Feb. 22, 2012
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin
"First off, I'd like to say I really appreciate the fans coming out here. Hopefully we'll have a great night our last home game. It's not necessarily about trying to finish top five (in attendance), it's just the support, especially when you've got a team that will put forth the effort the way they do, they way they compete as the team gets better. I think we owe these guys this much: that we put forth a great effort but we also have a good opponent coming in as well.
"I thought our guys did a good job bouncing back. They got out to a slow start. ... Jordan McRae and Dwight (Miller) did a great job coming off the bench and giving us energy and enthusiasm. I thought that was great. The one thing I told Dwight and we talk about it all the time is to just stick with it and continue to work and this is the result of him consistently working and not giving up. It paid off for him, and I'm happy to see that for him.
"I thought our guys did a really good job, and Jordan set the tone for us and really got us into an offensive flow. He made plays and made shots.
"We did a good job in the second half of not turning the ball over. I think we had 10 in the first half and 11 for the game. We just settled down and made plays. It's just one of those things we consistently work at and continue to get better every day. I thought we did a good job in the second half of defending as a team with them passing, cutting and moving."
(On Miller's strengths on court:)
"I think he's two biggest attributes is that he does a good job rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, and he does a good job of facing up and making shots. He can block some shots as well. I don't think he had any tonight but he does a good job of facing up and making shots and getting the offensive rebounds."
(On Miller's increased minutes and improved production:)
"I think it's the case also of continuing to work to get better. He kept his hard-hat on and was consistent, and it paid off tonight."
(On McRae's performance on both ends of the court:)
"I think he's just gotten better the last month and a half. For him, it's really been his approach in practice, to put forth a great effort and really understand what we need him to do on both ends of the floor. You have to give him the credit of having the mindset to want to get better, to want to be a good basketball player."
(On McRae's dunk in the second half:)
"I knew he was capable of doing it. Once again, he's a guy who's long, but you didn't see a lot those dunks earlier because his approach wasn't there. Because he attacks with such and aggressive mind in practice, it carries over into games."
(On Miller shooting three-pointers:)
"I'm not surprised. That one he took coming off the screen, our bench wasn't calling that and I was surprised about that shot. The top of the key, he shoots that all the time and makes that shot, so I wasn't surprised he took and made it."
(On if he approves of Miller shooting the threes:)
"Oh yeah, as long as it's in the flow of what we're doing."
(On changes in Miller's game over the year:)
"I think it's just his preparation, his approach to want to be good. He spends as much time as anyone on the team in the gym, and it pays off at some point. I just appreciate the fact that he kept his hard hat on and wasn't discouraged. He was probably down about not playing, but he wasn't the type of guy to complain on the bench and make excuses. He comes to work and it paid off for him."
(On free throw improvement in the game:)
"I think in the first half we were set on the perimeter and turned the ball over also. We were set on the perimeter for looks as opposed to going in and being aggressive. When Jordan came in and started attacking the rim, it helped us out, but we've got to do a good job against the zone of attacking off the dribble and also the post feed."
SOPHOMORE FORWARD Jordan McRae
(On evolving under Coach Martin)
"Coach Martin is a coach that knows what he wants out of all of his players. Him being a new coach, he kept telling me what he wanted. It was either do what he wanted or not play. It wasn't really a hard choice."
(On the impact of his highlight dunk)
"It's a great feeling, knowing that the other team was making a run on us. A play like that gets the crowd behind you. It gets the bench behind you and everyone on the court. The opposing team has to call a timeout after a play like that."
(On whether he had been waiting to dunk the ball the way he did)
"I'm athletic and when I get an opportunity, I always try to go up strong. I haven't really been waiting for it. It just happened."
(On the start of the game)
"Ole Miss is in the same position that we are. We knew they were going to come out on us like that. We didn't panic. He told us that we were in good shape and to just keep playing our game."
(On Dwight Miller's performance)
"It didn't surprise any of us. Dwight works on his game just as much as anybody on the team. He gets shots before and after practice. It was just a matter of time for him to get his opportunity and he seized it."
(On handling the ball more)
"With Trae out, I definitely try to make sure the ball is in my hands a lot more. I try to make plays for other guys. That's something Coach Martin looks for us to do, take something into your own hands."
(On limiting turnovers)
"Taking care of the ball is definitely a hard part of basketball. Especially as many turnovers as we've been having lately, we're all trying to start taking more pride in that. Our turnover numbers have been way too high."
(On providing a spark off the bench)
"I'm sitting and watching the game and I'm getting a good feel of the game. I saw our team was starting off slow. I took advantage of that coming out there with a spark."
