chance to win on the road at North Carolina and in this environment. That made me feel good. But we got things to work on."