LEXINGTON, Ky. – John Calipari keeps saying how far second-ranked Kentucky basketball has to go, but opposing coaches aren’t buying it. After Sunday night’s 93-59 throttling of Duquesne, the Wildcats have now won their first four games by an average of 25.5 points.
Eleven players scored for Kentucky (4-0) against the Dukes (2-3), five of them in double figures. The Wildcats won 49-32 on the glass and shot 46.1 percent to the visitors’ 30.4 percent. Here are the highlights from Calipari’s postgame press conference:
- Freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals “and I thought he was just OK today,” Calipari said. “Think about that.” Fox, whose usually spiked-up hair was distinctly deflated Sunday, did hit just 5 of 13 shots. “I told him, ‘Go back to the other hairdo. I don’t know what you did. Just go back to the other,” Calipari joked. “He’s a kid that we’re counting on a lot of stuff from him. I think he’s got to get more consistent shooting the ball. He is, in my mind, especially when he pulls up from 15 feet, he just doesn’t miss that. He’s missing them lately.”
- Sophomore point guard Isaiah Briscoe “dragged” his young teammates in the first half. He finished with 13 points, 5 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and a block in only 17 minutes. Calipari called him the “best over defensive guard, rebounder” and Fox “maybe the best on-ball defender on our team – maybe one of the best in the country.” Briscoe sat out most of the second half, seemingly hobbled from a hard fall after a hard foul in the first half. “I think he’ll be fine,” Calipari said. “I think he saw the score. We were up 30 and he just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to step off the gas.’ ”
- Kentucky finally won the battle of the boards after being outrebounded through three games. Calipari was also pleased “that we had post presence” offensively, he said. “We forced it the last couple days in practice and we put in some things to just make us throw the ball to the post.” UK responded with 44 points in the paint Sunday, a dozen by freshman Bam Adeabyo, who also had 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. “I thought Bam was outstanding. He’s getting closer and closer. He’s making strides. He’s getting better every day. Making his free throws, rebounding in traffic, coming up with balls. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s getting better.”
- Senior Mychal Mulder, who played sparingly last season and only a dozen total minutes in UK’s first three games this year, went for 13 points (hitting three 3-pointers) in 20 minutes against the Dukes. “I wanted to give him a chance, see how he would defend and rebound and then make some shots for us,” Calipari said. “I think if he has the confidence that he can go in and make a jump shot for us, it’s going to help our team moving forward.”
- After Kentucky blasted Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night, “one thing I was anxious to see was how we would play. Would there be a letdown? And then I would know that we were going to have young guys” who play like it, Calipari said. “I thought we played (hard), and Isaiah kind of dragged them in the first half. But I thought we played hard.”
- Calipari seemed unimpressed by tying Joe B. Hall’s record with 122 wins at Rupp Arena. He’s only lost four home games in that time, compared to Hall’s 14 losses in the building. “Yay!” Calipari said, throwing his hands up in mock celebration before rolling his eyes. “The only thing here is Final Fours and national titles. That’s what we chase here.”