Kentucky-UNLV Postgame Quotes

March 18, 2009

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Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie

On Tuesday night's win ...
"It was a real good win for us. It was a lot of fun in there just to get a chanceto play in one of the most storied buildings ever, maybe the most storied building,in my opinion, to ever host a basketball game. It was a quite an honor for ourteam. Our fans were unbelievable. I know our guys really enjoyed playing hereand the fans I could tell really had a great time with this. What a great honor,what a great building. When you think about all the great players, the greatcoaches, the great teams and the great games that have happened in that building,it's quite an honor just to have a chance to play over here."

On the way his team responded to UNLV's second-half run ...
"They were 3-for-17 in the first half on 3s and they're a much better shootingteam. We played some pretty good defense but they still missed a lot of wideopen shots that they normally make, and they definitely made those in the secondhalf. Nothing is easy for us. We're not looking for anything easy but I thoughtthey responded much better than they have because we were running out of timeouts,they were trapping us, we weren't doing the greatest job being strong with theball. We were picking the ball up too much and offensively we were less thanstellar. When we missed, Pat (Patrick Patterson) got a real big play and savedthat ball, then we almost threw it away and I think Perry (Stevenson) got theloose ball. Those are the things that determine games; those are the things thatwe've probably been missing down the stretch."

On his players responded to playing in the NIT ...
"They're basketball players and they love to play. When you play something, youshould compete. All 300-something teams want to go to the NCAA Tournament, noquestion. But that doesn't mean that if you don't make it then you're going tomope. These guys are inexperienced guys, they're young and that's the only reasonwe didn't make (the NCAA Tournament), in my opinion. I think they have a chanceto be great. I think they've worked as hard as any group in America on a dailybasis. We didn't always compete in every single possession like we needed tobut a lot of that happens with experience. I'm very, very proud of the way they'veplayed all year. I've told them on numerous occasions, I don't ever let anybodymake you feel bad about winning 20 games to this point - 21 after tonight - orfalling short of what all of our goal is. The season is not over. We're goingto play; we're going to do our best. They had a great attitude about it. Theyunderstand the reason why we're in the situation that we're in. They want torectify the situation. They took the first step of doing that tonight and I thinkit's going to bode well not only for tonight but for the future."

On the boost the fans at Memorial Coliseum gave the players ...
"I thought it was a great crowd. I don't know what time you all got here butit was a great crowd this afternoon. I think that a lot of people at a lot ofdifferent places - when you we've been there 17 straight years, didn't make it,so how is everyone going to handle it? How did our crowd handle it? Well, theysold out every single ticket as quickly as it could happen. They were excitedabout it. I don't think anyone in that building tonight wanted us to be playingin this tournament, but I know this, I doubt if anyone came to the game and didn'tenjoy the game and I think they did their part to help us it make it a nice gameand good win for us."

Kentucky Players

Jodie Meeks

On responding to UNLV's second half run...
"I thought we responded really well. I think that shows how our team is maturing.Earlier this year, we had games where we had leads and let teams back into thegame. I thought we did a good job of withstanding their run and getting stopson defense when we needed to."

On what was the key to UNLV's second half run...
"They are a very good team. They are hard to guard one-on-one and they used ballscreens pretty well in their comeback. We did a good job of contesting theirshots and they just made some shots. They also played good defense, so I givethem a lot of credit."

On tonight's crowd...
"Tonight's crowd was great. They showed great support and helped us get off toa great start early on. Last time Kentucky played a game in this building, itgot a win and we wanted to keep that going. I thought they (the crowd) helpedus to keep rolling."

On the team's mindset heading into this game...
"This team has never been one to give up. Any time we put on a Kentucky uniformwe want to be ready to play. We are glad to be in the NIT and we are ready tokeep playing."

On how it was as a shooter playing in Memorial Coliseum...
"It was great. I missed some open shots early on, but I kept my confidence andcontinued to take good shots. I thought as a team, we shot the ball very welland did a good job of playing inside-out."

Patrick Patterson

On tonight's crowd at Memorial Coliseum...
"Tonight's crowd was a lot more alive and active. I could see everyone standingup pretty much the entire game. The fans were very loud and a lot more into it(the game) and that helped us to have a lot more energy."

