Postgame Quotes: Tennessee 69, No. 23 Witchita State 60

Dec. 13, 2012

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Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

(Opening Statement)
"First I'd like to recognize Coach Mears and the lettermen who were in attendance. I'd also like to recognize Bill Justus, who spoke to our guys last night. I thought he did a tremendous job just really telling them about being a family. Not so much about about basketball, but being a family and that being part of the Tennessee basketball family is for a lifetime. I thought our guys responded really well to that. He was talking to them the same stuff we tell them as staff about being a family, being a unit and appreciating the opportunities.

"I thought Trae Golden was huge tonight. He really attacked the rim, made plays and forced the referee to make calls. He was very aggressive. I thought it was his best game all season, just being assertive and being in tune on both ends of the floor. I thought he was outstanding defensively. He was huge for us.

"Yemi Makanjuola played an exceptional game as well. He's been playing really well defensively. Tonight he made some baskets for us. We've spent a lot of time with him on offensively, being aggressive, being assertive, looking to score the ball. I thought he did a great job.

"We made 80 percent of our free throws, which is good. We did a good job in the paint getting post feeds and paint touches and being assertive, which I thought was great for us.

"Our bench has outscored our opponents for seven straight games. That's a great stat with large contributions by Jordan McRae being aggressive and being in attack mode. I thought he did a great job.

"You have to give your hat off to Wichita State, a very talented team, a very physical team. On our schedule, I wondered why we were doing this because I know what they bring to the table, what caliber a team they are. I know at the end it will help us from an RPI standpoint but also they're a really talented opponent. Hopefully, when we move forward in the future, fans will recognize the fact that you don't have to have a BCS name to know that it's a good opponent. We've gone away from those days. It's not like it used to be. That's a very talented team. That's an NCAA tournament team. I've said when I got a job at this level, I would give Missouri Valley teams an opportunity ... I don't know if that was a very smart move, but we came out with a win."

(On if game had a "postseason feel" to it)
"I thought so. I think even the atmosphere before the game, I just felt those guys were hungry, they were aggressive, they were ready to play. They played physical. They did a great job with the scouting reports, and our guys did a tremendous job of when we couldn't get into our set plays -- they were denying wings -- that we did a good job with our motion offense."

(On getting the win despite Jarnell Stokes playing just 18 minutes)
"Guys just made plays. For one, you're at home, and you talk about protecting your home court is very important. You have to do anything possible to protect your home court, and we did that. Trae and Jordan weren't playing not to lose the game. They were in attack mode. They took care of the ball and made free throws, and that was very important."

(On Yemi Makanjuola's night and improvement)
"He's always been a defensive guy. I think more than anything he's gaining the confidence. Down the stretch in a game, if we need a stop, I'll put Yemi on the floor anytime because he makes plays, does a great job with the scouting report and knows how to carry out his assignments. Physically, he's going to block out. That's a tough matchup for Yemi against (Carl) Hall, who's physical and runs and is a very good player. He played an exceptional game. We couldn't find ways to stop him, and I thought Yemi did a great job accepting the challenge."

(On what this game does for Vols' confidence moving forward)
"I never thought we lacked confidence. I think more than anything, as a coach, you always have to assess when you feel like you've made an errors or made mistakes and have to correct things. I think to schedule Virginia and Georgetown back to back is probably not a very smart thing to do. Then you play this very talented Wichita State team. I think that's extremely tough in preseason when you have control of the schedule ... I don't think our guys lost confidence. A lot was made about the scores in those two games, which I could truly care less about. At the end of the game, that's how those two teams played their style ... This team was a little more aggressive, ran the ball a little more, so it turned out a little bit differently."

(On Jordan McRae and the offense)
"Offensively, we just do what we continue to do. The biggest key is guys continue to play their game. The thing I tell Jordan all the time is if you score, you rebound. Trae Golden is a scoring point guard. He's not a pass-first point guard. He's a guy who scores the ball. Whatever you are, you have to be who you are. That's the most important thing."

(On Golden at the No. 2 position)
"We did a little bit with (Brandon) Lopez out there. Then I think they came out with a bigger lineup and we took Lopez out and put Josh (Richardson) in. We're going to do that more because Trae scores the ball and Lopez is good at running the offense."

