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March 13, 2014

Mike Anderson

Coty Clarke

Bobby Portis

Michael Qualls


South Carolina – 71
Arkansas – 69

THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH ANDERSON:  First of all, congratulations to South Carolina.  I was very disappointed in how we came out and then didn't do a good job of finish the game.  But give South Carolina credit.  I thought they were in more of a game mode than we were.  I thought it showed even going down the stretch.
But we had our opportunities.  To me this game came down to toughness and rebounding the basketball.  So our inability to rebound the basketball, especially at the opportune times, I thought really had a bearing on or had a big time outcome on this game.
They got it back up there and we were up three or four, and they got a stick back and put it in the hole.  But we fouled unnecessarily.  It gets back to some fouls they call, some they don't.  That's no excuses, but 41 free throws is a lot of free throws.  So when you look at the free throw discrepancy, it makes a big, big difference.
But I thought the rebounding was the big difference in this game and even there at the end, we had a great shot at the basket and unfortunately it didn't go down for us.
THE MODERATOR:  Take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Bobby, you had a pretty good look there with about five seconds left.  Could you talk about that play and how good a look that was and what your thoughts were about that play.
BOBBY PORTIS:  I got a great look at my jump hook, I mean at my jump hook, but it didn't go down for me.  Unfortunately I shot it too hard and it went to the left.

Q.  For Coty, and really any of you guys, do you think there's any chance now at the NCAA tournament or do you feel like it's the NIT right now?
COTY CLARKE:  I don't know.  I'm hoping for the NCAA, but right now I don't know.

Q.  To any of the players, did you think eventually your style would wear them down, especially since they had already played last night?
MICHAEL QUALLS:  Yeah, we have fresh bodies; they had just played the day before.  We just got outplayed.  Mental errors.

Q.  Bobby and Coty, Coach Anderson was talking about the rebound discrepancy.  What was going on with South Carolina?  How tough a rebounding team are they and why was the discrepancy so big?
BOBBY PORTIS:  I would say me personally, I came out kind of soft on the glass and only had three rebounds this game.  I was in foul trouble most of the game, so I couldn't be there to help my team.  But still, like that isn't an excuse for me.  I guess I just got out‑toughed.
COTY CLARKE:  They were just more physical on the rebounding.  We didn't have a lot of bodies in there.  I think they were getting like five guys in and we had three going for the boards, or two.  So that's how you won the game.  The game is won in the paint.
Obviously when you have negative, they have 40 and we have 24, I mean you should lose.  So that's been our weakness and we have been getting by with it, but it caught up with us today.

Q.  For Coty and Bobby, talk about getting yourself back into the picture of the NCAA, playing so well, but having the tough regular season loss and then this loss.  How can you explain what happened to this team the last couple games?
COTY CLARKE:  I credit both of these teams, Alabama and South Carolina.  We got outplayed that night.  We weren't mentally focused or prepared.  Today it was just who wanted it more.  You can see, like, it's the proof is in the pudding, like 40 rebounds and they shot 40 free throws.  We just had our 24 rebounds and shoot 26 free throws.
So there's your game right there.  It speaks for itself.
BOBBY PORTIS:  Same thing like Coty said.  Down in Alabama, they out‑rebounded us down there and it caught up to us and we lost.  Here, they out‑rebounded us and that caught up to us and we lost.
So I credit both teams for just being well prepared for our style of play and them going in there and just banging us.

Q.  Coach talked about the fouls.  Were you aware of the high number of fouls and did that change the way aggressively you played at all?
COTY CLARKE:  That's how we have been playing.  We don't care if they call the foul or not.  We just know that we have to be smart.  Some of them you could say wasn't, some you could say it was in the moment.
So I wasn't aware of it, but when it got down to the time, crunch time, and they keep going to the line getting double bonus, then you know, like, it's a problem.
Then when you're not going to the free throw line or attacking or playing attack basketball, then you won't get to the free throw line.  So I just credit them for attacking and making the refs call the foul.
MICHAEL QUALLS:  Man, we just wasn't playing Arkansas basketball.  We just got out‑hustled.  I don't know if it was a hangover from the last game or what.
I was infective.  I should have got more rebounds.  I should have just did more, like been a bigger presence during the game.  I don't feel like I was a big enough presence during the game.
But our hope is still alive.  If not, we just got to do what we got to do and learn from it.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll excuse the players.  You can return to the locker room.  Thank you.  Take questions for coach.

