“I was pleased with how we executed, especially in the last seven minutes of the game. I wasn't worried about the score, I was worried about us getting better,” said Calipari.
Kentucky shot 47.3 percent overall, including 7-for-15 from 3-point range. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 39-29. They had just six turnovers. LSU¿managed to hit just 21 of 53 shots, a 39.6 percent mark.
Perhaps it was fitting that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was 0-for-5 from the field and had a season-low one point, drew praise in the easy win for the defensive job he did on LSU¿point guard Anthony Hickey, a Kentucky native who was 2-for-6 from the field.
“I didn't want Marquis (Teague) playing Hickey because I didn't want it to be a back-and-forth. I need this kid to just keep running our team, so I put Michael on him,” Calipari said. “The size benefit to that is you can switch pick-and-rolls more, which we did a lot of. But here's Michael defending his butt off. He didn't make shots, but had the two biggest assists in the game to Darius Miller on a 3. Then he threw it back to Doron (Lamb) for a 3 and basically ended the game. So here he is, doing everything he has to, even though he's not making basket.”
He was also the first UK¿player ready to defend Anthony Davis when he was jerked down from behind by Malcom White on a fast break and took a nasty fall, one of several hard knocks the UK center took.
But Davis didn’t back down, either. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots (he now has 101 this season).
“Anthony was Anthony even though he got punched around a little bit,” Calipari said. “Darius Miller was really good. Good floor game by my point guard, four assists, one turnover. I mean we were good today. This was one of the better games we played."
And what about Jones?
“My point to him was, if this is who you are, then you should be this every game. When he went after that ball, four-straight jumps (to get an offensive follow), come on, that's what we've all been waiting on. It's what we've all been waiting on, and he makes us different.”
"He just takes a lot of pressure off these young kids, and he needs to. He and Darius and Doron, this should be their team, not the freshman team. This team should be their team. And whether they are two sophomores and a senior doesn't matter. The other kids are freshmen. You can't expect them to carry the load. At times, we've been doing that."
Teague, who had six points and four assists, noticed what Jones did on offense, defense and in transition where he ran the court better and harder than he has all season.
"He was scoring at will in the post. He had anything he wanted. If he drew a double team, he would kick it out and make the right play. We were trying to feed him the ball,” Teague said.
LSU coach Trent Johnson admitted Kentucky’s defense was too good for his team and predicted that UK could easily be in New Orleans for the Final Four.
“They beat us every which way but loose. They are pretty good. Basically, defensively with Terrence Jones' and Anthony Davis' length and mobility, they can switch all of your stuff. It does not matter if they have a post guy guarding a guard,” the LSU coach said.
And if Kentucky is not physical, Johnson didn’t notice in his pregame scouting or during the game.
"When people you are playing against are tough, athletic, physical, skilled and good, that messes with you mentally. We addressed that, we talked about that. It is not like that should have surprised us,” the LSU¿coach said. “They are talented and good. John does not get enough credit for how hard his teams play and guard.
“It is hard to get a group of talented guys who are quote ‘McDonalds All-Americans' and all that other kind of stuff you guys like to write about to compete and play hard like that. And Terrence showed up tonight. He was a man among boys."
And that combined with the way other Cats played was more than enough to overwhelm LSU.