Kentucky-Georgia Postgame Quotes

March 9, 2013

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Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell and players DeNesha Stallworth and A'dia Mathies

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by head coach Matthew Mitchell and DeNesha Stallworth and A'dia Mathies.

COACH MITCHELL: We're very excited to be playing for the championship tomorrow. We came down here with the intention of winning the tournament. We played a very, very tough Georgia team today. I thought they showed tremendous desire in the first half, out-hustled us in the first half.

We went out and played a very tough 20 minutes in the second half. So proud of the players. Excited for our opportunity to compete for the championship. We know we'll have to play well and prepare well to beat Texas A&M. We'll put everything we can into it and see what happens tomorrow, try to get as ready as we can.

But glad to win today.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Just curious, the run in the second half was spectacular. What happened?

DeNesha Stallworth: Just I think we all took it personal and we felt like there were some things we couldn't control, such as their O-boards. I think we all stuck together as a team and we fought hard. When we come together, it definitely brings energy. That's something that was a positive.

A'dia Mathies: We were pretty lackadaisical in the first half. We didn't come out with much energy and hustle. They looked like they wanted it more than we did.

Halftime we got it turned around. We didn't come here to come to the second round and lose. We got to get back on the right things and we came out with the win.

Q. Did you feel like they came out with max effort? Second half, you looked like you had way more left in the tank.

DeNesha Stallworth: We use our depth as an advantage every game. We wasn't hustling in the first half. We were only down by like four or five points. In the second half, it really changed. It shows what we do when we out there hustling, focused, having fun. Definitely a different ballgame.

Q. A'dia, what do you remember about the Texas A&M game in February? You were able to turn them over more. What are your memories of it?

A'dia Mathies: They a tough team. Every time they play, they going to give max effort. We definitely stuck to it. We're playing Kentucky basketball and utilizing everybody on our roster. With any team, we can wear them down.

That game, I just remember it being a tough battle and we coming out with a battle, a well-deserved victory on our part.

Q. DeNesha, it looked like Jennifer O'Neill was doing a good job.

DeNesha Stallworth: Jen definitely pushed the pace in the second half. She's a great passer. I just had to make myself available and finish. She did a great job of finding me.

Q. A'dia, what was said by coach and some of the team leaders at halftime to kick start you guys?

A'dia Mathies: I don't think I can say what coach said in the locker room (laughter).

He definitely just showed us how much they was beating up on us on the offensive boards. It was 12-3. That just show how unfocused we was in the locker room.

We came out with a lot of energy. Like I said before, we didn't come here to lose in the second round, we came here to cut down the nets.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive adjustments you made at Hassell in the post.

DeNesha Stallworth: Just playing more physical. Just not staying behind her and letting her always go right, have it her way. Definitely played her more tougher. More ball pressure helped. We did it as a team. Our guards helped out, so we did a great job.

Q. A'dia, Kentucky has won this once, long before either one of you two were born. How big of a goal was this for you in your career at Kentucky to have a chance to win an SEC tournament championship?

A'dia Mathies: Definitely big. We feel we the deepest, most talented team in the SEC.

I think if you don't set goals like this, you shorten yourself. We very capable of doing that. Just to have the opportunity to go out there and still make that goal, it means a lot. I know we going to work hard for it. Nobody wants to leave here with a loss.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Mitchell.

Q. Could you give the non-X rated version of what you said at halftime.

COACH MITCHELL: A'dia was joking. She was joking. No cursing or anything at halftime. There was some intensity.

I just wrote the number 12 on the board and the number 3 on the board. Georgia had 12 offensive rebounds and we had 3. I thought Georgia played with so much more intensity and desire in the first half. I was just livid about that.

We came down here believing we had a chance to win this tournament, just really unacceptable not to compete at a high level. We just talked really about sort of had a rollcall at halftime and talked to some individual people that were acting like it was no big deal. They were upset because they missed some layups or whatever it may be.

It was not a complicated message at halftime. We had to get our energy, come out with more intensity, come out with desire. If we did that, we knew we'd have a chance to win.

Q. This one a little sweeter for you, avenging an earlier loss to Georgia?

COACH MITCHELL: The thing that's sweet about it is having a chance and opportunity tomorrow. You can't imagine how much respect I have for the Georgia program and Coach Landers, who is one of the best absolute coaches of all time, has been a great, great source of wisdom for me over the years. We have tremendous respect for Georgia's team.

It's only sweet not because of the opponent, but because our kids got it together at halftime and are now giving themselves an opportunity to win a championship we want very badly.

Q. When you get the second half, Jennifer O'Neill, the eight points at the start of the half, running the team, what did that mean as opposed to the first half Jennifer?

COACH MITCHELL: The first half Jennifer was the Jennifer in the three losses. We absorbed three losses in this league. That was the first half Jennifer. We were real fortunate we weren't down more.

The second half Jennifer is the one I think is the best point guard in this league. She was relentless, pushed the pace. Really I thought what separated us when it was kind of going back and forth were some buckets. We were able to score at the rim because she pushed the pace, did a good job.

