Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#9/9 Kentucky vs. #2/2 South Carolina 
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 14, 2016


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“Tough game tonight. You have to credit South Carolina. They really played a good game and played real tough in the second half. We just had a real hard time with A’ja Wilson tonight. She was really, really tough. I thought our team came out and played really hard and gave a lot of effort. We’re just not at a state right now where we can execute well enough and sharp enough on defense where we can stop that team. Tonight we just made too many mental mistakes as the game wore on. We will try to get better from it. I wish the outcome had been better. But this is a game we need to learn from and I believe we can.”

On what went wrong to result in the loss…
“I thought foul trouble really bothered us. I thought they were able to play their starting frontcourt and we weren’t. I thought that really affected our ability to guard them. Then we were trying to make it tough on Wilson to put it on the floor and get to the basket. You saw her do just that time and time again. That was not just the player guarding her but the other players as well. We have to play really great team defense against them to have success. That’s been the case since Wilson showed up and Coach (Dawn Staley). They’ve just been so big the last two or three years. We have found a way to play some good team defense and get some victories over them during this time and tonight wasn’t one of those nights.  We just have to go back to work. I think our team can definitely improve from this one.”

On A’ja Wilson…
“She’s a very good player. Very special talent and plays very hard. Has a great attitude, doesn’t do a lot of showboating or anything. She just goes out there and gets it done. She’s really good player and I thought that was the difference of the night. They had A’ja Wilson and we didn’t. She was just tough to stop in there and we came out and really battled. I was proud of that, this is clearly the biggest and most physical team we have faced all season and we have to figure defensively how to get that done as a team and be able to neutralize them but they’re a very good team and A’ja Wilson is an outstanding player.”

On South Carolina being able to get rebounds on missed free throws…
“Again A’ja Wilson was around there. We have really have tried to work on our free throw box outs. They haven’t been that great and Batouly Camara was down there trying to block A’ja Wilson and you really have to box her out and try to get contact on her body. She just tipped it out to (Tina) Roy and that ended up being a four-point play. That cut a seven-point lead to three and then we come down and take a bad shot and turn it over. A bad shot against them is like a turnover because they just get out and run and don’t play good transition defense, it’s a tie ball game just like that. Free throw line box outs are tough. I don’t know how (Tiffany) Mitchell got in there so quick. We got a violation on us last week at Georgia for coming off of the perimeter in there but she was able to do that, it will be interesting to see what that looks like on film. Those were not good plays. You have to make big plays to win games like this.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes 


#25, Makayla Epps, G


On South Carolina’s post play and if it wore UK down … 
“I wouldn’t so much say they wore us down. Just the simple fact we are trying to get back at running Kentucky tempo and Kentucky pace. The big emphasis on this game was the pace and to get the pace going and that can get tiring. We are sprinting up and down the court. You can give them some of that but mainly us going at the speed of light gets us too.”

On how hard it was to score in the second half … 
“I would say they adjusted really well. We came out and punched them in the mouth really early so it kind of caught them off guard, you can tell by their reaction. They just adjusted really well after halftime. A'ja Wilson is really long and really skilled and she knows how to use her length to her advantage and it was hard to get shots off the second half.”

On playing against someone like Wilson … 
“The only thing we play close to Wilson is playing Coach Amadou in practice. That’s just being realistic. Like I said very skilled and a really talented kid and you have to respect her for what she does. I mean 26 and 13 that is NBA numbers. So like I said much respect to her.”

#3, Janee Thompson, G


On having a hard time scoring in the second half … 
“It was very frustrating offensively in the second half. What we did on defense is that I think we lost focus in the post position and the guard position. Both players where letting their kids get real deep and guards stopped choking in and stopped getting the ball out of their hands. We also stopped boxing out. I’m disappointed in the way we guarded the basketball and that starts with me. So in practice we have to try to correct that.”

South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley


On second-half adjustments to work the post…
“We knew just from playing in the first half we didn’t do a great job of getting our post players touches in the paint. They had to do a better job at posting up and giving us a bigger target to get them the ball. So we just made an adjustment and made it easier to make some post passes and then it balanced everything out. We were able to see open looks on the outside once we started going into our post players. “ 

On defending Kentucky in transition in the first-half…
“When we’re taking unexpected quick shots and when we’re turning the ball over, it’s just really hard against a team whose strength is pushing the ball on makes and misses. But you have to adjust. They’re probably the quickest team when possession changes. They make a consorted effort to get down the floor and not put so much pressure on their half-court offense.”
 
On the play of A’ja Wilson…
“She was pretty special. A lot of times you see triple-doubles or close to triple-doubles in blowouts. And when you’re able to get to close to it in a game of this magnitude, it really shows how special a player A’ja Wilson is. This is just the tip of the iceberg. She’s getting better every time she steps on the floor. I thought she did a great job making the adjustments from the first half to the second half and imposing her will.”

South Carolina Student-Athletes 


#22 A’ja Wilson, F


On if it was planned to give her the ball …
“I think that was just kind of the game plan. I guess my teammates just saw what the defense was kind of giving me, and I saw what the defense was giving me. It was just the flow. It’s the system of the game and how you go to them and you just keeping going. It’s the system of South Carolina basketball.” 
 
On if it is a goal to get blocks …
“It’s just a mindset, really. I’m just trying to protect the basket the best way I can. If they come in the paint, I just have to swat here and there and hopefully not draw a foul. I think that’s a mindset of all of our post players, really, is just protecting the paint.”
 
On being close to triple-double and wearing Kentucky down …
“I don’t think I have. I actually didn’t even know I was close to a triple-double until I saw it on the stat sheet when I was doing media outside. That was my first time, and I didn’t really feel anything differently. Over a course of 40 minutes, it’s hard to maintain the same game plan, and I think with us that’s what we do. We kind of have enough to go deep into our bench and keep playing our game and keep pushing it to them.”

#25 Tiffany Mitchell, G


On early fouls …
“For the two early fouls, I knew I just had time to watch the game and see when I come back in what needs to go on. I was kind of just watching the flow of the game, and I knew when I came back in I was going to have to have an impact offensively and defensively.” 
 
On the importance of win at Kentucky …
“This was a huge win. Coach said it was our second time winning here in eight years, so this is huge. I know a lot of games on the road in this league we’re going to need to win, so this was a big win for us and our program.”
 

#5 Khadijah Sessions, G


On reacting to transition offense …
“Kentucky came out with their foot on the gas. That’s the type of team they are. They’re a transition team, and we had to adjust. They came at us for the first 15 minutes, and I think we adjusted well for the last 25 minutes, pretty much, in the second half, and the last five minutes in the first half. We kind of adjusted, but we had to slow them down because we know that’s their game. We take that away and make them play half-court defense.”
 
On getting the ball inside …
“Coach wrote us some plays in the huddle and we kept running the same thing. We had to be aggressive to the paint. They were going to foul us. If we got the ball inside, they were going to foul us. I saw the openings and took advantage of it.”