Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#12 Kentucky vs. #19 Tennessee
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 25, 2016


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement …
“I’m very proud of our team tonight. I thought no matter what the outcome was going to be, I was really proud of how we had practiced the last two days and it’s just there for everybody to see where our flaws are. And we have many, but we just really believe in this team and believe in these kids and I just think a month from now we are going to be a much better team than we are right now. We had to work hard the last two days to get ready for Tennessee. Tennessee is an extremely talented team and you saw what they could do there at the end when they really dialed up the pressure. Great victory for us. We were fortunate to win and more than the win, I’m just proud of our players for practicing so hard. We need to practice hard tomorrow and try to get ready for Vanderbilt. Great result for us tonight.”
 
On if he talked to Makayla Epps about her energy in the second half…
“Yeah, I did. I just, right there on the floor, talked to her. We shot the ball 16 more times than Tennessee in the first half. I thought that we had some really good execution. We’re just not a real confident bunch right now and Maci Morris, it’s her first game against Tennessee. It meant a lot to her as a Kentucky kid. She wanted to do well and she was a little rushed tonight and I thought everybody was just pressing so much. I just tried to tell them at halftime, ‘you don’t need to try harder, you need to do it right.’ And we were just breaking down on our fundamental shooting. So I just tried to remind Makayla, just get really fundamentally sound. The attitude she needs to have is that no one can guard her. She is a fantastic player. She has to play with tremendous focus and confidence and she has to do it right with good footwork. She really, really took over in the third quarter and that was a huge positive development for our team. So I just tried to tell her to have some confidence and stop trying so hard and just focus in and do the right thing and shoot on balance and attack the rim and she’d have some success. She did that.”
 
On Janee Thompson’s ankle injury …
“We were really worried. Anytime you are carried off the floor, and it was the same ankle that she hurt at South Carolina, so it was a very traumatic experience for her. She didn’t know if she reinjured it or what. We were so disappointed with our play at Ole Miss. It was just a horrible trip back. We sent her (Thompson) down to Rupp at the men’s game on Saturday, so she saw the doctors down there and they did an x-ray. Everything was intact and that’s when she kind of turned the corner mentally. She’s like, ‘everything is okay.’ She didn’t practice Saturday, just went and got the x-ray. She was able to move a little bit on Sunday and after Sunday’s practice it didn’t swell, nothing bad happened. So I was pretty sure that she was going to play this morning.”
 
On what makes Tennessee’s press so effective…
“They have great players. They have really tall, long, athletic, talented players. They are extremely talented and just so much bigger than us and probably a little bit quicker than us. When they turned that heat up, it was tough. Listen; what you saw at the end of the game, we’ve been looking at in practice. That’s where we are right now. We have a lot of work, but we tried to go against seven guys today. We’re just going to put them in that situation and we just have to get tougher and we have to get the ball in the right spot and we have to start making some winning plays against pressure. I thought we did better at times tonight. Only 10 turnovers is a miracle for us right now. That is really, if you don’t believe in God, you need to go check that out because that’s about like him walking on water right there. That was a good development for us, 10 turnovers.”
 
On the five turnovers in the fourth period…
“We were missing layups. We were breaking Tennessee’s initial pressure then we were going down and we were all running this way. We miss a layup and now Tennessee is trailing and they were getting back.  If we could have made some of those layups we could have closed the game out pretty comfortably, but I told them our defense had been tough all second half. We just needed to believe in our defense. Tennessee missed two layups there at the end of the game. We were fortunate enough that they missed but if we could some of ours it wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Where we are right now, a young, inexperienced team and we just have to find a way to improve everyday and I think we will.”
 
On feeling tight towards the end of the game….
“Oh I don’t think there was any doubt that were feeling it. We were up 10 and it evaporated just like that and there’s no question that we were feeling it and we just have to fight through it. We’ll get out on the other side and we will be a really good team if they keep practicing the way they have been the last two days. It’s like I told them in the locker room, if Tennessee had made that lay up and won by one, we would have felt really bad but we have been in the same boat and we get to come back and practice really hard tomorrow. We need to get started on these defenses that we’re running and just improve.”
 
On the feeling of winning going into the next game…
“Oh, it’s great to win. We learned the lesson without a loss but we’ve got to stay firmly in reality so we know where we are. We’ve got to get a lot better against pressure defense we haven’t played good the last two games.”
 
