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March 16, 2017

Mike White

Devin Robinson

Kevarrius Hayes

Orlando, Florida

Florida - 80, ETSU - 65

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to Florida and welcome. We'll ask Coach White to make an opening statement and then we'll open it up to questions.

MIKE WHITE: Great feeling. This team's had a rough go at it the last ten days or so. Been through a bunch. And then going back to -- at some point, I know we'll stop talking about John Egbunu, but a couple weeks before then, you've got the unbelievable misfortune, obviously, with John. This team, the last three, four weeks has gone through a lot.

So this was great for us to get back on the right side of the win-loss column. I thought we had a really good week of practice. Our focus and our discipline, especially defensively, was really good to start the second half, and I thought that was the difference in the game for us. I thought we really locked in.

It feels great to advance in the NCAA Tournament. East Tennessee State was terrific. They played extremely hard. They're really athletic. They had a great year. Congrats to those guys.

We've been there. My staff and I are very familiar with that level and how hard it is to be here, and obviously they showed that they very much belong amongst some of the best teams in the country, and they had a great year. Congrats to them.

Q. Before I ask my main question, what was cracking everybody up when you came out for the opening tipoff? Everybody was laughing.
THE MODERATOR: Devin, can you remember?

MIKE WHITE: It's okay. You can throw me under the bus.

DEVIN ROBINSON: So we was in the huddle, and we listened to the song by Migos, if you guys know who Migos are.

MIKE WHITE: I do now. I don't know who sang it.

DEVIN ROBINSON: It's called Pipe It Up. Coach was like, "Come on, guys, let's pipe it up. I love that song." We were like "What?" It was just funny. He just got us going.

Q. I was wondering, at the beginning, Mike, was that the start you had really scripted out and really had hoped they would get out to?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, probably the first ten minutes and the second 20 minutes. So of the four parts of the game, the first, third, and fourth, I thought we were pretty good. East Tennessee State got the better of us in that second quarter of the game, if you will. They got it going with some -- Cromer hit a couple hard shots. Boy, he's very, very talented.

We had a couple of live-ball turnovers. We had a couple of late shot-clock situations where we got a little stagnant, held the ball a little bit. Then I thought we were in a hurry a few times a little bit too much offensively with balls going through our hands out of bounds. But we settled in in the second half.

But I liked the start for sure, and I really liked the start of the second half.

Q. Devin, can you just talk about getting off to that fast start for you personally, getting the steal and the dunk. Does that kind of get your confidence going?
DEVIN ROBINSON: Yeah, that got me going real early. My team, we were just trying to play defense, and I just tried to beat everybody down the court. Transition defense is one of their emphases and what they need to work on. So I just try to run as hard and play as hard as I can, and my teammates found me when I did.

Q. Would you guys talk about the quickness difference. It just seemed that you guys had the quickness at just about every position, particularly in the second half when you turned it on defensively.
DEVIN ROBINSON: Can you repeat that question for me, please?

Q. Yeah, it seemed that you guys had a real quickness difference, differential, especially in the second half defensively. Would you talk about how you used your quickness and what the plan was with that.
DEVIN ROBINSON: We just knew we had to play harder. We had to rev it up a little bit. We got comfortable at the end of the first half, as Coach said, and we just knew we had to take it to a new level. We just tried to be more aggressive and get to every loose ball and just play our best basketball on defense. It translated into the offense. That's what we tried to emphasize when we get into the locker room.


KEVARRIUS HAYES: Kind of like he said, we've got to rev up our defense. Based on the scouting report, we knew their tendencies, so it was all about exploiting that as best we could.

Q. This one is for Kevarrius: In your first possession of the game, it looked like you got the ball stolen from you. Could you take us through what happened then and how you turned it around and were able to take away five, six steals from them.
KEVARRIUS HAYES: Coach explained it to me, to slow down a little bit. He could tell I was a little bit sped up. And from there on, I just kind of settled in.

