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March 15, 2013

Cuonzo Martin

Josh Richardson

Jarnell Stokes



THE MODERATOR:  We're ready to begin with Tennessee.  We'll ask Coach Martin for some opening comments on the game, then we'll take your questions just for the two student athletes and excuse them back to the locker room, and then finish up with Coach, also.
Coach Martin.
COACH MARTIN:  Well fought game by both teams.  Both teams competed.  We had some looks, just didn't capitalize on them.  Thought we had good energy.  10 turnovers against their press, I thought we did a good of handling the press.  They played the plays down the.  Trevor Rutherford had one assist in the game but did a good job of controlling tempo, controlling the game.
THE MODERATOR:  Hands up, any questions for the student athletes.

Q.  Questions for Jarnell.  What were they doing to try to keep you out of paint and out of your game?
JARNELL STOKES:  I think they did a pretty good job, you know, running the press and then getting back into a zone.  I think anytime a team plays a zone, it's hard for the big man to score.

Q.  Jarnell, can you talk about in particular what Nick Jacobs was able to do.  How physical was he?
JARNELL STOKES:  He's a physical guy.  I think they did a good job, you know, double teaming, controlling the glass especially in the first half, and I think they did a good job in transition, too.  That's where they got a lot of their points throughout the game, in transition.

Q.  With the struggles hitting buckets, was it more their defense or just not getting the ball to go down today?
THE MODERATOR:  Is that question for?

Q.  Either player.
JOSH RICHARDSON:  You know, it was part of it was us not hitting shots, but, I mean, they did a good job of pressuring the ball the whole game and, I mean, shots were tough to come by.

Q.  This is for Josh.  Can you just talk about y'all's transition defense.  Was it just hard to locate their guys?  They were so fast, Releford.  Was it just hard to locate them because they were pushing it so fast?
JOSH RICHARDSON:  Coming into the game we knew we had to stop them in transition.  We weren't taking as good a shots as we wanted to have.  We weren't getting back fast enough.  It wasn't really just locating.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions for either of the student athletes?  Hands up.

Q.  For either student, at this point just wait until Sunday and hope that the resume for the season is enough to have earned an NCAA berth?
JARNELL STOKES:  I believe we're a tournament team.  We beat the top teams in our conference.  As far as the midpoint of the season, we had to adjust to a couple things, but I think we went 8 for 9 to end -- so far, so I think we're a tournament team.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions for either of the student athletes?  All right, fellas.  We'll excuse you.  You can return to the locker room thanks.
We'll continue on with questions for Coach Martin.

Q.  Coach, you're going to get asked a lot of this the next 48 hours.  I'm assuming you think that you're an NCAA Tournament team.  Make the case for why you think that you guys should be.
COACH MARTIN:  Well, I think our overall resume, teams we've beaten.  In the SEC, you win -- I think up until last Saturday, you had nine teams were the top 100, SEC.  The only league that had more was the Big East.  You finish 8 out of the last 9, 9 out of your last 11 at this point in one of the best leagues in the country.  So we beat top 25 teams, four if I'm not mistaken, you beat top 50 teams, top 100 teams.  Our resume stacks up against the best when you're talking about a bubble team, per se.

Q.  Coach, in the two regular season games, y'all out rebounded them by about 30.  You add them up today, you out-rebounded them by two.  What did they seem to be doing different inside?
COACH MARTIN:  I think the case we had some 3-point shots that were long that initiated some of the transition offensively.  They only got, I think, 6 fast break points and got fouls.  Those loan corner 3 points shots allowed those guys to get long rebounds.
Jarnell did a good job of fighting around the rim of making plays with a total of 13 rebounds, if I'm not mistaken.  They just had four, five guys helping around them.  We had certain lineups making guys sag a little bit on Jarnell.  We have certain guys on the floor.  So they had three, four guys helping around the rim.  We just didn't make shots on the perimeter.

