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March 14, 2019

Mike White

KeVaughn Allen

Keyontae Johnson

St. Louis, Missouri

Florida-66, Arkansas-50

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Florida. We will start with an opening statement from Coach White.

MIKE WHITE: Big win for us, of course. Any time you beat an SEC team, it's a good win. We've learned that, especially in the SEC tournament. Arkansas is a great program. They knocked us out last year. We knew how hard they would come out and play, how prepared they'd be, what a handful they are to have to score against and to have to defend.

They were playing really well coming into this one. I thought it was a high-level game of intensity, two teams really getting after it. I thought that we made some big plays, both of these guys made big plays, complemented by Kevarrius Hayes, playing with an incredible amount of energy, and Andrew Nembhard going for eight assists, one turnover, Jalen Hudson playing with a bunch of energy. We played well. Good win for us.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. KeVaughn, you always seem to kill the Hogs. What is it about playing Arkansas? How good did it feel to break out of your slump?
KeVAUGHN ALLEN: They're a hard-playing team. I think in the first half, they did a good job of turning it over. In the second half, I think we did a better job of just staying calm, just playing together, reading the defense before we made a pass.

Q. How good does it feel to break out? You always seem to play your best.
KEYONTAE JOHNSON: I feel like I did a good job today. Teammate, coaches, they believe in me. Got to continue to keep shooting.

I think overall I played well. Just got to keep it up.

Q. Keyontae, how gratifying was this today to get 20 and 12 after not scoring in that first matchup against Arkansas?
KEYONTAE JOHNSON: I just tried to do what I had to do, do my job to help the team win. Just playing hard. Once I played hard, everything just came together, so...

Q. You held Arkansas to 51, did even better today. What is it about your defense or the matchup? Keyontae, did you have a feeling KeVaughn might break out today?
KEYONTAE JOHNSON: I already knew KeVaughn was going to have a good game either way. We always tell him to play hard, don't worry about a missed shot. For him to hit shots today wasn't surprising. Just happy he had a great game today.

Q. You held Arkansas to 51 and 50. That's their two lowest-scoring games of the year. What did you do to them defensively?
KeVAUGHN ALLEN: We pride ourselves on defense. I think we went out there and just knowing personnel, kind of what each player want to do. We just played hard, just stuck together.

KEYONTAE JOHNSON: I just felt like everybody was locking in today. Nobody wanted to be that one person to make a mistake. I feel like everybody did their job. We just overall got it as a win together.

Q. For both players. Now you get LSU. Talk about matching up with them, why this year both games have been down to the wire.
KEYONTAE JOHNSON: I feel like they're just a hard-working team, just like us. They're going to run. We're going to run. It's a great matchup overall on the court. I feel like both teams can score and get stops. It's going to be a great game, once again.

KeVAUGHN ALLEN: Like you said, I think at the end of the day for us, we just got to come down and get rebounds.

Q. I haven't followed you throughout the year, but I notice coach was chest pumping there at the end of the game. Describe his chest-bumping technique, how exciting that was for you.
KeVAUGHN ALLEN: He gets excited when we're doing our jobs on defense. I think that brings pride to him, brings joy to him, just to see us all come together as a team, just lock down teams.

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

Q. Do you have answers to Arkansas's offense? Does your defense match up well with them?
MIKE WHITE: I don't know that I have an answer further than coincidence. We weren't playing well earlier in the year, and really needed one at Bud Walton. I thought we were really dialed in.

Of course, today, having lost three in a row, I thought we were really dialed in. I'm not sure it has as much to do with the matchup as it was leading into both games with our mentality, where we were in the context of the season.

I will say Arkansas is very difficult to defend with their unpredictable off-of-the-ball movement. They cut hard. They sprint the screen. They have an elite big. They have two elite shooters. They have good cutters. They make you pay. Our guys know this.

If you get out of a stance, your base principles, if they fail you in any way, they make you pay because they move the ball so well, they move their bodies so well.

Q. KeVaughn is a Hog killer. You brought him off the bench last game. Was it just a no-brainer to put him in the starting lineup against Arkansas?
MIKE WHITE: Again, I don't know that it has a lot more to do with more than coincidence. I will go here and tell you that when you're playing your home state school, I think a lot of guys maybe get a little bit more juiced up.

Further than that, I'm not sure. I think his individual performance is a microcosm of the bigger picture. He needed to have a big one then. He'd been really struggling coming into this one. He needed to have a big one today regardless of what team it was.

It's the SEC tournament, we want to advance. We got knocked out first round last year. There might be a little bit of added incentive. I don't want to dodge that. He's from Arkansas. Who knows how much of a factor. I know he didn't give you a clear answer, so I can't give you a clearer one.

Q. Your thoughts on playing LSU a third time. Can you take a third overtime against them?
MIKE WHITE: I don't know that my heart can. My guys probably can. They've been a resilient group all year. Two high-level college basketball games. Two that we had chances to win both. Obviously we had chances to lose both.

It will be hopefully a great game. We all know how good they are. Hopefully we're competitive enough in the same regard to have a chance late and we're in the same position where we can steal another one.

Q. About LSU, the circumstances the last game, what they'll play with tomorrow, what do you expect from them as far as the way they play? What do you tell your team about this team doesn't have their head coach, but... What do you say?
MIKE WHITE: Well, they're really good. They finished the season really strong. Tony does a really good job. I know that firsthand. We were at Louisiana Tech one year, went into North Texas, got our brains beat in. He does a very good job. They have a good staff. They have a really good team.

It will be a 30-second conversation. Let's lock in on these guys' actions, how good they are offensively, offensive glass. We have to do a great job with their dynamic guards, led by Tremont. How do we read at a higher level than we did at home. He put us in a quandary, especially late in the game with his post touches.

That's where our focus is going to be. That's it.

Q. When you were at Louisiana Tech, you knew your conference tournament had direct ramifications on the NCAA. You're in a similar situation being on the bubble. How prepared are you for this one now? Keeping your guys on point each round rather than looking at the big picture.
MIKE WHITE: It's a good point. It's very similar. There's a ton of pressure for those teams. I don't envy those teams. We were there four years in a row where you feel like you're a borderline NCAA tournament team, but you got to win the tournament.

Although we had some pretty good high-major victories, you don't get enough of those opportunities. For these other mids, I don't mean to fight for them so much now that I'm at a high major, a lot of times they get high major opportunities and they're road guarantee games. It's a tough situation for those guys.

When you get to conference play, it's about that game, and that's it. You can't read Twitter, you can't take certain phone calls from people that are going to put noise in your head. You can't read the newspaper. You just can't listen to all those things.

None of those things matter. They're going to deter you from where your focus should be. That's, How the heck do we get our first stop against LSU tomorrow? That's all that matters. That's being in the moment. That's where we need to be.

Q. You had 19 offensive boards today, second chances. How big was that? KeVaughn, he averaged four more points against Arkansas than anybody else. That can't be a coincidence.
MIKE WHITE: All right, I'm giving in. You're right. You're right. Maybe he gets a little bit more excited. Numbers back you up.

Offensive rebounding, Kevarrius Hayes' energy spreads. I think he's helped Keyontae Johnson. Keyontae has taken advantage of a lot of opportunity with the absence of a transfer at Christmas, Keith Stone going down with the ACL. Those two guys bring it from the offensive glass standpoint.

I thought we got a couple long rebounds there. Dontay Bassett gets three, Noah gets three off of opportunistic long crashes, probably off of missed threes. I'd have to go back and look at it.

Kevarrius Hayes sets the tone there with his motor.


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