Kentucky-Texas A&M Postgame Quotes

Feb. 19, 2015

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“It was a tough night for us. We didn’t really play hard and I thought Texas A&M played really hard and took it to us. They deserved to win the game and we just have to try to regroup here and see if we can start playing some Kentucky basketball because we’re not doing it right now.”

On the transition from the first half to the second half …
“I thought the end of the first was just hustle plays. We had an eight-point lead and had some chances to extend it and we just don’t play nearly as hard as this team is capable of playing. We’ve had some moments this year where we’ve played really hard. It was 100% hustle where the basket where Epps went for the ball and just four Kentucky players stood there and watched Jordan Jones lay it up. That’s not what this team is capable and we just have to play a lot harder. I thought it was all hustle plays and just not defense tonight. We let them drive the ball wherever they wanted to drive and we knew they were drivers. They got to the rim. I think the main thing is hustle. I just have to create an environment where that is a nonnegotiable. Right now we just have people that think it’s okay to not hustle and to get beat like this. A lot of it is on me and I have to change the atmosphere here to see if we can turn it around because tonight was all about a lack of effort. That’s the absolute worse case scenario for us here at Kentucky is not giving great effort.”

On if there are players in the locker room to help turn it around …
“There’s Bria Goss, Jennifer O’Neill, Azia [Bishop], and Jelleah [Sidney] as seniors that want it to turn around. I think we definitely have some players that can do that. All of them can. If you allow the negative to control your thoughts instead of the positive and not hustle, then you’re in a negative state of mind. When you’re upbeat, positive, hustling, and saying, ‘I’m not going to lose, I won’t get beat, I’m going to fight for this play,’ so all of them are capable of that. We certainly have some players in the locker room that can get that done. It’s just a matter of us doing it.”

On giving up 52 points in the paint …
“You’re exactly right. We didn’t play good defense tonight.”

On toughness …
“It sort of just happened in the second half there at Tennessee – not very tough. I don’t know if the poor shooting gets us down. We just have so many attempts around the basket and in the paint that we’re not tough enough to finish. Still with Texas A&M, they’re 20 points over their average in the conference. They’re averaging 61 and they score 81. It’s just a poor defensive effort. I’m in charge of the defense and I have to get it corrected.”

Kentucky Student-Athlete Quotes

#50 Azia Bishop, Sr., C

On what it means to regroup and play Kentucky basketball …
“It means to play with heart and pride, doing what we know we are good at, which is defense. We went out there and didn’t play any defense or energy or toughness today.”

On the momentum change in the game …
“I think it changed in the second half, when they went on a run against us. Everyone’s body language and demeanor changed, but that is when we have to turn around and come together and work hard to bring that deficit up.”

On the defensive struggles in the game …
“We let them get a lot of straight-line drives and our rotations were not good. We have to take pride in our defense and get stops.”

#15 Linnae Harper, So. G

On how to practice defensive intensity …
“No matter how many hours we practice or how long the practices are it goes back to having will. At the end of the day that’s what we need, from this point forward the games are only going to get harder. Going into the tournament there are no more easy games. We have to get back to staying mentally focused and having a will, having energy in order to get back to the Kentucky team we were.”

On her shot being a little off the past few games …
“I’m not really sure. I just have to get back into the gym and put up some more shots. I’m more than capable of making them I just have to get back into the gym and start practicing them.”

Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair

Opening statement …
“The atmosphere here for basketball is unbelievable. I was walking around the mall over there by the Hyatt today and seeing all of the basketball stuff. They have almost 6,000 people come out here on a snowy night like it is. I don’t know how (John) Calipari gets all those kids to come here in this bad weather but hey this is basketball country. We didn’t bring our A-game. We’ve played well on the road but we have never been able to finish. The end to the first half I think was the biggest change of the game and we had an even ball game, even behind and all of a sudden we made some plays. (Courtney) Williams carried us in the first half, this one (Courtney Walker) carried us in the second half and this is a kid who never gets to come to the press room because all she does is rebound and play hard. OK, she is probably not going to be a first-round draft pick, but she is not going to have to play in Ethiopia either. She will play somewhere but this is a senior who is a warrior. I’m happy for my team. Matthew (Mitchell) caught us on our best night on the road all year but give credit to him. (Makayla) Epps and (Jen) O’Neill are very, very special. They are very special. We were so tired at the end we played zone for a while and Epps kept going through and you put O’Neill over there on that left side she’s automatic but we found a way. Transition was good. Just appreciate the opportunity to play where Joe B. Hall and Adolph Rupp - who they (Courtney Williams and Walker) don’t even know who the heck they are. But hey, this is history right here. First time I played at Pauley Pavilion, history. First time I played in Cameron Fieldhouse, history. Madison Square Garden you name it I’ve been there but give Matthew a whole lot of credit for what he has done to build this program up. It’s not all about Kentucky men’s basketball anymore. I know he can do Bruno Mars better than Calipari can. So give Matthew a lot of credit, you got a hell of a coach there.”

On how easy it was to go inside …
“And our guards got to the paint with 52 points in the paint. They just weren’t all layups. That is what our goal was instead of trying to live and die off jump shots. They did a great job of taking it in.

Texas A&M Student-Athlete Quotes

#33 Courtney Walker, Jr. G

On how easy it was to go inside…
“We knew with their pressure we would have better one-on-one matchups. So our post players did a great job of sealing and finishing.”

#1 Courtney Williams, Jr., F/G

On when the momentum started to turn in their favor …
“I think when Achiri (Ade) and Khaalia (Hillsman) got a few offensive boards and got us points in the paint. And after that I think the guards were able to get points in the paint and we started getting fouls.”

#35 Achiri Ade, Sr., F

On Texas A&M’s ability to rebound…
“That was part of the prep. Our coach told us to get physical and to box out, minimize turnovers because that can lead to points for them. So we had to take care of the ball.”