Kentucky-Middle Tennessee State Postgame Quotes

Dec. 13, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“Well, that’s a terrific win for us. Really happy that our players came out with great energy. We practiced really hard this week. We’re still a work and progress and we need to get better. There are some areas that we need to sharpen up, but what I was happy about tonight was that we started with some energy. I thought we had some good hustle out there, and beat a good Middle Tennessee State team. They are a really tough team, really well coached, but I felt like our hustle and our depth tonight was a big factor in the game and we needed to make it that way because if you let Middle Tennessee play in a real comfort zone they can wear you out. They can really do some great things so proud of our players. We just need to stay humble and hungry and keep getting better, but this was a great win for us tonight.”

On how UK responded after the first five minutes …
“We just needed to settle down. It was the start of a bunch of turnovers that we had. I just felt like the times where Middle Tennessee was effective were off our turnovers. I just felt like if we could get our defense set I thought it could be very effective. We really talked more offense. Our offense was the key to our defense tonight. When we could possess the ball we shot the ball well. Whenever we were able to set our defense it was really good. Listen, there was no doubt in my mind that Middle Tennessee came in here to win tonight. I knew it was going to be a tough game. I knew they would come out with a lot of fire and passion and we just had to try and match that. I felt like if we could stay with them that there was a good chance that our depth could help us. I thought it was a factor in the game. We just had to get it together and start disrupting them.”

On Alexis Jennings playing well in the first half …
“That’s what I think she can be. I think she can be that kind of player. She’s practicing okay we just need to keep working with her, but she showed you tonight some things she can do. I was so happy that 3 went in because I’m hoping that gives her some confidence. She struggled a little bit in the second half defensively. Wasn’t in quite as good of a rhythm, but she has a ways to go. There’s a really good player there. We just have to work and bring it out of her. I was so pleased because it was a very close game and I thought her energy on the glass really started a big spurt that we were able to get some distance between us and Middle Tennessee State. Very good (first) half for Alexis. Just need to keep plugging and working. She has to keep a great attitude and keep getting better, but she can help us.”

On the team’s attitude going into the game …
“I thought we were competitive tonight. I thought we competed. I thought we met some challenges early from Middle Tennessee State. I felt like for the most part until the very latter part of the game we had some very careless turnovers that I felt the game was pretty much decided at that point and maybe we let off the gas a little bit there. For the most part I just liked their energy. I thought we saw a lot of deflections tonight, and that was a real key to disrupting Middle Tennessee State. We should try to deflect the ball and just not let them get into a rhythm defensively. If we could have taken a little better care of the Basketball I thought we could have held them to fewer than 62. I thought our defense was active tonight, and that is something that is going to be key. We’re working on the press, and the press helped us tonight to cause some disruption. We were really able to deny their point guard so that was good. Hopefully you will see us evolve into a full-court defensive team. I liked some of the things we did tonight.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#0 Jennifer O'Neill, Sr., G

On tonight’s shooting…
“My teammates found me and it gave me more opportunities to make shots.”

On UK’s 28 turnovers…
“I just think we can take better care of the ball. We were trying to get others involved, but we can’t be indecisive with our passes.”

#25 Makayla Epps, So., G

On turnovers against zone …
“(Matthew Mitchell) got on me for making a bounce pass in the lane – something that I shouldn’t have done. I know better than that. The 28 turnovers were strictly us, and we should have brought that way down.”

On tonight’s shooting successes and what she attributes it to
“Just coming out and playing. We had better focus because we had three days to prepare. I feel like ever since I came back from the Virgin Islands, I have been in the flow of things. I feel like tonight really put me back in my scoring mentality.”

On interior players getting more involved tonight…..
“Alyssa Rice made some good moves. With Azia (Bishop) making post moves, it’s great to see. That is what we will need in SEC play. I’m glad to see them doing it now and hopefully it will carry over to each and every game.”

#35 Alexis Jennings, Fr., C/F

On her first half …
“It’s been real rough for me right now about being in the post and finishing all my moves. Tonight, I just focused and played real hard and everything we did in practice came together today. I don’t think I was nervous, I just went out there and played.”

On hitting a 3-pointer in the first half ….
“It gave me a lot of confidence. I know I can shoot the 3-point shot. Sometimes I overthink it. I had confidence tonight and I think that’s what carried over into my play.”

Middle Tennessee State Head Coach Rick Insell

Opening Statement …
“The pressure got to us early and we didn’t execute our offense, and rebounding is a key. Forty-seven to 31, when you get outrebounded by that much, you don’t give yourself much chance to win a ballgame. Twenty-five turnovers is probably the most we’ve had in I don’t know how long, but they had 28, so still, we could’ve stayed in the game even with the turnovers. We just didn’t rebound with them.”

On UK’s run in the first half …
“Their pressure, we got to holding the ball, waiting on them to trap us, and they did. We’re better than that. But we’ll learn from this. I was pretty positive on what I saw coming down the stretch. One of the things you can’t instill on a team is to keep fighting, and that’s the one thing we did, and I’m pretty pleased with that. We kept fighting and kept pushing.”

On continuing to battle back …
“Oh yeah, that’s what I meant right there, that’s something you really can’t instill on them, they’ve got to have that or they don’t have it. They kept fighting, battling, and I’ll build on that. I saw some positive things out there in that. We’ll go back and we’ll work and get better. We’re seven games into the season, so, we still have a long way to go.”

On Olivia Jones not getting into it statistically …
“They had a lot of length, and that length affected Olivia (Jones) a little bit. They were quick, and Olivia’s probably our quickest person, breaking on the basketball. They’ve got five or six kids like that. You were never real sure with the pass, there was always a flag in the lane, and Matthew [Mitchell] does a good job with that.”