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Postgame Quotes: Tennessee 88, Tennessee State 67

Nov. 22, 2013

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Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

(Opening statement)
"I thought it was a good team effort. It was a hard-fought game. We knew those guys would come in and fight, be aggressive, be assertive. They did a great job controlling the tempo in the first half. We had to be patient. I thought we did a solid job of defending in the first half, but I thought they did a great job of controlling the tempo, the pace, and making timely shots and getting to the free throw line. A real credit to those guys in the first half. I thought in the second half, we maintained our level of toughness, executed offensively and made some shots, got some guys to make plays. We did a few more things with Jarnell (Stokes) and Jordan (McRae). They got to the rim and loosened things up. I thought we did a solid job, one of the better jobs we've done in transition offensively all season. We capitalized. I thought we missed a couple of late shots, but I think that was lack of focus. I thought we did a better job in transition and trying to score the ball."

(On taking care of the basketball, avoiding turnovers)
"The thing about it is you need to take care of the ball to give yourself a chance to win games. We've done a good job. The last game against Citadel, we had 14 turnovers. When you run the motion offense, again, it's tough because you have to dictate reads. You have to see how they're defending guys. Sometimes you can pass the ball too quick, but they're doing a better job about that. ... We have three freshmen with a good feel for the ball and how to play around the perimeter. They make good decisions with the basketball. They're doing a good job so far in taking care of the basketball. Darius (Thompson) and Antonio (Barton) do a good job of facilitating and attacking on offense."

(On Darius Thompson's night)
"I thought he did a good job. He does a good job even in practice of getting steals. You're talking bout a guy who's 6-4, almost 6-5, who has a good feel and anticipates well and uses his frame against smaller guys. I thought he did a good job to get those steals. I think he had five or seven assists. I thought he could have had a few more assists in that last minute and a half."

(On Jordan McRae's scoring)
"He can score the basketball. That's what he does. When he's scoring well, he's shooting well. He's not taking bad shots. He's not taking off-balance shots. You've just got to keep getting the ball. That's the biggest key to scoring. Now he's not hunting for shots. ... He's improved his perimeter shot. You can't leave him open on the three-point line. It used to be, if he's in the rhythm or making shots, then his three-point shot is falling. Now, you can't leave him open. He's getting to the free throw line. He knows how to use his body. He's very crafty"

(On if McRae starts taking more shots)
"The thing about it is that he watches a lot of film. It's my job as a coach to make sure he's getting the ball in shooting positions, but the thing about it is they guys are looking for him. He doesn't have to hunt for shots much. There may be a game where the defense really congregates and he has to make one more play. He's good at that. As long as it's in the flow of what we're doing. Guys expect him to shoot the ball."

(On benefits of having Antonio Barton and Darius Thompson in the game together)
"You have two guys that make good decisions with the basketball. Two guys that can make shots, put it on the floor and willing to pass even if they are point guards. They are looking for other guys and they do a good job of finding guys. I think it helps when both of them are out there. Antonio is probably more of a scorer when he is out there. We had a mix up with one of them on the point and the other at the two then he flipped just so you can get a fill for different situations."

(On missing too many shots around the rim)
"We are missing too many. In my opinion in the first four games we are missing too many lay-ups. We have to capitalize. We spend a lot of time doing lay-ups and blocking drills, shooting in off the glass. We need more focus than anything. I don't think there is a lot of contact even when we get hit I still think we need to capitalize. That is probably one of the biggest errors we have to correct."

(On whether or not Jarnell Stokes should be dribbling down low)
"Again he is another guy that watches film. I think he would rather fill you as a post than make moves. He is one of those guys who wants to see where you are from the stand point of feeling you then he makes his move. Sometimes you have to tell him to just get it and go instead of dribbling just go up."

(On Antonio Barton's shooting percentage)
"Again you are talking about a guy who has always been able to make shots. We went back on the scouting report and saw catching and shooting threes then one, two dribble pull ups. That has always been his game and he has been very effective in that. He always takes good care of the ball. He isn't rattled under pressure. if you get on to close to him or take him to the rim he finds his guys. He is a guy that is a veteran and has a good pace to his game."

(On Darius Thompson making difficult passes)
"Darius is more of a passer type of point guard. We need him to score more. I think he missed two lay-ups late in the game. He almost looked like a globe trotter because he would rather pass it than attack the rim and score the basket."

(On looking forward to the tournament and what has changed)
"We are getting better and that is the biggest key. Obviously the competition level will rise, but I think it is more about us as a team. We have been challenged early with some teams that have very impressive resumes. That is one of the things about our guys we have been in battles. A true road game that some freshman guys probably wouldn't have seen until the 5th or 6th game or some schools don't. Our guys will be ready, but it is never easy at a neutral site. We have to get familiar with the rim shooting free throws and making lay-ups. Also you aren't familiar with your opponent. All of those things but we will be ready to go."

Senior G Jordan McRae

(On performance tonight)
"Jeronne and Antonio did a great job of getting me shots. I think it's easier now that we're playing and getting fast break points, and it's working out for everybody."

(On transition improvements)
"Just having Jeronne out there because two years ago Jeronne was our second best ball handler besides Trae (Golden). So just having him we can push and with Antonio coming from the school where all they do is fast break all the time, it helps us out a lot having those two."

(On impact of skills academy over summer)
"I just try to work on my game all summer and throughout the year. I just believe working or your game and taking the same shots you work on increases confidence."

(On second half run)
"I think Coach did a really good job of calling plays for me to attack. I got a and-one, I got a foul, plays like that get you back in the game."

(on plays focused on him)
"I think he did it at the time just because they cut it down to six. Especially the way the refs were calling the game, it was just easier for us to attack."

