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Postgame Quotes: Vols 64, Missouri 62

March 9, 2013

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TENNESSEE HEAD COACH CUONZO MARTIN

(Opening Statement)
"Great win. Great win for our program. Great win on ESPN to represent the University. It was just a fun time. Couldn't have asked for a better outcome. There is a tough, talented team in Mizzou. They're a physical team with a lot of parts that can make plays and when we got down eight points, we just showed who we really are as a team that is built to be successful and built to fight. I thought we played the way we came to play on both ends of the floor. I think from a fan standpoint, that's what you come to see - a talented team that comes to complete a game and win and that's what we did.

"I told Jarnell (Stokes) that he did a really good job of rebounding the basketball and keeping the balls alive. He got his hands on probably five or six balls that went out of bounds. Jarnell was not going to let this team fall and he continues to make plays. They kept boxing him out but he kept those balls alive. I thought our guys did a good job defending, too. (Phil) Pressey is one of the fastest guys I've ever seen since I've been around and he's not only fast, but a good player who can make plays. I thought we did an exceptional job, (Pressey) ended with nine assists, but by being down by six and then getting it back. Outside maybe the first six minutes of the first half I thought we did a good job of forcing him to make plays rather than just getting assists. I thought we did a good job of buckling down we didn't allow him to let their offense flow. I thought Jordan McRae rushed a little bit in the first half and in the second half, I just told him to settle down allow the offense to come to you because even though he was our leading scorer, I thought Jarnell (Stokes) had the advantage. He did a great job of making plays, keeping balls alive and being aggressive and rebounding. He accepted the challenge on the defensive side of the ball.

"I thought Trae Golden did a good job. Josh Richardson did a good job trying to stop the press, which isn't easy for a guy who is 6-foot-5 guarding a quick guard like that. He makes a move, screens and comes at you full-speed. It was a tough matchup that we hadn't seen before. You haven't seen fast until you see it in person. It says a lot about your character, though to win eight out of the last nine, two straight and four games in a row at home, and the toughness of the team. They just continue to compete, they keep fighting like that all down the stretch of the season. Trae Golden bounced back from where he was at the beginning of the season to now, Jordan McRae moved from a solid-role guy to an elite player; in my opinion, SEC player of the year. You talk about a guy that went from a point when Trae (Golden) went down to wing it and try to score the ball, rebound, try to defend, I just think that speaks volumes. He was an average player coming off the bench and now, we're here where his team wins 11 games. I think he is valued and the work he's put in is commitment. I think he's the guy, but I don't have any votes when it comes down to it. It was just a great team win, a fun game to be a part of.

"I think we're an NCAA Tournament team. There are 68 teams and I think we're one of them. I think the job is done and now the next phase for us is to compete in the tough SEC tournament in Nashville. I think that the work is done for the NCAA. You look at resumes of teams of the work they've done and the work we've done, (we have) put ourselves in the position now."

(On NCAA Tournament)
"The emphasis yesterday was do or die. Because the stage is set now. As a coach, I can say any speech, but at the end of the day, if you don't have it in your blood in an environment like this, then you're on the wrong team. The atmosphere presents itself and you have a great opponent come here and you're fighting for something. Mizzou is a veteran team and a well-coached team in a lot of parts. They were fighting to win a basketball game and we were fighting for our lives. And that's the difference when it gets down the stretch of a game. I think we were just fighting for a little bit more. We got down eight points and I told the guys, 'here it is, we gotta make a decision right here.' We have to start willing the stops - it can't be a back-and-forth game. Any time you have a point guard that talented that can make plays and keep the balls alive, you don't want to press the game with an eight point lead or it's going to be a long night for you. I thought our guys did a great job making plays on the offensive side of the ball and getting the stops we needed."

(On the "do or die" statement)
"I just said, 'here we go guys, here it is.'

(On Quentin Chevious)
"I thought Chevious did a good job covering. One thing about Quentin is that he is a good three-point shooter. Because of injuries early in the season, you have a forward position, so everything for him is around the post now, rather than shooting his three-point shots. He can make that (three point) shot - that wasn't a surprise to me. I thought he did a good job accepting the challenge. He plays a physical brand and that's his style, so he wasn't phased by that. When he comes in to compete, he's ready to go."

