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March 17, 2016

Steve Pikiell

Jameel Warney

Carson Puriefoy

Des Moines, Iowa

Kentucky - 85, Stony Brook - 57

THE MODERATOR: At this time we're taking an opening statement from Coach Steve Pikiell.

STEVE PIKIELL: Obviously not the way we wanted to play today, but we obviously played an excellent team. Their athleticism was really evident in the game and we need to play a lot better than that.

But proud of -- I had three of the best seniors and these two guys are great and they took our school to a place we've never been and real proud of them for that. They're both graduates and they got this thing started.

Q. For both players, you wanted to be here so bad. How would you describe your emotions of having been here and what this meant to you?
CARSON PURIEFOY: You know, it's just a great experience. We finally, you know, we got to the tournament for the first time in school history, so no one can take that away from us. We wanted to come out here and have a better showing but we ran spew a really good team and they played extremely well and we didn't play that well. So that's what happened, but I'm still really thankful to be here and wouldn't trade it for anything.

JAMEEL WARNEY: We're all thankful to be here. Obviously, we didn't have a great showing in this game, but you can't take away from the season. This is going to hurt for probably a few days but at the end of the day you can reflect and show how far we came this season.

Q. Jameel, you guys had some success in the second half but in the first half it was a struggle. What was Kentucky doing to make things so difficult?
JAMEEL WARNEY: They were being Kentucky. They are a great defensive team. They were really athletic. They were huge on their 3 for 5. You can't takeaway from their athleticism, and it's a different level being face-to-face than just seeing them on TV.

Q. In the first 9 minutes it was still only 10-10 even though you were 3 for 17 shooting. Can you describe the frantic effort that you guys were putting in to keep it that close and how difficult was it to cope with that size?
CARSON PURIEFOY: I thought we played pretty good defense in those first few minutes. We were getting shots and rebounding well. But as the game wore on their athleticism kinda wore us down and they started to make shots, and we started to miss shots. And they started to get a lot of offensive rebounds and we can't let a team like this get second chance points. They're a No. 1 rated offense in the country. As the game wore on they got shots and they made them.

Q. Carson, you struggled with your shooting. What was it about their defense or your shot that wasn't working tonight?
CARSON PURIEFOY: They're really long and athletic and that probably bothered me a little bit, but I just think I had an off night, you know, it happens. Probably not the best situation for it to happen in, but it did. But credit to Kentucky, you know, they came out and they had a good game plan and they played me with bigger players and they got in my face, so all credit to them.

Q. Jameel, they were double-teaming you right from the start. Was that something you expected and how much does that distribute the flow of the whole team?
JAMEEL WARNEY: Obviously, we knew they were going to do that. I just feel like we knew they were going to double-team. But some of the shots were rimming in and out for me and it wasn't like I was air balling them, but it just was just one of those nights for us, and we just couldn't make shots, and at the end of the day you've got to make shots to win games.

Q. You've kind of alluded to the great season you had. I know it's fresh now, but how easy will it be to wipe this out compared to, you know, what you've accomplished over the course of your careers?
JAMEEL WARNEY: Well, first of all, this is a way better feeling than last year and then when we lost another in the American East Final. It still hurts but we accomplished making it to the tournament and even though we lost you can't take that away.

CARSON PURIEFOY: It will sting for a little while. We didn't want to have this outcome, but, you know, no one can take away from us, we actually made history for the school and the community and we did what we set out to do which was make it to the NCAA Tournament. Like you said, we did have a historic season and we're just really proud of our team and our coaching staff and everyone who was involved.

Q. For both guys, you guys obviously dreamed of getting here for so long and rightly so built it up so much, when you get here is it tough to play it like a normal game just because you've been waiting for this so long?
JAMEEL WARNEY: No, you play every game to win. We had a great game plan to try and stop them, but once you get on the floor with them you can see how talented they are, great guards, athletic bigs. They are going to be in the Final Four and they're a great team and we tried our hardest.

CARSON PURIEFOY: Just to piggyback off what he said, they're a tremendous team. We play every game to win, but, you know, they came out with a great game plan and they shut our -- they tried to shut our best players down and they made baskets and that's what you have to do to win games at this level.

Q. You guys have played good teams this season. What do you think separates Kentucky from the other good teams you guys have played?
CARSON PURIEFOY: You know, they have tremendous guard play, high-scoring backcourt in the country as I've said a bunch of times, and their bigs are athletic. They have a great system, a great coach. They're young, but, you know, they really know how to play the game and they really play well together, they play well as a team so I think they will go far in this tournament.

