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March 14, 2019

Michael Anderson

Daniel Gafford

Isaiah Joe

St. Louis, Missouri

Florida-66, Arkansas-50

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue on with Arkansas. Coach will make an opening statement, then we'll take your questions for the student-athletes.

MICHAEL ANDERSON: Very disappointed in our performance. Been playing some pretty good basketball. To come on this stage and not play as well as we've been playing is kind of disappointing.

It wasn't because of these guys not going out and leaving it all on the floor. Give credit to Florida. I thought the tempo was to their liking. Obviously when you look at what it came down, I thought it came down to the offensive rebounding. They shot it, went and got it. I think that was the difference in the game there.

We didn't do a good job of putting bodies on them. Their freshman, Johnson, I thought he had an outstanding game. The game was still right there in the balance with a little bit more than three minutes to go. They made plays. Some of the veteran guys made plays, some of the young guys made plays. That means survive. We didn't survive.

We're very, very disappointed, not because of these guys. They left it on the floor, so... It's a tough, tough loss.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Daniel and Isaiah.

Q. First game Florida you score 51, this one 50. Is it just Florida's defense? Are they a bad matchup for you? What happened in those two games offensively?
DANIEL GAFFORD: I mean, I feel like we could have got anything that we wanted. We couldn't execute. We shot ourselves in the foot down the stretch. We couldn't get the shots that we took to fall. We took some of the shots we settled on offense most of the time also.

ISAIAH JOE: We were playing to their tempo. Whenever we don't play our tempo, it's hard to get into our sets. We didn't execute very well coming down the stretch. They like the slower tempo than we do. We played to it. We shot ourselves in the foot, like Daniel said. It gave them the edge. You see that in the game. If we would have played the fastest 40 ball, it would have been a way different outcome.

Q. You might have an NIT opportunity. Would you like to keep playing? How would you feel about the NIT?
ISAIAH JOE: At this point we'll be happy to play another basketball game. Nobody wants the season to end short. We just got to keep a positive attitude, see where we're going to go from here. We got to hold our heads high.

DANIEL GAFFORD: At this point another basketball game, we'd be grateful. Like Isaiah said, we don't want our season to end this short. We want it to go far, especially in this tournament. We want to make it to the NCAA tournament. Being in that atmosphere is great for us. Being able to make noise, both of these tournaments, I mean, it's a great thing that would happen for Arkansas.

Q. Offensive rebounding by Florida, they had 19. Are they just that good? Daniel, facing Hayes especially, how tough is he?
DANIEL GAFFORD: I mean, the reason we getting offensive rebounds is because we were playing inside, we weren't boxing out. They kept coming up with the long boards and short ones.

Hayes, he's a good player. Stepping up to this type of atmosphere, I got to come out and play stronger than what I did. I did certain things right, but I also got to do all the kind of things right. Grab rebounds. I got to protect the paint. I got to do better on my part.

ISAIAH JOE: Bottom line is they played a lot more aggressive than we did. They wanted it a lot more. Going down the stretch, they had all those offensive rebounds. They were just beating us to it, to the 50/50 balling, long rebounds like Daniel said. We weren't getting our bodies in there. They're a real aggressive team. We knew they were going to crash the boards going into the game. We didn't adjust to it, match their intensity.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes. We'll continue with questions for Coach Anderson.

Q. It seems like KeVaughn plays great against Arkansas. Today he played really well. What did you think of his performance, the fact he plays well against you?
MICHAEL ANDERSON: He's from the state of Arkansas. He wants to perform well against the Razorbacks. Thought we did a good job up until going down the stretch. I think his experience kind of paid off for him, made some plays for him.

He's a good player, basketball player.

Q. In looking back over the season, you talked a lot about the inconsistency of your team. You go into LSU, beat them there, almost take down Kentucky. How challenging has that been for you to deal with this inconsistency?
MICHAEL ANDERSON: At the beginning of the year I talked about patience. You have to have long patience with this basketball team. As the year progresses, you hope they pick up on the things that you talk about.

It seemed like every time we go to a different part of the season, it was like a new chapter for these guys. Even coming here is a new chapter. Adversity took place, we met it head on, then we started figuring out some things.

It's a challenge with so many new guys. At the end of the day, I think it falls on my responsibility. I think for the most part they grew, they got better. Even as we played today, we didn't play as well as I thought we were capable of playing. Defensively you think about it, they scored 60-some-odd points I think with 3:51 seconds, it's like a six- or eight-point ballgame, we're right there. But you got to be able to make plays.

Inexperience hurts a lot. On that floor, you got to have a head on the floor. That's where the leadership comes in. Just going through this, I think it's going to make us a much, much better basketball team. Our players, they'll learn from it. They'll learn from this experience.

Coming in I talked about at this time of the year it's about the energy you got to bring and the toughness, the heart you got to bring. I thought the first half it was back and forth. Florida, they got a period there where they had a chance to really exert the offensive glass. I thought that was a big turning point in this game.

Q. How did not having Keyshawn impact you guys? How do you feel about an NIT bid?
MICHAEL ANDERSON: I think for a young basketball team, I welcome the opportunity for them to continue to play. As I told them, you may have some more basketball, but we got to see a better performance than what we saw tonight. They hopefully get a chance to continue to play. They only can get better.

Q. Keyshawn played in every game, you didn't have him today. How did that impact you guys?
MICHAEL ANDERSON: I think we're a sum of all the parts. We had an important part missing. Keyshawn is a very good defensive player. He's a guy that can stretch the floor. I think he's built for these kind of games. Not having him hurt us a little bit.

But it's like next man step up, hopefully produce. I always say the first game is the most critical game because you don't know how they're going to come out. In the first half, they went back and forth. We went up. They came back and went up. Second half, same way until that three-minute mark where they got to the free-throw line, got a lot of offensive rebounds.

Q. Florida holding you to 50 and 51, what is it about their defense? You shot the threes real well this season, didn't happen today. Was that a tough day or Florida's defense?
MICHAEL ANDERSON: I thought it was a tale of two halves. The first half, went back and forth. Neither team shot it well. It wasn't a pretty game. You don't worry about pretty in tournament play. You just want to survive and advance.

The second half, they got a little more physical with our guys. That sometimes can cause frustration. I thought the tempo was to their liking. I thought that was a big part of it, the tempo was to their liking, the rhythm of the game, the physical play. They were in a one-on-one with 15 minutes to go. It's amazing how one half they call it a way, the next half they call it a different way.

That's no excuse for the game. I just thought the tempo... They got a good defense, but I thought the tempo was to their liking.

We just didn't shoot the ball well. We had some open looks, a bunch of open looks. In the second half we came out, we had like three straight open in the second half. We got guys that are shooting that you want to shoot. Just couldn't knock it down.



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