Q.  I know you said yesterday you thought you guys were built for a tournament run because of your depth and you play so many guys.  How disappointing and frustrating has it been, you haven't been able to take advantage of that depth with all these first round losses?
COACH ANDERSON:  This one here, this year, I thought we were especially primed for it.  I also cautioned that first game, because you don't know how your kids are going to come out and play.  True to what I said, we saw it tonight.  We saw a team that came out and I thought we had the jitters early only.  We created some turnovers and scored, but I still thought we had some nerves going.  We had some turnovers right there at the beginning.
And then, of course, just I think attention to detail.  One of the things we talked about exclusively was the war's going to be won in the paint.  So we got to put body on body.  We got to rebound the basketball.  So it's one thing to say it, but you got to go out and do it, especially in this environment.
And I thought fatigue was becoming a factor in this game.  Even as they went to the free throw line going down the stretch, whether it be fatigue or the nerves going, which gave us an opportunity to come down and score, even as they took the lead.  Benton Williams is a guy don't ever miss free throws, he misses a couple of them.
But we had opportunities.  As our guys said, we had a lot of mental mistakes going down the stretch.  Putting guys on the free throw line, fouling 94 feet, when all we got to do is have confidence in our defense to get stops.
We made stops.  They only shot 38 percent from the field.  But when you factor in they shot 40 free throws, you can overcome a lot of things, but you can't overcome that.  So 40 free throws and they get 17 offensive rebounds, we didn't pay attention to details.
We always talk about trying to take your practice to the game.  I just didn't think we did.  So the key is getting past that first game.  No matter how you do it, one point, two points, we were right there.  Unfortunately, we just didn't make it happen.

Q.  You have a little bit of a history with Frank Martin going back.  Can you talk about what this team looked like compared to some teams you've seen in the past?
COACH ANDERSON:  They're going to scrap and claw.  They're going to go up there and get it, do all that other stuff.  They're going to mall you.  Make the game ugly.  We like to make it ugly, they like to make it ugly, grinding.

Q.  You said jitters.  Do you think some of that could be attributed to pressing, knowing that this is a big game to possible make the NCAA tournament?
COACH ANDERSON:  No, I think nerves.  I think you look at any team, nerves.  I think just the nerves getting started.  South Carolina had a nice little rhythm, but I don't think that was no big deal.  You have nerves even in regular season games.
So no, there was no pressing on our part.  We just didn't make plays.

Q.  How do you feel about the NCAA tournament chances right now?  I know the NIT is not the number one goal, but how would you feel about a NIT bid if it came your way?
COACH ANDERSON:  Well, we're in the hunt for something, I don't know what.  Postseason play, that's what we aim for this season.
So like I said, like all teams, we want to play in the NCAA.  I think these guys have improved throughout the year and did well in our conference.  Obviously got the conference tournament.  We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but it wasn't because of lack of the effort.
I think that's the thing I like about them.  When you look at the guys that we have on this team, young guys, Bobby Portis, Moses Kingsley, it's a young basketball team.
So this to me is a great experience for us.  And even as we enter, you know, and hopefully it is the NCAA, but if once we enter it, we'll be ready to play in another tournament.

Q.  Obviously with your style of play, it's very rare that you get out‑hustled or out‑played and hearing your guys say, Hey, I feel like we got out‑played and out‑hustled tonight, how frustrating is that to you?
COACH ANDERSON:  Well, our bench has always been our biggest dominator, it's been the strength of our basketball team.  If you look at tonight, we didn't get those, that big time energy that we did.  I thought we got it in spurts, but we didn't get it where it was consistent.  That was the same case even in the Alabama game.
But let's give South Carolina some credit, too.  I think they did a good job of attacking us on the glass.  As I said, we had a lot of mental errors going down the stretch.  Even within that six‑minute mark, I thought South Carolina was a little tired, but then we had some real screw‑ups on defense where we didn't get back and make them work.  We gave them some uncontested layups.  We go 10‑to‑1, I think we had two layups.
When you're in this setting, you got to be on point.  It seemed like as the game got to that point, we kind of had some mishaps.  If you're going to be a very good basketball team this time of the year, those things you got to eliminate those type of plays.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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