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March 11, 2010

Devan Downey

Darrin Horn

Lakeem Jackson


Alabama – 68
South Carolina - 63

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with South Carolina. We'll ask Coach Horn for some opening thoughts on the game, and then we'll take your questions just for the two student-athletes. And then excuse them back to the locker room, and we'll finish up the Q and A with Coach Horn. Coach, if you'd begin.
COACH HORN: I think for 30 minutes tonight we played extremely well. And did all the things we wanted to do entering the game on both ends of the floor.
And then the last ten minutes, we had a hard time scoring, they tried to take the ball out of Devan's hands a little bit. We just played like a team that was trying to hang on instead of a team that was trying to win and pull away.
And credit to Alabama. They made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch, whether it was making free throws or getting big buckets. You know, we missed a couple big free throws as well, just things you can't do in tournament time, that cost us the game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either of the two student-athletes at this time.

Q. Devan, you're up 18 with about 12:00 to go. What's going through your mind, and what do you think Alabama did differently down the stretch?
DEVAN DOWNEY: What was going through my mind is just keep going. I feel the way Coach feels. We played to hang on. We didn't play to extend the lead and keep that intensity.
Like he said, we just played to just hold on.

Q. Devan, how disappointing is this to come in here your last SEC Tournament and lose in this manner?
DEVAN DOWNEY: It's just disappointing to lose, period, the manner really doesn't matter. Like I said, I thought we had the game pretty much in hand, but credit Alabama, who just kept playing and kept fighting.
THE MODERATOR: If I could just ask Lakeem. Lakeem, your general thoughts on the game, please.
LAKEEM JACKSON: Like Coach said, we fought for 30. Just didn't go out the whole entire game with that warrior mentality that we have. We just played to hang on pretty much.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll excuse the two student-athletes. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Horn.

Q. Darrin, would you just talk about the pressure down the stretch that Alabama was putting on your guys, whether that affected it or you guys lost composure. Or what -- how do you define that last -- I think one basket in the last 11 minutes.
COACH HORN: I mean, you can't take anything away from Alabama. They did a good job of pressuring. They tried to get the ball out of Devan's hands.
But they didn't do anything that we didn't prepare for, that we haven't seen all year long. I just think that, as I said, once we had a turnover, had a couple that didn't go down, it seemed like we had, as a group collectively, guys that were worrying about the last play.
Quite honestly, my biggest concern coming into this game was not Alabama, it was us, and something like this happening because we've been a team that, when we've been able to focus and stay in the moment and play the next play for 40 minutes, we've shown that we can play with anybody literally, beating Kentucky and Vanderbilt, for example.
But we've had a hard time doing that. When we got up 15, that was obviously a concern. Quite honestly, we just didn't respond very well to it.
Don't take anything away from Alabama. They did what they had to do and did a good job pressuring. We just didn't handle it very well.

Q. When you see your tame go from aggressive to kind of survival mode, what do you as coaches do to get them out of that in the last ten minutes and all those breaks. What were you saying to them?
COACH HORN: Again, the same thing we've been saying to them for the whole week; stay in the moment and just play the next play. Don't worry about how things are going good or bad. That's been the only thing that's given us a chance to be successful this year.
So we preached that when we were up, and we preached that when the lead started dwindling away. I just think there wasn't the confidence there collectively because we'd been in this situation so many times and it not gone our way.
You know, we didn't have anybody step up and play with the kind of confidence on either end really. When it happened on the offensive end, it started happening on the defensive end too, gave up a lot of easy drives and easy post-ups down the stretch.
Again, credit Alabama. They drove the basketball and made finishes, and they got the ball inside and got the buckets they needed.

Q. Darrin, how hard will it be to say good-bye to Devan after all he's done?
COACH HORN: Devan's obviously a terrific individual player. I think it could be a long time before you see somebody individually do the kind of things that he's been able to do in terms of not only the numbers that he's produced and the way he's stolen the basketball, but just the way he plays. He's an exciting player.
So I think from that standpoint and having a veteran guard out there, you know, that's something that obviously will be missed.

Q. You guys, it looked like you were trying to work the ball inside out, especially early on. Only shot ten threes. I mean, what was the kind of thinking there? What did you see? Especially using Sam and Johndre, who had a good first half.
COACH HORN: The first half, I felt we did a good job. We were an attacking team. The last few weeks we focused on that, and finally the Vanderbilt game it clicked.
When we got the ball inside the paint or played it inside out on post touches, it made us a better offensive team and a good defensive team. We weren't giving up very many easy ones.
For about 30 minutes, we did that. Then for whatever reason -- really what killed us is -- you know, Brandis had two, and I think Ramon had one where they tried to take Devan away and the floor was spread, and we literally got shots at the rim, and they didn't go in. Those kinds of shots in this type of situation are really back breakers.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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