SOPHOMORE GUARD Trae Golden
(On the win over Ole Miss)
"It was huge. That's a great team. That's one of the better rebounding teams and I think that we did well on the rebounding end. I just think if we keep rebounding like that and defend, we'll be fine."
(On whether he was worried after Ole Miss jumped out to an early double-digit lead)
"I wasn't worried. I knew that they came out with a lot of great shots. I knew that if we just stuck to our gameplan, we'd be able to chip away at it and that's what we were able to do."
(On keeping the right mindset despite the early deficit)
"(Coach Martin) just told us to come down and everything would be fine. It was early in the game and they made a great run. We just had to really calm down, play better defense and start making shots. That's what we did so we chipped away at it."
(On Dwight Miller's performance)
"He gave us a huge lift. He played really well. I think that's what Dwight does every time he comes into the game. He's fearless and he's not scared to shoot the ball. That's what we definitely needed. He was a big spark for us."
(On Dwight Miller staying ready)
"It's really tough because you never know when your number is going to be called and you don't know how many minutes you're going to get when your number is called. You have to commend people like that who can come in and always have the mindset to be ready. That's what he did and he was successful."
(On Jordan McRae's performance)
"He was great. He came off the bench and gave us a huge spark. I don't think we would've come back if it wasn't for him. He played a great game."
Junior forward Jeronne Maymon
(On out-rebounding Mississippi 40-28 including his 11 rebounds)
"I am a really good rebounder naturally. I just try to get position early, drive them out of (the post) as best as I can and go get the ball with two hands. Coach really stressed getting them off the boards so that was one of our main goals. We definitely take pride in our rebounding."
(On trailing 15-2 at the 13:51 mark of the first half)
"We did not come out ready to play, and we weren't really focused. We were a step slow to everything. I really want to thank the bench that came in and got some stops. Coach took the starting five out, and our bench came in and gave us that lift that we needed."
Junior forward Dwight Miller
(On scoring seven consecutive points for Tennessee midway through the first half)
"It felt great. I just want to play basketball. When you make a good play for team and the fans love it, especially when you are down, that is the best feeling in the world for me. I just thought to myself to go out there and play hard. You play hard, and you get rewarded. That is the same emphasis Coach Martin has in practice."
(On staying focused while getting limited playing time at times this season)
"It felt great to be out there especially not playing for a while. It makes your testimony that much greater when you can tell people what happens when you work hard and stay positive. Everything happens for a reason, and you have to keep a good attitude. Ultimately it is just playing basketball."
Senior guard Cameron Tatum
(On trailing 15-2 at the 13:51 mark of the first half)
"We got started off slow, and we had to get a gut check. It was time for us to step up and get some stops on defense. We had to make sure we made every shot tough for them. They were getting some easy shots early on. We knew we had to make their shots tougher. We had to do a better job of taking pride in our defense."
(On having five players in double figures)
"When we are working for each other, helping each other get shots, and guys are going hard, we are hard to defend. It is good when guys get their confidence built, and it carries throughout the whole team."
OLE MISS HEAD COACH ANDY KENNEDY
"The key to the game - and the stats speak to it and from what I just witnessed with my two eyes - they just dominated us block to block. Anything they wanted to do.
"They killed us on the glass, which has become a recurring theme. They finished everything at point-blank range, and we didn't play through contact as strongly as we needed to. They outscore us by 11 points on the free-throw line and hence the difference in the game.
"We've got to play through contact, and as a result I thought we were reactionary."
On Tennessee buckling down after Ole Miss' hot start
"Early, we were pretty efficient offensively moving the ball and making shots. We had some angles. They defend in their man a lot like we do in that they switch ball screens, so we were taking advantage of some of that early.
On how Tennessee is different under Cuonzo Martin
"Completely different. The old Tennessee teams were more into full court and it was a little more frenetic, a little more dependent on outside-in. This team is a grind-it-up team that defends you in the half court. They're not going to give you anything easy.
"Our team is offensively challenged, as we've been all year, so we have to manufacture points off the offensive glass and they didn't allow us to do that. They didn't allow us angles. And then when we have opportunities, we have to be efficient and tonight we failed in those areas."
On Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon being dominant inside
"Dominant is the key word. He was dominant tonight and the difference in the game. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. Eighteen and 11 on 6-of-7 shooting is about as efficient as you can be."
"This guy Dwight Miller - he wasn't one of the first two or three names we had talked about. But every team has one and he stepped up. Tonight, are you kidding me? Ten points and seven rebounds, came out and hit two threes. I thought he settled them in and made some big shots. When they went on that 9-1 or 9-2 spurt to start the half, he was right in the middle of that.
"I think he had scored a couple of field goals in SEC play and then he comes out and plays very, very well for them tonight."