LEXINGTON — Kyle Wiltjer hit three 3-pointers — the fourth time he’s done that in a game this season — during Kentucky’s 79-49 win over Georgia Tuesday. The freshman is hitting 40 percent from 3-point range going into today’s game at Florida.
Here are thoughts he shared after UK’s win over Georgia about the team as well as his play:
Question: Do you remember the Old Dominion game back in November when a zone defense really stymied Kentucky’s offense?
Wiltjer: “We have come a long way, but we have put a lot of work in it. Back then that was the first time we saw zone, so we struggled a little bit in it. Coach Cal has done a great job with zone offense and we have really picked up on it. Not only when we are shooting the ball well, but we can throw the lobs on the back line. It just shows how if you work you can get better.”
Question: What is the key to attacking the zone defense?
Wiltjer: “Just being aggressive. Coach Cal really emphasizes attacking gaps and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) and Darius (Miller) and even Doron (Lamb) do a great job attacking gaps. It goes open shooters, open lobs and makes it tough to defend if we are shooting the gaps like that.”
Question: How much does it help when every player is making shots?
Wiltjer: “When you see that, you just want to help keep that run going and make every shot. You have to believe it will go in.”
Question: What does it do for a team’s confidence to even see Anthony Davis make his first 3-pointer of the season?
Wiltjer: “He gets a lot of shots up before and after practice. To see the hard work he has put in and get rewarded, it’s just a good feeling.”
Question: Does this team’s athletic ability overshadow that there are also good shooters on the team?
Wiltjer: “Yeah, because we get a lot of easy baskets not only in transition, but throwing lobs. Sometimes we don’t even have to shoot the ball when you can throw it up to Anthony and Terrence (Jones) and they just show their athleticism. But when we can shoot the ball, it just makes us that much harder to defend.”
Question: What does it do for the team when everyone hits 3-pointers (UK was 15-for-27 Thursday)?
Wiltjer: “It just makes us very versatile and hard to defend and people really don’t know how to stop us very much.”
Question: How does it make you feel when coach John Calipari is calling plays for you to get 3-point shots?
Wiltjer: “I think they were in a zone and the skip was available in the first half and Darius didn’t see me the first time, so coach Cal just drew it up again and we ran it. It was just good execution. It is a good feeling. I just want to take advantage of any opportunity I get and want to be able to knock down my shots when he does call on me. I just want to keep working.”
Question: How important is it for this team to keep passing up open shots when someone else has an even better shot?
Wiltjer: “It just shows our unselfishness. When we are passing the ball like that, it just makes us hard to defend, especially when we have me, Darius and even Doron out there shooting the ball. No one really knows who to guard, so it is a big thing.”
Question: How big a deal is it to this team to go unbeaten in SEC play?
Wiltjer: “We don’t mention it, but we are competitors and we want to win every game. We never like to lose and even losing one game, we didn’t like it. We just want to get better going into the tournament. You can always play better. We can step up individual play and there are keys to the game that coach Cal always finds. Film doesn’t lie and there is always stuff to work on and that’s what makes us so great. We are striving for perfection.”
Question: What makes Anthony Davis so good?
Wiltjer: “He is so versatile and does so many things for our team both offensively and defensively. He’s a very special player. He is so versatile. He gets his points so easily. Rebounds, dunks, stuff like that. We are doing a good job finding him in the right spots. He has come a long way on both offense and defense.”
Question: Have you thought that you might be the only one of the top eight guys on this team back for the 2013 Senior Night?
Wiltjer: “That’s a scary thought, but we don’t want to look that far ahead. We still have a lot more games to play and we are looking forward to those.”
Question: Why do the wheels not fall off here when a lot of players leave for the NBA?
Wiltjer: “Coach does a good job bringing in talented players who are not only talented, but work hard so we have great class this year coming in and working hard. We all want to learn and we are just listening to what coach Cal has to say and that’s why we are all successful.”