Jan. 28, 2012

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HEAD COACH Anthony Grant
Opening statement:
“It’s always good to win. Our guys certainly needed it. They came in with great poise and figured out from a defensive standpoint how to make us stay down a little bit. We, I thought, had success in the first half attacking and being aggressive. Their zone really slowed us down, slowed the tempo of the game down. I’m proud of our guys for finding a way, when Arkansas took the lead during the second half; our guys never lost their poise, stayed with it and found a way to come out with the win. It was good to see our guys get stops at the end of the game, come up with some big rebounds and make some free throws to close it out.”

On the game being fun to watch:
“Well, I hope the fans saw it that way. I thought you saw two good teams out there. From a style of play standpoint, Arkansas has some very quick guards that are very aggressive on the offensive end.  Defensively, they cause problems with their length and quickness. You look at the numbers, we turned it over 17 times; they turned it over 16 times. They get 12 steals; we get 11 steals. From a defensive standpoint, it was an up and down game. Again, I’m proud of our guys for finding a way to come out with the win.”

On how his players responded to the challenges he gave them:
“I think across the board, we’ve got a group of guys that really want to win. It comes down to just figuring out what gets us beat, what we need to do as a team, the commitment we need to make to each other, the commitment that we’ve got to have on a daily basis to do the things that we need to win. I think for our team, this is still a work in progress, in terms of I think we can get better. I think there’s still room for growth on this team. We’ve just got to continue to understand the common goal that we all have, which is to win and to continue to have those opportunities.”

On Andrew Steele:
“I can’t say enough about Andrew Steele. What people don’t realize is that probably back early January, Andrew broke a toe and was unable to practice for a while. The only thing he could do—he walked around with a boot, stayed active in practice and basically played in the games. I think his ability, his toughness, and his ability to focus on whatever he can do to help the team win. He’s just an emotional leader; he’s a guy that provides stability on the court. I think his heart was really on display today. I’m really proud of the effort that he gave us. I thought he affected the game in so many ways today. It was good to see that.”

#12, Trevor Releford, G
How important was it to get the win today:
“We were on a four-game losing streak and I think just to get our confidence back we just needed to win. Arkansas is a great team, but it was a good confidence builder for our team to move forward.”

Talk about the game Drew Steele had:
“That’s the kind of player Drew is. When he steps out on the court he is going to give 110 percent every game. He is going to do all the little things for our team to win. That’s our guy.”

# 22, Andrew Steele, G #22
Talk about your game today:
“I was just trying to go out there and do everything we could to win. We are at a spot in our season where we had to get a win. The message from the coaches is that everyone needs to do what it takes to get a win, so that’s what I tried to do.”

On the difference between this game in comparison to the others to come away with a win:
“I think we were real aggressive driving the ball and getting inside. I think we took advantage of the way they wanted to guard a lot of things. I think our will to win was a lot greater than it has been in the past. You could tell in our eyes that we were not going to give up because we needed this one. All of our guys did a great job fighting out there.”


Opening Statement:
“First of all congratulations to Alabama. I thought it was a hard fought game. Obviously, they must have wanted it more than we did, but I thought we came with the right mindset. They did a good job of making free throws down the stretch. The game went probably as scripted. In the end we didn’t make some execution plays going down the stretch and they did. I thought it was a hard fought game between two good teams.”

On the feeling of the end of the game and what made the difference down the stretch for Alabama:
“I think it’s growing pains. I think we are getting better each and every time we go out. Obviously, last time we played on the road at Kentucky, we got off to a slow start. This afternoon we got off to a better start. This is a young team and that gives them confidence. I thought throughout the game we stayed to the course of what the game plan was all about. I thought we were in attack mode. Our defense made Alabama work for whatever they got. The key is to put yourself in position. That’s the learning curve with a young basketball team.”

On feeling like this was the best they’ve played on the road this year:
“From the mindset coming in, I thought we came in with the right attitude to give ourselves a chance. I thought we didn’t panic even when we went down at halftime. We came back out and defended and we got more into an attack mode. Our defense helped create some easy offense for us. Our forwards were engaged and they were rebounding the ball. We were down 10 or 12 rebounds at one point. In the second half I kind of thought we took the fight to Alabama. I am disappointed in losing. I never like to lose, but I was encouraged about some of the things I’ve seen from our basketball team. They will learn. They are young, but as I told them, 21 games this season so you aren’t young now. I thought they fought. I give Alabama some credit. I think Anthony Grant has done a great job here.”

On how they felt they played in their zone:
“I thought our defense was on key. I thought we did a good job of matching up with them and just trying to neutralize their athletic ability. They have Green and Mitchell and we tried to cut the penetration out from Releford. I thought he did a good job of running the show. They made more plays than we did and we ran out of time.”

On whether they did anything he wasn’t expecting:
“No. I thought they were going to be a team that was going to attack the glass. Again, the game went as scripted, I thought. They are a good defensive team and they made us work. We had to work for what we got. They do a good job. We didn’t get to the line as much as we wanted to and that’s what you have to do on the road.”

#3, Rickey Scott, G
On taking a step forward:
“I definitely think we took a step forward. I believe this is the best road game we’ve ever had. At that six-minute mark, it was fun and exciting. Even though it was away, I felt like I was at home just because we were actually talking. That’s one thing, when we went to Kentucky we didn’t do. As long as we keep on talking on the road games, I think we’ll get more wins.”

On three-point shooting:
“I’ve just been working on them. Coach always tells me my shot is flat. I had to get (my shot) up and put more lift on it. I give him credit for that because I used to shoot the ball flat. My percentages were really low. I didn’t get a lift off the ground. It felt good today.”

On dealing with the loss:
“It’s tough. We just came off two wins in a row. We struggle on the road. It’s tough, but I think it was one of our better road games. It’s just going to build our confidence for the next one.”

On what the team learned from this loss:
“We just have to finish it out and make better decisions at the end of the game.”

On the rotation:
“We just play to play. We don’t worry about minutes. We play hard regardless.”

On matching Alabama’s intensity:
“I thought we were banging with them and hitting them hard. We were fine at first. Then, at the end, we just made some bad decisions.”

On having only one field goal at the end of the first half:
“We weren’t moving the ball. Coach even told us at half time. When we were getting shots early on, we were moving from left to right. The ball was getting swung through the baseline. Then we started going at the top of the key, back and forth trying to create something off ourselves to get something going. It didn’t work.”