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March 18, 2017
Greenville, South Carolina
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Arkansas.
Q. For Manny and Moses, Carolina is a plus-13 rebounding. Just what do you think of that, and how tough of a challenge is that for you guys?
MANUALE WATKINS: It's going to be tough. Seton Hall, I think, it was plus-7, and we didn't do a good job on the boards. We gotta box out, hit people and help our bigs, help Moses, DT, Trey, all those guys, help them rebound. The guards gotta rebound really well this game.
MOSES KINGSLEY: Yeah, just like Manny said, we've got to be rebound, we got to do a better job than we did last game. We have to do it collectively. We have to do it as a team -- the guards, the bigs, too, everybody.
Q. Manny and Moses, you obviously played Carolina two years ago. This is the third time, third straight time that Arkansas has been in the tournament. They're playing Carolina in the second round. What do you think about that? Seems like Arkansas can't get away from Carolina?
MANUALE WATKINS: I think it's fun. It's an opportunity. They're a 1 seed, so what more fun can you have than knocking off a 1 seed and moving on in the tournament?
I think it's just a great opportunity. I don't know how the committee does the things, but I mean that's what they did. So we're ready to go. Whoever we're playing, we're ready for.
JAYLEN BARFORD: I guess it's going to be fun to play in the game against North Carolina. I wasn't here two years ago when they played them, but I know they always talk about it. I think it will be fun to play. We're just ready to play.
Q. Jaylen since the postseason play started, you're leading the team in scoring, and most of that is attacking the basket. Have you changed your style of game, or what have you done differently over the last four games?
JAYLEN BARFORD: I just stay more aggressive and just try to make plays for everybody and myself and just keep attacking, because I know when I attack it opens up a lot of things, so I just stay attacking.
Q. Moses, against Seton Hall, they had the one big guy Delgado, and he gets his every game. Carolina has so many more bigs. Are you a little bit concerned that they've got several Angel Delgados going instead of just one?
MOSES KINGSLEY: Just like I said earlier, we have to do a collective job because they have size. They have size -- the guards, the bigs -- they're bigger than the team we played last time, and we gotta do a better job of keeping everybody off the glass, because everybody, almost all five of them go to the glass every time they shoot the ball.
I think let's shoot it, go get it and put it back. Just like I said, we gotta do a collective job boxing out everybody and getting the ball going.
Q. Dustin, you had such a good game yesterday. Talk about what worked well for you and how you want to continue that against North Carolina, how important that is?
DUSTIN THOMAS: I just knocked down that first jumper, got going early and just kept the same rhythm and confidence throughout the rest of the game. They've been playing off me a little bit, sagging in there on Mo. So them are the shots I gotta take.
Q. Manny, do you feel a lot more confident in your team at this stage in the season knowing how you guys are mixing defenses based upon the fact that you go all the way back to early February you guys were able to go to the zone against LSU and that kind of turned the tide a little bit, made you guys a little more confident defensively? Does that make you confident going into a game like this against North Carolina?
MANUALE WATKINS: Yeah, one thing with us is we're a really confident team. I am, it's kind of hard not to be when you're one of 32 teams left in Division I basketball playing in the NCAA Tournament. So, I mean, we have the utmost confidence in our offense, our defense. And us being able to switch around defenses and go at people with different looks is a key part of what we do. So we're going into the game with 100 percent confidence like we do every game.
Q. Manny and Moses, anybody else who wants to take it, last week you guys, a week ago tomorrow, you play Kentucky in a, quote, neutral site but obviously they had the crowd. You know Carolina will have the crowd here tomorrow. Do you think playing Kentucky last week and their talent level, that atmosphere helps prepare you for tomorrow?
MANUALE WATKINS: I mean, yeah. We've been playing at neutral sites. They obviously had a lot more fans and Carolina is going to have a lot more tomorrow.
But we don't really get into the fans and the atmosphere. We're just here to play basketball and do what we love to do. That's all our focus is is going to be just try to get a win in. They have five guys out there; we've got five guys out there. That's basketball.
MOSES KINGSLEY: Yeah, they have five guys and we have five guys, and we're going to come out and play. They don't have more guys than we do on the court, so we have to do what we came to do, don't worry about things and just do what we've been doing for the whole season, just come out and execute, get stops, get rebounds and let's push the ball.
Q. Jaylen, I think I got this right, I think 8 seeds are 11-53 against 1, so it's not impossible. But the odds are stacked against you. How do you guys feel about an 8 seed taking on a 1? How would you like to add Arkansas to that group of 8 seeds that have upset 1s?
JAYLEN BARFORD: I think -- can you ask the question again.
Q. I think it's around 8 seeds are 11-53 against 1 seeds, so obviously the odds are against you. It's not impossible because 11 teams have done it. What do you think about those odds and your chance of becoming the 12th team to do it?
