With Kentucky’s coach in the locker room, 20-year-old Tyler Ulis ran the Wildcats’ offense for more than 37 minutes in Saturday’s blowout win at South Carolina.
Ulis, a sophomore point guard, knew exactly what to do after John Calipari was ejected for arguing a call. So he — not assistant coach Kenny Payne — called the shots.
“I never touched on offense,” Payne said afterwards (via CoachCal.com). “Didn’t have to. Between Cal and Tyler Ulis, they’re on the same page, and Tyler Ulis ran the offense. Every now and then I may have interjected something, but at the end of the day it was his show.
“The story isn’t someone else coaching the team. The story is Coach Cal coached the team through Tyler Ulis.”
Ulis said the win was “definitely” the best team Kentucky has played this year.
He’s the first player in school history with two career 20-point, 10-assist games after posting 27 and 12 against the Gamecocks, and is also the first Kentucky player to record at least four assists in 18 consecutive games.
“Guys couldn’t really hear calls from the sidelines and the coaching staff, they gave me the green light to just call what I wanted to call,” Ulis said. “I just tried to get guys set and just try to get the win.”
An off-the-backboard alley-oop highlighted the Naismith contender’s big day after Calipari was thrown out of the game.
“When you see your coach get tossed that early, you know he’s fighting for you,” Ulis said. “So you have to fight for him, and we just tried to go out there and win a game for him.”