Kentucky-Mississippi State Postgame Quotes

Feb. 12, 2015

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery 

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement …
“Incredible game and so happy to win it. I’d start by complimenting Mississippi State. They just never quit. I thought we had some opportunities in the game, you can see we led for a large majority of the game, and they never quit. They always fight back and they are a very tough team and I knew this would be a tough game but somehow, some way, we were just tough enough to win. There were all sorts of mistakes we made tonight and all sorts of things you can go back and lament as a coach. We’ll have time for that, but tonight we’re just so happy to get that victory and I thought we really hustled in the last second and we were able to make one more play and win the game. Big win for us.”

On what was going through his mind in the final position …
“We just had so many opportunities to make shots around the basket tonight and we didn’t. I just thought it was kind of silly to have the ball in anybody else’s hand but hers (Epps) there at the end. No matter who was guarding her she just had gotten down there deep all night long so I hated that it didn’t go in. As the scrum started and the ball is kind of popping around in there, your mind is moving pretty quick and my first thought was that they wouldn’t have enough time to get the ball back down the floor, It takes her about a half a second to get down there so I was very concerned about the time. After it bounced around a couple times I was just thinking about getting it into the third overtime. Then JayJay (Jelleah Sidney) just somehow as she is falling out of bounds she got two hands on the ball and at that point and time I looked and try to see if we still had time because I just kept thinking the buzzer was going to sound and it’s kind of what I was doing. I was just hoping we wouldn’t get enough time to get the ball back in the hole. I thought ball wise weren’t going to get a shot, it was right underneath the basket so at that point I’m just hoping they don’t have enough time to score and it was unbelievable play. I can’t wait to watch it again. We had missed so many and that one was as tough as anyone that you’ll ever shoot and we make that one. Go figure.”

On Epps’ game tonight …
“I have been telling you guys for a while that she would go for 25 or 30 (points) and with not a lot of difficulty. I’m saying that she is strong and she can get so deep in the lane it is just hard for people to keep her out of the lane. Our team does such a good job of pushing the pace and you got to guard them too so everybody is running with her. It’s just a hard cover. Glad she scored 42 and not 39. We needed those last three points. We didn’t look like we could win any other way tonight without her we were missing. We were a couple players off a lot of the game. You saw us we had control of the game for just long stretches and double digit leads for long stretches and we just weren’t real consistent at times and we let them back in at times. We needed her, every one of her points.”

On what he was telling the team in the overtimes…
“I looked up at the clock when we scored, it’s five seconds and they have no timeouts and they had just executed so well and unlike us they can run 70 different sets and it looks like everyone knows what they’re doing. It appears that everyone on their team knows all of their plays and it’s very unlike our team. I was thinking they don’t have time to set up and I told everybody just keep it in front of you. Make them take a jumper, and we just took a really poor angle on Morgan William and we had a person standing at the goal. The only thing she was going to do was lay it up. You just had to stand there. We did that in overtime - just stand there and took a charge. It was probably my fault, with this particular team maybe I should have pressed and maybe trapped her one time with 5 seconds, maybe if you could have gotten her in a trap and thrown the ball out. They would have maybe disorganized but I thought with no time outs it would be better to try to keep everything in front of you and make them pass it once or twice and take tough shot and we would have won the game but she layed it up so poor coaching there.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#25 Makayla Epps, So., G

On the last shot …
“Complete craziness. Coach Mitchell put the ball in my hands; he wanted me to wind the clock down. The same thing that happened in the Tennessee game. Jelleah Sidney has a tendency to throw the ball really hard at you. She threw it really hard, it was bouncing off faces, noses and ears and I looked up and it was right there and I said, 'Go get it Epps.' I shot it and was out. As soon as I let it go, I was out.”

On 42 points …
“At the level we’re at in the SEC, it’s not common. That’s not something you see every month or every week. Even when I had a good first half I wasn’t expecting that much (in the second).

On playing against a zone…
“I have nightmares about the zone. It’s not something I am a big fan of. Mississippi State played it extremely well. We tried to use Martha Alwal for a lot of ball screens so I can beat her on the outside. But in the second half, whenever they played the zone we ran a lot of thumb out, thumb doubles, just to get the ball moving. I mainly scored in transition. There were only a couple of plays I scored within the 2-3 zone.”

On tonight’s performance as a leader …
“When Janee (Thompson) first went out, I realized I had big shoes to fill, she is one of the smallest people with the biggest shoes. I’m hoping that after every game she is proud of me for handling my business like she would if she was playing. It’s all for Janee, regardless if I am playing good, or if Bria is playing good, or if the team is playing good. In the back of our minds, it’s all for Janee. I am proud of myself for stepping up big and taking on the role of the SEC point guard. I know it’s a huge spot and I am grateful I am doing well.”

