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Q&A: Players preview Wichita State

INDIANAPOLIS – Kentucky’s starters over the past five games, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis and Bam Adebayo, met with the assembled media Saturday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to preview UK’s upcoming second-round game against Wichita State.

Fox, Monk, Briscoe, Willis and Adebayo

THE MODERATOR: University of Kentucky athletes are here, and let’s go right to the questions.

Q. Isaiah, Markis McDuffie was talking quite a bit about facing you in some of the New Jersey Sate Title games. What do you remember from him and from those games playing him then and now?
ISAIAH BRISCOE: When we were in high school, we played against each other a few times in the state championship and things like that. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing against him again.

Q. A lot of the Wichita players were talking about how you guys are the five star guys, sounded like there was a chip on their shoulder about it. I’m sure you guys encounter that a lot. How do you deal with that? Do you deflect it or kind of stick out your chest and say darn right we are?
BAM ADEBAYO: We’re just here to play basketball, stick with our teammates and just be together.

DE’AARON FOX: Like we said, we’re going to play basketball. I’m not worried about what anybody says right now.

DEREK WILLIS: Honestly, just taking it game by game. Was prepared for the team yesterday, and now we’re prepared for Wichita State and worried about ourselves and worried about what we’ve got to do. That’s how we feel.

Q. De’Aaron, a couple weeks ago, you were asked about what aspect of your game you were spending the most on in practice and you said at the time it was your decision making. Can you kind of assess how that’s been going and how important do you feel like that is to the success of the team?
DE’AARON FOX: It’s going to be extremely important, just being able to take care of the ball, help my team get into scoring positions, things like that. When I cut down my turnovers, I feel like we have a greater chance of success. And that’s just with any player on the team if we’re not turning the ball over. We’re getting more shots, have more opportunities to make shots, more opportunities to get offensive rebounds and get second chances. I was focusing on mine, but when I’m making good decision, I feel like the whole team has been making good decisions.

Q. This one for Bam. Coach Marshall, before you guys came on said that he’s going to be throwing several bigs at you to stop you. You’re averaging a double-double in March. Also, the Wichita players seem confident you’re not going to have 18 rebounds against them tomorrow. What do you make of their confidence and what do you see of Wichita State’s big guys?
BAM ADEBAYO: I’ve got to go out there and play hard and stick with my teammates. They’ve got confidence, and we’ve got high confidence too.

Q. De’Aaron and Malik, it’s often said that freshmen almost become sophomores this time of year as you mature. How much have you guys changed from the guys you were when you came in this summer to who you are now with this team?
DE’AARON FOX: Coming in, we didn’t know much about it. I can speak for myself. I didn’t know much about it, how to run a team just yet. But as the season’s gone by, I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot of things. And being a freshman isn’t an excuse anymore. Like you said, we’re basically sophomores now. We’ve got to go out and play.

MALIK MONK: Just like he said, I didn’t know too much about it. We’re here now. We’re comfortable with the system. We know what we need to do, so we’ve just got to play.

Q. Even though Wichita State does not have that Power Five conference kind of brand about them, they’ve done so much in the tournament in recent years. What’s your perception, just as fans of college basketball, when you think about that program, hear about it, see them play?
ISAIAH BRISCOE: I don’t know too much about Wichita State. Our concern is us. We focus on us. As long as we go out there, play with energy, play hard and play Kentucky basketball, I think we’ll have a great chance to win.

DEREK WILLIS: Just pretty much reiterating what Isaiah said. We haven’t seen them this year. We focus on ourselves. We don’t even get to see a game. Parts of what you do watch doesn’t even factor in on how you can form an opinion on someone. Like I said, just worry about ourselves and worry about what we’ve got to get done.

Q. Malik, how would you describe how tough it would be to defend you guys when you, De’Aaron and Bam are producing at a high level?
MALIK MONK: It’s pretty hard to guard us anyway. But just with all of us producing, it’s going to be hard. But, I mean, like I said, we’ve got to play basketball and just worry about Kentucky, and we’ll be fine.

Q. For Bam, it’s related to an earlier question, when a Wichita State player in the locker room says about your rebounding, it’s getting shut down, Gregg Marshall says he hopes you’re in good shape tomorrow because you’ll need to be. Does that affect or impact you at all when you know there’s a certain focus from a team that’s going to be on you particularly, Bam?
BAM ADEBAYO: No. I just go out and play my game, have fun with my teammates, just listen to Cal and listen to my teammates.

Q. For any of you, Coach Cal last night was griping about playing a game at midnight. Does that really bother any of you guys, or is that just something about an old man griping?
DE’AARON FOX: We’re all young. We ain’t tired at midnight. I mean, they had to play at midnight too so it was just whoever brought the most energy. I mean, I don’t think you should, but we were all right.

DEREK WILLIS: It’s just how the committee does stuff, so you can’t really worry about it. You’ve still got to take it game by game. Regardless, you have to play the game, come out there, bring energy. That’s all you can do.

Q. Isaiah, just getting back to the games against St. Anthony’s, do you remember anything about McDuffie, what stood out about his game in high school?
ISAIAH BRISCOE: He’s a good player. That’s all I really remember. He’s a good player.

Q. Derek, what do you remember of the 2014 tournament game with Kentucky and Wichita State?
DEREK WILLIS: Just thought it was coached real well. I thought they were in a lot of really good schemes. They had some wing, small forward player, Early. He was a really good player. We just played really good together and came out and came down to it. They got a nice shot off at the end, but came away with the “W”, just how it went. Just a dog fight. We came out on top.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. See you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports