Loss for UK, Triumph for IU

Indiana beat Kentucky 73-67 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the earliest NCAA exit by a John Calipari-coached UK team. In five previous NCAA appearances as the Cats coach, his teams had never failed to make it to the Elite Eight. The win was Indiana’s first over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament since 1973. Freshman Thomas Bryant led Indiana with 19 points. Tyler Ulis had a game-high 27 for Kentucky. The Hoosiers play North Carolina on Friday night in Philadelphia in the Sweet 16. Here is a sampling of some of the post game-reaction from the Hoosiers and the Cats.

At the under-eight timeout, the game was tied at 50, and you scored six straight, even with Yogi Ferrell on the bench. What was the key to that run?
Tom Crean: Is that when Thomas got the and one? That was big because Thomas was coming off of a tough play, and we needed to get him going. The emotions are high in there. I knew what we wanted to run, and then it gets executed. It wasn’t a new play. I mean, we put him in a different spot, but they executed it perfectly. And then we got the foul to go, and I think that took some weight off of everybody’s shoulders a little bit. We were playing good but we weren’t playing great, and that kind of settled us in. And our execution continued to get better from that point.

Alex Poythress goes up for two of his six points against Indiana. Photo by Victoria Graff

Alex Poythress goes up for two of his six points against Indiana. Photo by Victoria Graff

Were you more aggressive in the last eight minutes, or were your teammates just looking for you more?
Thomas Bryant: It was just staying with the process. We knew that they would collapse on Yogi. When he drove, that gave up open lanes for me to dive down and get an easy bucket, which happened, and running some plays that were for me to get a bucket too.

What was different about Thomas in the last eight minutes?
Yogi Ferrell: We just wanted to get the ball inside to Thomas, and I told Coach Crean that. I feel like Thomas can close the game out for us. He scores such a high percentage 10 feet and in, around the rim. We know if we get the ball to him, good things can happen for our team.

Are you definitely planning to test the waters in the NBA?
Tyler Ulis: I haven’t thought about it at all. I’m just, you know, still thinking about this game.

When you fell behind by seven with a couple of minutes left, was there a sense of pressure to get back in it?
Ulis: It wasn’t pressure, but it was a little more urgency. You had to make things happen no matter how you do it. You’ve got to be a little more aggressive, and that’s what we tried to do. We cut it to, and he made a free throw and we wanted to get it up quick and try to get a layup. But they sagged. Jamal [Murray] had to take a three that he didn’t really want to take.

When you did get with three, after you hit the three free throws, are you thinking, all right, we got this?
Ulis: We cut it to three. We fouled the person we wanted to foul. He missed the first one; it was good for us. We were a little excited, and he made the second one.

Is there anything that you can compare what you’re feeling now to?
Skal Labissiere: It hurts. I feel like we could have won this game. It hurts – that’s all I can say.

As many ups and downs as you’ve been through at Kentucky, how is this one different?
Alex Poythress: It’s different because this one you can’t come back from. Career’s over. You don’t get another chance at it, and you just look forward to the future.

What did you learn from this season?
Derek Willis: I feel more confident in my game. I feel like, defensively, that kind of drifted away toward the of the season. The ankle injury kind of messed with my head a little bit. I know I can play defense, and I know I can bring more than I have been bringing. I know I can guard guards. You’ve got to get back to it and just get stronger in the offseason. That’s what I’m working on.

How important was it for you to get a chance?
Willis: Even this year, Coach Cal, said “Derek, do you want to give up your minutes?” I said, “Honestly, I don’t care. I want to win.” I want to win and do whatever I need to do to get a championship because that’s all that matters to me. Once we hit that, then it’ll be more personal for me, but I want to do that for the people of Kentucky and all the UK fans. VT