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March 10, 2016

Avery Johnson

Riley Norris

Retin Obasohan

Nashville, Tennessee

Alabama - 81, Ole Miss - 73

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with Alabama. We'll ask Coach Johnson for some general comments on the game.

COACH JOHNSON: We're excited. We had an opportunity to win this game. I'm so proud of our team. These two guys that are here on the podium, Retin Obasohan got off to a slow start but had a terrific second half; and on the other hand, Riley Norris helped ignite our offense when we were struggling with some of his three-point shooting.

So I'm just proud of our guys. They played hard. Obviously, you guys saw the game plan. We were going to try to do the best that we could do on Moody. We basically said, we know he's going to score 20 points, but we've got to try to deal with the other guys. And I'm proud of the way we defended the other guys.

So a terrific victory for our team, and I'm just proud of our defensive effort. But as you can see, whether it's at the free-throw line and with some of the decisions we made, we still have some improvement. So great victory for the Crimson Tide.

Q. First question is for Riley. I know you went through some trials with your shooting down the stretch this year, but you came out really hot. What was your mindset coming into tonight?
RILEY NORRIS: The Coach, they have a lot of confidence in me, and also my teammates. So they got me the ball when I was open. You see the first one go in, you get a little more aggressive, and you want to shoot more and hopefully make it. But I got to give credit to my teammates and my coaches. Just instilling that confidence in me makes me want to play this way.

Q. Just talk about the play, Riley. I thought one of the biggest plays down the stretch was your putback on the offensive glass. Talk about that play.
RILEY NORRIS: Yeah. I knew it was getting late in the shot clock, and they were trying to make a little run on us. Justin got it to hit the rim and made a tough shot. I saw it come off the backside. So I tried to slip in front of the guy, and I was able to lay it in. So I'm just glad we got the win, most importantly.

Q. Retin, can you talk about what it was like trying to guard Moody tonight? Was any strategy more successful than others trying to stop him?
RETIN OBASOHAN: Gosh, with him, he's just such a gifted offensive player. The best thing you can do is try to contain him. Like Coach said, we knew he was going to get his, but we just wanted to restrict or limit the amount of points that his teammates would get.

With that in mind, we did the best that we could on Moody. Obviously, he got his. But I've got to give credit to these guys, executing the game plan and just limiting the rest of the team.

Q. For both players, you've had difficulties with Kentucky so far. How has your team changed since last month, and what have you seen of them that's different, particularly with the emergence of scowl this year?
RETIN OBASOHAN: We're a better team, and we've also matured. With that comes just having the experience playing in this league. So Kentucky's a good team, and they do what they do, but at the same time, I got complete faith in our coaching staff and teammates that we have more than enough to go out there and give them our best shot.

RILEY NORRIS: Just to follow up what Retin said, we're starting to play a lot better. I know Kentucky is a really great team, give them all the respect. We're going to go in and scout and do the best we can. Our coaching staff always prepares us really well. So we're just going to go in and do our best tomorrow night.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the job that Edwards and Coleman did tonight, not only in scoring, but they seemed to do a little bit of everything.
COACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. We've been just consistently talking about what type of team are we going to be when Retin is not in the game? And believe it or not, it was kind of a blessing in disguise when he got foul trouble. This is the second game, I think, in the last two weeks that he's gotten in foul trouble. Didn't play many minutes in the first half. And we were able to be on the lead with him on the bench. And it's because of guys like Justin and Arthur taking and making big shots for us.

So when we shoot the three like we shot it tonight, it definitely helps our offense, especially when Retin is struggling a little bit offensively.

Q. Coach, I know you were not happy with the rebounding against Georgia on the road in the last regular season game, but the team tonight stayed close to the Rebels on the glass. Just talk about the shot blocking. Donta Hall with five. But 12 as a team, and Ole Miss did not record a blocked shot. But really, your interior defense really seemed to be the difference tonight.
COACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. We put so much of an emphasis on rebounding. We've had so many different rebounding drills. Everyone -- I refer it to everyone I've learned in my career. Just making contact, and also it's just a part of will. You've got to will yourself to want to rebound.

