Kentucky-Arkansas Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#16/16 Kentucky vs. Arkansas
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“Well, it was a great win for us. I’m really, really happy to earn that victory. It was a great week for us. The team started last Tuesday to really work hard to try and get ready for an important week and to go 2-0 is just fantastic. Today’s game was tough. I thought the first half was a good half for us. Janee (Thompson) got hurt there. It’s a sprained ankle. We don’t know anything definite right now but we are hoping that it will just be a sprain that she can recover from by Thursday. I know she would love to play Thursday night for Senior Night. We’ll keep you all updated on Janee’s sprained ankle. That is what she has. 

“I thought that the third quarter we lost some momentum. We tried to play a big lineup. We tried to play some zone. We just weren’t very dynamic in it. We didn’t play with a lot of confidence in it. I thought Arkansas really got on a roll and played hard and came out with a lot of fight in the third quarter. We just tried to stay positive and finish the game and I was really happy with the team and the way they responded in the fourth quarter and we’re able to get a crucial victory for us. So we’re happy today. ”

On Janee Thompson’s ankle injury … 
“Yeah, right ankle. She was able to go straight ahead at halftime. She was out on the practice court. Was able to get into a jump shot and was able to go straight ahead. Lateral was real painful. We just didn’t want to injure her further and it was just an unfortunate thing. I don’t know exactly what happened. I don’t know if she rolled it on somebody’s foot or anything. She was really playing a great half, really doing well. And our team is working hard and doing better. We just have to get back to work on guarding the ball and being a little better defensively. But, we’re hoping we’ll have her (Thompson) on Thursday night.”

On Makayla Epps’ ability to overcome a rough shooting night… 
“It’s important because here’s the thing, it would be one thing if our players weren’t working hard on their shot, but we spend time every day shooting. Just like Evelyn (Akhator), that baseline shot she made in the second half, she has to take that shot because that kid is working so hard. Same thing with Makayla. It was obvious, we had a little ball reversal baseline zone action that they seemed to be content to let us have and Makayla missed a few of those and that hurts her confidence and she just can’t let it hurt her confidence. She has to make sure that she carries herself like she is the best player on the floor and stay confident in that. I thought she was terrific closing the game out offensively. We struggled a little bit defensively in the second half, but they would score and she would bring it right back and really drive the ball and had some crucial scores for us. Not a good percentage, but she stayed aggressive and that was very important for our victory today.”

On progression since giving up big lead against Vanderbilt …
“I think that what we’ve all tried to do, coaches included, is we’ve tried to improve our attitudes to a point of understanding we are not going to be perfect, but if well just play hard, as hard as we can, good things will happen. You know, it was a very discouraging third quarter, but at the end of it, we were up nine points and I told them, ‘After three quarters you have earned a nine-point lead and let’s see if we can increase that in the fourth quarter.’ We don’t need to be down and out because we struggled in that quarter. I do think that we have made some progress as a team as far as our attitudes and strengthening ourselves and making sure that we maintain a positive attitude. We really tried to promote that in each huddle because a part of the third quarter was we didn’t shoot the ball very well and we were getting good shots and they were working. What I was disappointed in was our defensive effort, but the offense…you just have to keep going in there and believing the shots are going to go down. We shot the ball well today except for that quarter.”

On the difference between the third quarter and fourth quarter…
“The rhythm was a little herky-jerk, a lot of fouls and a lot of stops. I think that probably saved us because the big lineup, we just have not practiced a lot with that. Against teams like Arkansas that have that really mobile stretch four (player) and basically it’s like four guards, those are tough games for us when we have a big lineup in. When a team has two bigs we can handle it better. I thought it was going to be a tough game. It was a tough game. Janee (Thompson) going out I think affected us clearly. We probably benefitted from it sort of being a little herky-jerky rhythm and then that’s what I told them at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The third quarter was bad, but it wasn’t terribly taxing. We didn’t play real hard on defense and we had a lot of stoppages in play, so we were ready to try and get after it a little bit in the fourth quarter and I thought that we got some crucial fast break points when we needed them and the guards showed some explosiveness there in the fourth quarter.”