(On what he expected from WSU's Carl Hall)
"I didn't recruit him... I wish I did though. He just plays extremely hard. He's a guy with a great skill-level, but he plays so hard. If you can't match his level of toughness and intensity he'll beat you every time. He out-played us in certain areas tonight. He kept a lot of balls alive and had seven offensive rebounds. He's a tough matchup."

(On his emphasis on rebounding tonight)
"We don't back down from a challenge. I think more than anything they really attack the glass, be aggressive and assertive and bring bodies at you. Their guards do a good job with rebounding so I thought we had to do a better job without our guards rebounding."

(On the spark Brandon Lopez provided)
"He just did a good job of playing his role. He pushed the ball - we want him to push it, be aggressive and find bodies. He missed a layup in the first half, but it was an aggressive drive. He put pressure on the defense and does a good job of backing Trae up. He's done a pretty good job in practice so he earned those minutes and I've got to give him those minutes."

(On taking 36 free throws)
"We took a lot of time since the last two losses of attacking off the dribble with the jump-stop, finding guys, getting to the free throw line and making the referee make a call. We have to do a better job of getting offensive fouls. We can't leave a game where nobody has an offensive foul. We need to be aggressive, get in the paint and make the referee make a call. We did that tonight."

(On Josh Richardson and Skylar McBee making defensive plays at the end)
"I could really care less when I look at the offensive stats, but it's always how did we rebound, we did a poor job of taking care of the ball - we had 17 turnovers. You miss shots, you make shots, that's part of the game. You practice those shots and they'll start falling. I don't concern myself with missed shots. It's more of how you play the game. Are you mentally in the game, are you physically in the game, are you boxing-out, are you sticking with your assignment - those are the things I look at."

(On the guards driving to the paint)
"You kind of read the defense, but if you have an opportunity to drive it, you got to take the drive. Late in the second half, Josh drove baseline and made a spin-move and Yemi was standing there. He missed the shot and never should have got on the other side of the blocker. I thought it was a good drive from Josh... He probably shouldn't have shot it with Yemi standing right there. You got to drive that ball, make plays and force the referee to make a call."

(On the team's response to the eight days between games)
"It was probably the worst thing to come of final exams and play a team of this caliber. Those finals can take a toll on you mentally. But I thought the guys practiced well. I thought the competed and practiced hard. It wasn't an easy week because of finals - I tried to stay away from them outside of practice time. I thought they did a good job of bouncing back and finding a way to get a win against a very talented team."

(On the attention of not scoring coming into the game)
"They don't deal with that with me so hopefully it didn't matter to them. I'm the one controlling their minutes. One thing we did, we went back we talked about are we setting good screens and are we driving the ball when we need to. Making shots... once again it was in the wind as far as I'm concerned."


Junior G Trae Golden

(On scoring)
"We have to be aggressive and take our shots. It will eventually fall for us. Guys like Skylar (McBee), Jordan (McRae) and Jarnell (Stokes), they can shoot on the outside, so we just have to make sure that we stay aggressive - that's the biggest thing for us."

(On changing the momentum)
"We had great fans and they gave us a lot of energy. We just made sure that we got to the basket and made the ref make a decision. That's one thing that Coach Martin stresses is just getting to the rack and putting a lot of pressure on the defense so that they collapse on you and pass down low and that's just something we had to do. We have just been in so many different situations as a team, like being down before, so we just knew we had to stay on it and we would be fine."

(On Martin telling him to `penetrate')
"He did tell me [to penetrate]. He told me to just be aggressive and look to attack. It is [my game], I'm a two-guard attack."

(On jump shots)
"You always hit jumpers. As a player, you hit one and if it's me, I hit one and come back down and hit another. It's human nature, but we have to realize we have some hogs down low - a lot of legitimate guys down low, so we just have to make sure that we keep getting them the ball and keep working them inside out. Sometimes we get tunnel vision as guards but we just have to make sure we keep getting down low."

(On pressure of tonight's game)
"I told the guys this was a must-win before the game. We really didn't put pressure on ourselves, but we can't keep playing all these teams until the last minute and then just have it dwindle away from us, like Georgetown, Virginia got off to a bad start. We could have won those games, but we just have to make sure that we protect our home court and I think that's what we did."

