Kentucky-Mississippi State Postgame Quotes

Feb. 3, 2009

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Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie

On his team's defense…
“Obviously we didn't defend like we needed to tonight. They shot 14 of 27 from the 3 point line. We thought they would get a lot of their points off of penetration and pitch but they got their three's off of back screens and inbounded balls. We just didn't do a good job defending them behind the arc. We played hard; we just didn't play smart tonight.”

On MSU's defense on Jodie Meeks…
“We are not getting him enough opportunities to get shots where he needs to get shots. We aren't helping him or giving him anything in transition. We aren't getting defensive rebounds at the post. He's probably been a little bit too eager. He's trying too hard but only because he's trying to help us score baskets. He's still playing hard. Other teams have done a great job defending Jodie since the Tennessee game. That should still leave the floor open for other guys and we aren't taking advantage of that.”

On his team's intensity over the last few games…
“We have been playing with the same intensity, if not more. The last three teams we have played have had the ability to make shots and when they did miss we didn't do a good job on the boards. We went through that stretch where teams weren't making shots. Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn and Alabama weren't making shots when we played them. We don't want to lose any of the intensity and I don't think we have. We just need to get better and play smarter.”

On creating a change in the lineup…
A lot of guys had an opportunity to score tonight. Our situation is everyone has to get better. We can shake up the lineup as much as we want but each individual needs to improve. It's got to be a team effort.”

On his team not taking shots…
“Some of them don't need to shoot behind the arc, but some of them do. We need to understand how the game is played a little bit better. Mississippi State did a really good job guarding Patrick Patterson. They really showed a good defensive effort tonight.”

On Darius Miller…
“I thought he played well. I think he is getting better every time out. He understands better defensively (what he has to do) but he has a long way to go like most freshmen. He was out there for a long time tonight and he deserved it. For us to do our absolute best we need him to keep up the hard work he's giving us.”

On getting a week off before playing Florida…
“We will try to get better. We have to get better in every aspect to get back to where we were when we were winning. We have a lot of improvements to make. Hopefully we can make those improvements before the season is over.”

Kentucky Players

# 13, Michael Porter

On the game …
“It seemed like they wanted it more than us. We didn't come out with as much fire as they did. We didn't play like we wanted to win. It is really shocking to come out and play like after losing two straight.”

On the last three games …
“It is not like we feel like we can't win now. We are still confident about the way we play. Maybe we don't have the swagger that we had before and maybe that is why we are losing some games. We have to come to every game on fire and be ready to play. It is unacceptable for us to play like this.”

On being more aggressive …
“We have to step up. I have to start knocking down shots and we all have to start knocking shots down. We have to be aggressive and not let the opposing team dictate the way we play the game. We have to start coming out and doing something in the game to get going.”

On opposing team's defense …
“If they sag off me or sag off some other guys we still have to find a way to help Jodie (Meeks) and Patrick (Patterson) out. Even when they are putting a lot of pressure on them we still have to figure out a way to help them out. The most logical thing that we have to start doing is hit some shots. If we hit shots then they have to guard us more.

On the crowd …
“Sometimes it is not a good shot if you are dribbling down and the defense sags off you. Sometimes we have to knock down that shot but usually that is not a very good shot. The thing is if you get the ball reversed then swing the ball then you have a good shot. Those are the kind of shots we really need to be knocking down. We can't let the crowd dictate the way we play and we are going to look for Meeks or Patterson and if they aren't open then we need to figure out ways to get the job done.”

# 1 , Darius Miller

On the team's energy level …
“I don't think we are very tired right now. We have to start coming out and playing a lot tougher. Coach has been telling us we have to be tougher and we need to keep listening to him.”

On the last three games …
“We have to play tougher. That goes with everything from rebounding, playing defense, getting loose balls and everything. We have to pick up our intensity and play hard.”

On shot selection …
“It is the same in practice and in the game. There are times we I might be open but that is not what we need at that moment. What we need is to get into the flow of the offense and get a better shot. The best shot we can get is lay-ups and we need to make sure we get Patrick (Patterson) and Jodie (Meeks) their touches. It is not up to us to come down and shoot every time we are open. We can get that shot anytime we want so we try to work through our offense and get Patrick and Jodie some touches. Those two are our main players and we don't need to be throwing up shots every time we are open.”

On the crowd …
“We can't be scared to create plays. When they are guarding Patrick and Jodie then we have to be able to create plays to ease up the pressure on those two guys. We just can't stand on the wing and expect those two guys to do everything.”

# 21, Perry Stevenson

On what went wrong with Kentucky's 3-point defense …
“I don't think that we were contesting them good enough. We have to make a strong effort to get through screens and get to the shooter when they have the ball.”

On how tough it was for him defensively tonight …
“It was hard but it shouldn't be anything that I can't do.”

On Jarvis Varnado …
“He is the main man of their defense and when you get past the guards you have to deal with him. I think that he played well tonight, seven blocks is a high number. He is a great player and that is what great players do. He is long and athletic and that is a good thing to be.”

On where Kentucky stands now after three straight losses …
“We have to get back to practice. We have to practice like we know how and get back to playing like we were at the start of conference.”

# 54, Patrick Patterson

On what has been wrong the last couple of games and how Kentucky can go about fixing it …
“Win, it is a simple thing, just win. We need to play a lot tougher and also play with more heart. We have to play more competitive and want it a lot more in the opposition does. We have to play together as a whole not as a one but as a family. We need to get back to playing like we were playing at the beginning of the conference.”