(On frustration in second half)
"I mean that's what teams are going to do, make runs. I think we have to do a better god of holding our leads late. We always let up, but being able to bounce back was good for us."

(On missed shots)
"I think we're just concentrated a little too much on the foul call. I think we just have to go up and focus on the rest of the play."

(On Darius Thompson)
"Darius is just smooth. He finds the open guys, a lot of times Darius can score but he passes. That's just the kind of guy you love to have on your team."

(On Barton and Thompson playing together)
"The teams are definitely pressing or going man, I can just let Darius and Antonio handle it more. I think heaving Darius at the two and Antonio at the two, they both can shoot the ball well. Having them there frees it up for a lot of us."

(On confidence heading to Bahamas)
"I mean yeah. Definitely when you can win the three games in a row going into your next game, you're confident. UTEP is a good team and we're ready to go."

(On shot selection)
"It's just watching film to know what shots are good shot and when bad shot are bad shot. I'm just continually watching film on that."

(On free throw shooting)
"I think we just have to focus in early. When you're playing better teams like we're going to be playing next week, those free throw can win or lose you the game. So I think we just have to focus when we are going up to the line."

Sophomore G Armani Moore

(On improvements to play on the road)
"I feel like as a team, we have gotten better at knowing each others rows. We know who can play defense really good. We know who can score the ball. It is all about knowing your team, and right now we are looking pretty good."

(On looking forward to playing big name teams in upcoming tournament)
"We haven't had to go through adversity yet, and of course we are going to play bigger and better teams. We just have to stick it out and keep our composure because it is all about runs in the game of basketball."

(On Darius Thompson's passing ability)
"It is very exciting to play with him because you never know when you are going to get the ball. You have to always watch him to see what he is going to do. I like how he passes the ball. He is very smart with it."

(On Thompson getting more comfortable during last few games)
"He knows his role, and he is very good at knowing whose role is whose. He knows how to deliver the ball, and I like that about him."

(On status going into the tournament)
"I think we are in pretty good shape right now. I think we continue to grow stronger every game. We have figured out what we can do as a team. Right now, I fell like everyone is confident. I feel like we will do good."

(On recovering after the loss to Xavier)
"I just look at that as a humbling experience. If we see them again, that will make us even hungrier for a win. That should make us want to go out there and takeover the game from the jump."

Freshman G Darius Thompson

(On playing defense)
"I feel like came in and got a feel steals and got us going. We started getting the lead when I started playing better defense."

(On how he has improved on defense)
"From the beginning of the year until now my defense has improved a lot. I used to struggle a lot on defense. Just practicing it every day and getting better and better at it."

(On improving on defense)
"Not really. In high school I didn't have problems with defense but in college and I got here it was really bad. Defense was really hard for me. I just kept practicing and I got better."

(On defense)
"I have some ways to go to be a lock down defender. I think I am good right now at playing the passing lanes. The thing I have to get better at is when my man has the ball and guarding him. But overall I think I am pretty good at it."

(On guarding)
"Coach and I have talked about it. I have improved a lot guarding little guys. It is just me. I just have to sit down and be lower on defense."

(On his defensive play tonight)
"I just got comfortable out there and we started pushing the ball. My teammates got open and I just found them."

(On his passing ability)
"My favorite thing to do is pass. I would rather have 10 assists then 20 points but that is just me. Most people it is the opposite but I just like to pass."

(On the team improving)
"Every game and practice we are getting better. We just have to keep doing that to improve. We have to do that everyday until we go to the Bahamas and just carry that out until the season."

(On playing with Antonio)
"I really like being in there with Antonio, two point guards. Whoever gets it just goes. I just like when we are both in I feel like I am the point guard and he is the shooting guard."

Junior F Jarnell Stokes

(On biggest problem)
"I think our biggest token is, we didn't step on the gutter once we were up. We started the game off descent, but we didn't continue to play like we were suppose too. "

(On being up 16 at the half)
"I think right there , that's where good teams, they kill their opponent and thats something we didn't do."

(On getting control of the game in second half)
" I think we just continue to play hard. Everyone is hungry, as far as, getting momentum up, as we get ready to go to the Bahamas. I think we just put the ball in the hole and we made it hard for guys to get the ball in the wings."

(On challenge ahead against tougher teams)
" I'm definitly looking forward to it. I think this is a great test for us. We have won three straight, and I feel we played pretty well in those three games. So, my only focus is UTEP.

(On 50 percent increase in free throws)
"Yes, I'm very glad I was able to make free throws. That's something I really worked on. It really showed today. I let two of them go but I'm very glad I worked on that. You know, a game like this if I was missing free throws I would have low numbers. So I was able to make my free throws today."

Tennessee State Head Coach Travis Williams

(On the biggest issue in the game)
"Our decision making. It's a credit to them, they went to their horses. Stokes and Maymon and those guys gave themselves second and third-chance opportunities. The tale of the tape is that they had 18 offensive rebounds to our total of 20 rebounds. I think they just really target getting the ball and got touches inside to high-percentage shots. That was the key to the game."

(On bouncing back from an 0-6 start)
"We have Auburn next week, so it doesn't get any easier. But as long as we keep getting better, I have to take the positives out of this. We're just looking for the right combination and chemistry, we're still looking to establish ourselves. You know what you're going to get from Patrick Miller day in and day out, you know what type of defenses he's going to face, but we try to get our other guys to step up in some major roles. That's what we're trying to establish now.

(On the struggles with three-point shooting)
"We said, 'Listen guys, we can't afford to let it be a game of runs' and that's what happened. We let them get some momentum. We're trying to make sure our guys understand making great decisions. We still settle for threes when I emphasize that drive action and getting to the rim, getting to the free throw line, taking advantage of the new rules."

 

 

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