On another overtime game…
“It felt like seven overtimes. If you can’t beat it in the 40, why not just keep playing two or three overtimes? Why not? I enjoyed it. Salute to Mississippi State for a tough game especially being that we have a tough battle coming up Sunday. I like the way the schedule played out, Mississippi State and then Tennessee. That’s great for us, we played a tough game tonight and we now have two days to prepare for another tough game on Sunday.”

On being a dangerous player in the SEC …
“If I could put two halves together I could probably be really dangerous and I feel like I put I solid halves together tonight. I also had a big scoring night. But if I was to score 42, it really doesn’t matter as long as we are winning I am happy. Because that’s just putting us in better seeding for the tournament.”

#13 Bria Gross

On MSU being down 14 late in 1st half ….
“We give a lot of credit to Mississippi State. They battled and wanted it really bad. Our energy level got way down and they were the aggressors and they made a huge run on us.”

On guarding Vivians …
“She does all the little things she needs to do and comes tight off the screens. She is a great player; I am excited to see where her career takes off as I leave. She’s going to be good for Mississippi State.”

Mississippi State Head Coach Vic Schaefer

Opening statement …
“Well, it was a heck of a basketball game, obviously. Two great teams. Two top-15 teams. Kentucky is so good. They’re so physical, well coached. I’m just real proud of my kids. You know, I sat here two years ago after getting our butt handed to us by about 55 or 58, and it’s hard to see today, but here we are two years later and have lost two back to back now to them in overtime and double-overtime on the same play. Deja vu all over again. Can’t get a rebound on a missed shot and just disappointed for our kids. We have a couple of warriors up here, really tough, competitive freshmen. I just couldn’t be prouder of them, proud of our program. I’m certainly disappointed.  I think I’m far enough along in my career that moral victories have been long gone for a while, but just really proud of how competitive we were, and that game could have gone the other way. Our kids bowed the neck a little bit and fought. These two, right here, couple of 18-, 19-year-old kids really battled hard tonight in a real, real tough environment against a very, very good team. We’ll kind of see what we’re made of. Tonight’s a little bit of a different kind of loss for us. It’s a little bit of a gutwrencher. We’ve now had two really emotional games. I think the first half probably showed how emotional the last game was, which I didn’t think we’d have that kind of a hangover, but I think we did. We’ll see how we bounce back from tonight losing, having to get ready on Sunday for a Florida team that is a lot – they’re really good and been playing well. We’ll see what we’re made of.”

On Vivians’ game …
“You know, when you’ve got players like these kids and you’re calling out plays, they work a whole lot better when you’ve got players like this. Probably ran the same plays two years ago and didn’t quite work as good, but these kids are just competitive. I’m glad she knew when the bus was leaving. If she wasn’t here in the first half, it’s probably a 20, 25-point game. She kind of put us on her back until I could get everybody else woke up, but boy, just made some real big shots. We ran some good stuff for her, I thought, and some kids set some really good screens. We did some really good things, I thought, that got her some looks. Hey, she’s one of the best players in the country. I don’t care what anybody says. She’s a tough, fierce competitor. She wants the ball, and she’s not scared. We were running stuff for her tonight, just like we were running stuff for her to help us beat A&M the other night.”

On postgame thoughts …
“Yeah, we missed 12 free throws and had 27 turnovers. Start talking about 27 turnovers, that’s 57 points or more that you never even had a chance to score, so it’s hard to win on the road, beat the No. 10 team in the country turning it over 27 times and going 24 out of 36 at the free-throw line. You can talk about the whole rest of the stat sheet. You can talk about them having a kid go for 42, but, at the end of the day, that’s where the game was lost.”

On Epps’ Play …
“Well, I’m pretty sure she did just about anything she wanted tonight. She was really good. You’ve got to give that kid credit, what a tremendous competitor. You know, we hardly had an answer for her, obviously. You know, from in-bounds plays, to half-court sets, she really dominated the game offensively, and I think without looking at the film, I’m pretty sure we got three or four standing underneath the rim instead of out where you can get the rebound and it’s very much…it’s so similar to last year in regulation when we didn’t get the crucial rebound, and we ended up fouling at 1.2 seconds, and they ended up making that two to make it go to overtime. You know, it’s an awfully tough way to lose the game. You know, Morgan, you sit there, and you go, ‘Well, she has eight turnovers, but the minute she plays, she played 34 minutes. She’s a freshman. She’s a six assist. Obviously, she had some big free-throws…set a great screen for her on the play we called for her on the out of bounds play that got her the three, and she’s out there competing against some really salty veterans. You know, again, you’re talking about a kid, there’s not many faster than her around. I thought she had tremendous toughness tonight. She ain’t happy with the turnovers either, but we’re really competitive.”

Mississippi State Student-Athletes

#35 Victoria Vivians, F, Fr.

On how she felt overall about the game …
“I felt that we could have done better the first half like coach said. We didn’t come out ready to go, but we played our hearts out the second half. I think it was a pretty good game overall and we should have won.”