Q.  Coach, 23 3-pointers, was that by design or was that the zone defense you're talking about, they were just forcing 3s?
COACH MARTIN:  I have to go back and watch film to be exact.  I thought at least 15 or 20 were decent shots.  I thought even though Josh isn't a traditional 3-point shooter, those guys spent a lot of time working on it.  Josh is a solid 3-point shooter as well as Armani with certain areas on the floor.  I thought the second one he took wasn't a good 3-point shot because of the time.  Other guys, that's what they do.

Q.  Cuonzo, can you talk about -- you probably had a better resume, your team coming into this game, than Alabama did.  Do you think they played a little more desperation than did you?  You played hard, but they seemed to play their back against the wall.
COACH MARTIN:  I don't know about that.  I think both teams competed.  They just happened to win the game today.  Most teams played hard.  They made the plays to win the games.  I think both teams were fighting for the same thing.  I feel like we're an NCAA Tournament team, win or lose this particular game.

Q.  Cuonzo, your guards have carried you all year, 4 for 20 from the field.  You add Skylar in there, that's 5 for 26.  Hard to win games that way, isn't it?
COACH MARTIN:  You have key players that don't make baskets, it's hard to win games.  That's part of the game.  You miss shots.  It goes with it.  I don't know many teams that go a hundred percent all season long.  We gave ourselves the chance to win.  We didn't make the plays down the stretch to win the game.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions for Coach Martin?

Q.  Coach, Jordan McRae hadn't had much foul trouble all this season.  That was a big turning point in the game.  You dealt with Stokes having it but not your guard, Jordan McRae.  What do you think the impact was with that?
COACH MARTIN:  I think for him just being in foul trouble, probably wasn't able to get in a flow.  He played 37, 38 minutes a night, leads the league in minutes played.  Couldn't get into a real flow of the game more than anything.  Sitting down, being hesitant, not being aggressive.  He got one, two, offensive fouls.  Made it tougher for him to be aggressive and attacking the rim.

Q.  Cuonzo, you told your team coming into this tournament that you felt good about the NCAA Tournament.  You didn't want them to leave in it anybody else's hands.  What it's going to be like to not have it in your hands anymore?
COACH MARTIN:  Business as usual.  We'll take off tomorrow.  We'll meet on Sunday, if I have my days correct.  We'll go from there.  I said the same thing to the guys in the locker room, I feel that way.

Q.  Coach, Trae had 4 assists I think in the first five minutes and one that point on.  Did they do anything in particular to bottle him up?  How crucial is he to your success?
COACH MARTIN:  He's the point guard.  He's important to what we do, how we go about it.  I don't think if there's anything different.  I thought he had some looks offensively.  I thought he had some opportunities to penetrate.  He hit a couple guys, I think he hit Jordan late in the corner.  So he had some opportunities to hit guys and shots just didn't fall.  I thought he was looking for guys.

Q.  Coach, yesterday you talked about Trevor Releford, knew he was a player that you would have to keep an eye on.  He had a big first half.  Other guys as well.  Can you just speak to both of those and the leadership and how the other role-players stepped up.
COACH MARTIN:  Well, I saw Trevor run for quite a bit in high school when I was recruiting him at Missouri State.  So I knew what he could bring to the table.  His level of toughness, his mental preparation.  He competes at a high level.  He makes plays, makes other guys better.  So I knew that going into the game.  You had to contain him, slow him down.  I thought we did a good job in the second half.  Second half I think made some big plays and Randolph made some key plays.  Other guys step up and make plays.  They did that.

Q.  Coach, do you ever a plan for Sunday where your team will be, will you watch it publicly?
COACH MARTIN:  We'll watch it privately whether it's at my house or somewhere at the arena We'll watch it, certainly.
THE MODERATOR:  Got time for one more question.  Anyone?

Q.  At least one bracketologist has you in the play-in game.  So that means you really are on the bubble.  Do you think that it will flip against you?
COACH MARTIN:  No.  Bottom line just playing games.  That's the most important thing.  Where we're playing, when we're playing, whether it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, we playing some.  It's the most important thing just to be playing.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
COACH MARTIN:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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