Rick Pitino And Russ Smith Talk After Loss To Kentucky

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Transcript via ASAP Sports

COACH PITINO:  We've had an unbelievable three‑year run, very special run, that was multiple‑league championship, multiple‑tournament championships, back‑to‑back Final Fours, and now a Sweet 16. 
We were up seven before the go and 5:39 and we had some bad breaks down the stretch and gave up offensive rebounds. 

Pretty much statistically if you look at the game, we lost it at the foul line and we lost it on the backboard, every other area we played really well.  But you've got to give them credit.  They usually beat you on the backboard.  That was catalyst at the end of the game.

Q.  Rick, a year ago on that same bench that Kentucky was on tonight you watched a guy go down and sort of rallied around it.  They lost one of their difference‑makers early.  And in spite of that, played really well tonight.

COACH PITINO:  I don't know, he's a difference‑maker on their team.  He's a really good player, but I don't think that that was a major factor.  I think major factor in the game was the way Randle played on the backboard at the end and made their free throws.  They're a very good foul‑shooting team. When you're in the bonus, drive a lot and go into people, if you can make free throws, they're tough to defend.

Q.  Russ, can you take us through that last shot and, Rick, was that the play you wanted or shot you wanted in that situation?

RUSS SMITH:  I came off the ball screen, and I automatically looked for Luke.  And then I seen he was being face guarded by Poythress. I tried to take a 3‑pointer to tie it up, and it just missed.  But everything went the right way, but Luke was just face guarded and that was my first option.  And I just decided to take a 3‑pointer.

COACH PITINO:  Well, we wanted to try and create a foul.  But we leave it up to him.  It's a judgment play what to run. 
It wasn't the best shot, but he's sometimes very difficult when they're long and they're shot blockers.  But you gotta give them credit, they defended the play well. 

We ran our offense beautifully most of the night.  Just a couple down the stretch we just went one‑on‑one a little bit too much.  But when we did run our offense, we ran it beautifully.

Q.  Coach, looked like several times there in that six‑minute span or something you were just maybe one play away, one shot away.  Did you have a feeling that you were on the edge of something or ‑‑

COACH PITINO:  I thought that was in the hole there.  You can't miss as many free throws as we missed.  If you take that away, we played really almost a near‑perfect game in a lot of areas.  Just the backboard and the foul line, we shot a great percentage.  We didn't turn it over.  We executed beautifully back door at times. 

So we did a lot of good things.  We just missed a lot of free throws that would have put us up a lot more points.  But we were up seven and we just couldn't control the backboard down the stretch.

Q.  A lot of guys on this team have been around the program a long time.  It's kind of the end of an era.  What did you tell them afterwards after the run they've had?

COACH PITINO:  I told them we probably beat ourselves a little bit down the stretch, but how can any of us complain with the run we've been on?  We celebrated an awful lot the last three years.  And with back‑to‑back Final Fours and now a Sweet 16. 

We don't like losing to Kentucky certainly, but you've got to give them credit.  We try to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.  We're going to be very gracious in this defeat because we've had a lot of celebrations, and it's the end of an era for us, for a lot of us.  So it's something that we're certainly going to miss. We've lost Gorgui, Peyton, and now we're probably going to lose Russ, Luke, Montrezl, and VT.  It's the end of an era.  And I as a coach certainly appreciate all their efforts.

Q.  You said the end of an era.  Just want to make sure not the end of an era for you, right?

COACH PITINO:  I'm thinking about my players; I'm not thinking about myself.

Q.  I know that freshmen have played a whole season, but to see a freshman hit a shot like that with 40seconds left in the game, is it more impressive to see a freshman do it, a freshman passes to a freshman than upperclassmen?

COACH PITINO:  More a senior, if I was coming off of him, that shouldn't happen, should never come off them.  That's a major mistake on our part.  But you've got to give them a lot of credit. 

Look, they're playing great down the stretch.  Should be a heck of a matchup.  They're going to be very tough to beat, very tough to beat, because you've got to play great defense, like we did tonight in the first half, to beat them. 
And I don't know how many teams are capable of doing that against them, because if you do help they'll burn you like that.  We shouldn't have helped on that play.

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