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March 8, 2014

Niya Johnson

Kim Mulkey

Ieshia Small

Imani Wright


Baylor – 81
Kansas – 47

Q.  Niya, first of all, just talk about the start that you guys got off to.  It looked like the offense was flowing pretty well early.
NIYA JOHNSON:  We knew we had to get ‑‑ start off quick and energetic because we knew that we had to, I guess, start off quick.  It first started with Odyssey pressuring the defense, and we just followed her lead.

Q.  Imani or Ieshia , the last time you guys played them, it didn't go as well in the second half as you would have liked and they won that game.  Talk about the rebounds that you guys had today.
IMANI WRIGHT:  I guess we knew we had to come out with more intensity.  We still remember the loss that we took, so we felt like we needed to start fast and keep it going.
IESHIA SMALL:  Like Coach Mulkey said, in the beginning of the season, rebounding was the key for us and we lead the league in the Big 12 in rebounds, so we're trying to keep that going.

Q.  Niya, you guys lose a player like Brittney Griner, so dominant in college basketball, and you come back and had a fabulous year.  What does that say about the Baylor program that you guys haven't fallen at all, even though you lose a transcendent player like that?
NIYA JOHNSON:  First off, we still have Odyssey Sims, and I mean, we're still here, we still have the talent.  We're just young, but the talent is there.
KIM MULKEY:  This program was here before Brittney Griner got here.  This program will be here long after Brittney Griner is gone.  We were all privileged and honored to be around her, to play with her, to coach her, but she's no more important Sophia Young who was on the 2005 team and Chelsea Whitaker and that crew.  This young bunch sitting here before you, they're going to be here for the next three or four years.  It's called a tradition, it's called a program, and we're not going away.  Odyssey Sims will graduate, Makenzie will graduate, and you're looking at three pretty good players here, and that's why I brought them up here today, and I thought your question was outstanding.

Q.  Imani, just talk about your aggressiveness today.  It looked like you were pretty quick to get your shot off.
IMANI WRIGHT:  You know, the coaches in practice were telling me stay aggressive.  I guess it's easier when you're more aggressive to get in a rhythm.  That's what I tried to do today.

Q.  Niya, you talked about Odyssey's ball pressure.  It looked like a lot of you guys were doing that, just putting a lot of pressure on them.  Were you kind of trying to test their legs a little bit because they had a long game late last night?
NIYA JOHNSON:  Yes, and also to help our posts inside, as well, so we knew we had to get the pressure involved so they wouldn't get inside quick and easy.

Q.  Last time you were in our city playing a game, you had the disappointing loss to Louisville.  How did that‑‑ did that loss, being such a favorite and going down, did that change anything about the way you ran your program?  Obviously you spoke about the consistency and tradition, but what kind of effect did that have on you and the way you look at your program?
KIM MULKEY:  I've had disappointing losses as a coach before.  I've had disappointing losses as a player.  It's part of sports.  The only thing I thought about coming back here was please don't put me in that same hotel I was in.  That's all.  I didn't like the hotel.  I thought it was creepy, and don't put me back in it.  I'm not going to tell you because I don't want those people mad at me, but the hotel didn't lose the game for us, I just didn't like it.
But no, it's all good.  It's part of sports.

Q.  Coach, first half, excellent, defense, holding them to 26 percent, points in the paint, 26‑8.  Just talk about the outstanding job on both ends of the floor early on.
KIM MULKEY:  I just thought that our defense was what it normally is.  It was aggressive, it was ball harassment out front.  I thought Sune, she just quietly does her job in the paint.  Gardner has 29 last night, and Sune just bangs in there and angles and listens to scouting reports.  I know Gardner finished with 21, but those 21 weren't really a factor in the game like she was last night.  I just thought the kids were ready to play.  I thought their legs seemed to be a little bit fresher than they were the last game we played at Iowa State, and now we will go to the film room and get ready for a good Oklahoma State team.

Q.  How important is getting rest for your starters, not only for the sense that they can rest but younger players getting in there.
KIM MULKEY:  This game was so important to win, first of all, and you never know going in how much rest you can get for your main players.  And then as the game unfolded, particularly as we were up 26 at the half, I thought, okay, now we've really got to grow here, and I've got to be able to sit players.  Odyssey, I left her out there with three fouls early, which I don't normally do, but the score dictated me doing that because I thought when she picks up or if she picks up her fourth, I can start resting her at that point.  And it kind of worked out that way.
It's so valuable, but it wasn't just resting them.  It's what the other players did while the starters were resting.  They didn't lose a lead.  They didn't do bad things on the floor.  I saw a very mature team out there with that many young players extend the lead and get steals and deflections and defend, and that's when you're really, really pleased.  It wasn't just the rest, it's what those players did on the floor while we were resting them.

Q.  Nina came out pretty strong, multiple and ones in the second half, she had 18 by halftime.  Clearly no teams are surprised by her anymore, but just knowing that there's now a target on her back and still the way she came out, how pleased were you?
KIM MULKEY:  I expect that every night from Nina, and if she would have played more, she would have had another double‑double.  She's one of those players when you go on the floor, you go, that's Nina Davis I keep reading about, because you don't realize how small she is in there with those big players, and then when you watch her shoot, you're like, how does she get that shot off, how does it go in, and then you think, well, surely she's going to get exposed on the defensive end of the floor, but she doesn't.  Nina Davis is so deserving of awards and up for freshman of the year.  She's a great example of a player that didn't come in with a lot of accolades out of high school, but when you put her on that floor, she worked her way up, and we can't win without her.

Q.  Early in the game it seemed like you picked them up a little bit more full court and pressed a little bit.  Was that just to kind of test them and see how they were feeling after last night's game?
KIM MULKEY:  It really had nothing to do with them going to overtime.  Everybody is tired late in the year.  It had more to do with generate your own energy and enthusiasm here.  You've got Baylor fans that have spent time and their money to come here, and let's get them excited, let's get them into the flow of the game.  Let's don't come out here and not have some energy and excitement, so that was the reason I called that, and it got us going.

Q.  Up next Oklahoma State tomorrow afternoon.  Your thoughts on them, and what do you expect to see tomorrow?
KIM MULKEY:  Well, I expect to see probably a lot more orange than green and gold in the stands.  It's almost like playing a home game for Oklahoma State.  I know that it was so difficult when we played them in Stillwater, and yet at the same time we made plays without Odyssey Sims having a very good game.  And in fact she was on the bench when we went into the overtime.
I know that they will play extremely hard.  I know Tiffany Bias is a leader for them on the floor, and they're like the rest of us that are left in this tournament; we know we're going to the NCAA Tournament.  We know that we're helping each other prepare for the NCAA Tournament, and it'll be probably tougher than NCAA Tournament games because we know so much about each other.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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