On advancing in post-season play...
"It feels great to be able to advance and to know we get to play another game.We're having fun playing together and we don't want it to end. Hopefully we keepthis going and play well in the next game."

On Perry Stevenson's explosive second-half dunk...
"It was crazy. I just looked at him and he had this little pose that he alwaysdoes standing over the player and I couldn't help but smile. That's Perry foryou. He's a great leaper and a great dunker. We look forward to hopefully himdoing more of that in the games to come."

UNLV Head Coach Lon Kruger

Opening Statement ...
"I appreciate the opportunity to play in a great atmosphere. The fans tonightwere fantastic. Kentucky had a run in the second half that we didn't handle verywell. We didn't do the things that we were supposed to do defensively. I am proudof the guys for fighting back after being down 20 points. They had one of twochoices and they decided to fight like crazy and made a decent run to put themselvesin position towards the end of the game. You have to credit Kentucky becausethey responded well and they did the things they needed to do to finish strongdown the stretch."

On the game ...
"We were down 20 so we changed our defense to not give them as many good anglesto the goal and we combined that with making some shots on the other end. Westarted trapping a little bit more and we started trapping a little more in theback court. Kentucky did that what they needed to do to keep themselves in thegame and at the end and they finished they way they wanted to."

On the second half ...
"We cut the lead down to three but we never quite got over the hump at that point.We didn't get the looks we wanted to and they did a good job of converting theirfree-throws like good teams do. Meeks and Patterson are really good players.The more you watch them on film the more you grow to appreciate how hard theywork and how tough they are."

On the seniors ...
"Our seniors have been fantastic. They have been the NCAA the past couple ofyears and the postseason again this year. They have won tournament games andhelped establish a foundation to help us continue to grow and build. They willlook back at this time and know they made some great contributions and how muchthey have invested into the program."

UNLV Players

#1, Sr., G, Wink Adams

On why they struggled shooting the ball early ...
"I really don't have an answer to that. We did a great job of driving and gettingopen looks for our shooters but they just didn't fall. It has been happeninglike that all season. Our whole thing is that eventually they will start fallingand that is what happened in the second half and the main reason we were ableto close Kentucky's gap."

On the effort UNLV gave ...
"We had nothing to lose and were putting everything on the floor. We came togetherand said that we were going to have to get some stops to get back into the game.When we got some stops and made some shots we got right back into the game. Wecut it to three and I am proud of my team for the way that we fought tonight."

On if he is proud that his team fought back and got back into the game ...
"Yeah I feel like that, but you always want to win the game. You do feel betterwhen you leave the game knowing that you played 100-percent and did all you cando to win the game. It always feels bad to lose the game but at least you knowin your heart that you played 100-percent."

On their season ...
"The whole season has been up and down. We have been struggling shooting theball. In November, we said that we didn't want to get to March and say `I wishwe could have done that' and that is what happened. We were happy to play inthe NIT and get to play a prestigious school like Kentucky. It was my first timeout here and playing against these guys, and this atmosphere is far and awayabove other teams, in my opinion. The season has been fun and I have enjoyedplaying with these guys. I wish it could have gone another way but they havea chance next year to have a good season."

#24, Sr., G, René Rougeau

On the comeback ...
"Give credit to Mareceo Rutledge and Kendall Wallace. They really came off thebench and gave everyone some fire. Everyone was hustling and getting on the boards.That is how we should be playing and the bench really did a great job tonightfor us and got us back into the game."

On the atmosphere in Memorial Coliseum tonight ...
"It was definitely a great atmosphere. It was a great game to go out in. Kentuckyhas a great fan base and we appreciate the opportunity to be able to play inan arena like this and against such a prestigious team like Kentucky."

On how they build towards next year ...
"The guys that we have coming back next year know what to expect. Coach has highexpectations for everyone and I am sure that they will get back to the NCAA Tournament.They got a taste tonight to see what it is like to play in a heated environmentand I am sure they will be successful next year."

"Although we have had some disappointments throughout the season, it has been a fun year and Coach said that a few days ago. We have had great careers here at UNLV. All we can do is look back and be happy about how things went with our careers."