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March 8, 2019
Greenville, South Carolina
Mississippi State-83, Tennessee-68
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Mississippi State. Coach, if you could make an opening statement, please.
VIC SCHAEFER: First of all, just want to commend Coach Warlick and Tennessee. I think they're such a good team. That's a really good team. We've been fortunate two times this year to play really well. Seven McDonald's All-Americans. They are a load.
Just really proud of our kids. I thought tonight second quarter obviously was really special after getting off to a really sluggish start in the first quarter. We were losing the horse game. You play horse in this conference, you're going to lose every night. We were letting them stand out there and shoot uncontested shots.
But we found a way there in the second quarter. That was kind of the difference in the game. Jazz was as good tonight as I've ever seen her. She just was really special, ran our team, two assists, no turnovers, five steals. Our press was really good tonight. It started with her and Jordan. I thought they dictated a lot of what we were able to do tonight defensively. 26 turnovers, forced 15 at half. I think we turned those into 30 points off turnovers. That's a big stat now. 48 paint points and 30 points off turnovers, that's pretty good. Jazz was just as good as I've ever seen her. I couldn't be prouder of her.
You see tonight, our team kind of runs off of her. When she is engaged like she was tonight, so active, so energetic, it filters through my team. Obviously Anriel was good offensively. She didn't take a bad shot all night long. 11 out of 15. Was just really, really good for us offensively. Battled on the boards a little bit. That's probably as few of rebounds as she's had all year long. Helped us win in some other ways. Offensively was really good, really special.
Bre'Amber Scott off the bench was probably as big as anything, as well. You can sit up here and talk about everybody. Teaira did have a double-double. We've become so accustomed to that, 13 rebounds, 17 points, one block, one steal, 36 minutes. Bre off the bench, 5 out of 10, really, really good for us, helped us defensively. Gives us a bigger, longer guard out there that can help defend.
It's a good win for us, but it's just one. We can't think about anything other than the next game. Whoever it is tomorrow will be another rival game in this conference. We have 16 rival teams. It will be a well-coached, highly-skilled team. We're just excited to be a part of it and glad that we can be a part of that game. That's the only thing we're thinking of.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for now Anriel Howard and Jazzmun Holmes.
Q. Jazz, Evina came out, looked like you were pretty well-prepared for that battle. How much of a challenge did you take in getting a chance to go up against her? How do you feel you performed?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: I just knew that they go as she goes. My team goes as I go. I knew I had to pressure her because that's who they look for to start their offense, make big plays.
She had a good game yesterday. Coach challenged me to step up and be that person to defend. That's what I did.
Q. Anriel, when you made your decision to come to Mississippi State, is this what you envisioned? If so, what was it like to be the star player today?
ANRIEL HOWARD: Well, when I came here, I envisioned just doing whatever I can in order to help us get to where we want to go. We have a lot of goals, things that we want to accomplish ahead of us. I just want to be able to be a part of that, help in any way that I can.
Q. Jazzmun, Anriel just said you guys have a lot of goals. How much motivation is there for this tournament? How high is the motivation heading into this week?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: We just have to stay levelheaded. We have to do all the things that we know how to do, make sure we execute the plan that coach has for us. I mean, we just have to stay the path. We can't try to look ahead, we have to stay one game at a time.
Q. Jazz, how are you feeling right now? You took a leap and a hard fall.
JAZZMUN HOLMES: I feel good. I guess do whatever my team needs me to do to win, so that's what I did.
Q. Anriel, you have a motor of your own, but to see someone like Jazz, the energy she brings, the steals, what she does at point guard offensively, what does that do for you and your teammates?
ANRIEL HOWARD: Like she said, when she goes, we go. I definitely believe in that. I felt like just her energy, her motor, her defense is just awesome. It helps us, gets us energetic. We're going to have her back.
Her being able to lead us is just a really key point that I don't think she gets recognized enough for. But we definitely need her and we're glad to have her.
