Florida coach on Murray, Ulis
The opposing coach salutes his control of the game. His on-ball defense makes a big difference. His points and assists lead Kentucky to a victory.
Saturday seemed like just another day at the office for UK point guard Tyler Ulis. As if to give this latest example of routine excellence a distinctive touch, he made a career-high 11 assists in Kentucky’s 80-61 victory over Florida.
“I thought Ulis really controlled the entire first half, offensively and defensively,” Florida Coach Mike White said. “I thought he put on a clinic. ... He runs the show.”
White was particularly impressed with Ulis’ defense.
“There were three or four plays that we called that were quick-hitting or with some movement in the first half that Tyler just blew up with the pressure on the basketball,” White said. “I thought there were, again, six or eight ball screens that we set for our point guards in the first half that Tyler didn’t even allow us to get to the screen.”
Ulis, who scored 18 points, said UK had made a point of stressing defense since the loss at Tennessee on Tuesday.
“I’m just trying to be more vocal and make sure I have guys in the right spot,” he said.
With Jamal Murry and Ulis combining for 53 points, the Cats absorbed the loss of Alex Poythress.
“I thought I was going to talk to the team,” Calipari said of the pregame locker room scene. “And it’s the trainer (saying) ‘Alex isn’t playing today.’
“Who did he step on in the warm-up line? I’m going to fire somebody this time.”
Isaiah Briscoe sat out UK’s victory over Louisville after injuring himself in warm-ups.
“His knee was just bothering him, so he can’t go,” Calipari said of the trainer’s message.
Poythress is scheduled to have the knee X-rayed on Sunday, Calipari said. He felt discomfort in the right knee. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in December of 2014.
Calipari acknowledged the obvious: Kentucky cannot be overly dependent on its three star guards.
“You’ve got to have somebody next to the basket,” the UK coach said. “Maybe it’s Isaac (Humphries). Maybe Skal (Labissiere) keeps coming.
“But I do know if Marcus Lee will do what he did today, we have some room.”
Calipari saluted Lee as “really good” and “very active.”
Lee’s busy stat line included four points, six rebounds, two blocks and an assist.
With Poythress sidelined, UK’s primary post players (Lee, Labissiere and Humphries) had taken only one foul shot in the last four games.
They took only one against Florida, a miss by Lee.
Thanks, UK needed that
After the losses at Kansas and Tennessee, Kentucky needed the tonic that victory brings.
“It was a nice bounce-back game,” Calipari said.
White noticed a difference in Kentucky.
“They were so good against Tennessee early,” the Florida coach said. “And I could see that we just saw that for 40 minutes.”
‘A good man’
Before beginning his post-game news conference, Calipari noticed Billy Donovan’s father in a seat near the back of the area.
“Give him a hand,” Calipari said to reporters. “You guys remember Billy’s dad.”
As applause failed to erupt, Calipari said in a light-hearted tone, “Is the media allowed to clap. You guys are, like, bums. One of my favorite people of all time. That is a good man right there.”
Bill Donovan was a 1,000-point scorer at Boston College. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics as what was known then as a “territorial pick.”
To make the team, he had to beat out Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones and K.C. Jones. Plus, the Celtics had also drafted John Havlicek.
As the elder Donovan likes to tell it, Red Auerbach told him, “Don’t bother.”
Kentucky moved into a three-way tie for second in the SEC race. The Cats joined Texas A&M and South Carolina at 7-3.
LSU, the object of ridicule much of the pre-conference portion of the schedule, moved into first place at 8-2 by beating Mississippi State.
In December, critics questioned whether LSU was good enough to be a bubble team for the NIT.
Last time an unranked Florida team won at UK when the Cats were ranked remained 1998 … Dorian Finney-Smith made three-pointer for the 22nd straight game.