JAYLEN BARFORD: I think our chances are pretty good. I think we're a pretty good team, honestly. We can play anybody in the country. I think we just have to come out and play and don't worry about what the seed is, just take it one game at a time.
THE MODERATOR: Opening comments from Coach.
COACH ANDERSON: This is round two now with us surviving and advancing and playing against an outstanding North Carolina team. Seemed like it was two years ago, I think, we was at this same place playing against a North Carolina team.
But here it is and we're one of 32 teams that are still playing, so we're looking forward for the opportunity to play against one of the bigger teams in the country.
The perimeter players are playing well. Justin is playing, well. I mean, I think four of those guys, four of their starters, those guys played, we played them two years ago. They were freshmen and maybe sophomores. So it's an experienced team -- Meeks, Hicks.
They're a very, very good basketball team. So we've got our work cut out for us, especially after giving up 21 offensive rebounds last night to Seton Hall. And we know we can't let that occur with North Carolina. If so, it will be over quick.
Of course Joel Berry is playing outstanding for them. Our guys are looking forward to the opportunity to continue to play good basketball. I think we're playing good basketball. We're finding ways to win, even when things don't look like, don't look promising, our guys have had the resilience to find a way to win, and we've done that throughout the year. So we use those experiences to get us to this point. And so again we're going to have to play an awful good game against a very good North Carolina team.
Q. Mike, it was this week a year ago that your conference made Mike Tranghese a consultant on how to get more teams to the tournament obviously. Obviously you've got more this year. But do you see that SEC basketball made strides this year, and do you see tomorrow as a day with both you and South Carolina playing ACC teams here where something really good could happen?
COACH ANDERSON: It's an opportunity for us. You've got to be in those situations in order to -- you talk about the brand, the SEC brand -- we talk about. And yes I think we had five teams, possibly had six or seven teams in the tournament. And it's what you do once you get into the tournament.
South Carolina had an outstanding game last night. Vanderbilt was probably one play away from winning as well. But I think the commitment from the SEC has been awesome from the institutions, each institution with the coaches they're bringing in, I think they're really pulling into their programs and I think you're going to see a big difference.
And we're seeing it right now. I think it's starting to scratch the surface, when you talk about recruiting, the coaches that are in place. And even this year, we had three last year, three teams in the tournament last year. We got five this year. So I think it's just a sign of some great things to come and we'll be one of the better conferences in the country.
Q. What do you remember about that game against Carolina two years ago down in Jacksonville?
COACH ANDERSON: It was an up-and-down game, I remember that. I thought we came in, playing at a high level. And they were playing at a high level as well. I remember Paige taking over in the second half. I mean, he was almost like a one-man wrecking crew.
But they had some other -- the big guys I remember the big guys really dominating the glass as we went up and down the floor. They attacked us and attacked us pretty well at the basket. The game, I think, about ten minutes to go or eight minutes to go, was almost 50-50, something like that. We had a chance to tie or something and they went on a run and ended up winning by double figures. But I thought it was a game up and down the floor, and that's what I think we'll see with this game tomorrow.
Q. The 1s haven't lost in the second round very often but you've experienced that. I think UAB, you guys were a 9 seed, 8 or 9 when you beat Kentucky. What's it take for to beat a No. 1 seed in the second round game, do you think? And what do you guys have to do tomorrow?
COACH ANDERSON: I think we've got to play well. We've got to play outstanding basketball. I draw back on those experiences that I had at UAB. To me it was not necessarily just seeds. It was just two teams playing each other. And we were the underdogs. I mean, no one gave us a chance. Just like now no one's giving us a chance.
And in that locker room that we had, those guys believed and they came out and they gave themselves a chance. It was like David versus Goliath. I'll never forget it. We threw a mighty big blow with a big rock, we did.
It's going to take one of those kind of efforts. You've gotta play almost perfect basketball. And of course they've gotta do some things and not play well. But defensively we've got to keep them off the boards. I think that's going to be big and not let them get easy opportunities at the basket.
Our strength has been our bench. Our bench has played well for us. But it's going to be a physical ballgame and we've got to match their physicalness. We've got to make the game chaotic, disruptive. We can't be predictable. But at the same time we know they have size. Justin Jackson is playing at a high level. Shot the ball extremely well. Berry can shoot the ball. But we've got to limit them to one shot when they do shoot it.
Q. Given the fact two years ago you said the game was an up-and-down one with North Carolina, do you anticipate the same -- I mean, you guys like to run, they like to run. You talked about causing chaos. Do you think it's going to be that same up-and-down, or do you want to kind of take them out of that rhythm?
