Kentucky-Arkansas Postgame Quotes

Feb. 24, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“What a heart-stopping, thrilling win. Victoria (Dunlap) has always been a dramatic player, so that is how she wanted this one to end up. So good for her that she got that. This was a good win on ‘Senior Night.’ We certainly started out with the right energy, then lost it, then got it again in the last minute to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. This was a good win for us.”

On if he has ever had a finish like the one that happened tonight…
“I can’t think of one exactly like that. What made that one so unique is that the press really worked. You work so hard on the press and you work so hard to make something happen in that situation and you just don’t see that happen very often where you can actually make plays in the press and we didn’t have to foul. It wasn’t a free-throw situation, it was the players executing in the press under the last minute. That is a tremendous weapon to have. It showed a lot of poise from the kids, because we were really down. Anytime shots don’t fall, it is just as deflating. I don’t care how tough you are, you have to be really tough. But I haven’t seen a finish that I can remember like that. I am glad it happened and that I got to see that one.”

On how he saw the last play happen from his angle…
“Well, I felt great once she (A’dia) attacked off the first couple (screens) and got everyone on her side and then when I saw her come back the other way. I knew she could get to the bucket then. That was tremendous poise. She made it look pretty easy, but that was a very difficult play that that young woman just made. We were trying to run two high-ball screens and get her off of those and Arkansas did a great job flooding ball side. But A’dia (Mathies) did a great job, keeping her dribble and going back to the bucket. Great play.”

On the similarities between this game winning play and the play against LSU…
“Similar type of action. She (A’dia Mathies) is just a very talented player and can see the floor and make good decisions. We want the ball in her hands.”

On what happened to start the second half…
“I thought it started before that when we were up 28-13. I just thought that one of our Achilles’ heels is our energy when it drops. We were doing a fantastic job (to get up) 28-13, really (when we were up) 20-11 I thought we had a chance to really bust it open. But we got fatigued and we made some bad decisions. At 28-13, Maegan (Conwright) got her second foul, Victoria (Dunlap) got her second foul, we just didn’t have the same energy and the bench didn’t do a good job. Then they ended the half with some momentum. What you cannot let Arkansas do is let (C’eira) Ricketts get into a rhythm. When she started getting into rhythm (she was tough to guard) and some of it was our fault, too. The missed layups and all those things didn’t help.”

On if he ever thought that this game will not end well on senior night…
“What coaches say that it doesn’t run through their mind? Those people are lying, or maybe I am a weirdo, but absolutely (it did). That was laying heavily on my mind. I would have been devastated if Victoria Dunlap and Carly Morrow walked off on a lackluster performance like that. So there is no question it was running through my mind. That is why I was so pleased that the kids could pull it out.”

On if he has ever had a senior sing the national anthem on senior night before…
“I have not. I have sung the national anthem before, but I have never had a player do that.”

On if he was worried about the effect of singing the national anthem might have on Victoria Dunlap…
“I was not worried about Victoria (Dunlap). She was fine, and she did a wonderful job. We will have A’dia (Mathies) do it on her senior night.”

Kentucky Players

#1, Guard, Sophomore, A’dia Mathies

On her thoughts of the last play…
“They went and set two high-ball screens so I could get off the dribble. The big girl (Watkins) stepped up and I was able to get to the basket and put the ball in.”

On her thoughts of the game in general…
“It was really a great finish especially to send out Victoria (Dunlap) and Carly (Morrow) the right way.”

On if the thought of the seniors possibly going out with a loss ever weighed on her during the game…
“Yeah, it definitely did. I looked at the scoreboard and thought that it wasn’t looking too good but we stepped it up, played defense and got some steals and turnovers. We came out with the victory.”

On what it means that her shot sent the seniors out as winners…
“It means a lot to me. I remember after the game I told Victoria, ‘We sent you out the right way.’ It was just very important because they have been through a lot with coaches and the team so it meant a lot for me to send them out that way.”

#34, Forward, Senior, Victoria Dunlap

On what was going through her mind when the game was looking like it was getting away…
“I was trying not to think about it. I was trying to keep my head up and my teammates going but I had thoughts about what was going to happen but I tried to stay confident and positive about us winning the game.”

On how she thought the defense was at the end of the game…
“That’s what we try to do because that’s what was going to get it done was defense and we happened to be aggressive at the end of the game when it needed to be done.”

On if her emotions for senior night were what she expected…
“Not really. I thought I was going to cry. As a whole, it was great to go out with a win and I’m happy.”

On why she decided to sing the national anthem for this game…
“It was senior night and my last time playing in Memorial and my coaches persuaded me to sing. I was really nervous and shaking, literally. I thought I was going to throw up.”

Arkansas Head Coach Tom Collen

Opening statement…
“Well you guys were all at the game, it was obviously a tough loss for us to swallow. I give Kentucky credit for not giving up and doing what they needed to down the stretch. They certainly made some plays offensively, but I think more than anything else it was probably us just handing the game to them. It’s very frustrating. You guys probably haven’t seen us play all year long but this is the sixth game in the SEC that we’ve lost exactly like this. I was talking with Matthew (Mitchell) before the game and it’s a tough situation because we’re 6-9 in the SEC and if we win those games we’re 12-3. And I know you can talk and talk about the what-if’s all you want, but bottom line is what if we would have just won one of them we’d already be in the NCAA Tournament. We’d be worried about our seed, so now we just have to find a way to try to win our last couple games and do what we need to do in the SEC Tournament in order to get into the NCAA which is ultimately our goal.”

On what he saw on the last play…
“We obviously went man. We really went man two possessions before that when we felt like they needed a 3 and we guarded them real hard that way. We switched out on everything. You know, Kentucky’s got some kids – they’re good one-on-one players, they play one-on-one basketball well at just about every position. So it’s really hard to say. It comes down to a matter of this is the player I’ve got and I’ve got to stop her one-on-one. I think the ball ended up in (A’dia) Mathies hands and she made a play. And she’s good at it. She’s probably as good as anybody they have at you’ve got to defend her from the outside because she’s going to knock down a 3 if you don’t guard her, and you have to guard her off the dribble drive. She’s explosive, has great balance and she just got in the lane and made a play on us. I’m not sure what we could have done different. We could have stayed between her and the basket but we were hanging on for dear life to do that and we didn’t get it done.”