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March 14, 2019

Kermit Davis

Blake Hinson

Devontae Shuler

St. Louis, Missouri

Alabama-62, Ole Miss-57

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue on with Ole Miss. We'll ask Coach Davis for some general thoughts on the game.

KERMIT DAVIS: Obviously it was a tale of two halves. I thought their team came out with some energy early, the ball moved, then we just completely got dominated. 50 to 30 on the boards. 17 offensive rebounds, 23-2 second-chance points. Give Alabama a lot of credit.

We took a lot of first side shots in the second half. Then when really our two All League players quit shot-making, they quit guarding. It was just tough for us.

Still with those two guys going 4-27, we have a layup to tie it about a minute to go. We absorbed a lot. We just couldn't absorb just the physicality around the goal. That's why the free throw difference was so different. We settled and settled. Those guys put it right in the paint.

So give Alabama credit. They played like an NCAA tournament team tonight.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Devontae or Blake.

Q. Devontae, did you sense what coach was saying, that when the shots didn't fall, the defensive energy changed in the second half?
DEVONTAE SHULER: Definitely. It's been like that throughout the year, when no one is really hitting shots, I feel like it carries over to the defense. It really starts in practice, like when no one is hitting shots, we get back on the defensive end, I think that will cause us to lose the game. Rebounding, of course. I think we're not hitting shots and getting back on defense. We just got to stay strong.

Q. Blake, in the first half it seemed like you guys limited them on the offensive glass, then they broke it open in the second half. What changed rebounding-wise in the second half?
BLAKE HINSON: It just had to have been our mentality as a team. The toughness must have just went down. As a team, they out-toughed us. You have to give Alabama the credit.

Q. How does a game like this, what do you build off of this going into potentially post-season play?
DEVONTAE SHULER: It all starts in practice. I think that's the main thing. Everything we do in practice, things we doing wrong, is definitely going to carry over to the game. I feel like we have to use that to carry over into if we get to March Madness.

Q. Obviously you have to wait till Sunday. How long of a weekend is it going to be? How nervous or confident are you?
BLAKE HINSON: I can only talk about what I believe. I believe we're an NCAA team. Tonight we didn't finish the game. As a whole, we are an NCAA team. We should be able to compete in the tournament this year.

DEVONTAE SHULER: I feel like we definitely NCAA team. Us going through what we went through, I feel like that's going to make us stronger. Hopefully we can build off that.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes and continue with Coach Davis.

Q. You mentioned before the game 20 offensive rebounds for Alabama. Was it not the effort you were getting out of them?
KERMIT DAVIS: I thought the first half, our team, they battled on the boards. We had really good energy. I was really proud of that. I thought we held our own. The starts of second halfs have been bad for us for nearly the last eight or 10 games. We hit a jump shot to go up 16, then we get 17 the rest of the game. They threw it to the post. They out-physicaled us.

Smith, I think he didn't have many points in the SEC. I think he's got 21 or 22 in the two games against us. He just got a matchup. He was going against kind of our four man, K.J. and Blake. Put him underneath the rim. We couldn't get Donta Hall off the boards.

Q. What do you think you have to do to get better possessions offensively? Games? You were good at that early in the season, but it's faded.
KERMIT DAVIS: Tonight I agree totally. I don't think that's true because you can't have bad possessions and be up one against Tennessee. You can't have bad possessions in the second half against Kentucky, who may win a national championship, it's a one-possession game.

I hadn't seen that, what you've seen. Tonight I totally agree. We shot it quick. We panicked. We didn't drive the ball. We settled. You're right, in those kind of moments like tonight, we got to trust offense, and we didn't. Breein settled and settled. We were going after mismatches, Riley Norris on him, these big 6'8" forwards on him, he's shooting threes. He had to drive the ball.

I think as a whole we've done okay. We're not perfect by any means, but I think we've been okay there.

Q. It seemed like in the second half they were doing one-on-ones, settling for first-time shots. Is this a concern for you going into potentially a March Madness, things get tight, they go to ISO's, street ball as opposed to running the offense?
KERMIT DAVIS: That makes me feel bad when you say 'street ball', because that's not what I'm about. We've worked hard. At times I can see how it looked like that.

There's times when you have to get isolations when they switch. We went offense isolations at times. There's times when Alabama went after isolations, but they were physical at the rim. I agree, it was a concern tonight, no question about it.

We settled. The first half the ball moved. Second half, we just kind of reverted back to old habits. That's why we got beat. Yeah, no doubt, it is a concern. We got to clean it up if we're going to play in the NCAA tournament here.

Q. What can you do to get more free throws? You shot four of them today, none in the first half. Is that just a product of the quick shots?
KERMIT DAVIS: Just settling, settling. We were one of the top 10 free-throw shooting teams in college basketball. I think last game we shot 22. I don't think we can look at one game and say we just don't shoot any free throws. It's one game. Tonight we didn't. We didn't shoot free throws tonight. We were 2-4. We settled. We settled. We weren't physical drivers. We didn't throw it to the post.

You're right, tonight it was. I think as a whole, our team has gotten to the line, won a lot of games. When you don't have a lot of just physical post presence, you're not going to get as many fouls as maybe like an Alabama. They have bigger guards who drive it. A lot of times they went to the free-throw line because they offensive rebounded the ball.

Q. You brought up the beginning of the second half in the last couple of months. Why do you think that's been happening? How do you address that in practice?
KERMIT DAVIS: We do it all the time in practice. We take breaks, get to the point where we give up buckets, we do sprints, make them pay a penalty. Nothing else we can do. It gets to be where players have to execute game plans.

Like I said, tonight we go up 16, then we kind of gave in for a little bit. We got it back. It's something that we'll keep working at.

Q. It couldn't have been a tougher night for TD or Breein. Where do you think that came from?
KERMIT DAVIS: I saw it coming with Breein. Yesterday in practice, he wasn't very good here, didn't guard. TD I didn't see it coming like that. Breein didn't have the same type of focus and maturity in practice to be able to be named first team in a great, great league like this. I talked to him about it in the locker room after the game.

It's something we have to improve on. Like I said, the 4-27, that hadn't happened all year long. Shot-making affects effort. That kind of bothers you. TD missed some really good shots early.

Ball moved the first half, didn't the second half. Those guys have won us a ton of games this year and they'll bounce back.

Q. Where is the stress level, the confidence level sitting around between now and Sunday?
KERMIT DAVIS: I have zero stress level. I'm dead serious about that. I think we're in the tournament. I mean, no SEC team with 10 wins and 20 wins has ever been left out of the tournament. Our Net was 35 or 36 going in. Five quadrant one wins. I hate to sound like I'm hitting the drum, but I just feel we're going to be in the tournament. If we're not, we'll go fight our tail off in the NIT. I think we're an NCAA tournament team.


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