Opening statement: "It was nice to have an ugly game. That means we got in the trenches and guarded. I really like how we played defensively. We had a few fouls that I'd like to take back, but we played aggressively and aware on defense. Our traps created turnovers. We probably showed the effects of working a lot more on defense in practice. We didn't shoot well, but that's OK. We played at a good level of intensity defensively."
On the second half start: "We got off to a good start in the second half. I thought our starters in both halves got us off to good starts."
On Vanderbilt's defense: "Rice is a very physical team. Their big guys are really physical and strong. Andrew (Ogilvy) and Ross (Neltner) went in and led us in the second half. Rice was pretty methodical offensively, so their possessions were longer. Thus, we didn't score as many points as we normally do. We just have to get in there and gut it out."
On Andrew Ogilvy potentially being frustrated: "He gets fouled a lot. He didn't have any free throws tonight. It's hard for a guy who is averaging nine free throws a game and it's hard to say that he didn't get fouled along the way tonight. If he does get fouled or if he doesn't on a given night, he has to work through it."
On Vanderbilt's bench play: "Our bench - and tonight was an exception - has played well for us all season. It's the key for us to be able to play 10 people and keep our starters fresh. If things work out how we want them to, we'll ride the guys that started the game. I don't know if I've ever coached a team that's this confident at the end of games."
On winning an "ugly game": "It feels good. Coach talks about that all the time - when our shots are not falling, our defense has got to carry us. It was one of those grid-it-out games and it feels good to win. All season we've shown that we can win in a lot of different ways, this is just one more way."
On the offense's struggles tonight: "You have to give a lot of credit to (Rice). They came out and played hard, they played with a lot of intensity - and we expected that. It was encouraging, though, that our defense was able to pick us up when we needed it."
On being a marked team as one of the last six undefeated teams in the nation: "We kind of felt like that a little be last year with some of the rankings and the games that we won. You become a marked man. But we're ready for that. We know what to expect and we'll prepare for that as well."
On the emphasis on defense: "The last couple of practices the main focus has been on tweaking our defense and it showed up tonight. Coach has been telling us that we need to get better. We just executed what we have been practicing."
On preparing for UMass and then the SEC season-opener: "It's all about getting ready. I'm the energy guy; I'm going to get everybody fired up. I'll send up text messages. I just send out mass texts to everybody on the team as I think about it. I just try to get us focused on what we're trying to do."
Rice Head Coach Willis Wilson:
Opening statement: "Tonight was a tough game for us. We were physically and emotionally worn down. We had a tough time executing our offense. There were times we were overwhelmed and spent so much time working to get back into the game that we didn't have enough gas to take advantage of opportunities when they were available for us. Vanderbilt did a smart thing in attaching us in the beginning of the second half. When we had some momentum in the second half, they jumped into a zone and that affected us."
On beginning of the second half: "That was the undoing of us. We got behind in the first half and made a nice effort to work ourselves back into the game. We let some situations slip past us in the first half that could have tied the score or even gave us the lead. Their performance combined with our performance really took a lot out of us."
On comparing Texas A&M with Vanderbilt: "They're totally different teams. Texas A&M are so athletic and have an imposing front line. Vanderbilt is very skilled with Ogilvy and Neltner."
On Vanderbilt's deep bench: "Vanderbilt has a lot of experience with four seniors who have played in the Sweet 16. They believe they're good. I think they have done a good job of setting the tone for the younger guys in the program. Vanderbilt is a young team when you see the production they are getting. When you have a guy like Foster you have to prepare for and you overdo it, they have other guys who can beat you. I also thought Neltner played a solid game, he's really an unsung guy for them."