On the play of three good point guards…
“Well, they’re out there trying to play with the other four players. It’s not just one of them and Taylor (Murray) is young and she has never had to play with her head up. She’s always just been able to get the ball and put her head down and she’s faster than everybody. She’s got to learn and Janee is smaller and she just has to get better and make some winning plays. Then Makayla can’t let her confidence drop as easily as it has with this rough patch for us. I was proud of her in the second half. She played with a lot more confidence.”
 
On coming out winning on the other side….
“We’ve got to get through this tough SEC schedule. They’re just really tough and there’re a lot of lessons to be learned. Vanderbilt will be a totally different team than Tennessee. Tennessee played different than Ole Miss, so we’re just facing all of these things for the first time for a lot of these players and you’ve got to go through it.”
 
On Batouly Camara playing well…
“On what is so good about Batouly is that there is no one who has gotten harder times from the coach this year than Batouly and she just shows up the next day with a smile on her face and try to get better. Now Batouly can make some plays. She just doesn’t know how to play yet. She kind of floats around some and kind of doesn’t play hard enough sometimes but Batouly is going to be a very good player, and the reason she got the start tonight is because she can take a charge. We just went with everyone who can take a charge. Epps has not taken one, nobody else has taken one so we went with Epps. Hopefully she’ll take one before her career is over but we got take charges to be a good defensive team. 
  

UK Student-Athletes

 

#3 Janee Thompson, G


On scoring the final points for Kentucky…
“The ball was in my hands and I was just taking open shots. They were kind of switching and getting confused on defense. I was literally wide open a few times and I just shot the ball and made it.”
 
On if the boot on her foot was precautionary...
“Yeah, it feels better when I’m walking. I tried to go back to my regular shoe but Courtney (team trainer) had other plans for me because I have to walk around to class tomorrow.”
 
On when she knew when she was able to play...
“I guess yesterday. I had been doing a lot of treatment and I had been pretty sore, but yesterday I tried to practice and I tried to get in some drills and it felt okay. Then in game day practice today, I felt even better after all day of treatment again. So probably today.”
 
On if scoring the last five points of the game correlates with being a senior…
“Not for that reason. It was a really important game for us. We didn’t play well at Ole Miss and we needed a bounce back win. We had worked very hard in practice this week to get ready for this game. I think we did a good job of executing what we needed to, but we’ve gotta just keep getting better. We can do even better, it’s a big week for us.”
  

#25 Makayla Epps, G


On having the confidence to get the win…
“I feel like from top to bottom we all stayed really positive. We’ve been talking a lot about having negative attitudes at times, and when things don’t go our way we get real within ourselves. I feel like a lot of us had real positive attitudes. When I dribbled off my foot, Janee was smiling and saying ,‘here we go!’ We just let it go. That’s the type of stuff that we have to learn to do. I feel like stuff like that, just the little things like that, will help us overcome a lot like we did tonight and here on out.”
 
On the challenge of playing a “must win” game against Tennessee…
“We lost one at Ole Miss that really hurt. It hurt my pride and hurt my teammates’ pride. We needed this win. The SEC is so crazy. Everyone’s winning and losing. You never know who’s going to win or lose next. Every win from this point on matters. We have a tough week. We have a tough Vanderbilt team on Thursday and a tough Florida team on Sunday, and that’s two big wins that we need. So hopefully we can take these two days of practice and win these games and get better.”
 
On if Coach Mitchell told her to have fun in the second half…
“Yeah, that’s exactly what he had told us, everybody in the locker room at half time. We were down seven but we weren’t deflated about it and we knew what we had done wrong. We made some changes at half time, and he told us to go out there and have fun. We started having a lot of fun. ”
 
On how Coach Mitchell said the 10 turnovers were like a miracle…
“I can agree with him. That’s walking on water. At Ole Miss we turned over at least like 22 plus, and I had six by myself, so that’s nothing that anybody wants. He always has a standard of 12 turnovers or less for us, so to have 10 against a very tough Tennessee team, that’s great.”
 

#1, Batouly Camara, F

 
On how Coach Mitchell has been harder on her than anyone in practice but she still comes back every day with a smile…
“I just really want to be a great teammate and just be there for my team. Coming into practice, I can’t be selfish, and I know he wants us all to get better. He’s on all of us and my teammates expect it from me, and when he’s on me I just try to come back the next day and try to correct my mistakes. I have great support from my teammates.”
 

Tennessee Head Coach Holly Warlick


Opening statement…
“A hard fought game. Proud of our kids. We hung tough and battled. I thought Kentucky was outstanding. I thought the third quarter we just let the game slip away and we had to battle from there. Just proud of our kids for how hard we fought back.”
 
