Kentucky-Auburn Postgame Quotes

Jan. 8, 2015

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement …
“Well, it was a fantastic win. Really proud of the players for getting after it on defense tonight. It was a good start to the game for us defensively. We had some energy tonight and a great turnover margin. I thought when we were the aggressor and when we out hustled Auburn, it was easy to see that we’re a much better than when we had a couple of lapses when they were playing harder than us. It’s very important that we learn from this game, that we gain some consistency from the team and that is what we were able to see tonight.”

On minutes being spread out more amongst the team…
“I thought that we played a little bit better tonight at times. They worked real hard since our game Sunday. We put a lot of time into it. We still have a lot of improvement that we need to make but we’re working like crazy to try to get up to speed and so I thought that we were a little bit better tonight. Tra’Cee Tanner had a big night, really good player, but we just need to continue to improve. I’m glad that the minutes were a little more even tonight and we need to make sure that if we can get everyone up to speed, then we can use our depth as an advantage and maybe try to ware some teams down and be stronger at the end. Still a lot of improvement we need to make in our post game but hopefully tonight was a positive move in the right direction.”

On getting off to a fast start …
“I thought we were really aggressive. I thought Makayla (Epps) was very aggressive at the start of the game. I thought that Janee (Thompson) was very aggressive at the start of the game. Auburn has a very good full-court press that they like to run. They used it almost the whole game. You just mentally have to fight to figure out where the opening is. I thought we got off to a very good start. I will again tell you that the kids worked really hard this week on their games and on their minds. We just tried to improve so hopefully all of the hard work paid off with a good start.”

On only 12 turnovers against the full-court press the entire game…
“I’m just really so happy that we have been able to show some maturity in that area. I really thought that the team throughout the year showed our lack of maturity. It shows that they have taken it seriously because we have gone from there to here. That’s the third game in a row that there is less than 15 turnovers and that’s right where we would like to be and we would love for the turnover margin to be plus 10. It’s the second out of three games where it was plus 13. We did a really good job and it’s also hard to prepare for the press because we don’t run that press and we don’t have our practice guys here. We’re a little bit thin and players said that they didn’t get a really great look at it in practice so I’m really proud of them how they handled it in the game. We’re trying to be a tough team that doesn’t turn the ball over. We need that to be the best that we can be.”

On starting Alexis Jennings starting over Kyvin (Goodin-Rogers)
“I was really trying to get Kyvin going. I had it more with her in mind. She was a lot better tonight. She still made mistakes. I thought she had more energy tonight and we must get her going in order to get to our best. She is not showing you what she can be. She can be very disruptive defensively, fly around, block some shots, take some charges and she can do some things. Offensively she is also talented. She started the game trying not to make a mistake. I wanted to get her going more than Alexis (Jennings), but she came out strong. We had one of our better offensive options on the floor. Very good start for her as she made some very nice plays. She made progress tonight with the exception of giving up too many boards. Hopefully those two players will continue to gain confidence to get better. When they are playing in an efficient and productive manner, it changes our team in a dramatic fashion. They are both working really hard. All our players are working real hard. I can’t tell you how hard the players and the coaches have worked this week. We are just fighting to see if we can become a good team.”

On how Makayla Epps responded tonight…
“I thought she bounced back late and did some good things. I got very upset with her during the game. I think she loses focus and I want her to look more energetic. She looks like she is coasting. We don't have time for any of that. We need to be a team with some energy and I thought she responded really well once she got back out there. She showed some maturity. She could have gotten down, because I wasn't very pleasant in one of the timeouts. She bounced back and came back. We are just fighting to get better and fighting to improve and see if we can become a really good team before the season’s end.”

On the difference late in the game…
“I thought we started hustling. We really tried to make hustle a premium tonight. Auburn scraps and plays hard. We started to let free throws and layups deflate us. Auburn had some great athletes and blocked some shots and we let that really deflate us. At 7:19 or whenever that media timeout was, we just talked about being the aggressor and be the team that hustled more. We started to coming up with loose balls.  Jennifer O’Neill ran the ball down in the press and back tipped it. The last seven minutes we outhustled Auburn and that is why you saw the margin increase.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#0 Jen O’Neill, G, Sr.

On her overall thoughts of the game …
"I think we did a good job of starting off strong. Usually, we start off real flat or real slow. We started out faster than we normally do which got us off to a good pace."

On what allowed them to take the big lead late in the game …
"The fact that we were able to take care of the ball better played a big factor in us having the margin that we had towards the end of the game."

On facing No. 1 South Carolina …
"I think we need to come out focused and ready to go at the beginning of the game. We don't need to allow ourselves to get down in order to start playing hard and hustling. Coming back to practice and working on our rebounds is going to be big because South Carolina is a big team."

#50 Azia Bishop, C, Sr.

On starting faster at beginning of the game…
“Coach Mitchell talked to us about having high energy and that was the main focus of this week. So, coming out today, I think starting off with high energy got us going and got us going with the flow.”

On how the Auburn game prepares UK for South Carolina…
“I think it got us to understand that we need to rebound. South Carolina is really big, so going into practice tomorrow and Saturday we need to focus on rebounding and boxing out because South Carolina has really big players. And also high energy. We need to start like that with South Carolina too because if we start out slow and lackadaisical, that’s when people can get runs off on us.”

On aspects she is better at this season than previous ones….
“Just the leadership role because all the post players are younger, and I have always been under Samarie (Walker) and DeNesha (Stallworth). I think that’s the biggest challenge for me, just being a leader for the younger post players.” 

Auburn Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy Quotes

Opening statement…
“It is very hard to win a basketball game when you turn the ball over 25 times. Our team knew that if we turned the ball over we would give Kentucky a good chance to win the game, because they convert turnovers into points quickly.”

On what changed when they cut into Kentucky’s lead…
“We turned the ball over and they converted it into points. When we didn't score they converted it into points. I think one time we cut it to eight and Jen O’Neill hit a 3 in the corner, and then we were back down 11. When you get that close you need to get defensive stops and you have to make shots.”