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March 15, 2014

Billy Donovan

Scottie Wilbekin

Patric Young


Florida – 56
Tennessee – 49

THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH DONOVAN:  I think first we're obviously excited to be able to move on and play tomorrow.  Coming into the game, we knew it was going to be a physical game and a tough game.  I thought our guys weathered some foul difficulty in the first half.
I thought the second half we did a really, really good job defensively.  We held them to 14 points.  That was a big factor and really didn't let them get going from behind the 3‑point line, which was good.
Then it really just came down to a lot of loose ball play.  We got some steals in the press, got back in the game, got off to a good start there in the second half.  Then it obviously came down to the final minute there and we were able to hang on and win the game.
THE MODERATOR:  Take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  For both of you, you didn't allow them to score from the field the last 12 minutes and 15 seconds.  What went into that?  What did y'all adjust to cut them off like that?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  We just tried to play harder.  We were doing the same things.  We didn't really switch up anything.  We just tried to go into an extra gear and turn it up a little bit.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I felt as though, as a team, we just all started connecting finally, getting to where we feel as though we need to be for a whole 40 minutes.  We were really locked in on the defensive side.  I could just feel like an inner sense that they were going to have a difficult time scoring.  Especially seeing Scottie, how he was guarding McRae and how fast our double teams were coming in the post.
So we were just handling them really well and it resulted in that span of them not scoring.

Q.  We saw it from the floor, but out there, what was the physical nature of that game really like?  What was it like to be in the middle of that and was that as about a physical game as you've had this season against somebody?  The back and forth?
PATRIC YOUNG:  I couldn't really tell you if that's the most physical, because I kind of forget about all that stuff and just remember all the good stuff that happens in games typically.
But this is, it was a battle, especially they have the best rebounding, offensive rebounding front court in our league, possible in the country.
We just had to go in there and be fearless.  Our guards got to come in there and grab rebounds.  Mike Frazier did, Scottie grabbed some.  Everyone has to come in there and be ready to go outside themselves and give a little bit more, and we did it.
We did a really good job overall on the offensive rebound standpoint, holding them to only eight, which in the past, we have given up a lot more.  So I'm proud that we were able to do that.

Q.  To both players, you won 25 straight games in a lot of different ways.  When you're down by 10 in the first half, having won all these games in these different fashions, does that settle you down and give you confidence that you're going to turn things around?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Our number one key is to not panic, just readjust, change our focus.  Coach definitely gets on us at halftime just saying we can't keep playing for only 20 minutes and then expect ourselves to just turn on a switch and get it going 20 minutes after that.
But being down, we have been in situations like this before, us, as far as seniors, we have a whole lot of experience in getting blown out or coming back from situations like that.  We just were locked in and focused on one possession at a time.  And just playing harder, just starting that second half off with an unbelievable energy.  No matter what thrown at us, just keep it going, stay together.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think it helps, I feel like we have been in every type of situation this year.  I just was kind of telling the guys at halftime that we have been in this situation before, being down at halftime, and we know what it takes to win in the second half.  As long as we come out and play like we know we can, then we'll be fine.

Q.  For Scottie and Patric, you played Tennessee three times, the last two times really tough games.  What's your impression of Tennessee maybe looking ahead to their chances in the NCAA tournament?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Well, I don't know what kind of chances they have in the NCAA tournament, but I think they're a tough, strong team.  They don't back down from anybody.  They play hard on every possession and they're really great offensive rebounding team.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think it's just funny how my career has gone against Tennessee.  My freshman year, we swept them.  Then after that, we lost three in a row, and now we have won three in a row against them.  They're a really good team.  They're very talented, great front court.
But you have to look at their record.  You have to look at all the other factors going into their chances in the tournament.  I hope they make it, just to help our conference look a lot stronger.  But it comes down to the people that are voting for that.  I don't really have a say in that.

Q.  Scottie, can you talk about your role as being a vocal leader on the court.  In the second half, when a couple penalties started happening, it looked like you were just trying to rally the team together and have them keep focused?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, I was just trying to keep everybody together, keep everybody focused on the goal, don't worry about maybe some of the calls that the refs are making or if a ball doesn't bounce our way.  Just kind of stay focused on the next play.  Coach can't talk to us all the time, so we try to huddle ourselves and say the right things among ourselves.

Q.  Scottie, on the play you were called for the offensive foul and they went to the monitor, it appeared that you didn't touch him in the nose or anything.  Could you tell us what went through on that play and what your perception was?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  As soon as I caught the ball, they were yelling, 'Down.'  So I knew that they wanted to keep me on the side, so I was just trying to rip the ball through and get into the middle of the floor and my elbow nicked his chin, I think, a little bit.  But he did a good job of selling it.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'll excuse you to the locker room and take questions for coach.

Q.  I know that it was really good in the last couple of minutes, your foul shooting, but yesterday and for the bulk of the game today, are they going to just fall or not, or are there things you can do team‑wide to help them get a little bit better now that you're entering this important phase?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think there's been some games we shot the ball very well.  I think we made nine out of ten down the stretch, but at one point we were 1‑7.  There was a couple free throws I thought yesterday when we were up by four points had a chance to go up eight and missed the front end of two 1‑and‑1s.
So no team's perfect, we're certainly not perfect.  There's always areas we can get better on.  I think free throw shooting is an area we can improve.  We spend time, those guys put time in on their own, we put time in practice.  Hopefully that will be an area this time of year that we can get better at, because I think we're capable of doing that.

