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March 7, 2008

Chelsea Chowning

Sarah Elliott

Matthew Mitchell


THE MODERATOR: Coach, we'll have an opening comment for you and take questions for the players.
COACH MITCHELL: Well, we're obviously very pleased to win this game tonight, just really proud of our players. Our players gave a supreme effort, and we knew we would have to. We had to fight all year long to win games, and this was an outstanding victory for us.
We talked about trying to use the bye to our advantage. We had fought hard to earn that fourth seed, and we wanted to try to use it and make something of it. It hasn't happened a lot of times at Kentucky, so it's a testament to our players to have gotten in this position and then taken advantage of it, and really a game that we had to win. That's a difficult position to be in.
We talked about that before the game. And I'm just real proud of the way our players responded. Great, great night for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Q. Sarah, talk about what this win means because you scored ten of your 16 in the first half, but in the second half you scored the two big baskets when your team needed it.
SARAH ELLIOTT: We just basically, before the game, talked about like how we just needed to pull together and believe in ourselves because that's what it's going to come down to. Whatever happens during the game, we have ups, downs, goods, bads, we have to be there for each other and we did that. Each and every one of us just fought and that's what caused us to have a great outcome and the W.

Q. Chelsea, can you talk about the pressure that was on you guys to win this game knowing that it would be the end of the season if you lost?
CHELSEA CHOWNING: I don't think we necessarily felt it as pressure. I think we just -- really it energized us because we knew if we didn't come out with a win today our season would be over, and we don't think we're a team that deserves for our season to be over right now.
So I think that it took all 15 people on our team and all of our coaches coming together and realizing what we had to do to win this game, and it was a rough game. We had the lead at halftime, but we really -- they challenged us in the second half, but we responded, and I think it shows a whole lot about our team's character that we were able to do that.

Q. Chelsea, I think it was a six-point lead inside two minutes, and you chased from behind and blocked a shot that could have got them within four. Can you talk about that play? Sarah, since you seemed to like it you can talk about it?
CHELSEA CHOWNING: I think it was a three on one, and I don't know, I was just the only one that was back on defense. I think it was a messed up possession on offense and I was the only one back and I tried to pass the ball and make Houts pick it up and she did, and threw a real good pass to No. 24, Darrah, and I just went up and blocked it and I was able to get the rebound.

Q. Chelsea, can you talk about that three-pointer going right into halftime, the momentum that gave you?
CHELSEA CHOWNING: Well, we were trying to go inside to Sarah, and I don't know if Sarah touched the ball on that possession but everyone else did, and we had really good ball movement. Amani dumped a pass down to Vic and it was a really good pass. I didn't know how much time was left at that point, but I saw they all collapsed inside so I called for the ball and Vic saw me and I just caught it. I knew there couldn't be much time so I just shot it. That was a really big momentum swing going into the half.
I think when we played Georgia they had a similar play going into halftime where they got the momentum off of a three going into the half, so it was nice for it to be our turn.

Q. Chelsea, this is the first time Kentucky has ever beaten Georgia in the SEC Tournament. How big is that for this program?
CHELSEA CHOWNING: It's a very big win. They're a great team. This is also the first team that I think we've beaten twice this season, so that's another accomplishment.
They're a really tough team, and I think that we were really fortunate to have the bye. I think the fact that Alabama challenged them yesterday helped us out because we were refreshed today. They put up a tough fight, but I was really proud of our team and how we really unified and came together to win.
SARAH ELLIOTT: Last year we played them, I think it was the second round, and we got crushed. We came together this year, and it was just like -- leave everything out there, no matter if we get crushed or if it's within two points or whatever, even if we're up. I don't think Georgia was expecting us to come out with such a momentum of speed so quickly. I think it kind of caught them off balance and worked out for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. For the coach?

Q. You were up by ten, and then they pulled it back to even and then you build it back up to ten. What did that tell you about their resolve tonight?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, we were obviously pleased to build it up to ten, and I thought that the way that the energy our players came out with tonight was really a big factor in the game. I can't tell you how much respect I have for Georgia and their program and Coach Landers and their players, and so I was keenly aware that a run would take place in the second half, and so when you're playing a good team like that, any time you can gain an advantage and create a cushion, so to speak, it's big, because it gives your players confidence.
But I was very proud that our players responded. I didn't sense any panic in us at all, and we talked about that in the huddle I think when it was 41-40, if they took the lead one or two points, let's don't worry about that because I really felt like we had done a good job of what I talked about in the opening, using the bye to our advantage and trying to get into their legs a little bit. I don't know if that was a factor or not but that's what we were trying to do, and I was just trying to tell the team let's hang in there because I felt like we could run it back out again if we just kept guarding the way we were guarding.

Q. Talk about what a win like this does for you going into tomorrow night against a team like LSU?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, LSU is going to be obviously the favorite in the game, and it's a tough, physical match-up for us. But I think the way you saw our team battle tonight and fight and come out with that type of energy, we gave LSU a heck of a game down in Baton Rouge, so I'm going to point that out to our players and tell them they need to gain confidence in that. We know the only way we can go to the NCAA Tournament for certain is to win tonight -- we had to win tonight, so the only way we can keep that alive for us is to win tomorrow.
We came down here to win the tournament. We knew we had a good SEC run and we were confident that we could come down here and make a run at the tournament. We'll go out and play to win tomorrow night and see if we can get a victory. It'll be very difficult, but I told our coaches, any time you play on Saturday in the SEC tournament it's going to be a difficult game. I'm proud of our team tonight, and we'll get ready for LSU.

Q. Can you talk about the adversity of playing without Carly, and will she be back for tomor row?
COACH MITCHELL: She will be back tomorrow. It was a one-game suspension, and it was, and I don't want to comment on it any further. It's been a team issue and it's been handled and we'll move forward. I have a lot of respect for Carly and she'll be ready to go tomorrow night, and she will be available tomorrow night.

Q. (Inaudible).
COACH MITCHELL: Tremendous. We've had to play short-handed a lot this year, and so our players were well-equipped to face some more adverse circumstances because we've faced plenty. If any team in the tournament was ready to do that, I think we were, and as you could see -- I could tell when our players came out in the first four minutes, we were down 6-4, but the energy that we had played with, I felt good about our chances tonight after they came out that way and knew that we had responded positively to the adversity, and that's what you want to do.

Q. Your team took the lead for good at the ten-minute mark of the first half. You never gave it up even when they cut it to one. At the 11-minute mark of the second half you grinded it out.
COACH MITCHELL: We were guarding so well tonight and a great defensive effort. That's been something that we've had to do in this league all year. We haven't had very many pretty victories. It's always been we've had to rely on defense, and boy, they came to play tonight with some great defense, and I was real proud of that.

Q. They tied it 39-39, but you guys never let them get the lead. Can you talk about how important that might have been if they had gotten that lead for momentum?
COACH MITCHELL: I think for us and where we are right now, I think that was probably a big factor in the game. I think that us being able to never relinquish the lead from a psychological standpoint, an emotional standpoint, I think that was important. This one is about a tough group of young women who came together and fought real hard, and I give them all the credit. They did a great job tonight and I'm real proud of our players.

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