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Kentucky-ETSU Postgame Quotes




Dec. 15, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement …
“It is great to get back in to the Coliseum today and really, really good crowd. I am glad we were able to play good enough defense to win the game. I thought East Tennessee State played really, really hard and obviously caused us some problems today and competed tough. We had to win it with our defense today and that is something that has been different for us from previous games. I am glad we were able to tighten up there in the second half and really shut them down for a long period of time. That was a big difference in the game. I’m very, very happy to win and now we take a break for final exams. I know the players need a couple of days off here and it has been a very tough stretch for us and I am really proud of our team to be in the position we are in now. We will head into final exams and see if we can finish the semester strong academically.”

On if it was the team’s tough stretch of the last few weeks that caused some lapse in today’s offense …
“I think that East Tennessee State was able to bother us with some of their defense. They were switching screens and packing it in the lane and it did put a premium on decision making and our decision making at times needed to be sharper to take advantage of their defense. I think you need to give a lot of credit to East Tennessee State, I think they played hard and came in with a lot of fire today. It was a different situation for our team to be in, probably made them a little uncomfortable. We have been able to score a lot of points and it just got tough to score there the first part of the second half. (We were) 1-for-7 and a lot of that had to do with East Tennessee State’s defense. I think you watch this game and watch the tape and figure out what you can do to get better. The thing that is really concerning me right now is the level of turnovers. We have to be able to get some practice time. I am really excited to have six good days of practice here where we can kind of sharpen up on some things. I am hoping that we can get our turnover numbers way down from where they are right now. I’m really proud of the team for playing tough defense because we needed it today. We were not explosive offensively as we had been to this point.”

On Makayla Epps
“Yeah, she was just on the Bluegrass Parkway coming back from a funeral and she lost control of her car. Really, really scary situation and a bad car wreck and thank goodness it was not bad enough for her to not play today. Scary moment anytime you get that call early last evening when I got that call. We were certainly concerned about her health. I think it was just more traumatic. Flipping your car a couple times can get you kind of nervous about things. It was just a car wreck and thank goodness she was okay. We needed her today and I think it was a good lesson for her as a freshman to be able to come out and make an impact on the game when she was certainly a little bit shaken from the wreck. I was proud of her to be able to come back and being able to play. We needed her out there today. She made some great hustle plays because those were at a premium today because we had a hard time getting the crowd going and I thought Makayla really made some good hustle plays that got the crowd going. That was good. We are thankful to God for walking away from what could have been a bad, bad situation.”

On if he was disappointed in the team’s energy the second half …
“There were times where I didn’t think we had five people on the floor that were really getting after it, but you know, I wasn’t that disappointed. We held them without a field goal for a very long time and that takes energy. I just think that when you have played 11 games and you are coming here to the end of what has been a really tough stretch, the team has created really high expectations for their very high play. It’s really a compliment to them that we maybe aren’t as excited about this victory today as we might be. I think the team is in great position, they have done a really good job. Anything we find from the film today will be correctable and we just need to get into our exams and do a good job there and take advantage of our practice time. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed. On a day when your offense is not clicking the way it normally does, and it really would look different if we made free throws. It would feel different than it does and would probably be in the 85-point neighborhood. We missed some close shots around the basket that were tough contented shots, but you think we should make those. It is not nearly as bad as it probably feels to everybody, but that is a real compliment to the team because they have played such explosive offense all season long. I think you will see more of that as we move forward. I’m just glad to win today.”

On Linnae Harper’s performance …
“I think she is trying and I think from an effort standpoint we are in a good spot there. She just has to keep working and has to see if she can continue to improve decision making on offense. She can always work on her defensive footwork. She has got a very, very good handle on how hard she needs to play in practice. I do feel good about that part of her game.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#15 Linnae Harper, Fr., G

On what she had working in the first half …
“I just think it was more about focus and just focusing on coming off of a road game. It’s just really about winning and being aggressive on defense and getting the win.”

#23 Samarie Walker, Sr., F

On being able to rely on defense when the offense was struggling …
“Defense is always important to us. That’s one of our main focuses on this team. Obviously, our offense wasn’t really working today because we weren’t playing very hard in my opinion, but defense is always really good to fall back on when we aren’t doing as well as we’d like on offense.”

On learning from this game moving forward …
“Coach talked about moving forward. Once we come back from practice on Wednesday, we need to learn from it and move on and focus on our next game. I think our minds are everywhere right now because of finals and we are coming off of this long, hard stretch of away games. Hopefully we will get back here on Wednesday focused and recharged.”

On if she takes responsibility being a senior to rally the team after a game like this …
“As a leader and a senior, I do (take responsibility). Sometimes it gets frustrating when we have to pick each other up from an energy standpoint because that should never be something that we have to talk about.”

#25 Makayla Epps, Fr., G

On getting in a car wreck on Saturday night …
“It was just mainly a wreck, an accident. It happens all of the time. It unfortunately happened to me. Somebody ran into me. But, I’m here and that’s the best thing. Nothing terrible happened. I’m here and I got the opportunity to play. I didn’t see this one coming at all. I didn’t think I was going to get to play today. I’m really grateful to get out there with my teammates and contribute as always and I’m just really blessed.”

On if she was injured …
“I went and got evaluated and it was a neck sprain, so nothing major.”

ETSU Head Coach Brittney Ezell

Opening statement …
“I thought our kids competed to the best of our abilities for the entire 40 minutes. You have to take your hat off to Kentucky. They are fantastic. They are loaded. They play hard. They are aggressive. Coach Mitchell and his staff have put together nothing but an outstanding team and we wish them the best of luck. We thank them for the opportunity to be here because this will prepare us for our league. That’s what we’re focused on is doing well in the (Atlantic Sun Conference). We are appreciative to Kentucky. Your fans are fantastic. It’s a great opportunity whenever you can come and compete against an SEC team.”

On how they played differently in the second half …
“We had challenged our team prior to game to hold Kentucky at 80 (points). You never want to say you want to hold someone at 80, but we felt if we could hold them in the high 70s or low 80s we would have an opportunity to be in the game at the end. Their pressure is a cumulative effect. You saw at the end of the game that it was wearing on them. I looked up at the seven-minute mark and we were down 10. I thought that was right where we needed to be. I think our kids were just a little bit more resilient today than we have been in the past. We played Vanderbilt last game and the same thing happened. It was a 10-point game with about 10 minutes to go. Our kids are showing some toughness. I don’t think it was anything that I did. I think they’ve just started to buy in and believe a lot more and that’s a tribute to them.”

ETSU Student-Athlete

#20, Maria Bond, F

On her performance tonight…
“I performed well with my team. I am glad they showed up. They allowed me to play my game and I respect them for that.”

On playing a tough team like Kentucky…
“It’s a confidence booster. Kentucky is a good team and for us to be down by 10, it speaks volumes about my team and my coaches. It is exciting.”


 

 

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