Q. That's pretty unusual for a center. Do you practice that?
KEVARRIUS HAYES: It's not so much practice. I guess I was very fortunate tonight.

MIKE WHITE: He was piped up.

Q. Coach, how was Devin able to have such a dominant game tonight? What was he doing that was really working out there on the floor?
MIKE WHITE: I thought he started the game by -- he said it already, just we've challenged him all year, and he's challenged himself to get out in transition, to really run. When he wants to, he runs like a deer. When he's in space, he's got the ability to get his feet set and make jumpers, and he can really straight-line-drive it, of course. He can take off before physicality and explode to the rim, he usually finishes or draws fouls. He's a really talented guy.

I thought it started with transition offense, just running, just getting out and running with urgency, and it really carried over through most of the game.

I thought he hit a couple of big threes, if I'm not mistaken here. I haven't studied the sheet yet. They were both second half, right? Maybe one mid-second half. In transition again, and that's where we're at our best. So those were big shots for us.

Q. For the players, were you guys nervous at all first NCAA Tournament game for both you guys? Certainly at the beginning.
DEVIN ROBINSON: I personally wasn't that nervous. It's just another game to me, but I don't know about Kevarrius.

KEVARRIUS HAYES: I could say I was a little nervous.

MIKE WHITE: I was, too.

KEVARRIUS HAYES: It's something new. We're playing for something much greater than ourselves, playing for each other, and now it's like where it really counts.

Q. And secondly, the defense in the second half, they only had six field goals through the first 17 minutes of the second half. Was there something that you guys were doing differently, or were you just more committed on that end or just better on that end through that stretch?
DEVIN ROBINSON: We just knew if we played defense, it would help us on offense. We know our identity as a team, and we knew we had to regroup because, at the end of the first half, we slacked on defense. So we knew we had to come out, first four minutes, the most important minutes in the game in the second half, to make a difference. We just knew we had to come out there and intensify our defense.

Q. Coach White, your thoughts on Chris Chiozza's performance tonight with the 14 points and 5 rebounds. And your thoughts on that as well, Devin, little man getting five rebounds?
MIKE WHITE: How many did you get, seven? I was hoping he beat you by one, so he could talk smack to you.

Chris was great. Kevarrius is right here so let me say, six steals, with his activity, he had a monster block late in the game. They were chipping into the lead, it was like eight or ten, and we had a live-ball turnover and he just erased that mistake and that was huge. Kasey did a lot of good things. Canyon Barry comes in and executes at the end of the game, getting himself open and converting at the foul line.

Chris Chiozza was terrific. I would say, in terms of the game ball, it would probably go to Chris and both of these guys. Unbelievably active, utilized his speed getting to a couple of loose balls which led to layups for himself. And he just rebounds bigger than he is. Chris has always been a tough kid, and in my opinion, in the last few months, he's really grown into becoming a really tough kid. For whatever reason, he's embraced that. And defensively and on the glass, again, this is a guy that six, eight weeks ago gets a triple-double. I'm glad he's a Gator.

THE MODERATOR: And I think you wanted Devin to answer that as well.

DEVIN ROBINSON: I mean, I know what Chris is capable of every day. He has like a 36-plus-inch vertical for a little guy, very athletic. So I knew, if we boxed out for him, he could get any rebound he wants. Just for him to come down and help us rebound where we're a little smaller, it just helped us win this game. So shout out to Cheeks.

Q. Coach, could you just talk a little bit about the versatility of this team. KeVaughn doesn't have a good game. Barry didn't have a good game, yet it didn't seem to matter.
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, I didn't think Canyon played poorly. The thing I like about KeVaughn is he goes 1-for-11 instead of 1-for-4. He stayed aggressive. That's what I ask him to do. He gets four assists, zero turnovers. He defended at high level. Bradford, in my opinion -- Cromer gets all the headlines, deservedly so. Cromer is a terrific player. Bradford may be their most valuable player. And KeVaughn started on him and guarded him for a lot of the game.

