Feb. 29, 2012
Head Coach Anthony Grant
Opening statement: "In the second half our guys' ability to get to the free throw line and their ability to make some stops that we needed was the difference in the game."
On if they could have won this game four or five weeks ago: "I'll tell you what, who knows. The thing we talked about at halftime was that we weren't playing well. We needed to play a lot better. We needed to turn up the intensity and try to get the tempo of the game the way that we wanted it. Give Auburn credit. They did a great job of taking care of the basketball and not letting us really go on any runs and get control of the game. They were able to make timely shots, to make timely plays on the defensive end that they needed to. Ben Eblen came in and gave us some great minutes there in the second half with his defensive intensity and his ability to take away some of the things that they were having success with. We will take it as a great win. Obviously we are excited to be in a position where we can continue to control our own destiny."
On the similarities and differences between the first match-up against Auburn and this game: "They hurt us. They were able to get some transition opportunities out of our press and they did a great job of converting, but we felt like if we could just get a couple of shots that we would be okay if we could convert on the other end and get the tempo of the game. We were never able to get that tempo going so it came down to a possession game. I told our guys we needed to take it one stop at a time and take advantage of some of the things that we were able to take a look at from an offensive standpoint. I thought that we did a good job of attacking them. We did a good job of getting ourselves to the free throw line, and we were able to convert tonight."
On their play in the paint:
"They did a great job of shrinking the floor on us, really jamming the lanes up, and not letting us get to the rim forcing our bigs away from the basket. We were never really able to get Zeke touches. Their bigs were really physical inside and walled up when we did get those and took away some opportunities. I thought that our guards did a really good job with driving the ball to the paint. We did a good job of feeding it inside. Mike (JaMychal Green) got 10 free throw attempts which is good. We were able to get two shots in the second half. I think we got to the bonus really early there in the second half and that probably was a difference in the game."
Andrew Steele, Guard #22
On how big of a win this was: "It was good. Anytime it is Alabama and Auburn you know we are going to play hard. I think that it was special for JaMychal to send him out the right way. They're a good team so we knew that they were going to fight for it. We are just glad we came out with the win."
On his play at the end of the game: "I was just trying to make plays that could help us win. I think I just took advantage of some things that I saw and I wasn't really focused on myself. I was just trying to do what I could to put us in a better position to win."
On JaMychal Green's play: "It's typical. That's what we expect of him. It seems like when we need him the most is when he is at his best. We weren't surprised, and it was really good to see him come out and have a good game like that."
JaMychal Green, Forward #1
On how big this game was for him as a senior: "It was very big. We knew Auburn was going to come in with a lot of intensity. We beat them at their home so they had a chip on their shoulder coming in, but we gutted it out steady as a team and got the win."
On what he needed to do to win: "Defending. We got key stops at their end. Ben Eblen came in during the second half and did a great job coming off the bench defensively. He just tightened it up for us, and we played off of his emotion. He just turned it up for us. He just turned it up for us defensively, and offensively we stopped settling for jump shots. We got fouls, and we knocked down our free throws."
On Alabama making their free throws: "It was very big. If we don't make those free throws, they probably would have won or tied the game and we'd still be playing now."
Head Coach Tony Barbee
Opening Statement: "I thought we guarded fairly well. We just couldn't score. That's been the story all year."
On the play of JaMychal Green: "That's what seniors are supposed to do. They're supposed to finish. You can't rely on underclassmen to do it for you. I thought Green did that well for them tonight."
On the play of Willy Kouassi: "He's performed well in practice over the last week. He's shown a lot of energy and learned some lessons along the way. He finally showed a grasp for what we're doing. He's had a long year but he's been performing well of late. He's done well in practice so he deserved to play today."
On being outshot on free throws: "It is what it is."
On Kouassi's defensive effort: "He had great presence tonight. He's a presence on the defensive end. He blocked three shots in 17 minutes. He's great on the offensive end as well. He's going to be one of the best big guys in the league. He's not a finished product by any means but he's a work in progress. He played with a lot of confidence today."
On the turning point in the game: "Not sure of the time on the clock but I thought when Frankie [Sullivan] got a good look when we were tied up, and missed it, [Trevor] Lacey was able to make that deep three on the other end. That was the turning point."
Kenny Gabriel, Forward #22
On Auburn's strong defensive effort and their shooting woes: "I'll take the blame for it. Down the stretch, coach was trying to go to me on the post, but I passed it out. I should have been aggressive, but instead I tried to force it and turned the ball over, with four minutes left to go in the game. In the first half, I couldn't make a shot, I guess that's probably why I lost my confidence, and as a basketball player you can't lose your confidence."
On JaMychal Green's performance: "He did well. In the second half he came out aggressive; he was getting fouled and got to the free throw line, so they kind of got him going."
Frankie Sullivan, Guard #23
On how the game plan worked: "The game plan worked out to perfection. It's just a matter of making shots at the end of the game. I thought we worked hard on that this summer, but apparently not hard enough to make shots. I know on a day like today, it was a bad day for me and [Kenny Gabriel], but Noel [Johnson] had some big shots for us."
Noel Johnson, Guard #32
On an increased role tonight: "Going into tonight's game, Coach [Tony Barbee] told everybody to be ready, so I was ready for the challenge."