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March 9, 2007

Jamont Gordon

Ben Hansbrough

Charles Rhodes

Rick Stansbury


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with Mississippi State. Coach, would you begin.
RICK STANSBURY: You know, excuse my voice again, but I thought Kentucky came into this game, and particularly after watching them yesterday and even today, I thought Kentucky was playing the best basketball of anybody in this tournament. And that's a credit to the job Tubby does. He had them defending. They made shots, they played hard, they utilized Morris, and again, I know Tubby had them ready to play, and Kentucky played.
And somehow we managed to hang in there long enough without Charles Rhodes in foul trouble for most of the game, to keep ourselves in striking position. I thought the first five minutes of the second half was critical for us. I know we were down at halftime, we came out and I hadn't seen the running stats, but we came out on a run to take that lead. When Charles picked up that fourth foul, we had enough cushion and were able to survive without him.
Jamont Gordon was a warrior all day long. Can't say enough about what he did. That last shot was a big shot. Just give us a chance to get it back into overtime. Again, just proud of the effort. We all know just how important it is when you play Kentucky. When you look up at the success that Kentucky's had in this tournament, and the fans they've had, just how big it is for your program.
Again, these guys deserve all the credit, because they never gave up today. When things looked bleak they kept fighting and giving themselves a chance at the end to win the basketball game.

Q. Jamont, just take us through the shot right before the end of regulation on the three pointer.
JAMONT GORDON: Oh yeah, Coach made a great call --
RICK STANSBURY: Coach didn't shoot it (Laughter).
JAMONT GORDON: He told me to line up on the opposite side of the ball, and curve into it, so I could get the ball in my left hand, and when I got the ball, I just went down and made a great play.

Q. Charles, how tough was it for you to have to watch as much as you did, and then foul out? Were you surprised at maybe how tight the game was being called?
CHARLES RHODES: It was just real tough, but I knew that they were going to come in. I knew the refs were going to be on me, but I told my swing players to win this one without me, and they listened to me. That's the thing about having players, when one goes down, one steps up. And that's what we did tonight.

Q. Coach, if you can, a couple of your players, if they will, the final play of the game, they were planning some back screens for Morris, and then again for Bobby, and what your thinking was defensively, and they said you defended the play extremely well?
THE MODERATOR: That question was for?

Q. Coach, and then players.
THE MODERATOR: Just players now.

Q. Rhodes and Gordon.
CHARLES RHODES: They were coming to Morris mostly every time. They saw I was in foul trouble, and just getting the ball at will. And helped us out and did a great job on it at the end of the game. Can't say too much about the defense we played. It was just the best I've ever seen. I was just a big cheerleader on the sideline.
JAMONT GORDON: Like he said, the help-side defense. We took them out the game. We double-teamed so he couldn't get the ball, we made other players step up and beat us. We played great defense, and we got the win.
RICK STANSBURY: You're talking about that last play of the game? Our plan was to switch all screens in that last situation. Switch all screens. And our guys switched all screens and they never got a look in there.

Q. Jamont, you took us through that last shot, could you take us through that celebration routine. Was that practiced? Have you ever celebrated a shot so long?
JAMONT GORDON: No, something just went through me, I don't know. I just got a great feeling inside me, I don't know what made me do that celebration. But it just felt good to put my team in a position to win a game.

Q. Charles, just talk about the battle you and Randolph had inside in the game.
CHARLES RHODES: The battle started right when the game started. We were bumping each other, and the refs were just whispering in my ear, "This is a big game, so don't get into foul trouble." It was just rough down there for me and him. And you know, my team came out with the win, that is the most important thing.

Q. Jamont, you've hit a lot of big shots, big three pointers in games before. But how personally gratifying is it to hit it on such a big stage, big opponent, that kind of stuff?
JAMONT GORDON: Oh man, it's good, you know. It gave my team a chance. It was a great feeling to me. I was just grateful, you know, it gave us a chance to win the game and win another championship, that's what we came to do.

Q. Ben, could you just talk about the three-pointer that you hit that gave you guys the lead for good in the overtime period?
BEN HANSBROUGH: To be honest with you, I was just ready to shoot it. As soon as that ball was going to touch my hands, I was going to let it go. That's what I was thinking?
THE MODERATOR: All right, we'll continue with questions for Coach Stansbury.

Q. Rick, were they going to call the lane violation before you went into your voodoo dance there on the sideline?
RICK STANSBURY: The voodoo, "who do" made them call it. I'll be glad I did the "who do". I don't know. But I was going to make sure something was going to happen right there. I don't know what that "who do" was going to lead to, but it was a very obvious violation, and I'll leave it at that.

Q. With such a big emotional win there at the end, how hard is it to just immediately forget about that and reset everything?
RICK STANSBURY: You know, this time of year, that's not a factor. We came down here, it's a three-game season, and unfortunately you win the West, and you have to play Kentucky first round. You know, that's never what you want first game. But that was the first team in that three days that we had to play. We understand that's one win. We got the next winner now. The next hard one will be Vanderbilt or Arkansas. Our guys will be ready again.

Q. Rick, with Charles out as much as he was, are you surprised that you were able to do what you did against Morris with guys like Goodrich and Varnado in there for a lot of time?
RICK STANSBURY: Those guys were great. Jarvis did it in foul trouble. Second half we held them to 39% shooting, And we shot 60%. That's where we were able to win that basketball game, our ability to defend. We did it with a lot of different people. We kept running different people at Morris. I thought Vernon came in and gave us some good minutes. He for sure came in and gave us a big jump hook late in that game. Vernon Goodrich gave us 12 minutes, he hadn't played 12 minutes in his last seven or eight games probably in total, but that's what you have to have sometimes.
We talk about sometimes people go down, other people have to step up, and tonight was Vernon's opportunity to give us some minutes. But I thought Jamont Gordon controlled the flow of that basketball game, even when we weren't scoring much in that block. But he was able to get in that lane, get to the basket and score, get in that lane, create fouls, get in that lane and pitch out to Hansbrough for that big three-pointer. Again, that was Jamont getting in that lane that created that.

Q. Coach, Dietric came in already banged up and hit the floor two or more times today. I saw you talking to him a couple of times. Were you talking to him about how he was feeling?
RICK STANSBURY: No, I know how he's feeling. It don't matter. We're going to tape him up and get him ready for tomorrow. He scored 13 points today, 7 or 8 rebounds, and things that don't show up on the stat sheet, defensively, he's the key out there. He's the key that makes all those other things happen that we're trying to get done with that small lineup. We don't do it as well with anybody else at that four spot. Even though Jamont slides down and plays that four, he doesn't do it as well as Dietric does.

Q. Rick, was there any point during this week or this morning that you looked at Jamont and said, this is one that you're just going to have to take over?
RICK STANSBURY: No, because y'all know Jamont Gordon; he's ready every game. You don't want him just -- we heard that in the season. Now he's become a player. He understands when to push down on the gas, when to let up. It's very obvious now when you're playing without Charles Rhodes, there's times that he has to do more. He senses that now, and we understand that with him and allow him to run some things a little bit different that allows him to get in that lane and do that.

Q. Rick, they went down the stretch, 1-4 with Crawford trying to take it to the basket several times. He got to the basket, but the last couple of times he didn't get it there. You blocked that last shot on him. Did you change anything defensively?
RICK STANSBURY: We changed the guy we had on him. We had Barry Stewart on him some, he overpowered Barry Stewart. Got in that lane on him, shuffled the jumpers. The last three or four minutes of the game, we had Richard Delk on him, and Richard Delk's range went up on that last shot and contested it and blocked it. I thought Richard did a great job right there.

Q. Coach, you said on several occasions that Jamont Gordon's not your typical point guard. Does this game today maybe best exemplify that with how he was able to perform?
RICK STANSBURY: Well, he does so many things, scores inside. He's got the build with that basketball in his hand to get it to the rim and finish against just about anybody, even those bigs. He's become so much harder to defend because he shoots that basketball so much better than he used to.
His ability to rebound that basketball, how many point guards will get you eight or nine rebounds a game? But the key to that is he just doesn't get the rebound, it starts our break. He starts our break as a forward player or a point guard, and gets us out in transition quick, and that's a big key.

Q. Rick, with the trouble you guys are having hitting the three in the first half, did you guys talk about attacking the glass offensively more in the second half?
RICK STANSBURY: We did. Kentucky gets into you pressure-wise, they started the second half into us again. And we made it a point, we've got to drive the basketball more, get into the lane, get in the lane. We were 1 for 11 at halftime, 2 for 11, whatever it was, and Kentucky went zone. And they played a lot of zone in that stretch. But I felt the key against the zone again was we didn't always continue to settle for that three-point shot. Jamont Gordon again did a great job getting in that lane, and getting it to the rim and creating the in for a good three-point shot.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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