I think we are a very dangerous team when we can have her playing the way she did in the second half. She's a terrific player right now, at least she was in the second half today.

Q. Seems like this is strength versus strength. You and Texas A&M are probably the two deepest teams in the league, maybe in the country. How is that going to play out tomorrow? What are your memories of that February game?

COACH MITCHELL: The February game was one of the best games of the year. Very hostile environment. Very impressive place to go, Texas A&M. They had a great crowd that night.

Our team performed beautiful. They played together. They played with tremendous focus and hustle. They were able to overcome some adversity in the game. We had some deficits we had to overcome. We had to absorb a huge run by Texas A&M.

We just hung in there and sort of were able to out last them. Lexington, too. Two good games, talented teams. Texas A&M is very well-coached. It should be the type of game that this tournament is deserving of. Two really good teams. You should have to play very good basketball to win this tournament championship. I think you'll have to play well tomorrow to win.

Q. Georgia produced some really ugly offensive numbers, particularly in the second half. What did y'all do defensively to force that?

COACH MITCHELL: I thought we played a good defensive half. In the first half, they were 23% shooting. It was so bad on my offensive boards they were able to get. I thought we were much better at getting them outside the NBA three-point lines, where we want them to start their offense, outside of that, then it makes it more difficult to throw it into Hassell.

She was killing us in the first half. We needed to do a better job of getting them out of rhythm. I thought our bigs played better defense on Anne Marie Armstrong. I thought Kastine and Bria did a good job of getting into Jasmine James' legs. I though she played a tough game, had to go a lot of minutes. I thought at the end we were able to force their offense to start out of their comfort zone. I thought that was really the key to the game.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

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Georgia head coach Andy Landers and players Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Georgia head coach Andy Landers and student-athletes Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James.

COACH LANDERS: From an expectation standpoint, it was what we expected. We expected full-court defense. We got it. We expected good man-to-man defense. We got that. Kentucky did a very good job with those things.

Defensively I thought the first half we were where we wanted to be. They probably got what they expected. But the second half obviously was disappointing. It started on the offensive end with turnovers, which led to some transitions, quick loss of possession. We were on defense, bam, we give up a three, we're on defense again, four-point lead is gone. All of a sudden you look up and it seems like in three or four trips we're down. I don't know that I'm right, but it felt like we were down six just like that.

We strayed from where we wanted to be defensively. We strayed from where we were in the first half defensively. We paid for it. From that point on, it wasn't a lot of fun.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. In the second half, they did a good job of shutting you down in the paint. What were they doing there?

JASMINE HASSELL: They came with a double-team. I mean, I don't know. They came with a double-team.

COACH LANDERS: We didn't get her the ball. We did a good job of getting her the basketball the first half. We didn't do a very good job of getting her the basketball in the second half. You didn't ask me. But she's sitting here making stuff up that's not real.

Q. Obviously the season is not over for you right now. The tournament is. How do you use this tournament as you build to go into the national tournament?

JASMINE HASSELL: Just refocus and do what we need to do. We need to fight more. We need to execute. We need to execute our game plan. We did not do that. We didn't do that in the second half.

JASMINE JAMES: I agree with that. I believe we need to refocus more. 40 minutes in the game, we consistently play 20 or 30. We need to learn to stick together and play a complete 40 to be as good as we can possibly be.

Q. Ugly shooting numbers, particularly in the second half. What were they doing defensively to you, especially on the perimeter?

JASMINE JAMES: Kentucky has a defense that applies a lot of pressure. When we did finally get open to knock down shots, we just didn't do a good job of doing that. That's practice and focus. Clearly we didn't have that.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Landers.

Q. What was Kentucky able to do at the start of the second half?

COACH LANDERS: Capitalize. I think the first thing they were able to do is capitalize on our miscues. If I'm not mistaken, we turned it over three of the first four, maybe the first three times in a row. It was nonchalant offensive execution. They took it right down the court very quickly, as they do on turnovers. First thing you know, they're dropping threes on us.

The turnovers I think affected our team mentally when they should not have, but they did. I think for sure the instant offense that those turnovers led to affected us even more. We weren't very mature at that point. We weren't very poised at that point.

Q. Kentucky is a tough team to get in the semifinals, but obviously a good team. Any positives to seeing them early?

COACH LANDERS: Let's be real. I mean, we've done the things we wanted to do the first half. We wanted to keep them out of the paint. We wanted to rebound the basketball. We wanted them to be one-and-done and no threes. So we done a pretty good job. Same game plan second half. Didn't do it.

You ought to be able to learn something from that. Kentucky didn't change anything. They didn't start the second half, in my view, with any more intensity than they started the game with. We just quit doing what had put us in a successful position at halftime, which is really sad.

Now, you look at the big picture, we gave up 60 points. All the bad things that happened defensively, we still should have won. Surely you can score 61. But then you get to the numbers that's already been mentioned.

You know, everybody on our team, because of Kentucky's defense, was forced to shoot a couple of shots they would rather not have shot, to Kentucky's credit, okay? The rest of them, nobody held a gun to our head and made us shoot those. But we didn't hit shots.

Basketball is no fun when you don't hit shots.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

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