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March 14, 2008

Jamont Gordon

Charles Rhodes

Rick Stansbury

Jarvis Varnado


THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Stansbury for some overall thoughts on the game and then we'll take your questions just for the three student athletes. We'll excuse them to the locker room and then finish up with the coach.
COACH STANSBURY: Well, what a game. Number one, give Alabama a lot of credit. I've said this many times. They're as talented as anybody in this league, and when they play like they played last night and tonight, they're capable of beating anybody.
They were awful good again tonight.
Again, we planned for a lot of things. We certainly didn't plan for a tornado. What a moment that was, and for that moment it made you forget all about that game, for that instant. I had no idea what was left on the clock and what was going on.
To our team's credit, halftime Alabama was 8 for 15 from the three-point line. They had four field goals at halftime, four two-point field goals at halftime. They hit three three-pointers, and we were 1 for 10. And we were only down seven. There's where we found the positive things to draw from. We've been playing a lot of zone late lately, but we decided the second half to do what we have done all year long, play man to man.
I thought our kids in particular, once we got down nine points, I thought these guys to the right of me here dug in, found that extra energy that you have to have to win. More importantly, they're 2 of 11 for a one-hour break and whatever it was, that's a difficult situation for both teams, but that team is just going to come back out and have the will and have the toughness to is going to win that game, and I thought our kids found a way and did that.

Q. For any of the players, if you guys could just describe that last half second, what was mindset was defensively.
JARVIS VARNADO: Well, just don't let them score. We did a good job of denying Hendrix the ball, so when Riley came up for that three, I mean, I was just praying to God it wasn't going in.
JAMONT GORDON: Just got to let them get the loft and play solid defense.

Q. Charles Rhodes, what was this whole experience like, the delay, the noises, what you guys endured tonight? Did you have anything to draw from before, anything like that?
CHARLES RHODES: It's got to be one of the worst environments I ever been in as a player. You know, to see stuff falling from the roof, it really scared me, so I really didn't know what to do. Last time I've been in something like that a bat was in the gym, so this really tops that one.

Q. With the adversity you guys faced not only with that but being down in the second half, what does it say about this team to come back and get this win?
CHARLES RHODES: It shows the toughness and the togetherness that our team showed today. I think when we got down, we never thought that we couldn't win. We always knew that we could win the game.
With the motivational speech that Coach brought in there after the delay, I think that really pumped us up and got us going, so we've got to thank our coaches on that. We just executed just as they told us.

Q. Did any of you guys call home and tell your parents you were okay, stuff like that?
CHARLES RHODES: My phone was dead. Jarvis was trying to call his parents. A lot of the guys were. But most of our phones were down. There was just a couple phones that were working.
JARVIS VARNADO: I was just trying to see if my mom was all right because she came down tonight and I didn't see her in the stands, so I was just calling her to make sure she was all right.
JAMONT GORDON: Same way here. I just called my mom to see if she was all right.
THE MODERATOR: Fellows, we'll excuse you. You can return to the locker room.

Q. Sort of the same question I asked Charles Rhodes, about the adversity you guys faced, being down in the second half, how important was this win tonight?
COACH STANSBURY: I thought the second half he played -- they had five field goals the second half, four the first half, five the second half. We held them to 28 percent shooting -- 24 percent shooting the second half. That's the difference in the game.
Again, I say it all the time, to win, especially on the road, you have to defend and you have to rebound. That's what gives you a chance, in particular when you're not shooting very well. Obviously we didn't shoot it very well tonight. We're four for twenty, two of those was in regulation, two in overtime. So in regulation, we're 2 for 18 if that's right, 2 for 18. And just to have a chance to get into overtime you're very fortunate there.
Again, our kids did what you have to do. That's been something we preach about and we've sold on them. You've got to have it on the road. Particularly when you're not shooting the ball very well, and that's what we did, we found ways to get stops in that second half, particularly once we got down nine points.

Q. COACH STANSBURY talked about how this team has improved. It took a while at the end of the year to improved.
COACH STANSBURY: Talking about his team?

Q. Yeah. How different were they this time since the last time you last saw them in Starkville?
COACH STANSBURY: They're a good basketball team. I've always said the difference in their team is Riley. When Riley makes shots -- in the first half everybody was making shots. Gee is a 20-some percent shooter. He was 2 for 3 at halftime. Pickett was a 19 percent shooter or something like that, and he had made one or two. They had a lot of guys make shots the first half. I just didn't think they could keep doing that.
And again, second half, we played man, we got into the shooters, they didn't make many shots the second half. Like I said, 2 for 10 in the second half, 8 for 15 the first half, 2 for 10 the second half, and one of those was that last-second shot.
We out-rebound them, seven rebounds. We hold them to 27 percent shooting the second half. Defend and rebound. That's what gave us a chance to win the basketball game.

Q. Ben had drawn the collar before he hit that three to put you ahead in the second half. Is that always a green light situation?
COACH STANSBURY: Absolutely. It is what it is. When you're a shooter, that's your role and you've got to keep shooting. Ben is one of those guys that you never know what he's going to do sometimes. He's just tough enough to jump up and make shots. He was the same way at Vanderbilt. He was 0 for 6 in regulation and jumped and made two for Vanderbilt. We never went away from him, always gave him the green light. You'd like for him to make a few more than he did. Like I said, Ben is one of those young men, that again, he's just tough enough to step up there and make it when you have to have it.

Q. Considering you guys a week ago at Vanderbilt went into overtime in a similar situation on a three-pointer at the buzzer, was there something there you guys could draw off of this time?
COACH STANSBURY: Well, it's totally two different situations. Absolutely totally different. Vanderbilt situation was 29 seconds to go and we went up three, and it was way too early to foul. We were fouling in this situation. I mean, we fouled. Like I told the refs, the only time I want you to call a foul, you don't call a foul. We tried to foul whoever it was, Hollinger or whoever it was at half court when they called the ball off of him. We literally tried to foul there and they didn't call it. We want to put him on the line with three points and I'll foul in that situation every time. That's why I was so frustrated the way that game came out because I want to foul every time in that situation. We just tried and it didn't happen.
Then Gee, the only person -- everybody in the gym knew he was going to catch the basketball, who they were going to throw it to. We just didn't cover it the way you've got to cover it. With two seconds to go, once you catch it, it's a fine line now of not fouling a guy and I have to shoot him. And kids, you can't let him catch it right there, let him throw to the rim, let him take a two-pointer, but we didn't execute that very well. We were very fortunate to be able to come out on the right side of that score.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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