It wasn’t even a game. The Kentucky Wildcats demolished Bob Huggins’s WVU team on Thurday, dominating from the start to finish in a 78-39 victory. Huggins talked about the game in his press conference afterwards.
Q. Bob, can we get your take on what occurred the first eight minutes of the game?
COACH HUGGINS: Well, I think pretty much what I was afraid could happen. They shot the ball really poorly the last game, and they’re too good to have a probably back-to-back bad days shooting the ball, and they came out and made a bunch of shots. We’re trying to scramble around and leave the right guy open. They were aggressive, they took it to the basket and we couldn’t score, which was my biggest fear was that we would have a hard time scoring.
Q. Bob, obviously scouting them, they’re big. Are they even more impressive when they’re running at you, just the size factor, trying to deal with them, do they seem bigger on the court than what you were even anticipating?
COACH HUGGINS: I don’t know, I don’t know if they seemed bigger, Dan. You watch all the film and nobody scores around the basket. I think that’s the people that have given them a decent game are people who could make enough shots to get them spread and people who could offensive rebound and either kick it out or be able to finish around them because you can’t finish over them. I don’t know if they — no, I wouldn’t say they were bigger than I thought they were. They looked awful big on film to me.
Q. What do you think you guys were able to establish as a program this year, and what do you think you need to further establish to take another step?
COACH HUGGINS: Well, we’re still — I mean, this team’s pretty young. I think it’s attribute to Juwani and Gary and Devin that really were three veteran guys. You look down the roster, this is Jon Holton’s first year, this is Daxter Miles’ first year, this is Jaysean Paige’s first year, Jevon Carter’s first year, Tarik Phillip’s first year, Elijah Macon’s first year, so we’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced guys that are only going to get better, and I think these three games of the tournament are going to make us better. We’ll be more seasoned a year from now. We lost some games early, we lost some games when those two guys were out that we didn’t want to lose certainly, but it did give those young guys a kind of baptism under fire. So there’s a lot returning, you know, so I don’t know, what did we establish? I think we’re back where we’re used to being, where I’m used to being anyway.
Q. You said watching them on film and so forth, was there anything they did tonight that surprised you?
COACH HUGGINS: No, not really. You know, we couldn’t practice on Monday because we didn’t get back until 4:00 in the morning, so I had really all day and I did nothing all day but watch film. And I know John and John knows me, so I don’t know, how are we going to surprise each other, you know? They were what I thought they were. I thought they were the best offensive team in the country. Everybody kind of gets caught up in their size and all that, which is certainly a part of it, but to get those guys to play as hard and to play together the way they do, I mean, you look down there, you’ve got guys that, you know, are going to be lottery picks that they give the ball up, they share the ball. John’s done an incredible job. A lot of what we do is managing people and managing egos and attitudes and all those kind of things, and he’s done an absolutely terrific job of managing them, getting guys to play together and to care about one another. They’re just — they’re terrific defensively. They’ve got — that’s the best defensive team I think that I’ve ever coached against. And when they’re making shots, and they made shots today, when they make shots, there’s nobody going to beat them when they make shots like that.
Q. You kind of just answered this, but what would it take to beat Kentucky for any of the teams remaining in the tournament?
COACH HUGGINS: They’re going to have to have a bad day. They had a good day today and we had a miserable day, you know, so we lose by 40. If they have a really bad day shooting the ball, you can pack it back in, and try to keep the score down and close, but when they’re making shots, they’re making shots, they get you spread, they’re too big and too skilled inside. And you’ve got to be able to create some offense and transition or something because it’s just, it’s really difficult to score against their half-court, their half-court defense. I think Georgia kind of did the best job, kind of got them spread but they still didn’t win. And that’s probably as well as Georgia’s played all year and probably Cal would say Kentucky didn’t play very well and they still win. I think that’s the difference. I thought going in really that the 2010 team may be more talented but they weren’t near as good defensively. I think they were, you can’t argue with what John Wall and Cousins and Bledsoe and those guys have done in the NBA, they’re very, very talented guys, but I don’t think that team guarded the way this team guards, I think that’s the difference. I think this team is absolutely fantastic defensively. When you’ve got two guards that are 6’6 and as long and as athletic as they are, they just take up so much space. Back in Rough Run’s the biggest guy was about 6’5. He had to be a point guard or he’d never got in now, it’s just they’re just so big and so long.
Q. Some of the Kentucky guys just said that the comments before the game really motivated the team by a couple of your players. Do you wish in hindsight they hadn’t been made or does it not matter?
COACH HUGGINS: No. You know what, honestly, I think that’s a bunch of BS. I think once you throw the ball up, you play. It was a freshman that said it and I’m kind of happy he had some confidence. I’m kind of happy he wasn’t hiding under a chair somewhere, you know? There’s nothing wrong with having some confidence and wanting to go out and compete. They just were way better than we were.