Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes
March 8, 2014
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening comment from Coach Mitchell and then open it up for questions.
COACH MITCHELL: Really proud of our players today. They just played a tremendous game against a very, very good team. South Carolina is an outstanding team. Very well-coached. They have great players.
You had to play well in this game, and our players did. So real proud of them. We're excited to be in the championship tomorrow. Intend on getting prepared to win it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Can you talk about the 12-2 start to the game, how important that was.
COACH MITCHELL: Well, I just thought the players really listened to what our plan was, and that was to be in attack mode all day. That was the word that we wanted to rule the day for us. Don't worry about the outcome, the result, just get in attack mentality and stay there.
I thought you saw a heavy dose of that early in the game. We were able to sustain it for 40 minutes. It was really impressive. I'm extremely proud of the players. This is a great effort.
Q. Coach, talk about the way you took care of the basketball today. Only four turnovers.
COACH MITCHELL: They just did a really nice job of keeping their poise. We probably had more poise and patience today than I've seen in a long time. We didn't have that in Lexington. We had a lot of quick shots, South Carolina really put it to us. That was the key to the game.
It's just a different way for us to get the turnover margin where we wanted it. We took care of it. We turned them over 16 times, took care of it. That plus 11 in turnover margin, you're in pretty good shape in a game if you can get that.
Q. You've won seven of the last eight. What does this say about your team since that 5-5 start?
COACH MITCHELL: It says a whole lot. It says a lot about what kind of kids they are, what kind of character they truly have. I've said it many times. We could have gone several different ways than the way we've gone.
So I'm really, really happy about today. But I do want to stay focused on what we came down here to do, and that's to win the championship.
I think no matter what happens tomorrow, they've done an outstanding job of pulling it together in difficult circumstances when things weren't going how any of us had planned.
I would really be happy for them if they can prepare and finish the job tomorrow.
Q. DeNesha, the rebounding margin in Lexington, you called it embarrassing at one point. What kind of motivation did you walk into this game?
DeNesha Stallworth: A lot of motivation. We knew that the way we performed in Lexington was not our best. We just wanted to leave it all out there, no regrets, no matter the outcome.
Every single one of us, we left it out there. All credit to my team because we did a fantastic job.
Q. There was a moment late in the second half when you were crouched on the sidelines almost in a prayerful pose. What was going through your mind? Can you speak to Linnae's performance off the bench tonight.
COACH MITCHELL: I was in deep prayer at the time. I can't share with you why I was in deep prayer, but I was in deep prayer at the time, trying to get myself ready to coach those final minutes.
It was a tough call. The officials really worked hard today. It was a very physical game. So I was just really wanting to win so bad. At that point in time I was just trying to, you know, clear my mind of any upset feelings that I had about a call or whatever was going on. I really tried to get to where I could coach the last couple minutes there.
Linnae was really, really tough today. She really played with poise. The two freshmen have come so far with their defense. I thought she was a really good defender today. I was really proud of her defense. She just played a terrific game.
You know, I thought she was sort of a great example of the entire team. We played with a tremendous amount of poise and toughness. We got down to the last seconds of shot clocks a few times and made buckets. So it was a terrific performance. I was real proud of Linnae today. She played a great game.
Q. I don't want to put you on the spot, but is that something you do often, turn to prayer during a game?
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, as a matter of fact it is something I do often.
Q. Linnae, can you talk about your mindset today.
Linnae Harper: Really our coach, he just made big emphasis on attacking the zone. I think that was my whole mindset, to attack the entire game. I just took what the defense gave me and attacked the whole game.
Q. Y'all didn't let them any closer than eight points from about 6:47 in the first half on. Talk about that.
DeNesha Stallworth: We wanted it. I mean, at the end of the day we just wanted to win. We knew that we couldn't, you know, have them come close. We tried to answer back and play incredible defense even if they scored. Just get it back on offense. Like Linnae said, stay in attack mode. They couldn't stop us when we were in full force.
Q. What kind of benefit does your team derive from the fact that either opponent you play tomorrow you've beaten on their home court the last month of the season?
COACH MITCHELL: I don't know how much we'll even talk about that. I think what we've done a nice job in the first two rounds is understanding what we needed to do to be successful in the game.
Whoever the opponent is, we'll figure out what we need to do to be successful in that game, and we'll just focus on tomorrow.
I told the players today, Don't spend any time in the past today, and don't worry about the future either. Just stay right squarely focused on the play in front of you. They did that today. That's what we'll need to do tomorrow, no matter who we play.
Q. Linnae, last time y'all played South Carolina, you only played five minutes. Today you played 27 minutes. Do you think being able to sit back on the bench and watch the South Carolina playing style helped you today?
Linnae Harper: Yeah, I think it helped a lot. Just watching from the side, seeing how they play, their defense, it was an advantage to me for today's game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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