(On Witchita State)
"We can see Witchita State again down the road, they are a great team. We just can't allow anyone to come in our house and beat us. We take pride in Tennessee and Ray Mears night and it was important to come out with a W."

Junior G Jordan McRae

(On shooting 500 shots a day)
"I've been working on my free throws and I think we shot well from the line today. It was a close game, so [29-for-36] is real good."

(On Martin telling McRae and Golden to drive the ball)
"We took it upon ourselves. We haven't been shooting the ball well the past two games and he's been appreciative of us, telling us to get to the line more."

(On being a physical game)
"Yes, it was a fun game. I was definitely into it and that's really what we needed leading up to our SEC games."

(On being at home)
"It's always good to play in front of our fans. Our fans are very loud and being at home is always good for that."

(On previous low-scoring games)
"We didn't really talk about it much, not making shots isn't part of it. It just happened to happen two games in a row. We weren't really focused on that. It felt good tonight [scoring almost 70]. We just need to keep doing what we're doing."

(On the importance of this kind of win)
"It's just a quality win. We're just trying to continue it."

(On Trae Golden's offense)
"It was a tremendous effort. Trae is a great free throw shooter. He was 13 for 16, so you can't ask for anything more. I think at times Trae is very strong. He can put his head down and sometimes that's what we need."

(On his aggression)
"We haven't been shooting the ball well, so there's no sense in us just sitting up there trying to shoot threes. He told us to get the guards to the line more. Before, it was just Trae (Golden) and Jarnell (Stokes) just because they're big, so Josh (Richardson) and I have to do a better job of that."

Sophomore C Yemi Makanjuola

(On a door opening for him)
"I put in a good effort and I believe I have an equal opportunity when Coach plays me and I did the best I could and I just have to keep working on my game."

(On taking pride in his role in the defense)
"Every time I have a chance to play defense, I take it seriously, because if I can stop them from scoring then then it can help all of us, too."

(On playing Wichita State's Carl Hall)
"Coming off of the bench, I watched the way he played Jarnell (Stokes) and I saw what he likes to do and the way he did it, so I played him for what he can do and I blocked him for what he likes to do."

(On being a crowd favorite)
"My teammates did a good job telling me what I did well when I went in and out. The crowd likes my energy because I take pride in defense and I try to help the offense and they also help me out. Anyone that comes in and out of the game gets cheered on a lot."

"Our coaches did a good job of telling us what we needed to do. We knew what we were coming to do."

(On his offense)
"I've been working on making more baskets in practice, trying to take my time on offense and not force it when I have time. If I catch a rebound close to the net, then I'll try to put it back, but I'm not going to waste my energy for defense on offense."

(On his role with Jeronne Maymon out)
"We want Jeronne back, but even if he doesn't come back, I am going to keep playing aggressive and bring energy to the team."


Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall

(On Tennessee's performance tonight)
"They play hard. We try to play hard as well. They made a few more plays than we did. It got away from up late a little bit. We have to do a better job of defending the foul line. They shot great free throws and got there way to many times."

(On Cleanthony Early's performance)
"It wasn't a great performance for him . It is the first time they have been on this stage, in the SEC, we just didn't play well. We had too many guys not play as well as they needed to play. We weren't very smart, we fouled too many times. We didn't make our free throws, they did. We just need to play better. We didn't play well enough to win here."

(On saving the zone for the second half)
"We got a steal the first time we ran it I think. We should have played it a little more in retrospect with these fouls. I give them credit, they made plays against man to man. They made a couple of shots against the zone. McRae hit a big one when I think we missed one."

(On Tennessee's defense)
"I said going in this is probably the best defensive team we have played all year. They make it tough. We had some good looks. You have to knock them in. In order to win on the road you have to make plays, make more shots, make more free throws, not foul quite as much as we did, do a little better converting two on ones, not get technical fouls."

(On the technical fouls)
"The first foul - Malcolm - it was dumb. I don't know what was going on. But I saw him turn to their bench and say something. It was really foolish. Carl's I didn't really agree with. He exalted."

(On Tennessee)
"They have to get healthy. Just grind it out. He is going to play that style. They were better at that than we were today at that style."





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