On what happened in the third quarter that let Kentucky take the lead…
“For me, it’s the 21 turnovers that set the tone of the whole game. I thought that we passed up good shots for us to try to make that extra pass. I think that (Makayla) Epps went to work. Her first probably eight or 10 points she had off the dribble and then we fouled her. Credit to her. We didn’t have an edge for those first minutes of the third quarter.”
 
On her team pressing and playing smart in the fourth quarter but not pulling out the victory…
“This team has the effort. They work hard and you just can’t fault them for that. We just have to clean up some things. They never think they’re out of it. I love their energy, I love their intensity, and I know their will to stay in a game. I think you probably saw that today.”
 
On Diamond DeShields late turnovers …
“I thought that she was open in the lane either the last two or three times. But she’s a basketball player so she must have seen something that maybe she thought was a better shot. I have to go back and watch it on tape but I thought she had the opportunity right there in the lane.”
 
On how encouraging it is to see Te’a Cooper have the performance she did…
“It is huge. Cooper is a competitor. I think she’s gotten in the gym and worked on her shot. We keep the offense simple for her but we don’t have to make it complicated because she’s a playmaker. I loved her effort tonight. I love what she did. I was going to put the ball in her hands in the last play of the game. I have a lot of confidence in that young lady. I thought she competed and played. She had three assists and 18 points so that’s pretty good.”
 
On if Andraya Carter was off balance in the final play of the game…
“I told her that one play didn’t determine the game. She gave us opportunity. I wouldn’t want anyone else at that line but Andraya (Carter) and Te’a Cooper. We had our chance. Andraya had a little put back. I’ll have to watch it but I think she was a little off balance. I don’t know if she was falling and threw the ball up. She had a great look I just don’t think she shot the ball on balance very well. She gave us a chance.”
 
On if Kentucky is good at driving in the lane or her team lacks at defending in the lane…
“I think it was a combination of both. I think Epps is good at penetrating in the lane and drawing fouls. I think we weren’t down and ready. We gave her too much space and opportunity to get to the lane. I thought the fourth quarter we got better. We started face guarding her a little bit and doing some different things. I thought the beginning of the third quarter she just took over the game. I had to use some quick timeouts. I would have liked to have a timeout at the end but I had to use them in the course of the game.”
 
On thoughts during the last five seconds of the game…
“I thought we had great looks. I thought we were going to win the basketball game. (I have) a lot of confidence in our kids. They keep battling and they find ways. We had our chances. We had great shots. We had great looks. We didn’t knock them down. I felt good about it actually. I felt really good about it. We pressed and got back in the game. These kids don’t quit and that’s all I ask for them is to play hard, don’t quit and great things will happen. We had our chances.”
 
On if they can build off the things they did to give themselves a chance…
“They’re upset. They’re competitors. They’re upset and should be. They’ve worked hard to get to this point. This team has really done a great job of re-focusing and understanding who your next opponent is. We have a tough little stretch here. We had Vanderbilt at home, we have Kentucky away and Mississippi State away, so it’s just not an easy schedule for us. We will get on the bus and watch the game then tomorrow we will have to start focusing on Mississippi State. We have to go there and it’s a 9 o’clock game so we will get back late. It’s just a tough little stretch for us.”   
 

Tennessee Student-Athletes


#20 Te’a Cooper, G


On the final play…
“I thought I had enough time but obviously I didn’t. I was trying to draw a foul and get the shot off but it didn’t work.”
 
On the use of the full-court press…
“We knew we had to bring it. We all were dedicated on defense. We just knew we had to get the ball back and all five of us were on the same page.”
 

#21 Mercedes Russell, C


On the intensity at the moment when free throws were being shot with five seconds remaining…
“It was very intense. Obviously we wanted her to make it. We had a plan and she missed and we happened to get the rebound and we just didn’t convert the layup and that was just on our part.”
 
On the frustration of the loss…
“It’s very frustrating. But I think we definitely lost it in the third quarter. I believe the paper said they outscored us 21-9, so that’s where we really lost it. We just came out with no intensity in the third quarter and we just let (Makayla) Epps do whatever she wanted and score whenever she wanted to. But I was proud of our fight back in the fourth quarter. It just didn’t end up our way in the end. “
 
On the turnovers in the third period…
“It was tough because we kept throwing back passes and just taking quick shots and they were just pushing the ball back down our throats on the other end. And we also let them have too many offensive rebounds. We weren’t boxing out and that just gave them second and third opportunities to score.”