Our big guys did a tremendous job on Saiz. He embarrassed us the first game of SEC play at Ole Miss, and our big guys like Jimmie Taylor and Donta Hall and Shannon and Riley, those guys stepped up because that was a big part of our game plan was to try to slow him down.

Q. Coach, it seemed like on a couple of the threes that Moody made, you just have to kind of clap your hands and tell your guys good job and come to the other end. Is that discouraging at all? Is it stuff? Or do you just play the next play?
COACH JOHNSON: No. I was telling them all through the time-outs, I said, remember what we talked about. If he makes three threes from half-court, we're not going to drop our heads. He does it to everybody.

Andy's done a great job with Stefan, just giving him the green light to be the tremendous offensive gifted player that he is. But I told him that the team, a couple of other guys make five or six threes, that's when I'm going to be discouraged.

So he shot 17 threes and made 8, and probably 4 of those threes, man, they were from the parking lot.

We were there. Sometimes we had two guys on him, and he still made it. So we weren't going to be discouraged because we knew what we were trying to accomplish tonight.

Q. Coach, looking ahead to the Kentucky game, the last time you played Kentucky, you were very complimentary about Tyler Ulis and how he was able to play against you guys. How do you anticipate changing that tomorrow? How do you look to stop that again?
COACH JOHNSON: We've just got to try to stay in front of him, contain him, and we can't afford for him to have a double double. Got to try to take something away, which is easily said than done. Fortunately for us, we've played him twice. Played him first game, 36-hour game after we played Ole Miss at home, and then we went in the Rupp Arena, and they got the best of us.

So we know what we're dealing with. We feel we're a little bit different team now. At least we played in a situation where they had a pretty large home crowd. They'll have the same thing tomorrow from what I understand. So at least my guys won't get shocked by what they're going to see with their fans tomorrow.

Q. Coach, what did you say to Stefan as he was coming out when you shook his hand and embraced it?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, there's two things. The first thing I said was, you know, great game. You're just a joy to watch. You play the game the right way. You're a fierce competitor. But what I wanted to say was I'm glad that I don't have to coach against you any more in this SEC Tournament.

Q. Coach, talk about the confidence level of the team. Even though you lost to Georgia, you seemed to play better, better balanced scoring. The defensive effort tonight, particularly in the second half, was very impressive. Just comment on the confidence that this team over the last couple games.
COACH JOHNSON: For some strange reason, when we've been counted out, we are so much of a better team. I could just see it in practice. We had a grueling practice on Thursday. I mean, a grueling practice because we were all in on this first game because, if you can win the first game, you never know what's going to happen. And our guys responded.

There were some things that were said in practice that needed to be said. We had some long film sessions. I think we probably had the longest film session of the year on Monday. But our guys responded, and we got some good carryover.

But now we're in a situation where we've got to get back to the hotel, get some rest, and come back out and play again and, hopefully, play the game the right way, the way we know we can play it, and don't beat ourselves.

Q. Coach, with Retin getting two fouls early, I thought sometimes in the postseason you'll see guys step up. Talk about the 15 minutes you got out of Brandon Austin tonight.
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah. You know, Brandon, even though he only scored 5 points, he was our team player of the game because his energy in the first half was tremendous. The way he got in there, blocked shots -- again, like you said, early we had 12 blocked shots. He had a big one for us tonight. He hadn't been getting a lot of minutes, been mainly playing on our scout team.

So I thought about coming into the game, that I wanted to give him a chance to get some minutes, and you never know what can happen in it a tournament. The team probably was preparing a little bit more for other guys since he wasn't in the rotation. But fortunately, he came out, made a three, was really involved, great energy. So we're going to need some more of that energy on tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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