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March 11, 2010

Anthony Grant

Justin Knox

Mikhail Torrance


Alabama – 68
South Carolina - 63

THE MODERATOR: All right. We're ready to continue on with Alabama. We'll ask Coach Grant for some opening comments, his thoughts on the game, and then we'll take your questions just for the two student-athletes. Excuse them back to the locker room and then finish up with coach. Coach, if you'd begin.
COACH GRANT: Well, I'll start off by saying I couldn't be prouder of our guys, just the fight that they showed tonight.
You know, certainly give South Carolina a lot of credit. They came in, and they played with great energy, a lot of emotion. They did the things in the first half that I felt like maybe we did to them in the first game we played them last week, in terms of the rebounding and the effort.
It seems like every effort play that was to be made, they made. And our guys, I thought, showed great toughness, a great will to, even though when things were going bad, to stay together and to fight and do the things that really we worked on in terms of building all year.
So, again, I couldn't be prouder of the efforts. Great win. Obviously, we're excited to still be a part of the tournament. I thought it was a great game to open up the SEC Tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for either of the two student-athletes.

Q. For both you guys. That last ten-minute stretch when they were turning the ball over and doing those things, what did you sort of sense going on out there? Could you tell they were that frustrated and sort of flustered with their game?
JUSTIN KNOX: I mean, it's just basically our style of play. You know, Coach tells us to be aggressive throughout the game and never give up fighting. And that's just what we did.
They quivered under pressure, and we were able to come out with the victory.
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: We just wanted to win the style of play game. The first half they got away from us a little bit. We knew the second half it was going to come down to our style of play. Their shots were coming up short, and that's when I knew we had them and just to continue to execute down the stretch.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you. And we'll take questions now for Coach Grant.

Q. Coach, after a win like that, how much of a factor does momentum play going into the next game against Kentucky?
COACH GRANT: Well, that's a good question. I guess for us, you know, having the experience of playing a game in the tournament, I think, certainly helps us.
On the other side, you could look at it and say Kentucky's got an extra day of rest. Obviously, this was a very competitive, hard-fought game for us.
Every game brings different challenges, different preparation. The preparation for our next game will begin once we get back to the hotel. But for right now, I think our guys are going to enjoy this victory, and obviously we had an opportunity to continue to play. So we're excited about still being in the tournament.

Q. Coach Grant, what do you feel like your team wasn't doing in the stretch that South Carolina built the 18-point lead? Where did you feel like they were taking advantage of you?
COACH GRANT: I thought it was the defending and rebounding is what really what it came down to. You look at the final tally, they had 18 offensive rebounds in the game.
I thought early in the game our first shot defense was good. Our second shot defense wasn't very good. They had some second chance opportunities there.
I felt like from an offensive standpoint, the same things that plagued us the first time we played them in terms of the turnovers which led to transition opportunities for them really hurt us.
So when those things combined, it created a double-digit deficit for us. And then, obviously, your momentum or composure, attitude when things don't go well. You know, it kind of snowballs.
We tried to address those things at the half and tell the guys, really, we've been in this situation before. We understand that with our style of play, with what we do, that we were more than capable of coming back but that we had to make a decision in terms of playing to our identity on the defensive end, rebounding-wise, and understanding possession by possession we needed to chip away at it.
South Carolina, I thought, came in with a great game plan. They fought hard. They made some tough shots there in the second half that I thought we defended well. So it was just about our guys maintaining their composure and understanding possession by possession, we needed to chip away.
We were able to do that. One of our goals, I think, at the 12-minute media time-out, we were down 12 or 13. The goal was by the eight-minute mark to get in under -- see if we could have it under ten, and we were able to do that, I think the momentum for our guys carried over from there.

Q. Coach, a couple of your players said that they thought that they were a different team mentally and emotionally since the last time you all played Kentucky. Do you agree with that? If so, why?
COACH GRANT: Well, I think with every team, I think you mature with the way the season goes. Whether you face adversity or whether you have success. So I think the -- none of us are ever the same.
You know, I think with every day that goes by, we change. That's true for athletes, true for anybody. So I think with every experience we go through, I think it has an opportunity to make us better or to set us back. .
So hopefully for our guys, we're moving in the right direction and understanding the process of trying to get our program and our team to where we want it to be.

Q. I'm just curious how many five seconds inbounds plays have you had before that and what kind of lift that provided for you guys down the stretch in terms of coming up with that play?
COACH GRANT: You've got to refresh my memory.

Q. The inbounds play, the five-second call, where you forced the five second and you guys got the ball back.
COACH GRANT: On the sideline late. We knew they were going to try to get the ball to Devan Downey, and we tried to deny him. We had some success doing that, and our guys did a good job of pushing out.
It wasn't anything specifically we said during the time-out that we were going for a five-second count, but we wanted to keep the ball out of Downey's hands.

Q. Coach, could you talk a little bit about Justin Knox offensively, particularly early in the game.
COACH GRANT: I really think the last four or five ball games Justin's really stepped up to the challenge, and that's something that our basketball team has really needed.
You know, he's got a load of talent. Obviously, you saw some of his ability in terms of the variety of post shots that he could make with his size and physicality, the touch he has. You know, it's been something that's been needed by our team. So I'm really proud of him for the way he stepped up and the way he's produced here of late, and certainly, I think it's been a great addition to our team, and I think Justin right now is playing with a lot of confidence.
I think with every game he gains confidence. I think our team gains confidence in what he's capable of doing. Thought he had a great performance today.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

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