JAMEEL WARNEY: First of all, they have the best upside I've seen in my four years here. They get good every game. They were good this game and they'll get better the next game. So they have a tremendous upside.

Q. Continuing on that theme you guys handled the size that Vanderbilt had. How did Kentucky use their size differently? Did it have to do with the fact that sometimes they ran those big guys out to the top of the key to guard?
JAMEEL WARNEY: Well, Kentucky had multiple bigs who can just run, jump and dunk, and it's just -- you have to respect their depth. They're 10, 11 deep, and they wore us out.

CARSON PURIEFOY: I would say that Kentucky's bigs are more athletic. You know, they switched on ball screens and they could cover me up at the top, which I don't really see that often. So that's credit to them and how athletic they are and how they play.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Thanks, guys. We will open it up for Coach.

Q. Steve, again, just like Jameel was saying about the number of bigs that they were able to run at you, does that kind of just shake everybody's confidence when they're seeing something they've never seen before?
STEVE PIKIELL: They're so athletic at every position. I mean, Vanderbilt wasn't like that. The guard, Ulis, is right from the bat and their bigs are athletic, their wings are athletic and they have a lot of guys coming off the bench and they're well coached and I thought they played, like, really well, too.

I saw the film and they're very good but they played really well tonight. Unfortunately we didn't. I thought we could hang around a little bit. I thought the three-point play at the end of the first half hurt us because we were hanging around and we needed a good shooting night. We knew that we had 25 offensive rebounds. We worked hard in the game. But you've got to shoot the ball in these games when you play a team that's well coached who does a great job, they were really, really in us and wouldn't allow us to do a lot of things. Very difficult game and the way they played, that's a very, very good basketball team.

Q. Kentucky shot 32% in the first half, 76% in the second half. Do you think fatigue was a factor going on?
STEVE PIKIELL: I mean, I think they're -- yeah, could have been, but among they're very good, they made some difficult shots, too, and then the score kinda get away from you, too, then and we're rushing shots down at our end trying to get back into the thing, so the way you play in offense hurts your defense, too, sometimes and I thought that happened for us in the second half when we got down.

Q. Coach Carson said he thought Kentucky was a Final Four team. What do you think of that?
STEVE PIKIELL: I watched a lot of tape. I thought they were excellent, and seeing them live they're better than I thought, you know. They can just overwhelm you. Their size is -- and they have a point guard that just kinda runs things, and Jamal Murray is shooting the ball. I thought we did a pretty decent job deporting him, too. Some of the shots he hit were kinda unguardable for us. They got a great coach, so they've got a great combination and they played today -- if they play like that they're going to go very far.

Q. Steve, because of the size and the athleticism that we talked about they have all these potential NBA players, did you think maybe Jameel would get more single coverage than he did? He was getting doubled.
STEVE PIKIELL: No, he was getting doubled. He hit 25. He had another double-double. I knew they were going to run guys at him and they got big length. His whole career he's been like that, and he's able to produce like that. He's a terrific player and he is a better kid than he is a player; but, no, we knew that, and that's how I would play us, too, if I had a bunch of 7-footers that can jump over the backboard.

Q. Steve, you know, what did you say to them when this is over about trying to shake off this and remember everything else?
STEVE PIKIELL: You know what, I told 'em only one team is going to leave this tournament happy, and, you know, this team did something that no team has ever done, 18-game win streaks. They've been great all year. We didn't want to play like that today because we know we're capable of playing better. But you've got to give Kentucky credit. They made us play this way.

Just real proud of our guys and all the sack guys, 90 practices, 30 some-odd games and it's a long, long grind and they're great, kids, too. Proud of our seniors. They've just been awesome on and off court, and all three of them are going to keep playing and that's a nice thing, nice tradition we've started, too.

Q. Is there any part of you that wishes you could have had a different match-up even on the same lining against the other 4 seeds compared to this one?
STEVE PIKIELL: I mean, whew, that is a really good team. So if there's teams -- I saw a lot of basketball today. That's a really good basketball team. You can't pick who you get in the tournament, and we're excited for our young university to be here, and, you know, we just played a great team today. So we have to play who they put us in the bracket with, and we played a great, great program, 55th trip to the tournament. Maybe our 55th time we'll look like them, too.

Q. Coach, what's your assessment of Skal Labissiere? Did he surprise you in any way?
STEVE PIKIELL: You know, he really did. You try to take away a few things and Ulis and Murray, we wanted those guys to shoot the ball, keep the ball out of Ulis's and Murray's hands, and he started the game off and he started making shots and obviously he's big, he's long and that caused problems for us for sure. I thought he played really well.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.


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