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March 4, 2011
Kentucky Â– 60
LSU - 58
THE MODERATOR: We're here with Kentucky. At this point we will have an opening statement from Coach Mitchell.
COACH MITCHELL: Tremendous win for Kentucky today. Very proud of our players and the fight they were able to show. It was such a tough game. LSU is an opponent that has our respect. We knew it would be a real fight for us today.
Bounce-back from a subpar performance in the first half and I thought played much more to our identity in the second half.
So really proud of our players. They deserve a ton of credit for finding a way today.
THE MODERATOR: Victoria, your thoughts on the game today?
VICTORIA DUNLAP: I don't think we started the game we wanted to, but we definitely finished it the I way we wanted to with a win. We've had a couple games like this where the game has been close at the end, but we got it done together at the end.
THE MODERATOR: A'dia, your thoughts on the game today?
A'DIA MATHIES: I give LSU credit. They came out and played very aggressive, played real tough. I think in the end we just turned it around, played Kentucky basketball like we should have been playing the whole game. Came out with a win with our defensive pressure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start out with questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Can you both talk about your play down the stretch, your defensive intensity.
VICTORIA DUNLAP: I think we were being a little bit more aggressive on offense attacking the basket. We were running the plays that coach was calling, executing well. Our defense, we were just getting stops, pressuring the ball a lot more than we did in the first half. We were getting comfortable with ourselves and with our shots.
A'DIA MATHIES: We was being way more aggressive, especially on defense in the late stages of the game, came out with some crucial turnovers. We practice that every day. To see it happen on the floor over and over again, I think it's a statement to how we play, how it should be the whole game.
Q. Victoria, what did you see in that dish to A'dia to get yourselves up and to be on the bench most of the first half?
VICTORIA DUNLAP: Well, in that pass, I was definitely about to shoot it, some crazy shot. I know the shot clock was running down. I saw A'dia cut back door, saw she was opened, passed it to her, she finished.
First half, just not being smart with my fouls. My first foul wasn't on baseline with my fundamentals. I got a little bump foul. Not being balanced for the second one, I had to sit out and watch my teammates. They still held up for themselves. Then the second half, just being a lot smarter than I was and helping my teammates on the floor.
Coach told me to be prepared to run certain plays. I just felt good with that and I was really comfortable.
Q. Victoria, that stretch that you scored 10 or 12 points in the second half, do you feel you were in some sort of zone?
VICTORIA DUNLAP: I guess so. I mean, I don't think I've ever done, scored in that way before, shooting jump shots, coming off of ball screens. Different kind of mentality I had. I felt good doing it and I knew it was helping my teammates a lot.
Q. You won for the first time at Vanderbilt since the '80s a couple weeks ago, coming back here to your hometown, do you feel like you left a little bit of an impression?
VICTORIA DUNLAP: I guess so. I'm pretty sure people kind of know who I am. I've been here my whole life.
It's just great to play in a place where you have a lot of family and friends that come out and watch you and support you.
Q. A'dia, does it feel like it's always going to be close when you and LSU play?
A'DIA MATHIES: No, I don't think I really ever thought about it. They just a great team. They came out with a lot of intensity. I think we matched it, ended up winning in the end.
They really played a good game. But I think we played even better, so...
Q. What were you trying to do on their last possession where she got the shot off?
VICTORIA DUNLAP: We were not trying to give up any threes. We just said, No threes. We were switching all of the screens. We had to make sure we were focused and our intensity was up and we had to know what was going on. A'dia did a good job of checking her that last shot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you ladies and continue with Coach Mitchell.
Q. I wasn't aware you were from the same town that Van Chancellor is from. How is it to go against somebody like him?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, it's no fun going against him. Has nothing to do with the town that we're from. It's the defense that they employ. It's just no fun at all to play LSU. That's not my idea of a good time, to play LSU. It's very, very difficult.
They just do such a great job of making you earn baskets. The matchup with Kentucky and LSU is just such that we're going to play a certain style, and they are. Neither team really seems to be able to get any separation from the other. When we got that draw, I thought if we faced LSU, it was a real tough game for us. Everybody that was there today saw that.
Coach Chancellor does a really, really good job with their defense.
Q. As far as managing the first half when you had the foul trouble, can you talk about that?
COACH MITCHELL: Very, very proud of everyone who had to come in in a difficult situation. Some of our young kids had to play. They're not a hundred percent ready for this type of situation. So they had to play real hard.
