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March 13, 2009

Korvotney Barber

Lucas Hargrove

Jeff Lebo

Quantez Robertson


Auburn – 61
Florida - 58

CLAUDE FELTON: We'll begin with opening comments from Coach Lebo.
COACH LEBO: Well, I'm a very proud coach right now of my team. I just thought defensively from beginning to end we were terrific. Florida comes in as a very tough team to defend. One of the best offensive teams in our league. I was just really proud how we guarded for 40 minutes.
We were dialed in defensively. We knew we were going to have to stop their transition points. We knew that defending the ball screen was going to be paramount tonight. And I thought we did an excellent job from beginning to end.
You know, it was a grinder. This time of the year, you know, a lot of games become half-court games. We made some key shots down the stretch, and hit some big ones in the second half.
Boy, we made a lot of plays and really happy for these kids. They've been through a lot and have had an unbelievable last month and a half.

Q. From our angle, happened so fast, we couldn't see who blocked the shot at the end. It was Quantez. Could you talk about that and what you saw and the shot?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: I saw a couple of their three-point shooters on one side. They set a quick ball screen, and I tried to help out on the ball screen, and I was able to get back on the shooter, and I was able to get a hand on it. And Lucas came down with the rebound at the end.

Q. First ball, talk about making your free throws tonight, and making the big dunk at the end, and the senior team making the big play?
KORVOTNEY BARBER: I put up a lot of threes in shoot around and in practice and stuff. You know, it paid off. Coach Lebo had me shooting a lot of free throws. And the dunking went to Dewayne Reed. You know, somehow he got to the goal, and my man was able to dish, and I was able to finish at the rim.
That was a real good flop by sage. They played good defense tonight. I don't know where it happened I didn't see it. I just saw the ball up in the air, and Lucas came down with it. It was a good block. I saw the replay.

Q. You took it hard the last time you played Florida missing those free throws. You only had three points tonight. But as far as the block shot, and really just kind of preventing them from tieing this game up and what have you. Can you talk about how big this game was and winning this one in particular against Florida?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: It was a big game, good game for us, and a big game for us also, playing against a good offensive team against Florida. We were able to get some key defensive stops and key rebounds. We were able to make our free throws down the stretch. And we were able to come out with the victory.

Q. Going into this game, both you guys and Florida were talked about as bubble teams. Were you guys going into this with a mindset of maybe playing game?
LUCAS HARGROVE: First off, we want to give all glory to God because without him we wouldn't be here. And second off, we can't think about the NCAA Tournament right now. We've just got to think about Tennessee and trying to get our next win.

Q. You made the big defensive play tonight. The last few games you guys have defended particularly well. You defended a really good LSU team while they closed the regular season. What's been the key for your defensive success lately?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: I would say just giving the opponent different defensive looks. Putting good defenders on good shooters and good players, and being able to come down with clutch rebounds and making our free throws down the stretch. Just making plays on offense, and being able to knock down big shots.

Q. I think you guys hit three threes after Irving Walker. He hit the threes and then the floater in the lane. You guys responded every time with a three. How big were those shots?
LUCAS HARGROVE: Any time someone hits a shot at the end of the game, it's a big shot. We just try to feed off the momentum from the other side. Tay hit a couple, and I think the team gathered off that and the momentum kept rolling.

Q. You had a tip-in against Tennessee earlier in the year, and earlier in the season in the final seconds. You saw what Tennessee did to Alabama after Alabama beat them in the last couple of seconds last week. Does anything stick out to you? Does that make you guys nervous at all?
KORVOTNEY BARBER: No, no. We're just going to rest our bodies and just get ready tomorrow. We'll have a good shoot around tomorrow and try to get prepared for those guys. They're a really talented team, but we'll be ready for them tomorrow.

Q. You've been on this podium a couple of times during the SEC Tournament. But heading home pretty early. In this case now, you're here, you're playing again, and you're now in the mix for NCAA Tournament talk. How does that feel to have come this far in your years at Auburn?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: It feels pretty good being that the past years we didn't come together as a team, I don't think. We weren't able to move past the first round. But now that we're jelling on offense and defense, and just competing night in and night out. I believe we can do anything. We can win these games. You talked about getting in sync in offense, but you didn't seem to panic either.
LUCAS HARGROVE: Yeah, in the first half we weren't in sync, that's why it's come in really big for Rasheem, Korvotney, and Tez. We keep everybody calm. We've got a couple of juniors, everybody tells us our on offense will come. We've just got to keep working on defense.

Q. Frankie really seemed to give y'all a spark in the first half. Worth 12 points. He blocked the shot. Just talk about what he does for you guys and how far he's come as a freshman?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: He's been playing pretty good lately coming off the bench. He's a good player who can score and play defense. He came down with some key rebounds and made some threes and some good defensive stops. He got us going.
CLAUDE FELTON: We'll excuse the student-athletes continue with questions for Coach Lebo.