(On Mizzou leading the nation in rebounding at one point)
"The thing about it is that they're the best rebounding team in the SEC, because rebounding is toughness and they are the toughest team. If you just put it at that standpoint and then Jarnell (Stokes) accepts that challenge. Kenny Hall and the guards accepted that challenge. They just rebound the basketball. The big guys do a good job and so do the guards - the guards have to be ready to rebound. We wanted that game from a rebounding standpoint. Two things we had to do was do a tremendous job of boxing out the rebound and to press and get that ball in transition and I thought we did well in those areas.

(On the importance of a lower-scoring game)
"(Missouri) scored well. They're the type team who you watch them on film and they get 80 points and you have to get 81 to win the game. That's how they play. For us, it was executing our offense. We had to make it a physical game, we had to cut and move. I think when you shoot quick shots and they get rebounds and they're down your back, we had to go through Jarnell (Stokes) in order for us to get this win. We did a great job getting him the ball, whether he was scoring it or not. We had to allow him to make plays for us. If they don't double-team, he's one-on-one and we felt like that was an advantage."

(On playing outside and inside)
"Oh yes, you know the two games before this one, I thought we were very good defensively. Give Georgia credit and I think we didn't do a good in that game. I thought Auburn, we felt like the game was in hand. We didn't play with a level of mental focus. This particular game, the guys knew and understood and the thing that I've talked to them all the time. You can't go to games on the road. You have to be locked in. You have to be know your defense is `this' every night. This is what we do defensively, the shots come and go, but we have to do a better job. I thought the previous two games we didn't do a very good job defending, but I thought tonight we were locked in, not surprised at all. I knew we could do it."

(On Kenny Hall)
"Well, I was fifty-fifty to start Kenny Hall. Not necessarily because he's a senior, because of his size and the way he's been playing. I went with what we're used to. You win seven out of eight games, you go with the flow. Not that Armani was playing bad. If there was one advantage for those guys out the gate, I felt like that might have been it, because of Bowers' experience, his size, his mental approach. He did a good job. Nine points in six minutes, if he didn't get those two fouls, who knows where he would have been. Kenny was ready. Even though he backdoored Kenny early, Kenny was locked in, plus there's also physical presence."

(On Jordan McRae)
"The thing about it is you always want them to score. With Trae, Jordan and Jarnell, you always want those guys with the mentality to score, but in this case, I thought he was rushing shots. He had a couple off balance where he was trying to get fouled. I mean you have big physical guards on the side of the ball for Mizzou. He has to be able to go over the top, get around, set screens and really have to be a decoy sometimes. You have to be able to set a back screen to get a guy a layup. Then it loosens up the defense, but if he's not screening, he's standing. Those guys are physical guys. Now everything becomes one on one, then it's tough. I think I just tell them, allow the offense to come to you, set screens, catch and shoot, then attack the close out. They did a better job in the second half or later in the second half with that."

(On post season tournaments)
"I think we have a level of toughness. We have a tremendous level of togetherness as a team and a family. That's also the other reason why you win eight out of the last nine. You have to come together as a team. You have to figure out what's more important. Is it the W or the stats, the individual stats? Our guys are more consumed with getting Ws. It's no fun losing ballgames. Even in those losses, early in the season, I didn't think we were a very tough team, I really didn't. I thought there were a lot of errors we had to improve- scoring the ball, defending, everything you name in, but we got better and the guys stuck with it. It's really a credit to our guys to stick with it and making a decision that they want to be good as a team and they want to put the time in. You have to give credit to the guys for being locked in and wanting to be a successful team."

(On not reliving past seasons)
"The most important and I try to stay off what happened in the past. The most important thing is to win the game that's presented to us, play a certain way, compete at a high level. Whatever the scout report, whoever the opponent is, not get consumed with `man if we don't lose this game," like I told the guys, win or lose this ballgame, win or lose, it's over. You can't go out there hesitant, second guessing, doubting everything as a homerun shot, a homerun pass, just play the game. If you turn it over, you turn it over. But if you're defending, you play hard and you give yourself a chance. That's the thing we talk about. It's not necessarily we have to win one more game, we have to do this. I think we're an NCAA team. Our goal is to go try and compete and win an SEC tournament and I think that's the most important thing. First team that's presented to us, get a game plan and try to win the ballgame."

