Kentucky-Middle Tennessee State Postgame Quotes

Dec. 29, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement ...
“We are thrilled to win and beat a quality and well-coached team in Middle Tennessee. Sometimes, these things are hard to explain and that one looked like we were dead in the water and the press got going and we finally got a little bit of encouragement by making a couple of shots and the flood gates sort of opened for us. It was a really tough effort. We had every opportunity to get discouraged and lose that one but it was a very quality win for our team tonight. I am very proud of the players that they got it turned around.”

On the defense the last five minutes ...
“Yeah, it was tough. We were down double digits. I am not for sure exactly how much but there was six or seven minutes left in the game. We were able to score some and that allowed us to get into the press and Victoria (Dunlap) is just a really, really tough player up there. We started hustling and that is what we wanted to do all night was hustle and the times that we had success you could see us hustling. The times that we didn’t have success and were struggling are when we were a little low energy. Energy is the key for us and you sure saw a bunch of it there with that defense.”

On having a big lead in the first half and MTSU coming back ...
“I just think that we have a hard time keeping focus and we have a lot of players that are just too casual and don’t understand this level of basketball. They don’t understand how precious every possession is. So you start coming in and missing layups that could make it a 17- or 19-point game and that really starts to wear on the other team’s psyche. Then the opposite happens for you. You miss layups and they hit threes and we don’t have a good mature basketball team yet. We need to work on that desperately. We had a chance to really drop the hammer and I am sort of stunned that we were able to turn it around. Once Middle Tennessee got it going their way it looked like they could do whatever they wanted to. It was remarkable. We need to do better. You saw it was veterans there at the end. We had to get Carly Morrow in the game and she played the power forward on offense and A’dia (Mathies) guarded it on defense. They found a way.”

On some of the teaching moments in the game ...
“I just think to understand that the game is so long and nine minutes left in the first half and you have a 13-point lead means nothing. You have to continue doing what you did to build that lead. If any loss on intensity happens for us you see the result. That will be the biggest teaching point that we will try to make.”

On if this type of competition is what they can expect in Southeastern Conference play ...
“Yeah, I think this is a great game for us and a quality opponent in non-conference. They are well coached so they exploited every weakness we had. We weren’t tremendously sharp on defense in the half court. You saw, we were really exposed and they had a great night there. I will definitely use this one to get us ready for Southeastern Conference play.”

On the play of Lexington native Ebony Rowe ...
“Very impressed with her. She just works very hard and she is very mentally tough. She never stops and never quits. Very impressed with her.”

On playing less freshmen in the second half ...
“We tried to give everybody an opportunity and it is very disappointing that we won’t progress. We played enough half-court defense that when we really needed the full court (we had it.) I just knew that there were some players there tonight that for whatever reason were not mentally in it. That seems to be something that continues to plague us. Some players that did showed up prepared let the game affect them. I thought that our offense really affected our defense. We came out with some great defense the first couple of possessions and then missed layups and missed easy shots and people let that affect them. I think that is a little bit of youth. I think that is Maegan (Conwright) and Samantha (Drake) early missed those shots that could have gotten the lead extended back. We just have a long what to go. We have talented players and we are putting a lot on them. We will get there.”

On the play of Sarah Beth Barnette ...
“I am really happy with Sarah Beth. One of her jobs on the team is to make three-pointers and she hadn’t made one yet this season I don’t think. For her, those three in the first half were big. She took them at the right time in the first half and within what we were trying to get done. That was good for her. I also thought that she battled some defensively. She has a ways to go there, as a lot of our younger players do. They need to be able to sustain a good defensive effort throughout the game. Those are nine big points and that was the margin of victory.”

On Kentucky’s power forward position ...
“It would be better if some of those kids (Samantha Drake, Brittany Henderson) would practice with better focus. I think the problem is that they don’t practice hard enough to gain the type of confidence in themselves. Also, in a tight game like that you have to go with who you are confident in. So Carly (Morrow), who hasn’t practice a lot, you just believe that she is going to try and not get so mentally affected by any type of difficulty. That is a sophomore and two freshmen who have to get tougher and they will.”

Kentucky Players

#34 Victoria Dunlap

On what happened when MTSU made their run...
I think we kind of let down on our energy a little bit. We were settling for where we were in the game and not staying focused with our defensive intensity and we kind of let up on offense, too. We rushed a lot of things.”

On her early foul trouble...
“Yeah, it was definitely frustrating for me. With my first foul being that charge, I knew it was coming, and I just really wasn’t focused right there. I knew that it was my fault for being out (of the game) and not being able to help my teammates out, but it was a little frustrating being on the bench. I just tried to keep talking to them and keep them encouraged and make sure they were playing hard.”

