Jan. 29, 2015
"The biggest key to the victory was defending the glass. We did a way better job than we have done all year. We gave up three offensive rebounds to a big, tough and physical team. They have the ability to throw three or four front court guys at you. They have great length and girth. They are a very good team. I was really proud of the physical effort not only by our big men in Michale [Kyser], Erik [McCree] and Merrill [Holden] but also our guards. I thought our three starting guards all stepped up and really defended our glass to finish stops. Our turnover margin was good again tonight. Our guards were able to get out in space and do what they do best."
On making a similar run to last year:
"I am not sure we are as talented defensively as we have been the past two years, just with the physical make up of this team and the depth. If our mindset is focused on it as much, it will only allow for us to improve defensively. It has to be the biggest key for us to be as good as we can be night in and night out. We have some talented offensive players. If we spend too much time talking about how we are going to score, we are almost wasting time to a certain extent. We have to figure out how to defend our glass and get stops."
On energy level:
"Overall, we played really hard and physically. Our guys three or four minutes into the game were gassed, which is a good sign. We started to get them rests periodically. We try to keep three or four of our starters out there together. Speedy [Smith], Raheem [Appleby] and Alex [Hamilton] led the way for us to get 19 deflections in the first half which is pretty incredible. If we could get 19 every half, we would be in business. Speedy got his hands on a ton of balls and I thought Alex and Raheem did as well. We did not do anything differently. I think those guys understood the magnitude of the game and the talent of the opponent. Our crowd probably had something to do with it. Our crowd was electric tonight."
On the role of the 10-0 run to start the second half:
"I thought it was huge. We came out of the locker room and set the tone defensively. I wish we could have held on to that string of stops we were getting early in the second half. I certainly did not expect it against a very good Western Kentucky team who has an incredible 1-2 punch and really good complimentary players. They really understand their roles. They are very good defensively and fantastic offensively."
On two three-pointers after WKU cut the deficit to six:
"Those were big and got our crowd back involved. We were searching for a couple of minutes. We had that `Oh no, let's just try and hold on' look,' which will bite you against a capable team. We challenged our guys at a couple of timeouts and told them that Western Kentucky was capable of coming from behind, regardless of the double-digit deficit. I do not know what the ultimate deficit was they had early in the year at Ole Miss, but they showed they have done it before. Obviously, they are very capable and have dangerous three-point shooters. We had to get our edge back. Sometimes a couple of makes will do that."
On WKU foul trouble:
"Every minute [George] Fant is on the floor, he is capable of getting a basket and getting a rebound. He was definitely a factor. If George Fant gets in foul trouble, I am sure Coach Harper is not pleased to take him out of the game. It is just like if Speedy or Raheem was in foul trouble for us. We are in trouble to a certain extent. You have to ask other guys to step up."
On continuing to improve defensively:
"We have to continue to harp on defense. Tomorrow will be all about Marshall, but on Monday we will continue to learn from us and not just harp on the next opponent. We will learn from our past couple of games. We will show the possessions where we are really good and then show some of the possessions where we did not do our jobs. It is just a process. We will continue to make it priority number one. We will try and be the best defensive team we can be and individually try and help our guys improve in certain areas, so as a group we can max out on that end of the floor."
"I know when I am looking at conference stats, they are getting up a lot of threes that they are capable of making. They are playing fast and at a high tempo. Anyone that shoots and makes that many threes is dangerous. This is a really good league and we will continue to have an X on our back. It is a big opportunity for Marshall to come in here and knock us off and beat us at home. It is also a big opportunity for us to move forward and continue to improve and take care of our home floor.
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