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Men's Basketball Press Conference




Coach Tubby Smith
"Coming off the Mississippi State game, our biggest concern has been rebounding. We are excited about the way we have been playing as of late. Tayshaun [Prince] has been putting together some excellent games. If we can continue to get that type of play out of Tayshaun and the leadership that he has shown, we are going to be fine."

"Saul did not practice yesterday because his knee was still sore. He should be okay, we hope, and practice today and tomorrow."

"In Tennessee, you have a team that is coming off a tough loss to a good Mississippi team, as we know, since we lost down there. You are never as bad as you think you are or as good as you think you are. With not having Tony Harris available to them, Tennessee has struggled because he means a lot to their team. The flow of the game will depend on whether or not Tony Harris will be available to them."

"The toughest thing to guard against is that every game is the same. It is tough to start with but when you are young and immature, it is tougher. You address it that every game is a big game. It is tough to get up, I imagine."

On the contingency if Saul Smith doesn't play:
"We have two point guards-that is why we have J.P. Blevins and Cliff Hawkins. They will probably play a lot like they played the other night. Hopefully they will play as well as they did against Mississippi State. It was not a big deal that Saul did not practice the other night. We are developing that type of depth, but it is always a big deal when someone has an injury."

"They will be more inside-oriented maybe with Victor. It looked like they were looking to post him a lot more inside. That is something they have looked to do more of late, probably because of not having Tony Harris."

On Victor:
"We tried to trap him when he got the ball inside, limit his touches, make him have to work at both ends of the court. We tried to neutralize him that way."

On Tayshaun Prince:
"He is getting stronger, I think. He is a junior and he is getting a lot smarter and wiser. We moved him to the four spot, where he can utilize his quickness versus bigger, less mobile players."

"We have been getting good play from Keith [Bogans], Erik [Daniels], and Gerald [Fitch]. We have been getting good balance and that is why we are winning, because everyone has gotten better through workouts."

"Jerry Green is a veteran coach. He has been through the wars and he knows how to get his team ready to play. They are a veteran team that with three seniors, wants to go out on top. They are back home, where they have not been beaten this year, so I am sure their confidence will be sky-high."

On Erik Daniels:

"I think a lot of people recruited him. I saw his ability to pass the ball and he really could see the floor well. He struggled shooting the ball but you could see that he had the size, the hands, and the athleticism. He had a great feel for the game. Plus, we had a scholarship available at that time. Sometimes out of necessity, you find a gem, and I think that is what we found in Erik."

"We talk about playing to the best of our ability. It is enough that they have to work to get better every day and to improve their own skill level. I don't think they need any added pressure."

"Rebounding will be critical tomorrow night. We have lost the rebounding battle quite frequently this year, more than we have in the past. It will be critical because that is an area that you can limit possessions. It will be important because we need to get back to rebounding the ball well."

"We have gotten better at making less mistakes defensively, and that is always the key. Whenever you see a turnaround of a team, it is probably because they now understand and have limited their mistakes, whether offensively or defensively. As your teammates get better, you will, and make better decisions in games."

"Talent alone does not win basketball games. It takes teamwork; we all know that. Tennessee has proven that they are a cohesive unit."

Player Quotes

Erik Daniels, Forward
On how he feels his season has progressed...
"It's been a good experience for me at Kentucky. I've been playing well. Right now I think I'm doing really well on defense and getting my teammates involved. I'm used to playing at home and on the road now. We're playing more team ball and like a unit, which has helped."

"We're defending the three-point line better now than we were in the beginning of the season, and we're rebounding better."

On tomorrow night's game with Tennessee...
"It's a very big game. We have to win it to keep our streak going and build our confidence going into the tournament."

Jason Parker, Forward/Center

"Offense has been a real development for me so far. Developing some post moves, using them in a game and knowing when to use them as been a major development in my game so far this year."

"The keys to beating Tennessee here was good defense and really hitting the boards. The intensity level was really high playing at Rupp which helped. We won't be in Rupp tomorrow, and it'll be tough in Knoxville. We just want to act like we're playing at home, keep the intensity level up and rebound the ball."

"It feels good to crack the Top 25. We started out in the Top 25, then we fell out of it. Now we're back into it. It's like a reward for all the hard work we've been doing in practice. Hopefully, we won't fall back out of it."

Saul Smith, Guard
"We're going to have to play with a lot of enthusiasm. We have to come out and not let them jump on us early. It's a big game on their schedule because of the hard luck they've run into recently. We've been playing well, they haven't. We have to continue that. They're looking for answers right now and looking to get on track. If they jump on us early, they're going to get a lot of confidence. It's really crucial for us during the first five minutes of both halves to be go out there and play well."

"Keith is going to do his best to contribute. He's been making really good decisions in the past couple of games. He hasn't really been getting good looks because two and three players are coming at him. He's been looking to pass the ball more and has been the ultimate team player. Coach (Smith) has always preached that some guys have to be team players for us to win, and not everyone will get the chance to score."

J.P. Blevins, Guard

On Keith Bogans' history of good play against Tennessee...
"It's just a game he really gets up for. It's a challenge for him because of all the talent they have. Keith really thrives in that type of situation. We'll really need him tomorrow night. As a point guard, you have to recognize who is playing well and feed them the ball."

"It always helps to get off to a good start, but realistically, we're not going to go in there and get a huge lead on those guys. It's a tough ball game, and every game we've played has been tough. There's no reason for me to believe we're going to blow them out. I think we're going into a war and we have to be prepared for that."

"The fact that they have lost five out of their last seven puts their backs against the wall a little bit. A team like that is dangerous, because you know how bad they want to get back on track, especially when they get back home. It's just a chance for them to really turn things around. When you put that on top of playing Kentucky, you have a really hyped up team."

Keith Bogans, Guard/Forward
"I'm not going to make any predictions this time. Coach told me that was locker room talk. I'm not going to guarantee a win, but I will guarantee that we come out and play hard tomorrow."

"I think they are 5-5 in conference play, and they're looking for revenge because we beat them in Rupp. So, their backs are against the wall. They're going to try to put us away early."

"I just have a lot of fun out there playing against Tennessee. Since we played them in Rupp last year and I had a good game, it's been fun. It's not anything I try to do each time we go out against them. I just try to do my best to help my team win."

"I love the trash talking. I know Yarborough and Harris are going to be out there talking. That's something I like to do, when guys are talking back to me, I'm going to have a lot of fun. It's on the court. It's just basketball talk, trying to get into a guy's head. It stays on the court."

 

 

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