On the importance of the freshmen developing...
“I think with them it’s more of a mental thing. They have to get used to the style of play. I think we will get there. (The freshmen) have struggled from time-to-time, but I think after we get our last couple of non-conference games in, and we start focusing on SEC games, they will be good and we will make it happen.”

On the difference in the last five minutes of the game...
“It gets exciting and I don’t even focus on how much time is left. When (Matthew Mitchell) said that we were down 64-54, I didn’t even know that. I knew we were down, but I didn’t know it was that much. But when we came back and we were just playing defense, the intensity that we had kind of went with the game. We weren’t concerned about the score, or how much time was left, we just played. The crowd was great. I mean every time we scored and got a stop they were cheering for us and that is very helpful.”

On if this stretch of back-to-back games is a good learning tool for SEC play...
“Most definitely. Just because we both know how it feels to play back-to-back games. It’s a mental thing and we have to make sure that we are ready to play. This is a good preparation for the postseason for us so we know how to recover and we know how to get a lot of sleep.”

On Maegan Conwright’s performance...
“I think all through practice this week, she has been trying to work harder in practice and make sure she is hustling to take care of the ball and just doing the little things that (Coach Mitchell) gets on her about. I think she showed a little bit more maturity in the game today and she is playing better.”

#4 Keyla Snowden

On what UK learns from this game...
“I think we learned that we can’t let up on teams. We came out with a lot of intensity. We were really ingressive. We had our defense going, our offense was hitting shots, and then we sort of got comfortable and we let up. We can’t put ourselves in a hole that led into the second half. I think that we will learn that we need to play every possession one possession at a time and not let up on anyone.”

On if she ever lost faith in the second half...
“No, I never lost faith in my teammates. We go through situations like this in practice which prepares us for games like this. We just keep grinding and keep pushing to turn the game around.”

On the crowd’s intensity...
“It was great to hear everyone. It kind of gets us pumped up and it’s nice to know everyone in the stadium has our back. We feed off of everyone’s energy and the crowd’s energy and that’s why we really appreciate everyone coming out tonight to our games and supporting us.”

Middle Tennessee State Head Coach Rick Insell

Opening Statement:
“Great game. Crowd got into it with about five minutes to go and Anne Marie Lanning, which is our stabilizer, went out and we kind of panicked, but you have to give them credit. They did a good job. (Victoria) Dunlap (was great) you can see why now she is the player of the year. She stepped up, got some deflections, scored a basket or two and took us right out of it in the full court. Good game. Good game for them and good game for us.”

On MT’s run to get them the lead early in the second half ...
“We have been behind this year in about every game. It bothers me more than them and I let them know it. Kentucky is the best team we have played, even better than Xavier. Xavier has great talent and size, but they don’t play as hard as Kentucky. Kentucky we knew would play the whole 40 minutes and we knew that coming in. We should have taken advantage of a few things. We went up nine at one point and we got feeling too good about ourselves and made a mistake or two there. Maybe we should have slowed it down a little bit and went inside into the post, maybe draw another foul on (Victoria) Dunlap, or maybe got a cheap basket. We did some things that we probably should have not done and we will learn from it. We are a young team just like Kentucky is a young team.”

On Ebony Rowe’s performance as a freshman coming home to Lexington...
“She is special. She has been special all year for us. We are very fortunate to have her. She doesn’t play like a freshman. We are awful proud to have her. I knew she would come in and she really wasn’t nervous. Early on I took her out because she fumbled a few balls, but she went right back in and got her composure and did a good job. Finished on just about everything; what can you say 25 points and 11 rebounds. Playing a team like Kentucky and the pressure in this community that’s big for Ebony and I am awful proud of her.”

On coaching against his son and friends...
“Matthew Mitchell and his family have been friends of mine when he was recruiting my kids at Shelbyville (high school) and he was at Florida. I have known him a long time. He is one of the finest coaches in the business, on and off the floor. You are all very fortunate to have him. I am very fortunate to be his friend and that he gave my son an opportunity. I wish them all the luck in the world. When the game began I can assure you that I didn’t have any love toward my son. I guess I would have looked for him if something have happened to the building, but I probably would have got my girls out first and then gone back and looked for him.” (Laughter from the media.)

# 21 Ebony Rowe

On playing in her hometown of Lexington...
“It was really exciting. I heard a lot of people. It was really exciting, when they called my name. I wasn’t expecting to hear that many people cheering for me. I was just excited to be back home.”

On the last five minutes of the game...
“It was a little frustrating. We, myself included, lost our composure. Like Coach said, that comes with a young team. I have confidence in my team that we are going to work on it. Now we know that we have been in this situation so next time even without Anne Marie we will be able to get into something next time.”