Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

March 1, 2015

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement ...
"Well, great victory and really proud of our team, especially proud of our seniors. It probably would not have been possible without their input and how much they care about the program. Sometimes life doesn't work out where people get what they deserve. That was going to be a hard game to win today. I wasn't really worried about the outcome. I was so proud of them for what they have done but it sure is icing on the cake to get the victory and their memory of "Senior Day" is going to be something special and they deserve to feel good today. I am really proud of our team as a whole and especially proud of our seniors."

On this "Senior Day" compared to the rest ...
"It's a special one. It's always a great day. We have had a lot of success on "Senior Day" but this one is really special. Before the game tipped off it was special for me because of what they have done and I think the Thursday night victory was one of the biggest ones I have ever been a part of just because where we were able to go in a very short period of time. It was directly because of what the seniors did and that is what we want at Kentucky. We just want great women who accept responsibility and know how to figure things out and solve some problems. I was real happy before the games started."

On the chat with the seniors on his couch this week ...
"First of all, I was so happy that they called the meeting and Jen (O'Neill) called the meeting. Jen was the person who called me. Bria (Goss) has been a rock her entire career and she has done everything she can do. She's really worked hard and I have been really after Jennifer to step up and accept her importance to this team. The kids love her, I love her, the fans love her, everybody loves her and her importance to the program is something that she has not always embraced and I could just hear it in her voice for the first time. It kind of hit that this thing was winding down and I needed to meet with her. All of us needed to meet with her, so I thought that was good. I was not defensive at all and I just want our players to be successful. That is what I'm in it for, the wins are great and all of the other stuff - I don't do this for any other reason than to try to help these young people be the greatest they can be. I was happy to hear because I knew something was missing there and as a coach you try to evolve. Maybe give the players a little bit more responsibility here and there not control everything because when you start out you control everything, you just have to control the culture and the kids don't know what to do. You're hoping that you can transfer that responsibility to them and basically what they sat down and told me they said you've got to go back to when we were freshman, you've got to go back five years ago to Jen and you have got to get this group under control from a focus stand point. Again I'll tell you as far as I know there is no one that has done anything criminal and I don't think there is any bad people on the team it's just an incredibly unfocused group of players that had kind of gotten into a spot where they were just telling me nobody is listening and you're the only person that is going to listen."

On Jen's performance ...
"Thursday night her defense changed the game and I have always wanted her to value defense. When we have been go this year she has really cranked it up on defense and she did it again today. She was the energy defensively that changed everything.  Bria is always there and sometimes when you're always there you're taken for granted and I think Jennifer really was powerful. She really understood the game plan. She was really terrific defensively and I think that is what this team needs her to do. The offense will be there but we need her to be a lock down defender because she and Bria can do that and there are not a lot of kids that can bring the kind of energy and pressure. We had to have some kind of ball pressure today to help. Our kids are so undersized compared to South Carolina. They just have an unbelievably talented team so we had to disrupt their ball handlers so they don't have time to throw the ball in because their post players are open a lot but if you can't see them you can't throw it in there. If the ball handler can't see them and that was sort of our philosophy today. I thought she was great with that so it was a great performance and we needed her to do that down the stretch and we might do something special."

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#13 Bria Goss, Sr., G

Opening statement ...
"This is such a special night, and to get the win over a great team says a lot about us and how this is all a part of our progress. We just want to keep pushing from here. We don't want to get too high. We want to stay humble. We just want to stay Kentucky. Like I said, it's a special win, but we don't want to stop here. We don't want to just have beaten the No. 2 team in the nation. We want to keep going and make a name for ourselves."

On what made the difference in the game ...
"Our fans. Our fans were amazing tonight - that sellout crowd. We just give credit to them. They really got us going, and we kept the momentum. They did a great job just being up on their feet the whole time, but I can't speak for everyone."

On difference between UK's team at Ole Miss and team now ...
"Our discipline. The meeting we had we just felt like there was a lack of discipline, and he's really taken steps in our discipline and what we do off the court and on the court. I really think that's key because we'll lose focus too easy, and we come in there with the same mindset everyday of trying to get better and trying to do things right and taking steps to trying to be what we want to be. We're still not there, but we're taking steps."

#0 Jennifer O'Neill, Sr., G

On postgame emotions ...
"I was happy. I was glad that we won. When we had the three-game losing streak, it was just miserable. I hate losing. Just to get the win meant a lot."

On the crowd ...
"I think we fed off their energy and were able to use our energy while we were playing defense, and I think that's why we played the way we did in the first half and the beginning of the second half."

On progression since January ...
"That was the first thing I thought about just because we lost Janee (Thompson) that game, and to me, maybe this is why the game meant so much to me because this is one of my teammates that had a major, dramatic injury so that's how we played them."

#12 Jelléah Sidney, Sr., F

On conversations with Coach Mitchell helping the team...
"I thought so just because how intense the talk was and how emotional it was. We just all got together and went in there and told him what we thought this program meant and that it needs to continue to be like that for the future, so it wasn't just only about us in that moment. It's just for everybody, and I think from there on out he understood that, and we came together. It proved tonight. We played hard, and we got the victory. It just feels great."

On tonight's game plan...
"We work hard on defense, and this morning we had a defensive practice, and we just worked at it. We talked about fronting the post and just limiting their paint points. The first game, they had a lot of points in the paint, so that was a specific goal us post players really wanted to work on."

On playing Kentucky basketball ...
"It was just a game right after the talk. Not specifically this game, but the Ole Miss game and every game from here on out. We had a lot of focus on this game. It was a big one. It was senior night, but it's just from here on out we need to play tough. We need to play defense. We need to play offense."

South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley

On the missed layups ...
"Well, I try not to look it like that. We didn't help ourselves by missing chippies as we did."

On what she told her team as the game came to an end ...
"We always give ourselves a chance to win. We just have to make shots. We got ourselves back into the game and then we felt trapped by missing point-blank range layups with no defense around. We were fighting to get back in and missing those types of layups, it deflates you. It makes it hard for you to get energized and continue to play at the level we needed to play to continue to get back into the game. "

On how she moves forward ...
"We wake up tomorrow and we try to get back at it. We have a lot left in the season and you do need to reflect on winning 27 out of 29 games."

South Carolina Student Athletes

#22, A'ja Wilson, Fr., F

On her mindset during this game ...
"We need to play harder on our entire defense. (You needed to) go out there and work hard and get with it while you're out there."

#15, Tiffany Davis, So., G

On the mindset of the team right now ...
"We are just trying to turn the page. We have a lot at stake with SEC Tournament coming up, so we are not going to try and break down about this loss. We need to capture this feeling before we head to the tournament."