Whatever you're called on to do, we talked about that before the game. The whole key to today is finding some way to win. You know, no matter what you're called on, if it's 2 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, you have to go in and work real hard.
There's a couple of kids that aren't used to playing. I thought they got us into halftime. Huge three that Keyla made to get it to 4, good psychological lift going in down 4. You can talk to them, Hey, a couple stops, buckets, right there. That's what happened coming out.
Real proud of everybody getting in there today and fighting and being able to earn a real tough victory.
Q. Victoria had 12 points in that early run in the second half. Did you challenge her to do something like that?
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, I was certainly not pleased that she was on the bench with 10 minutes left. I was upset with a couple things. We had them in a bonus with almost 14 minutes left in the half, then Victoria is left on the bench with 10 minutes left in the half. Not a good situation for us.
I did talk to Victoria at halftime that, you know, we're going back to Lexington if we don't win today. I don't think she wanted to go back to Lexington. We had worked hard on a couple of things to try to get her moving some today so people can't load up on the block, double-team, triple-team her. Boy, did she respond. That's about as good a stretch as she's ever had facing the basket. Shows you she's still developing, getting better.
A player of her caliber, arguably the best player in this league, needs to come up big in that kind of situation. She did. That's why she's one of the best players that's ever played at Kentucky.
Q. You had 13 fouls in the first half. Was that more LSU coming at you or your team being overly aggressive?
COACH MITCHELL: There's some possibilities there. First of all, I can't tell you exactly why we do what we do a lot of times. We have a lot of young players we're playing. They'll do some things that kind of make you scratch your head.
I thought being in the game, everybody wanted to win. We were putting a big emphasis on full-court pressure, full-court press. If you're not really sharp and mentally focused on your fundamentals, and you just stand up a little bit on a real good team like LSU, you're going to get those body-block calls.
We were fouling. There was no question about it. It wasn't poor calls. It was not we weren't getting bad officiating. We were not down in a stance against a team the caliber of LSU.
Our pressure is predicated on being, first and foremost, fundamentally sound, having kids that are in great shape, but fundamentally sound. When we don't do that, it gets a little loose.
We felt like we could make it tough on LSU to score if we can make them set up and run stuff. They can score very easily if they get to the line.
Thank goodness they didn't make a lot at the line today. That was a big key in the game because we fouled way too much. We'll have to clean that up whoever we face tomorrow.
Q. LSU's last possession, do you think you forced them to take a shot they didn't want to take? Do you think they should be an NCAA tournament team?
COACH MITCHELL: There's absolutely no question they're an NCAA tournament team in my mind. Unfortunately for LSU, that will mean nothing that I think that they should be. I do think they should be. They are very, very difficult to score against.
In a tournament setting, when you must win the next game, I think they're one of the toughest teams to play against because they make it so hard to score.
Your kids, it starts to wear on their minds a little bit. I think they are, without a doubt, a NCAA tournament team.
The last play, I thought that was a great play on our part to get a contested 15-, 16-footer. A lot of times kids are worried about fouling. You give up a layup in that situation. A lot of times people lose focus and get lost in screens or you give up a three.
Once we got the ball driving to the left, Graham driving to the left, didn't look line anybody was on that side for her to kick it to, I felt like we were going to be in pretty good shape. For her to pull up and make that shot, I thought that was an excellent possession. Seven seconds. Victoria makes the free throw, it's much easier to guard. You can just guard the three-point strike. We sort of had to guard it all there. I thought that was excellent defense on the last play.
Q. You had a couple of situations down the second half of the SEC season where you had really close games and your team has responded. Can you talk about what you learned about your team through those games?
COACH MITCHELL: I wish we wouldn't be in those situations. I think we can play a little bit better. I think we have a couple of kids that, when we miss a couple shots early, it affects us for the entire game until it gets crunch time. So I wish we weren't in those on one hand. I think we could do some things better not to be in that situation.
But having said that, it's pretty remarkable what these kids have been able to do because all these one- and two-point games make the season look very different, makes the feeling of the program look different, makes our progress very different.
I'm really grateful that we find ways. They hang in there. They've had an uncanny ability to make plays in the press late. That's just difficult to do. You just don't see that. When they know you're pressing, they know you have to have a steal, they have a chance to set up and get into some things, and you still are able to turn them over, turn the game when it looks bad for you, that's a credit to our players.
They've worked hard to get into that situation. I'm proud they've taken advantage of all their hard work. I thought that's what won it for us today.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much for your time.
COACH MITCHELL: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports