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March 12, 2010

Kenny Boynton

Billy Donovan

Erving Walker


Mississippi State – 75
Florida - 69

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Florida. We'll begin and ask Coach Donovan for some general thoughts on the game. Then we'll take your questions for either of the two student-athletes. And finish up with Coach Donovan.
COACH DONOVAN: I think our team knew coming into this game it was going to be a tough game. Mississippi State is obviously a very, very good team.
I thought they played very, very well. They shot the ball very well in the first half from the three-point line, which really gave them an 11-point lead. I thought all the way around they got good production from their low post people, and they got very, very good production from the perimeter.
So I really thought for them it was a very, very good offensive night in terms of the way they shot the ball, and I thought our team had a hard time defending them most of the game. I thought our guys tried to make a comeback. We battled as hard as we could coming down the stretch. But probably maybe dug ourselves a little bit too deep of a hole there in the second half, where I think we may have actually gotten down by 17 or 18.
We battled to within four but just couldn't ever get over the hump. But a lot of times that happens when you have that kind of hole.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes '.

Q. Could you talk about how at the end of the season, your last three games, those three losses, it was the same thing as tonight. Got into a big hole, fought back, and just came up short. And how frustrating that is.
KENNY BOYNTON: I think, on the come out of the games, all three teams they wanted it more than us. Every game we started down in the second half reality kicked in and we tried to come back, but it was too late.
ERVING WALKER: Just like Kenny said, we didn't come out with the right intensity. Other teams, they came out and knew what they wanted, and we didn't match from the beginning. We dug ourselves in a hole.

Q. To both players, just talk about your NCAA Tournament chances. A year ago you had more wins but you had more quality wins. This year how do you feel about your chances to make the Tournament?
KENNY BOYNTON: Right now it's up for grabs. We're not sure. We're just going to wait until selection Sunday and see what happens.
ERVING WALKER: Same thing. We really don't know. We're just keeping our fingers crossed, and hopefully we'll hear our name on Sunday.

Q. Was there an intimidation factor in there? Did Varnado kind of get in your heads early in the game when he blocked several shots there.
ERVING WALKER: Definitely. I mean, Vernon and our big guys had a good game against him at home, so nobody's intimidated. We know he's going to block some shots, but we just wanted to keep taking it at him. But he played a good game tonight.
KENNY BOYNTON: I don't think there was any intimidation. I just think he had a good game. He blocked a lot of shots, and overall he had a good game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Donovan.

Q. Billy, could you just talk about obviously Vernon hurt them down in Gainesville, and they're playing almost to double him every time you touch the ball. Do you think you guys adjusted to that well? Were you expecting that, and were you surprised by it?
COACH DONOVAN: No, we were expecting it. They actually did it some in Gainesville. And actually a lot of points that Vernon got were really a lot of rolls to the basket, where it hit him on the roll, hit him on the run.
What we were really trying to do offensively is invite the double-team in a lot of ways because it was creating offense for us. Because when they went down and double-teamed him, I thought Vernon made some very good decisions, and we had some good ball movement. I told Vernon this today at shootaround that they're going to try to take you out of the game and not allow you to score and force some other people to step up.
I think Vernon touched the ball a lot but just didn't have a lot of opportunities to score because of the way they were guarding him. He made a nice pass to Dan from the second half for a three-point play, which was a big play, and he also kicked the ball out a couple of times for some shots.
It was one of those games where I felt like in the Auburn game Auburn had made a decision they wanted to take Erving Walker out of the game. I think this was a case where Mississippi State said we want to take Macklin out of the game. I thought Vernon handled it pretty well, just wasn't going to be an offensive night for him with the way they were trying to play.
I thought our backcourt stepped up. I think we had probably a tough night tonight from the power forward spot. Dan and Alex, it was probably those two guys. You know, Alex had four turnovers, and Dan just didn't shoot it well. We tried to mix and match both of those guys in there. I thought Ray gave us good minutes off the bench, but it was really a game where we probably needed one other guy out there offensively would have helped a little L bit more.
The problem wasn't really with our offense because we shot 54% in the second half. The problem was our defense. There were some tough shots they made, but I really think, when you're playing against a good three-point shooting team -- and this was the case last night against Auburn -- that when you allow a team like that to get off to a good start shooting the ball, tough shots become easier shots for teams that are three-point shooting teams.
And they got off to a very, very good start. I thought we had a little more focus in the second half. I think we only gave up three. But giving up 50% from the three-point line is way, way too high of a percentage.

Q. Billy, you've had too many ball games where you've had to dig yourself out of a hole, and at some point in time, does it get to the guys that, hey, we've got to -- early in the game you've got to stop the run early and get something accomplished? Because it's just happened so many times this year.
COACH DONOVAN: Yeah, I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. I think sometimes, you know, you have to give the other team credit. And what I mean by that is we were able to get up on Auburn because Auburn didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Mississippi State shot the ball great.
And when teams shoot the ball well and you don't shoot the ball well, it's a formula to really get and dig yourself a hole. So in the first half, we shoot 32% from the field and they shoot over 50. So it's not rocket science why we were down and dug ourselves a hole.
I wish there were some plays that I wish we could have guarded a little bit better. But Erving Walker even in the second half fouled Barry Stewart from the three-point line, and he still made it.
There were some tough shots that they made, and there were also some open looks that we gave them. But I didn't personally think that we came out -- you know, I thought we could have come out with a different disposition to start the game. I thought, once the game started, probably them coming off six days, a lot of time to prepare, they were really, really probably excited and ready to play, not that we weren't.
But I thought that they really kind of jumped on us early, and we kind of were back on our heels most of the first half on both the offensive end of the floor and the defensive end of the floor.
You but I think you've got to give them credit because their kids had to do that.

Q. Coach, how much do you think you all were having to play for the NCAA Tournament with this run?
COACH DONOVAN: I have no idea. I really don't. I mean, I wish -- I say this all the time. I think the only thing I try to focus on is the day in front of you and the team in front of you, and that's Mississippi State. I have no idea about what really a whole lot of teams have done in different conferences.
You know, I think we've played a very, very competitive schedule. We've had some really, really good quality wins. If that's good enough, then so be it. We'll wait and see what happens on Sunday.

Q. Billy, I don't know if you like to do this, comparing teams, but how do you compare this team to this program a year ago? What do you like about this team better maybe than you did a year ago?
COACH DONOVAN: In my mind, it's not even close, last year's team to this year's team. And I think, if you look at the win-loss record, it may be somewhat similar.
But I think last year's team -- I think we have really, really great chemistry, and not to say that last year we didn't have great chemistry, but I think we have very, very good chemistry in terms of they try to play defense together, they try to play offense together.
There were some games last year against really, really good, high level, quality opponents that we really couldn't even play against in my opinion and compete against, and now I think we're playing, you know, really, really well and have played very, very well against a lot of really, really good quality teams.
And people talk about the last three games coming down the stretch of our season, but we did play the last four games, Tennessee, who's been ranked in the Top 20, Vanderbilt, who's in the Top 15, and Kentucky, who's No. 2 in the country.
So I think sometimes you've got to give credit to the teams you're playing against and how good those teams are. I think our schedule coming down the stretch has been really, really hard, and I think that's why our strength of schedule is so good.
So I think, when it comes to the NCAA committee and all that stuff, I think you have to look at the whole body of work, which I'm sure they will. But this team is, to me, so much better than it was a year ago. And I think our league is so much better than it was a year ago. And I think that says a lot for our team and these guys because, to me, last year I think at this time, maybe going into the SEC Tournament, only two teams that were definitely in, and certainly I think there's more now.
And plus who we played in the nonconference, I'm not so sure that last year's team could even come close to having the record that this year's team has.

Q. Billy, could you talk about you're down 4, you get two possessions. The first one, obviously, it appeared that you thought that your player was fouled. The second one, you know, Dan just tries to run before he gets hold. Talk about those two possessions.
COACH DONOVAN: I thought Boynton got fouled on the play, but I'm sure a couple of their guys got fouled, and they didn't blow the whistle for them either. In this kind of game, it has a tendency to balance itself out.
Dan lost his balance. It was a situation where I was standing directly in front of him. If he'd have caught the ball, he would have had a clear path or definitely step to get to the rim, and I definitely think he went way too fast and got ahead of himself and tried to catch it and go instead of seeing the ball to his hands and making the play from there.
But that was a play I wish we could have had back because we had numbers and we had advantage, and it was right inside of a minute with a chance to cut it to two. And the shot clock wasn't going to be an issue that, even if we played the possession out, we could have gotten the stop and gotten the ball back with plenty of time to at least get another look.

Q. Billy, could you just talk about your decision to go to the press a little bit in the second half and how it maybe energized you guys and started the run.
COACH DONOVAN: I mean, we had to. We were down. There wasn't really a whole lot of choice there. I thought Ray Shipman gave us really good minutes off the bench, which enabled us to press a little bit more.
You know, we didn't turn them over a lot, but what we did is maybe disrupted their offensive flow some. And also, the one thing I think helped us to get back in the game, we went from press back to zone, and the zone was somewhat effective. They got some open looks they didn't make too.
The zone, I think, helped us get back as well as the press, but the press didn't really cause a lot of turnovers. It caused a couple, but not a lot.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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