Q. Tennessee starts five for eight from three-point range. How do y'all weather that storm, get to where you're taking the fight to them again?
ANRIEL HOWARD: We knew that's what they wanted to do, stretch us at the three-point line. We had to make them put it on the floor, shoot over us, not by us. We tried to get them off the three-point line, make them get it off the floor.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We'll continue with questions for coach.
Q. You spoke highly of Tennessee. There's a lot of talk about them being on the bubble. Do you think they're a team that belongs? If so, why?
VIC SCHAEFER: Without question. I don't want to play them. I didn't want to play them today. They're so talented. I tell you, that point guard, she is special. She has a presence. The way they played yesterday under the gun, under pressure, I don't think anybody wants to see them. They're so skilled.
They're just young. I think Holly, they weathered a little bad storm in the middle of the year, early, then they've been playing better of late. That's what young kids do. Sometimes they struggle a little bit early in their career.
But absolutely. I think, again, I don't think you ask anybody in the field, Would you like to play Tennessee, there would be a bunch of people that go, Yeah, I'll take them. I don't think anybody wants them. I really believe they're good. They're talented. Holly does a great job coaching them. So yeah.
Q. You have had a special season up to this point. Guaranteed yourself another chance at home when the big tournament starts. Did you worry or have any questions about the motivation for this week given what you've already accomplished?
VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, sure. We were coming off really an emotional game on Sunday at South Carolina when we clinched it outright. If you would have seen my practice Wednesday, you would have said, They're done. That's how we have been all year, y'all. You can come to some of ours, we have some real stinkers.
Thursday we show up, got to work out early here, we have media obligations at 11, our time on the court here was I think 10 to 10:45. We had to go early because I had to scout the 12:00 game. We're up at 7 Eastern for an 8 practice, which is a lot earlier Central time for us. We had a great workout.
I'll give you another example. I did something this morning I've never done in 34 years in coaching. Last night, because we play so early, this is 11 Central for us, so I'm in tune with my players. They're always talking about coaches having to be in tune with their team. 34 years.
Typically for an 11 a.m. or 12 Eastern, most people aren't getting up for a 6:40 shoot-around, 30 minutes, that's all we can. Last night in film, I told them, Look, y'all, we'll sleep in in the morning. Jazz and Jordan, if they don't have any energy, the rest of my team ain't going to have any energy. Those two kids are really important to get their rest.
I said, We're going to stay in, we'll get up, have breakfast. Jazzmun looked at me and said, Huh-uh, coach. We're not doing that. She didn't say, Are you sure. We're not doing that. If I would have gone back at her, she would have been unhappy with me, and I don't need her unhappy with me.
I sat there and thought about it a minute. Okay, if you want to go shoot in the morning, I'll take you. If anybody wants to go, I'll take them. If you need to sleep so you're juiced, ready to go in the morning, I'll let you do that.
Never have done that. I had about half my team came and shot this morning. We got them up at 6, shot from 6:45 to 7:10, whatever we got. The others, we let them sleep. You have to know who needs the rest and who wanted to get up and shoot. Boy, Jazz was special.
Again, I give her a lot of credit for that because that's what she needed to be ready to play. Not many kids would do that. Hey, man, let me sleep. Today's youth, it's all about getting a nap. Mine are out there right now going, I hope this first half gets over, I'm ready for a nap. I have the all-nap team, anyway.
Q. With Jazz, do you ever have to tell her to slow down when you see her jumping into the press row, taking hard hits?
VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, I think our team, when we're locked in, they're all capable of doing that. Tea went into our scorer's table when we played them earlier this year. I just think that's who we are. I think that's our kids, their commitment to their teammates, their commitment to our style of play. Let's face it, it gets everybody excited.
Even if you're not a Bulldog fan, you can appreciate and respect a kid that plays the game like that. We talk about honoring the game. It's how you play the game. The game doesn't cheat you. You get out of the game what you put into the game.