Q.  When you're down 10 in the first half, is there a part of you that thinks, you know, this wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.  We go back to Gainesville and sit around tomorrow and rest and watch ourselves be the number one seed as opposed to having to play?
COACH DONOVAN:  I'm not quite sure how to answer that.  That really never crossed my mind.  When you're in there competing, you're trying to win.  I do think that the these different experiences are good.  I thought we got off to a really good start, a better start than we did.  I thought our struggle today was we did not get great productivity off of our bench and we had to sub.  When we sub, that's when I thought Tennessee went on a run.
But, no, we're trying to win.  I think any time you're playing in a conference tournament, it's always exciting and an opportunity to continue to move on.
There will be something we'll gain from tomorrow's experience just as we did today.  I'm happy for our guys.  But I thought the game really could have gone either way.  And I think the game could have gone either way in Knoxville, as well.
But it didn't cross my mind to sit there and say, you know, Boy, I hope we lose and go home(Laughter).

Q.  Having won this many basketball games in a row, some teams feel that pressure of the streak.  But it seems like your guys don't.  How do you feel like they have handled it?  Is that talked about at all?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think there's a lot of different people that say different things in terms of, you know, a loss can be good for you, you need to get a loss.  I've talked to our guys a lot and I do think this is the truth, that our record is just an indication of what's happened in the past.  For us the reality is tomorrow, even though we, whatever the streak is, I don't think our guys look at it.  I don't look at it that way either.
It's the next game.  It's the next challenge.  Anything that's happened in the past really has nothing to do with it, just as our last two games against Tennessee had nothing to do with today.  The personnel's the same, the offensive schemes are the same, what we're going to do is the same.
But with the ball going around and playing and passing and certain guys shoot the ball well, certain guys don't.  Some guys make free throws, some guys don't.  Some guys get in foul trouble and some guys don't.  The inner workings of the game are all different.
So I do think that I would like to see us play closer to 40 minutes.  We haven't done that here.  You think we need to do a better job of that.  And hopefully through those experiences we can learn and get better from it.

Q.  You held them scoreless in the last 12:15 from the field.  What were they doing differently?  Was it just more energy into it?  Was it any adjustments you made, what?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think if you look at it, we kind of in the second half there did shorten the bench a little bit.  There were not a lot of guys that absorbed a lot of minutes.  We played with a veteran group out there, kind of.
I think tomorrow we're going to have to use more of our bench and we're going to need to get more productivity out of our bench, not necessarily scoring.  I thought we had a lot of defensive breakdowns which enabled them to kind of get down the lane and make some plays.  I thought our turnovers in the first half resulted in them getting out in transition and getting some easy scores and putting our defense in a position where they had numbers.
Then I thought we did a better job in the second half offensively executing, getting good shots.  I thought our press was really effective in the second half.  I thought we got some turnovers.  I thought we were disruptive.  I thought we got some steals from behind.
Those older guys really did a great job I thought for that stretch.  We did a really good job defending and guarding them.  I think when you play back‑to‑back games, unless some people have played tournaments in November or December, you know, sometimes your shots don't fall and it comes down to loose balls, offensive rebounds, those kind of things.

Q.  Assuming Tennessee's in the NCAA tournament, you're really familiar with those guys, but a team not so familiar with this team, what problems will they have to face against Tennessee?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think certainly I believe they're an NCAA tournament team.  I don't think there's any question about it.  I think Cuonzo has done a great job of kind of establishing his culture and how he wants his teams to play.  I would say playing them here today, you can see that they have improved as a team.  Hopefully we have been able to do the same.
I think for the teams that play against them, a lot of teams will be surprised at just how great of a rebounder Maymon and Stokes are, just how good they are on the glass.
They have got everything to really go far, in my opinion.  They have perimeter shooting, with Barton, McRae, Richardson.  Even when they come off the bench, they have got shooting.
I think Armani Moore gives them great energy.  Stokes gives them a low profile scoring presence.  Maymon is not the same kind of scorer, but knows how to play.  He's smart.  He's physical.  They are going to be, I think, for a team, a very difficult team in the NCAA tournament from what I've been able to see this year playing them three times.

Q.  Maymon, Dodo foul out, Yeguete has four fouls.  How does your coaching strategy change with the refs calling a little bit more than usual?
COACH DONOVAN:  I had no one else to put in.  There wasn't really much we could do there.  We weathered the foul trouble there.  Would have liked to have gotten Chris Walker a few more minutes.  We tried to play him early in the game, but I thought he had a hard time defensively with a lot of their actions they were running.
Yeguete was able to stay on the floor without picking up the fifth one.  If Yeguete would have fouled out, we probably would have slid Prather over to the power forward spot and would have played with three guards.  That probably would have been the best thing for us in that situation.

Q.  Having a team that doesn't mind doing it the hard way, and is willing to grind it out, not everybody's got teams like that, you've had teams that wouldn't do that.  Talk about their ability to say, Hey, this is going to be hard today, it's not going to be easy?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think they knew that it was going to be hard going into this game.  It was going to be difficult.  Certainly for us I thought the first five, six minutes, we were good.  We went five minutes there in the first half, didn't score a point.  We tried to do too much.
I thought Scottie, in his own way, his competitiveness probably flowered in a way that wasn't good for our team.  He tried to take too much on.  Turned it over.  Tried to force some things that weren't there.
But I do think that this group's got a resiliency, a competitiveness to them.  They battle.  They fight.  As I said earlier, we're not perfect.  We have our flaws like any other team.  I think a lot of times with these guys, at least for most of the time, I feel like when they walk off the court, I never feel like, Wow, you know, these guys really didn't get after it and compete and really play to the level intensity‑wise that we needed to.
Now there's been plenty of times I walked off the floor and said, Geez, we weren't very good defensively or we didn't execute as well as I would have liked, but I think you can make those judgments.  I think their intentions are always in a good place.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.
COACH DONOVAN:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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