I thought both those guys were good in different areas, not necessarily scoring it. But that's kind of who we are. We've had eight different leading scorers.

And it takes a special group to be able to be successful while that happens. KeVaughn's not hanging his head right now. KeVaughn is happy that we won. Devin would be the same way if KeVaughn was sitting here right now.

Q. Mike, first NCAA Tournament win you come off, and your brother's sitting right there. Could you just take me through that moment.
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, really cool. Before I see my brother, I hear my mom and my wife on the other side screaming crazy stuff. I get to see my kids, who I haven't seen all week. So it's really neat. It's cool to have my brother here in Orlando. My parents and grandchildren will all be hanging out, but it's on to Virginia.

Q. Coach White, an anonymous coach called you guys faster than John Wall. The fastest backcourt he's ever seen. How important is that to you guys throughout the season? And not only that, Chiozza and Hill, how well they play with each other when they're on the court at the same time?
MIKE WHITE: They're really fast. Sometimes they show their speed and quickness getting to the rim. Sometimes they show it in transition offense, drawing two or three guys, getting other guys shot. Sometimes they just show it -- they make defending a high-level player look easier than it should be, despite being undersized because their foot speed is so quick. Kasey did a really good job on Cromer at times. Chris Chiozza did a really good job on Cromer at times.

And this is the third year where they've played at least in spurts together. It's a lucky thing to have as a coach.

Q. Mike, how important is this for you? You've waited so long to get your first NCAA Tournament to win the game and to get the program's name out there.
MIKE WHITE: It's great for Florida. It's great for Florida basketball. I mean, Florida was going to get back, regardless of who's sitting right here. It's really neat personally.

My staff's all fired up. Hey, we got to the Tournament. We won a game. We're ready to move on to the next one. I'm way more pleased for our guys, especially our seniors, last go-round.

Kasey Hill, everything he's been through, to get back to the Tournament and then to win a game and advance and play his best basketball right now. Schuyler Rimmer, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon was at junior college two years ago, and he's starting with an NCAA Tournament team that's advancing.

It's great to work with. I'm proud to coach these guys, and it's neat to have at least one more game to coach him.

Q. For the players, how pleasant was it at halftime after the way you played the last eight minutes of the first half? Was he a nice guy, or was he a little bit hot under the collar?
THE MODERATOR: Kevarrius, you want to start with that one.

KEVARRIUS HAYES: Well, I mean, any coach would probably be a little upset when a team doesn't play to their capabilities. So he pretty much went back there and studied the film. He showed us we weren't playing to our full potential. I guess, after watching film, we all saw that. So we came out second half a lot stronger.

DEVIN ROBINSON: (Laughing) I mean, Coach obviously wasn't happy with our performance at the end of the first half, but he didn't have to say much. We knew what we were doing wrong. We watched film. We could see ourselves doing the wrong things. We knew, if we kept doing those things, we weren't going to be successful tonight.

He just laid it out for us like, hey, if you all want to go home, lay it down right now. If you all want to advance, these are things you need to do to be successful. We listened to him, took that in, and came out with a big second half.

Q. For either player, both guys, the last four or five days, all you've heard about is you've lost 3 of 4. You guys were a popular pick to get upset. Everybody's picking you. How gratifying is it to come out and play like you did, especially in the second half, and kind of silence some critics?
DEVIN ROBINSON: It feels good. Knowing that we lost three or four games and we were picked to be the first upset of the Tournament, that put a chip on our shoulder, you know. We can't stop here. This is only one game. We still have -- how many more games we got?


DEVIN ROBINSON: We still got a lot more basketball to be played. It feels good to get this win, but we've still got to get back to watching film tonight and be ready to play Saturday.

THE MODERATOR: Kevarrius, any thoughts?

KEVARRIUS HAYES: Not really. You answered it all.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Good luck.

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