I think that's our kids understanding in the moment, Hey, I'm trying to make a play. She jumped into my radio group. If they don't catch her, I'll fire both of them. No, I won't either. They're both too good (laughter).
Yeah, they're good. She's good.
Q. The third time this tournament where when a team that played yesterday is playing a team that's playing for the first time, they start pretty well. Do you think there's anything to that?
VIC SCHAEFER: I don't know. I just know that when you do play, obviously you get comfortable in there. Also I think, too, sometimes when you're the lower seed, you got nothing to lose, everything to win, so you're a little bit more relaxed. I think we may have been a little tight early. I thought we really settled in. That's why I always want them to guard. If we'll guard, use our anxiety on that end defensively, I think we'll relax on offense. I thought we did that tonight.
Q. Seems like you were a little more aggressive defensively at the top of the key coming into the second quarter. Was that your answer to counter how good they were from three?
VIC SCHAEFER: All of our problems with them shooting the three early on were off dribble-penetration. If we were going to guard the ball, we wouldn't have to come off anybody, leave them wide open in the horse game. It really came down to guarding the ball. That was critical for us. It always is.
We talked about that at the end of the quarter. Hey, all our heartache is off the bounce, so let's fix it.
Q. Who were some of the other players that went to the shootaround this morning?
VIC SCHAEFER: Let's see. Andy came, Jazz, Jessika, Anriel, and I think Bre. I think those were the five that came. Y'all, that's fine. That's not a sign that somebody is more interested or somebody is more committed. It's time to be a pro. You do what's best for you. I'm not going to question it. You do what you got to do to get yourself ready to play today.
When you only have 30 minutes, y'all, for me usually in an hour we're going to go through their offense, try to really guard them, try to get some shots up. When you only got 30 minutes, it was just really we were only going to shoot. When you're doing that, there's really not a lot of room. Post players, what are you going to do?
Just to make that clear, those kids were pros. I'm glad they made the decision and I supported them 100% on it.
Q. You tie a program record for most points in a SEC tournament game today. Your defense played pretty well. What can the team do better moving forward in this tournament?
VIC SCHAEFER: I think defensively we got a lot of things that we can get so much better at. I say this, you've heard me say it all year: Our top end is so far away. We're pretty good where we are, but if we could ever tie it all together. It's my job. If I could get them where I think they can go, man, there's no telling how good they can be.
We have so many new kids playing together. We had to do it in such a short period of time. It takes time for your defensive chemistry to come around like some of my teams have been in the past. We show spurts of it, flashes of it. Consistently for 40 minutes, we don't quite have that. If we don't play hard, then it really shows itself.
Just wanting them to play hard will cover a lot of our mistakes. We gave up some backdoors tonight. Andy gave up a couple to start the third quarter. You don't need to be out there first play of the third quarter giving up a backdoor dunk. It's part of it.
Q. You're ranked fifth in the country. There are four of those No. 1 seeds. Is that something this week you pay attention to because you want to be one of those No. 1's?
VIC SCHAEFER: Sure. The answer is I want to be a No. 1 seed. But do I pay attention to who else is playing? No. My attention will be on Kentucky and Missouri. If we take care of ourselves, the rest will take care of itself. That's what I believe. If you go through this league 15-1, win the Southeastern Conference, you take care of business, to me that's all that needs to be said.
So for us, for me, as I told our kids, everybody wants to talk about unfinished business, this and that. I can't even look at Sunday without getting through Friday. Now I can't get there until I get through Saturday. I'm not even concerned with what could possibly happen. I am concerned about these two teams coming out here, and when I'm done with y'all, I can go out there and scout because that's all that's on my mind. You got to take care of the controllables. I can't control anybody in a room. All I can control is what we do as a team, what my team does, what my staff does. That's it. That's all I'm going to worry about.
If I worried about the rest of it, I'd lose my mind.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
VIC SCHAEFER: Praise the Lord and go Dogs.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports