Kentucky-Tennessee State Postgame Quotes

Dec. 28, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement
“Well, real proud of our team today. It was a tough, tough game. Tennessee State played really tough and I knew there was a possibility it would be tough today with where our roster was due to injury and ailment. Just a terrific response from our team. It certainly was not the best game that we’ve played all year, but with the real difficult circumstance that we were put in in a real short period of time, I was really proud of our players of getting into some uncomfortable situations and some different roles than they’ve been in all season long and find a way to win.”

On Jennifer O’ Neill’s injury…
“We practiced twice yesterday and in the morning’s practice she just banged her knees going for a loose ball. Not exactly sure who or what she hit. I think it’s a strained patella tendon, which at this point has no structural damage, just too painful to play today. Now, it’s basically a pain tolerance issue. Hopefully it’s not more than a couple of days, could be a couple of weeks, it’s just everybody’s body reacts differently and we’re really grateful it’s not anything structural. Any time missed for us right now is a major injury because we’re just a little understaffed in the backcourt.  We’ll watch her day to day and treat the heck out of it, but it’s not a definite 2-4 week thing it’s just until she gets to feeling she can play on it again. That’s her injury.”

On Bria Goss and her progress with her injury…
“She’s in a cast for four weeks before they’ll look at it. She feels good. She practices every day, we don’t throw the ball to her but she cuts, plays and runs sprints. We’re two weeks out from just seeing where she is and hopefully it’s healed in two weeks or wherever we are on that. But, she’s doing great, feeling good, and has a positive attitude. We’ll have some games here without her and so one of the things I was talking about with Bria’s injury and then also with Jen today I was looking forward to the game and I knew it was going to be a hard game because of what Tennessee State can do. They could exploit the team we put out there today and they did at times but we also caused some turnovers and did enough to win. Janee Thompson emerged today as a really great on-ball defender with seven steals, no fouls, and that’s what I was hoping for Bria. I hope a couple people may emerge and really get better right now defensively because they have to.  Janee played an unbelievable game and I’m so proud of her. Thirty-five minutes of effort. It wasn’t like she just held a space out there for 35 minutes, she was everywhere - five assists, seven rebounds, seven steals, eight points and had a great attitude, so, good day for Janee Thompson. I’m proud of her, and those are the kind of games we need while Bria’s out to help us be stronger when Bria comes back.”

On being harder on Alexis Jennings in practice and during the games…
“I definitely believe she’s capable, there’s no question. The reason I’m extra hard on her is because her offense is a little more ahead of her defense right now, and so usually when I’m hard on her it’s defensive-driven, and she needed to score 27 today because she may have given up 20, so she was net seven. She needed to have that kind of day for us to come out on top today.  That’s sort of a joke, I’ll need to watch the tape. I was very hard on her during the game today, and I had no idea she was scoring 27 points because I was trying to coach her up on defense a little bit. I mean it’s a tough game and we would not have won without her. I told y’all before, she is supremely talented and skilled on the offensive end and I’m really seeing a lot of progress out of her, and so defensively I need to figure out somehow later this week to play well defensively because we didn’t play as well as we should have. Let me say this, it was a tough spot they got put in, and we didn’t play as well as we’re going to need to Friday against Alabama, so we have to get focused in here and do a good job coaching this week and we have a good plan for when we go to play Alabama. But Alexis was good today offensively.”

Kentucky Student-Athlete Quotes

#35 Alexis Jennings, Fr., F

On if she saw a performance like this coming for her …
“Well, I wouldn’t say I saw it coming. We had four days off and coming back I wasn’t really expecting that. But as I got out there, I adjusted well and I was able to score offensively and also be a defensive threat.”

On if it’s starting to feel like she is developing a comfort level …
“Yes, I would say so. For some aspects of the game, I would say yes. But as far as defense, it is much more intense (than high school).”

#15 Linnae Harper, So., G

On if she was surprised at how TSU fought back …
“No, we weren’t surprised. When they started turning the game around we had to make an adjustment offensively and defensively.”

On what adjustment they made when Tennessee State closed the gap …
“On defense, it was more pressure and staying focused.”

On using active hands while defending…
“I definitely started learning that here in college. Coach Mitchell does a good job of emphasizing putting pressure on people and making sure our hands are in their faces to disrupt and stop the offense. So, I definitely learned that here.”

#25 Makayla Epps, So., G

On what she has seen in Alexis Jennings’ game recently …
“I was hoping you’d ask me that because I was thinking about it. I give Alexis a lot of credit. Whenever we’re in practice, Coach Mitchell is extremely hard on her. She has thick skin. She’s a tough kid.”

On what Matthew Mitchell said after the Tennessee State run in the huddle …
“He really didn’t go ballistic on us. He knows what we’re capable of. He wanted us to be more disruptive and aggressive on defense and that’s definitely what we did.”

Tennessee State Head Coach Larry Joe Inman

Opening Statement …
“First of all, I thought this was a great basketball setting. The crowd, you guys in here, I thought it was great for the young female athletes. Very proud of my team, I thought we played extremely hard, and played pretty good on the boards. We had too many turnovers with 29, but we forced 16. I was very proud of our kids. If we eliminate some of the turnovers, we played them even the whole second half and I was really proud of that. It’s always fun, it’s always exciting, even when you get as old as I am it’s still fun and still exciting when your kids are out their playing their hearts out, and I think our kids did that tonight and I thought that Kentucky’s kids did that tonight.”

On if he thought the team had one more surge after being down four points in the second half …
“I’m always thinking one more surge when I’m out there coaching. I’m always thinking if we can keep it close we have a chance, and that’s basically what we did. We kept it close, had a chance, and had some things go our way down the stretch, but I was proud of our kids. We battled against a much bigger team on the boards, and I think they only outrebounded us by two, so I was very proud of that. If we can play like this is our league, we will be OK. I think we played SEC ball the second half.”

On Kentucky’s young players’ performance …
“I knew about Makayla Epps and I had seen her many times, such as at the state tournament, so I knew she was really good.  We were scared to death about their guards, but we also knew they had a complimentary force inside. I thought their post players really hurt us tonight. We still competed with them, still came up with several boards, but their balance really hurt us tonight. They had kids inside and outside doing a bunch of different stuff, and that is the sign of a good team.”

On Tennessee State’s 2-3 zone use …
“Yea (Kentucky) struggled a little bit with the zone. We saw that on film. They like to rip and roar, go up and down, but we do too. We had to nullify their speed and make them play more half-court and we were fortunate that the zone worked, sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes.”