On Kentucky's slow offensive start to the game …
“I was really surprised. When we first came out we knew that they were going to pack it in and that opened up the perimeter. They felt like we couldn't knock down perimeter jump shots and they boxed-and-one a couple of times. They pressured Jodie and left Darius on the wing a couple of times and Michael and DeAndre too. They challenged them to shoot the ball. Darius was able to drive the ball the basket and get some points for us while some shots weren't falling and some players lost confidence in their jump shot. Down the stretch we stopped checking the ball as much. In wide open situations I always tell them to shoot it and if it isn't falling in to drop it to the basket.”

On if intensity is what Kentucky has been missing …
“I think that intensity and also us just not playing with a passion, heart and not wanting it a lot more than the other team is what we have been missing. We haven't played like we did early in the season and SEC conference. We are starting to lose that type of swagger and that type of mentality and attitude that we had earlier. We just have to turn it all around. We know there is a lot of basketball left and we are only half way through the SEC. We know that we can still win the rest of our games if we just play tough.”

Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury

Opening Statement …
“Everybody knows how difficult this place is to play. It's one of the most difficult places in the country to win a game. Somehow tonight, we came in here just being hit the mouth by our last game and for our kids to find a way to respond in this environment was impressive for us. We probably played better than we are. Tonight our kids found ways to make plays and defensively we tried to limit Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks. We were very fortunate to get out with a win.”

On Mississippi State's shooting …
“I thought we made shots and prevented Kentucky from making shots. If you make shots and they don't then you get a separation of points. Meeks ended with some points scoring 15 but if you watch the game with six minutes until half time, shooting was a big factor in the game. Time became really important at the end of the game because we were able to stretch out the clock.”

On Jodie Meeks' performance tonight …
“He is absolutely one of the best guards in the country. He's going to get attention from everybody. He's going to get attention from everyone's defense and you can't guard him straight up. One of our big plans was keeping him from catching in transition and watching his threes. He makes more threes in transition so that was the number one thing we wanted to do.”

On keeping the lead without Jarvis Varnado playing at the end of the game …
“We had a six or seven point lead and he went to the bench. We played the last seven minutes without him. At the half we were up 13 points and in the second half we were able to keep that lead which was huge for us. It was huge for the psyche during half time.

On Kentucky's second-half rally …
“Anytime you're on a roll, a really good team is going make a run at you. We played at one of the most difficult places in the country to play against a very good team. Our kids played with a lot of poise.”

On the lull of the Kentucky fans in the second half …
“Kentucky beats a lot of people and the crowd helps them beat a lot of the teams. When we were able to keep this crowd neutralized a little bit, it helps us as an opposing team. We're a fairly new team; Jarvis and Barry are the only two guys that played last year. So having guys who haven't played in front of this crowd who keep their poise was huge.”

Mississippi State Players

#25 Phil Turner

On if he thought that MSU's game plan of putting more pressure on Patterson and Meeks would work…
“We have full faith in our coaches and what they tell us. (Jodie Meeks) is a great player and (Patrick Patterson) is a great player. (Kentucky) is a great team altogether. We were just daring someone else to step up and beat us. If they could then we would live with that. We were just going to limit Meeks' touches and blitz Patterson on every play. We just dared someone to step up to make the shot and beat us.”

On how he prevented the other team from scoring over him…
“I tell my team every time that it goes with our perimeter defense. They go with me every night. If it weren't for our good perimeter defense, I would get beat and burned every single night. But (the defense) guards the basketball really well. It gives me a little more time to fight and push them to get them out of the lane. That's why high-low doesn't work that well.”

On if he thought MSU played with more confidence than Kentucky…
“That's what we practice every day. We try to play with confidence. That's the only way you're going to win at this level.”

#32 Jarvis Varnado

On the win tonight…
“It was just a huge win to knock a good Kentucky team off tonight.”

On the team's defensive philosophy tonight …
“We triple-teamed (Patrick Patterson). We had to because he is a great low-post scorer. Barry Stewart did a great job defending (Jodie) Meeks. We wanted to force Meeks to make a pass and let the rest of the team beat us. We seemed to wear them down with the triple-team all night. Stewart made Meeks chase him around on our offensive end too, so we did a good job on that.”

On the team's offense tonight…
“Ravern (Johnson) can shoot the ball really well. They all had hot hands: Ravern, (Phil) Turner and Barry Stewart and Dee Bost did a good job.”

#2 Ravern Johnson

On the difference in the game tonight…
“Barry (Stewart) and Phil (Turner) limited Meeks' touches. Dee (Bost) knocked down a couple of shots tonight. We defended (Perry) Stevenson well and stopped him from getting offensive rebounds and put-backs. We limited (Patrick) Patterson touches too, so overall I'd say our team defense was the difference.”

On the team's defensive strategy …
“Keying on (Patrick Patterson) was the game plan. We wanted to limit him and (Jodie) Meeks with their offensive touches. We just denied (Meeks) all night. Barry (Stewart) denied him off the curls. “

On the team's offensive strategy…
“When we had the lead there was no need to rush things, so we just waited for good looks and come out with the win.”

On the win…
“It's a really big win. Not too many people come into Rupp and beat Kentucky. So it is a big win for us coming off the loss to Ole Miss.”