COACH ANDERSON: I think they like to get up and down the floor. So I don't think it's about what we -- we're going to worry about what we do. But I'm sure Roy, he's not going to change. We're not going to change. I mean, you do what got you here to the dance.
Q. In the SEC postseason play, it looks like Jaylen, he's elevated his game to another level leading you in scoring. Is he doing anything differently, or is it as simple as his shots are starting to fall?
COACH ANDERSON: No, I think he's just taking command of our basketball team. He's doing it kind of quietly. He's not talking or boastful about it. I just think we're just playing, and our guys are following his lead. He's more comfortable in his role, so to speak.
Sometimes guys come in, they try to fit in, especially junior college player. I don't need him to fit in. I need him to come play. I think he's taken that mindset and run with it. I think Daryl has done the same thing. And so we're going to need Daryl to play at that same level for us tomorrow in order to have a chance.
Q. This is going to be the sixth time Arkansas and Carolina play in the tournament. I guess it'll be your fifth involvement as either assistant or head coach. Obviously played against them. Obviously, Lee played against them, Scotty played against them. Always seemed like Arkansas is playing Carolina for whatever reason. What do you think about that and what do you think about the history you guys have had in the tournament?
COACH ANDERSON: Obviously, North Carolina has great tradition. And we have tradition as well. And I guess that says that, you know what, when you get in this tournament and you start advancing, you're going to play outstanding teams. And it's amazing how -- they play for championships. And we've had an opportunity -- I've been a part of three Final Fours. We had a chance to play for some championships, too.
So I mean maybe that's what it means. We're trending that direction. But when you play in this tournament, you're going to play tremendous teams, whether it be North Carolina. We played Arizona. We played many teams in the tournament. Played Duke as well. So that means you're advancing in it.
Q. You mentioned their rebounding. They're like a plus-13, I think it leads the nation. Watching them, what makes them such a good rebounding team? They only have one guy averaging more than six rebounds, so seems like everybody is getting a few here and there?
COACH ANDERSON: They've got eight pros, have you seen all those guys they got? Eight, nine pros. You got pros, they can go get it. And they've got size. They've got girth. They've got experienced guys.
And so, again, it's going to be the ultimate challenge for our team, because that's something we hadn't done consistently, hadn't done as well as I would like us to be. We're not going to be a great team, but we've got to keep people off the glass.
Q. Piggybacking on Mark's question about the SEC, the SEC was 4-1 in the first round. You and Carolina both beat Big East teams. Everybody's always talking about the Big East in basketball. Just how good a statement do you think you guys made in that first round, and then obviously want to make tomorrow, too?
COACH ANDERSON: It was the first game in the tournament. And I know from a coaching standpoint, you get nervous about that game. And especially I got seven new guys, seven guys that have never donned a Razorback uniform. Here they are in the NCAA Tournament going to the second round, playing in the first round.
But those guys came, seen things through my eyes, they came out and played well in terms of for the conference. I think it speaks well in terms of what our conference is all about. People look at our conference and thought it was down this year, but it was not.
I mean, we lose at Missouri, we lose to Vanderbilt. We lose at home to Mississippi State. We lost to Florida a couple of times. But our league is really good. You're in the family. You start fighting each other.
So now it's kind of neat to get out of the family and go play some other teams and hopefully do well in the tournament. And continue to put the brand of the SEC basketball, it's for real.
Q. Justin Jackson, I think he was sort of in a mini shooting slump. He had about four games where he was shooting around 30 percent. Looked like he broke out yesterday. Were you kind of hoping his struggles would continue? Just what do you think about him as a player?
COACH ANDERSON: He's a good player. Averaging almost 20 points a game, probably here in conference, 18. He's leading their team. And he's expanded his range. I see him cutting to the basket. He can rebound the basketball. He can pass it. I mean, had a chance to see this kid grow. Watching him even from high school get a chance, tried to recruit him a little bit.
But when you look at two years ago, he was a true freshman. Now he's like the leader of this basketball team. So he's grown as a player, and that's what good players do. They develop. And I think he's developed into a very good outstanding player. And you don't look at stats this time of the year. You got guys that got to produce, and he knows he's got to produce for his team.
Q. Obviously Dustin had, like you said, probably the best game of the year. What do you think the odds are that he can duplicate that tomorrow. How important is it that he play big against a team like Carolina and all their size and everything?
COACH ANDERSON: I think he'll come out and play. I think he'll come out and give us everything he has. With those guys, with those forwards, you talk about Dustin, DT, we call him DT. You talk about Arlando Cook, whether it's Trey Thompson, always somebody's been on for us. And it's going to take more than just one guy being on. I thought DT had his best game. Who knows, it may be DT and Trey and Cook. We're going to need them against the forward contingency that North Carolina has.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports