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March 9, 2007

Todd Abernethy

Bam Doyne

Andy Kennedy


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Ole Miss. Coach, would you begin.
ANDY KENNEDY: Yeah, I thought our guys really came out with the proper approach. I felt like we were really aggressive from jump. LSU's a team that's had their way with us on the glass, in our two previous meetings. We've had a hard time with their size, across the board. I thought tonight we really did a good job of getting to all the 50-50 balls, the loose balls. We knew in order to have a chance, we're going to have to win effort areas, which I thought we did. These two guys led the charge for us offensively, and stepped up and made some timely baskets.
Every time LSU would make a push, which we knew they would, our guys responded. That's a credit to our kids. I'm really proud that they put Ole Miss back in the picture.

Q. Bam, they were pretty vocal, it seemed like, in wanting another shot at Ole Miss, were you guys aware of that? Did you all talk about that? And what is your response to that?
BAM DOYNE: Yes, we was aware of that. We talked about that, and we used that as motivation. For somebody to call you out, you know, you have to accept the challenge, and that's what this game is about. Accepting challenges, and trying to get better as a team.
So yes, we was aware of that. If fueled us.

Q. Bam, did they seem tired right off or later on?
BAM DOYNE: I didn't think they were very tired. I don't know what they were. I was just trying to be aggressive, and I thought that's what my team was trying to do. No, they didn't seem very tired to me. They looked pretty strong to me.

Q. Bam, can you talk about your night individually. You hit a lot of shots early and often, open shots, mid-range shots. You know, just talk about your night and how you felt.
BAM DOYNE: I mean, I was more open than I thought I was going to be, and the opportunity presented itself. So I was confident in myself, and I made some shots tonight. A lot of times I was driving, trying to create for other people, And found myself a lot more open than what I thought I was. Just took advantage of it.

Q. Todd, from your perspective, in memory of the Florida game, since you're playing them tomorrow, you guys got well behind, then made a strong push in the second half. Was that second half early in the season kind of emblematic of the toughness of your team? Give us some sense of perspective on being down 23, 24 points and then having a chance to cut it to 5, I think it was at one point late in that game.
TODD ABERNETHY: Well, I tell a lot of people that I think just that second half against Florida was really the turning point for the season for us. And going into Florida, the No. 1 ranked team in the country, I think we were a little shocked at first, wide-eyed, and they put it to us the first half. But I think when we came out aggressive second half, pressing them, and just coming back in general, it kind of fueled us a lot. I think has made us believe. You know, if we can hang with the No. 1 team in the country, then we can win some games in the SEC. So that's really how we ended up the SEC, 8-8. And I think it was really good for our team.
So I think we'll be confident tomorrow. We definitely need to get off to a better start than the last time we played Florida.

Q. Todd, obviously J.P. and Kenny started tonight, probably because of Dwayne's toe, I'm not sure, but what did those guys mean early on? What sort of lift did they give you, especially Kenny with his offense?
TODD ABERNETHY: They were huge for us. LSU's a big team, with Big Baby, and a lot of length. They've killed us in the past on the offensive rebounds. Just stuff like that. So those two just stepped up tonight, had some blocks, and they were focused right from the jump. You could tell who wanted this game and we did. We pulled it out.

Q. For both the players, do you think a win like this is enough or do you need to win tomorrow?
TODD ABERNETHY: I'm not sure if it's enough or not. We want to win as many games as possible. I think definitely this made a statement, beating LSU by 20, who just beat Tennessee the night before. But we don't want to worry about that too much.
We have an awesome opportunity tomorrow night playing Florida, one of the best teams in the country. So we just realize how big that game is, and we're going to go out and give it our all.
BAM DOYNE: He said that perfect (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: This will be the first time Ole Miss and Mississippi State have been in the semifinals the same year of this tournament.

Q. Coach, could you talk about Kenny's play? I thought he was the real difference in that first half, gave you that spark that got everybody else going.
ANDY KENNEDY: You've seen us play a lot. I think Kenny has really grown by leaps and bounds with his confidence offensively. There were times weeks ago where he would have never thought about stepping out to start a game and looking for his offense 12 to 15 feet, but he's worked at it and grown more confident throughout the course of the year. I think that's typical of a first-year guy. We knew he had the physical attributes and now he's really starting to put forth the necessary effort to be an everyday contributor.

Q. Coach, talk about the match-up with Florida and how their bigs and their ability to handle the ball, what that does to guys that are low post players for you, that yes, they're active, but they may not have the same skills to come away from the basket that some of the bigs for Florida might have?
ANDY KENNEDY: Jimmy, that's why you make the big money. You said that -- I know what you're saying. No, we can't match up with those guys on the perimeter. That's the good news/bad news part of the equation; the good news is we advance to the semis, the bad news is we've got to play arguably the best team in the country, who have obviously righted the ship and are on a mission.
It's going to be a monumental challenge, but it's one that our kids are looking forward to. We'll have to be on top of our game. We'll have to mix and match our defenses. We're going to have to throw our bodies around. We do have girth, so we're going to have to lean, and hold, and push, and pull, and everything below the rim, we've got to get them all, because we're not going to get many above the rim.

Q. Was D.C. on the bench because of the toe?
ANDY KENNEDY: He hadn't practiced. We played against Auburn, and you remember, Robby, we were fortunate because Auburn plays four guards a lot of the times. They had Quan Prowell which would allow us to play a fourth guard. We didn't do it effectively, but we were tempting because he was a perimeter oriented guy, and he's been lame prior to that game. Well, we've had all week, and he hasn't practiced very, very little. We tried to do some things for his timing, but his foot's been bothering him. Tonight we wanted to get out of him whatever we could. I think it was good for his confidence. I saw him stretching out, trying to make some plays and hopefully that will carry over to tomorrow. We certainly need production on the offensive end tomorrow.

Q. Can you just talk about Bam. I know he had been struggling from the field the last seven games or so.
ANDY KENNEDY: Really, really aggressive. We tried to spread him. We talked about the fact that LSU has great size and length from 1 through 5. We tried to really work on getting our spacing better. And Bam did a great job of knifeing through and finishing it. And I think he made some shots early and he was really, really confident, in attack mode. It's the best he's played offensively in quite some time.

Q. One last thing about this West versus East thing: You know, we see three out of the four teams from the division. Help me out with regard to what that means. I mean, the East is clearly top heavy, but it seems like in these match-ups in the postseason, it is a case of more desperation for the teams.
ANDY KENNEDY: I'm hopeful you're not the only one that's seeing this. I think there's quality teams in this league, 1 through 12. East/west/north/south, I don't know about all that. Jeff and I were talking before our game on Saturday, and I've known Jeff forever and ever, And we were saying isn't it funny, here's Auburn and Ole Miss playing for the SEC West title, and we almost have to apologize for it. You know, are you kidding me? If we would have taken our rightful place, SEC would be a six or seven bid league, now because we've improved they're talking four. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
I'm hopeful that through the actions of the last couple of days, maybe people will come back to their senses on that topic.

Q. You're saying it's more fluff than stuff? We're not being substantive in terms of the national approach to the league?
ANDY KENNEDY: I think if indeed you're going to put any relevance on this RPI number, and if indeed the RPI number is what it is, and if, indeed, we are doing what football's done forever and ever, and that is beat each other up, then I think people need to look into that. I know that I'm not going to name names because they're colleagues, and I don't want to throw guys out there, but there are a lot of teams with resumes similar to ours that everybody says are automatically in. And we can't even -- people don't even think we're on the bubble. And I don't want the fact that this team has not experienced the success that we aspire to over the last four or five years.
We've had to start from so far back in the pack. Please don't discount where we are in the race. Hopefully today's game made a statement, as Todd said, and we realized the light is shining on us. And we've got a huge opportunity tomorrow. But regardless of the outcome of the game, I'm hoping that people will look at this team and value what it's been able to accomplish.

Q. Coach for those of us that didn't see it, how did you come back against Florida in that last game? I guess you were down by 25.
ANDY KENNEDY: I think it was a couple of things. Florida played exceptionally well and had us on our heels. We kept attacking. And I'm not foolish, human nature, you're up 25, you lose a little bit of your edge, we made some shots and got some turnovers. It put us in a position, if memory serves, the game was at 7:00, and we had a steal and a three about two minutes to play, which would have cut it to four, which maybe could have made it interesting. We didn't execute the play, we didn't make the shot. And they kept it in that eight- or nine-point range. But our kids fought, and we used it as a springboard, as Todd said, to say hey, man, we've had so much respect for Billy and their program. And I really believe they're the best team in the country, and I think they're going to show people that over the next three weeks. For us to be able to battle and put ourselves in that position, I think made these kids believe, and belief is a strong thing.

Q. It was a 1-2-1 press?
ANDY KENNEDY: We did a little bit of everything. I can't give you all my secrets. We pressed. We had a football player in there. And we pressed him and tackled a little bit. We worked for a few minutes. Thank you.

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