On the post players looking for the outlet pass…
“That was great recognition. Evelyn (Akhator) did it. Batouly (Camara) did it and they were important buckets because I thought Arkansas played really hard, fought really hard in the second half. I thought that you saw a belief from them that they could win the game and those were smart plays in transition. I was really happy to see it.” … 

Kentucky Student-Athletes


#25 Makayla Epps, G


On her offensive performance today…
“I think I have gotten better with my frustration part. It was frustrating. It might have seemed that way by my facial expressions at times. And it is frustrating to keep missing shots that you practice every day. It was stuff like that. I went 6-of-19 from the field but coach Mitchell kept telling me to shoot, my teammates kept telling me to shoot, so everybody has a lot of confidence in me regardless if I’m 6-for-19 or not. They still want me to shoot the ball because they know eventually I’m going to get going and shots are going to fall. I did hit some big ones down the stretch. It’s just a mental thing. I always tell myself I can’t miss them all. I really don’t believe that you can miss them all so I just keep shooting them until they start falling.”

On what was said in the huddles during the third quarter when Arkansas cut Kentucky’s lead…
“Some people were getting frustrated. A lot of people were getting negative – some of the younger players – because we had a really big lead and it was getting cut into and we couldn’t find the solution to the problem. We just had to rally around each other. I told them, ‘Just keep playing. We’re still up. Even though we’re not playing the best right now we’re still up. They still have to catch us. They still have seven more points to catch us. All we have to do is get a stop and then score, stop and a score, stop and a score.’ That’s the game of basketball. Get stops, make runs and then everybody will be happy again.”

On the difference in the game once Janee Thompson went out…
“Janee is our senior. That’s our leader. We all have a lot of love and respect for her. So whenever she went down I told the team, ‘Play for Janee because I know she would want to be out here.’ She only has one game left at Memorial and the fact that she didn’t get to play in the second half in this one, I know it really hurt her. We just turned it around. Coach didn’t get negative with us. He didn’t get mad with us. He was real positive in the huddle when we were going into the fourth (quarter) and I think that kind of pepped our team up. The team might have expected him to be mad with us going into the fourth but he was real positive. I feel like that sparked it. Then Alexis Jennings got going, Maci (Morris) got going, I got going and it just rallied.”

On if they would have had the same ending result if they had played this game a few weeks ago with the lead they had tonight…
“I do, but we’ve really progressed. I think it all started ever since before Vandy. We’ve been working really hard. The practice plans have really been efficient. That’s hats off to the coaching staff. Everybody wants to do better and get better. We wanted to, from the start of either Vandy or LSU, we decided that we wanted to win out. I think we had five games left in the season so that was Vandy and we wanted to win all five. We are trying to help ourselves in the SEC tournament. We’re trying to help our seeding. We just feel like some of the losses we’ve taken, we shouldn’t have taken. We can win out the rest of our schedule and that is our plan. I feel like ever since the Vandy game we’ve been playing really good basketball.”

Arkansas Head Coach Jimmy Dykes


Opening Statement … 
“Obviously, we didn’t play well in the first half to win the whole game. But we won the second half. We challenged our team at halftime to win the second half. Two or three times we had the ball with the game down to nine points and couldn’t convert. Two or three times they shot and missed and we didn’t box out and they got it back and scored. The game could’ve gotten real close in a hurry. We were putting pressure on Kentucky three or four times and just couldn’t get one more play to get it down to a seven-point game. We got out-rebounded and the second-chance points by Kentucky were probably the difference in the ball game. We didn’t shoot the ball great. I don’t think Jessica Jackson has ever gone 0-for-6 in her life from the 3-point line but she did today. That’s okay.”

On the performance in the third quarter…
“We moved the ball well and screened them and got different kids scoring. We were aggressive. We only got to the free-throw line 14 times, but on the road it’s hard to win if you don’t get there 18, 19 or 20 times. I just thought we were aggressive in the third quarter offensively.”