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Kentucky vs. Florida Post-Game Quotes




March 2, 2002

Recap?|? Box Score?|? Notes?|? Photo Gallery

Coach Tubby Smith
"Today was a real battle for us, but our kids really recovered after giving up a lot of open threes and struggling in the first half. Tayshaun (Prince) making that field goal right before the end of the first half was a real momentum builder to come back to after half time."

"Winning today's game was really special for our seniors, Tayshaun and J.P. (Blevins). I felt our team really bonded and responded in the right way."

"I felt we did a good job defending (Udonis) Haslem for the most part. We had lots of clutch plays that played a large part in the win. We started switching things up and started doing a better job of taking care of the basketball. We found the heart and toughness to pull it out at the end."

On Gerald Fitch's play...
"It was critical to see Gerald respond in the all the right ways today after being disciplined for the past few weeks. He had a lot of clutch plays and played well for us today."

"I was glad he was in the game to step up and make that three for us at the end of the game. That is about the third time he has done that for us this year."

On Cliff Hawkins...
"Cliff has matured a lot this year. We knew it would take time and we have been patient with him. We knew it would pay off. His aggressiveness takes him out of the game sometimes, but he is learning to balance his play with his aggressiveness."

On next week's SEC Tournament...
"This win gives us momentum going into the SEC Tournament. Today showed us that when we band together we can beat anybody. But we also know anyone can beat us too. We have been working on our rebounding and shooting. Our leadership is there along with our enthusiasm."

"The bye for us means the difference of playing an extra day or an extra day of rest and practice, but we have to come ready to play."

 

 

UK PLAYERS

Tayshaun Prince
"Of course this day was very emotional. It is always emotional when you have been somewhere and are getting ready to depart. At the moment of the ceremony you feel the emotion, but at the same time you want to get a win. This game would not have been the same without a win."

"This was a good game to respond after getting all of our players back to play. It is late in the season to be responding to things and especially when playing Florida. Gerald (Fitch) came in and stepped up big. He was a vital part of the game today."

"This game does help us in preparing for the tournament. We have to play aggressively on the defensive end. We have guys that can score, but if we want to win and move on in the tournament we must play well on the defensive end."

Gerald Fitch
On his talk with Tubby...
"It was more of father-son talk. He knows I don't have a father around. He is a good coach and a good father figure in my life."

"This was a big win to give us a bye in the SEC Tournament. This win gives us confidence. We want to keep it up and play well in the tournament."

On the chemistry and focus of the Kentucky team... "I know plenty of people question it because so many incidents have happened. If any team deserves a championship it is this team. We know that we are capable of winning the NCAA Tournament and we know that it is a hard task. The incidents have pulled us together and we know we can do it."

Marquis Estill
On the game...
"This really builds our confidence as a team. We know that we can beat anyone on the court as long as we play team ball. "

On Gerald's game-winning shot...
"We knew that he could knock down the shot so that's why we called the play for him. He has made some great shots throughout the season and we knew he could do it again."

On Cliff Hawkins' free throws...
"He has been struggling lately at the free-throw line but he really came through for us tonight. He and Gerald really stepped it up for our team today."

J.P. Blevins
On his last game in Rupp Arena...
"This definitely was a very emotional game for me. This place is so special to me. I fell in love with this place and this program a long time ago. I have dreamed about playing ball in this gym since I was little so to play in my last game here was very emotional."

On Gerald Fitch...
"Gerald has always played hard. He has been very frustrated lately sitting out the past few games and anytime you come back from that you are going to play your best. He had that big three in the end to clinch the game and to really help his confidence n himself."

On the fans...
"It was a great atmosphere here tonight and it played an important part in this victory. We've played a lot better in atmospheres like tonight."

"People thought of us as the underdog for a while but we have shown them the opposite. We know as a team that we can't take out opponents lightly and that we have to step it up when our backs are against the wall, which will be crucial in tournament play. Our backs will be against the wall for every one of those games so hopefully we can have the same kind of outcome as today."

UF Coach Billy Donovan
On the difference in the game...
"I think their intensity coming out in the second half, the first six to eight minutes, was better than ours. I think that was the key to the game."

On his observations of Florida's play today...
"From an execution standpoint, I was pretty pleased. We got the foul on Hawkins like we wanted. We got the ball to Udonis (Haslem) in the post like we wanted. We got one of our better three-point shooters to get a good look coming out of the timeout. It's tough, but you have to find ways to win games."

On the first half...
"I thought offensively in the first half it was our best half of basketball all year. We had great movement, great spacing and worked the ball inside-out. The pace of the game was where we wanted it to be."

On the UF bench's play...
"We didn't get a whole bunch from our bench tonight and that didn't help either, but we certainly had a chance to win the game."

On the outcome...
"To me, the better team won tonight."

On the difference between the two meetings between the teams...
"I think it was two very good teams going against each other tonight. We were a much better team today than we were when we lost to them earlier in the year. No question about it though, Kentucky has gotten better since then also."

FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES

# 15 Matt Bonner (F)
On Florida's last shot...
"We tried to run a handoff and they (Kentucky) tried to switch. I thought it (the shot) was down. We executed the play, it just didn't fall."

# 50 Udonis Haslem (C)
On Florida's final turnover...
"I thought we had the ball where we wanted it. I just tried to go up strong and get a foul called. You get good calls and bad calls but I think the ref made the right call."

On the loss...
"We can do two things. We just need to play to the next game and not worry about this one, find some positives and go on. At some point in time, we're just going to have to do it."

# 10 Brett Nelson (10)
On shooting well in the second half...
"I got a few easy baskets there but some of my baskets were because my teammates were penetrating and kicking. I was just the recipient on those shots."

On the loss...
"It's tough. Like Udonis said, we can fold up and go to the SEC tournament and play half-hearted and hope to win or we can go down there to win four games and I think that's what we're going to do."

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