Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Player Quotes
Kentucky 71, Vanderbilt 55
Memorial Gymnasium
Nashville, Tenn.
Feb. 14, 2016

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

On the win:
I’m really proud of our team today. To come on the road against a team that we lost to a couple weeks back and show some real progress is something I’m real proud of. The team’s been fighting hard for improvement, and we’ve been fighting for defensive improvement, and I think we played much better today on the defensive end than we did the last time we played Vanderbilt, so I’m really proud of our team. This is always a difficult place to play, Vanderbilt is a tough team, and I was just thrilled with out victory.

On taking 21 more shots than Vandy in the game:
We were able to turn them over. We were plus-15 in the turnover margin and that’s really great for us and has not been something we’ve been able to do lately, then we more than doubled them up on offensive rebounds. That was a big emphasis in the game on the offensive end, to try and really assert ourselves on the offensive boards, and I’m so proud of our team for doing that. Just being able to keep our turnovers to a minimum and really have a high turnover game for our opponent, that’s always a good mix for you and gives you a chance to win.

On how the team improved during the week off between games:
We’ve tried to come back. They met themselves, and then we met right off the bat after [the game against] LSU. We were really disappointed in a couple of things that went on in the LSU game. It was the end of a tough stretch. I was really blunt with them on Wednesday, they’d had a couple days off, of what we were looking for. On Wednesday and Thursday we really had a chance to focus on ourselves. We went back and replayed some situations that we had come up short in, [including] the Vanderbilt situation, the Florida situation, the South Carolina situation, those things we went back and revisited and the players really did a good job on Wednesday and Thursday. I just told them, on Friday, we’re not gonna be perfect on defense, we’ve still got a long way to go, but I really believe they’re going to try their hardest. They responded so well in practice on Friday and Saturday trying to get ready for Vanderbilt, and this morning. I’m just so proud of them. They really worked hard to earn this victory and we’ve gotta see if we can keep it going.

On Alexis Jennings’ performance:
Alexis, I thought, in practice on Friday and Saturday and even this morning in practice, really asserted herself more defensively, and that’s what we’ve been asking her to do. Our whole team, we just have lost some games where we weren’t very intense on defense and we were losing by two points, three points, and it’s just so frustrating. So we really tried to get everybody to buy in on the defensive end of the floor and I noticed that she was really trying hard. Again, we were not perfect today, we did have some mix-ups but overall, they hustled, and I though [Jennings] really tried to play tough defensively. Like what Janee [Thompson] said, [Jennings] was really able to stay on the floor. If you’re busting assignments, you have to come sit down. If you’re fouling you have to come sit down. There just weren’t many times when she had to come sit down today and that was really big for her.

On a strong stretch at the end of the first half:
I thought that was big for us because I thought we should have been up more at that time. We were really dominating in shot attempts, but just couldn’t get anything to fall. We were having such a hard time and, for our team this year, that’s been deflating. Boy, that little stretch there where we stretched [the lead] out to nine before halftime, that felt more like what it should’ve been in the first half, if not a little bit more, so I thought that was huge. [Thompson] just did a great job, she really shot the ball. That’s another thing I’ve told the team, we just get tentative offensively, trying to be perfect and trying to take great shots. I just have to trust them, they know what a good shot is. If we don’t take just perfect shots, we’ve got to let it fly a little bit, and we really did that in practice this week, so it was good to see us shoot a little bit better today.

On if playing on the road has affected the team’s play:
Not the road. It hadn’t been on the road or at home, it was just us. It’s been the coaches and the players, it hasn’t been the situation. Vanderbilt beat us at home. It’s a product of us really being committed to play together. We aren’t a dominant defensive team one-on-one. We really have to be a cohesive unit and we really have to play hard together. We need to try and see if we can do that a bunch of times here down the stretch.

Kentucky Student-Athletes

Forward Alexis Jennings

On her 18 point performance:
I think I’ve just been feeling more confident. My teammates are getting me the ball and I’m just fortunate enough to be able to finish the way I do, and I credit them for that, looking for me getting open.

On how the team benefited from a full week off between games:
Yes, I think we were. We met together and just talked about what we had to do, and it all started in practice, pushing defensive pace to get stops. I think that really helped us in this game. We’re just happy to come out with a win.

Guard Janee Thompson

On the difference between this win and a loss to Vandy two weeks ago:
I think the difference was our whole mindset. We were really disappointed about that loss on our home floor, and we didn’t think we played very hard. The last few weeks we’ve been practicing really hard, trying to execute the game plan, and I think that we did a pretty good job of that today.

On building a lead late in the first half:
It’s always important for us to get momentum, but I think what we were doing on the defensive end really fueled our offense. I think we were a lot sharper today, a lot more focused, and our communication was pretty unbelievable throughout the entire game. Everybody was talking to each other and it really helped us defensively. I give the credit for this win to our defense.

On how forcing turnovers affects the other team’s mindset:
I definitely think so. I think, a lot of times, the fact that we don’t play hard all the time gives teams a lot of confidence. They knock down one shot and they start to fuel off that. I think the way we played today, we were trying to be intense and play hard; I think it had a big effect on what Vanderbilt was doing. They still played really hard so you’ve got to give them a lot of credit, but we’re just happy that we came out with a win today.

On Alexis Jennings’ post presence:
It’s great. Alexis and Evelyn [Akhator] are two of the most dominant post players I’ve ever played with, they’ve just got to stay on the floor. I think the both of them know they’ve been struggling with foul trouble the past few games, but [today] was great. They really tried to stay focused and stay disciplined today and not foul, and they did that and you can see the result. We’re a much different team when we have the experience of Alexis and the heart of Evelyn.