(On development of players)
"Well they all satisfy. I shouldn't say that. That 11 win season at Missouri State, that was painful, but you always get something out of a season, especially when your guys are committed to being successful and that's the one thing about these guys. They want to be good, but sometimes it's the level, when I pick up the information coach is giving me, how much do I want to listen and then you figure out, man that actually works. That's for any kid. That's the thing I think with our team, it was one of those deals, you're kind of in denial when Jeronne Maymon is not playing. Well we can do without him. That's an adjustment period. That guy brought a level of toughness to your program. All the sudden, Jordan McRae had to go from that role he was playing into a star role. Trae got back to a star level. Jarnell became a star. You have guys that stepped to the plate when it was time, but it was hard early. You have a guy, it's not like Jeronne graduated, he's a part of your team. Now all the sudden in the back of your mind, he'll be back, well he didn't come back. Those guys stepped up and did what they had to do."

TENNESSEE JUNIOR GUARD JORDAN McRAE

(On his performance)
"At the same time in my mind, we're down. I've got to step up for my team. I was just trying to do anything me team needs me to do."

(On frustration)
"Of course, you get frustrated not seeing your first two shots go in and seeing the other team's shots go in. It's like Coach Martin kept telling me, 'It will come to you,' and it did."

(On first half struggles)
"I don't think they really did anything. I really couldn't get any clean looks. As far as that, it was tough. But other than that, they didn't do anything that any other team doesn't do."

(On picking it up)
"I really just knew during the second half that I needed to pick it up, and I just took it upon myself to start trying to find my shot."

(On winning)
"You just have to win; we're trying to put ourselves in good position for the SEC tournament. As long as there's games, there is work to do. We've got one game; don't know who that's going to be. We'll just go from there."

(On the crowd)
"The crowd was amazing, especially for the last home game. Even when we got down eight or 10, they were still a force, and our coaches did a great job of keeping us in the game."

TENNESSEE JUNIOR GUARD Trae Golden

(On the team being known and called for their toughness)
"Better than being called soft. I think the biggest thing for us we take the identity of our coach. Our practices are physical and the things is people think it is toughness but we are just out there for everybody else. People looks at it has toughness but it is when one guy breaks down there is someone there to help him and another person to help that guy. I think more than anything we are just really together."

(On if this game was in the past would the team be able to come back)
"I honestly don't know. Probably not but I am glad that it happened now. I remember one time Jordan (McRae) came over to Coach Martin and I, we just had to tell him to calm down, it is okay. You average 28 or 25 whatever points over the last five games, so teams are not going to give you easy shots. Everybody in the gym knows that. Also, obviously people are always keying into Jarnell (Stokes). Me being point guard I try to keep them calm. I just tell Jarnell to get the ball and score then you are good."

(On the team being able to be a NCAA tournament team)
"Yeah (I think we are an NCAA tournament team)"

TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE GUARD Josh Richardson

(On looking to score more points and pick up slack)
"Yeah, I just noticed that sometimes when our main guys aren't going I figured I would be the person to step up and take some shots."

(On the nature of picking up some slack for the team)
"I am a really unselfish player. So it is not really in my nature to go jack up ten shots or something like that. But when I see they are short I try to get something going for us."

(On playing the game as if it were a 'do or die' game)
"I felt like we played as hard as we could through out. We just weren't hitting shots first-half and second-half they fell. That is what got us going."

(On Coach Martin saying that the team was an NCAA tournament team)
"I feel that way (that we are an NCAA tournament team)"

(On the inbounds pass stolen from Phil Pressey)
"Well when he was taking it out Coach was screaming my name and said get your hands up they are throwing a lob, so I just started jumping and got a tip on it."

(On guarding Phil Pressey)
"It was tough. He is definitely a very good player and quick with the ball. So most of the time I just tried to stay in front of him. I did the best I could today."