Q. I know you're probably going to be asked this every night you're here this week. But after this win, are you guys a NCAA Tournament team?
COACH LEBO: I don't know. I'm not in the room. But you certainly can't ignore what's happened here the last month and a half. We're excited to be playing the next game. I think every game for us is big. Coming down the stretch has been like a NCAA Tournament game.
So we've been in tough situations. We've kept fighting. You know, the hardest thing, I think, for these kids is I think they feel like they've been ignored. They've been blown off. You can't ignore 9 out of 10.
I don't know whether we're in or not. I'm not in the room. But you can't ignore what these kids have done. And I'm really, really proud of them. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about the job both Dewayne Reed and Quantez did on Nick Calathes especially?
COACH LEBO: Well, Dewayne Reed was tremendous. You're not going to see it here on the stat sheet. But his defensive pressure on Calathes, his toughness getting through the ball screens, he got pounded tonight on ball screens. He was tough getting through those things. He was really the key to the game, I think.
We did a pretty good job on Calathes the whole game. He hurt us in the first game, and we made some changes in how we defended the ball screens this game. That's what you have to defend with them. Billy does a great job with those ball screens and how you defend and he makes those changes.
I thought he was terrific tonight. Really did a great job the time he was in on Calathes. He was the key to the game, I thought.

Q. Did you expect Erving Walker to maybe take that shot because he had the hot hand? Just walk us from a coaching perspective?
COACH LEBO: Yeah, I expected it. I watch a lot of film. And next to Calathes, he's the next guy that has some toughness that's not afraid to take those shots, and he makes a lot of those shots. He made one against us at Auburn that was a dagger. And I've watched him enough, and I really love his toughness. Again, he's not afraid mentally to take the tough one. He makes the tough ones coming down the stretch.
We thought coming down the stretch they were going to go to Calathes or Walker. And again, Walker made some great shots coming down a couple of flip shot in the lane. Made a key three-point shot. He's a tough kid who was just unfortunate for them, and fortunate for us we got a hand on that last shot, because it probably would have gone in.

Q. Florida had beaten you guys ten straight. Just talk about not only advancing another day, but just getting off the schnide against them?
COACH LEBO: Well, we really didn't talk about the many how many times they'd beaten us. But this time of the year we're just happy to play another day. Just awfully proud of the toughness we showed in this basketball game. We knew Florida, I mean, they were going to come in with their blazing and playing tough.
They had a chance to play the night before. I thought maybe some of the legs there coming down the stretch with some of their shots maybe weren't there. You know, they're a team that really shoots the ball well from three. I think 39% coming into the game.
So they shot 8 of 25 against us. You've got to be happy with that we kept them off the free-throw line most of the game.

Q. The second half, particularly, it seemed like they had a hard time getting open three point shots. Did you change anything you did?
COACH LEBO: We were trying to make it hard the whole game. But, you know, they put so many on the court at one time. They're hard to defend out there. So we do, that kind of falls into - because we're small, we have a little easier time getting out there and defending those threes because we've got some quickness, and we play a little bit smaller. So maybe matching up with them, you know, defensively, we match up better than most because we're pretty small also.

Q. Kind of a related question with bigger picture. How in a larger sense are you able to defend as well as you have been lately with the lineup of the 6'3", 6'4", 6'7" guys?
COACH LEBO: We use our quickness. We make a lot of adjustments game to game. Our kids have really bought into our defense. And I think that's probably an area where we made the biggest improvement from last year.
I think last year we were last defensively. We only had six guys last year, we have eight right now, they're really dialed in. They're really focused. We've been a team that's changed a lot defensively because of our deficiencies.
This year we've been able to play a lot more straight man to man. We've gotten pretty good at it. We still have deficiencies, let's not get carried away. We've done a good job buying into what we do. We do have some quickness. We've just been very, very solid for the last, really, ten games defensively. For long stretches of time. That's not easy to do.

Q. When you played Tennessee back in February, I think you out rebounded them 34-21. Preliminary thoughts on facing Tennessee?
COACH LEBO: Well, I just think they're a very, very talented team. They've got great depth. You know, they've got size and a lot of different spots that bother because of our lack of size that certainly would give them an advantage with their size. They're an excellent rebounding team.
We were really quick to a lot of balls in that game. I know Coach Pearl will be showing them clips of that. I know he will be focused in on that, and Korvotney Barber in that game was unbelievable in the post. So they will be ready. Anything psychologically when you play these games, if we were kids you'd like to play teams that have beaten you in the past. I think it just gives you a psychological edge there. Alabama handled them pretty easily. We'll be falling into that same situation here we play tomorrow.

Q. This is a follow-up to Tennessee. Did you get to see any of their game and the way they played defensively today? And are you guys doing anything differently or better than the last time you played them?
COACH LEBO: Well, I don't know. I mean, we've watched, I've watched Tennessee play, I've seen them play a lot. They mixed in, I think, a little bit of pressing today, which they haven't done as much in the past. But I didn't watch a whole lot. I was trying to get ready for this.
I'll watch it when I get back to the hotel. I think they're playing very well. They've been a little erratic, but when they play well, again, I think they're a Top 10 basketball team, there's no doubt in my mind. I know Coach Pearl's just been frustrated with them because they haven't been able to do it consistently for long periods of time. But when they do it, they're as good as anybody, I think, in the country.

End of FastScripts

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