(On what Coach Martin said at the time-out when the team was down by 8 points)
"I am not even sure. I don't remember. I just remember looking at the scoreboard and talking to guys as we were coming out saying we are fine, don't panic. We kept playing our game, we came back and won."

TENNESSEE REDSHIRT FRESHMAN FORWARD QUINTON CHEIVOUS

(On the pressure of this game because his dad was all time leading scorer for Missouri)
"It was just another game for me. I am just trying to stay consistent since the first SEC play time I got. I just want to keep working hard and playing games for the rest of the season."

(On talking to his dad before the game)
"He just told me to go out there and play hard."

(On what games his dad sees)
"He watches all of our games on TV."

(On what it means to beat Missouri)
"It is just another game. I feel like the SEC tournament is now strong with the win off Missouri. They are a great team and it is really going to help us push to make a run in the SEC tournament."

(On what he has done to earn his extra playing minutes)
"It is really just me going into the gym. When we come back from trips I am in the gym and I am in the gym early in the mornings with Coach Webster. I am just focused, watching a lot of film and staying consistent working hard."

TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE FORWARD Jarnell Stokes

(On the game)
"Coach Martin reminded us before the game to put our hard hats on. That it's about the intangibles, and it's defense. I think down low, we're defending well. We play hard and get every rebound. This was probably the best rebounding team in the country. We did a great job as a collective group rebounding against them."

(On fight for their lives)
"Yeah, I felt like it was do-or-die for us. It was a must win, and we got to play at home. I think the crowd definitely helped us out this game too."

(On being a part of the team)
"I felt like early in the season, we were struggling so much because Jeronne (Maymon) spoiled us so much. I can only speak for myself, but I know he spoiled me on the rebounding end. I knew I was going to have to play a big rebounding role, but we're learning to figure things out. We had to work on our offense and went big, but I think it's worked out well for us."

(On SEC Tournament)
"Regardless of whether we are in or not, I still want to win the SEC tournament. I'm not really worried about the NCAA tournament. I just want to win the next game."

(On mindset)
"We just really didn't want to lose. It felt like we were fighting for out life. That's why we were so emotional there, at the end because we felt it slipping away. But once we got back up, we felt more comfortable. It's a great feeling."

TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Skylar McBee

(On the amount of significants Coach Martin put on the game)
"As a competitor, you want to play in an atmosphere where there is something on the line. I think it brings out a competitive side and a nature that if you are a competitor that you'll respond to."

(On if the victory means more to him being from Tennessee)
"Well I think being from Tennessee and being a senior, I think it's a big thing. You know, going out with a win - a home win - as far as the end of the regular season. It's good to leave on that and to celebrate with my teammates."

(On missing his first 3-point attempt)
"Well that's part of it. But I did come back with a backboard bank three the next time. So I think that was okay (laughs)."

MISSOURI HEAD COACH FRANK HAITH

(Opening Statement)
"Tough loss for our guys. We didn't compete on the defensive end. We had some mental mistakes. We didn't compete on the boards, they were plus 13 on the glass and they killed us in offensive rebounds. That to me did us in, our inability to play with great toughness when that ball is on the glass."

(On what Tennessee did today to win)
"They just kept going. They were playing with a sense of urgency. I don't think we had all five guys blocking out. You have to block a team out like this. Because they were so physical we became so unphysical. I thought we didn't screen, we got fouls called on us and we got passive. We were worried about fouling. They kept going.

MISSOURI SENIOR FORWARD LAURENCE BOWERS

(On getting into foul trouble)
"I was fine. Obviously you never want to sit out that much in the first half when you are in foul trouble. I just tried to stay warm and I came out and I was just trying to give it my all."

(On what went wrong)
"Like coach said we had a couple defensive miscues and we just didn't compete on the glass."

(On coming up short on road games)
"A good team can't hang their head on this game. Obviously we fell short on a couple road games but I always think there are things you can learn from it. In this game we learned that if we don't rebound you are going to get beat. You just have to get back in the gym and get ready for who ever we have.

(On Tennessee getting the offensive rebounds)
"They were just tougher than us. Point blank. Jarnell Stokes, he wanted the ball more than we did. He uses his body really well. They were tougher than we were and they were rebounding the balls. That is what won the game."

 

 

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