Opening Statement: "Well, I thought it was a great game. I thought there were two teams that played really hard and really physically going after one another. They were very good with their pressure and we were able to combat that by throwing it inside and driving it at the goal, which is really the antidote to people pressuring you like that in the half court. We did a great job at the foul line not only getting there, but making them. At the end of the game we made stops when we had to. I thought we guarded okay, but they just made some tough shots. Dendy especially made some tough shots inside. I was very pleased with our poise at the end of the game on both ends. I congratulate them and I thought they played exceptionally well."
On getting the ball inside to Festus Ezeli: "We talked about getting the ball inside for two days of practice. We thought we had an advantage there and we thought they would do exactly what they did and press up on us, and Festus delivered. No disrespect to anyone else, but he was the best player on the floor today, I thought. He was the one for us that reduced our pressure a little bit and put them in foul trouble. He was a big player for us today and I thought he played very well."
On putting Brad Tinsley back into the game with 7 minutes remaining: "It was kind of a feel thing. He doesn't foul a lot and we held him over there and we were playing zone at the time. I thought we could put him in while we were playing zone. Then right after we put him in they hit a three and we didn't want to give up back-to-back threes. So we went back to man. He did a good job, he went back in there and had that big drive and made free throws. He's a real steadying influence, he's been around a long time and has handled the ball a lot."
On the effectiveness of the zone: "At first it was effective, then they got into a rhythm against it. I thought we were able to adjust after the first time in it. We talked about something at the timeout and I thought we were able to adjust and the zone was much better the second time."
On Dai- Jon Parker's Defense: "Dai-Jon's defense is very good and that's why we put him in. He's just a good defender, he has great feet and great awareness defensively and we like to utilize it when we can."
MTSU Head Coach Kermit Davis Opening Statement: "I'm sure Kevin said the same thing, what a terrific atmosphere for a basketball game. I'm a big fan of Vanderbilt's team. I enjoy watching them play even when we're not playing against them. They play the right way, great speed and size, they're well-coached, they play smart, and they've got great experience on that team. I thought at the end, our team kind of went out of character for a minute and a half and it summed the game up. They just made two or three plays at the end, had a couple of breakdowns, two possession game, but I thought it was just a great college game today."
On Ezeli: "When Kevin and I agreed to this game in January, I wish we'd have done it when he was hurt. He played just like that at our place. When he plays like that, it just gives them such a weapon, now you have to double him, they've got so many offensive players around him, and they did a great job, spread the floor, got it to the right spots so he could score."
On LaRon Dendy's play: "He was terrific today. He made a lot of big field goals for us. We were down two, pick and pop for LaRon and he kind of fumbled the ball and he was supposed to drive right at Ezeli, and then we were down two and we never switched a high ball screen, we kind of switched and Ezeli laid it in right there. But LaRon really did, he played fantastic."
On where the team stands at this point in the season: "I think we already knew we have a really good competitive team, but when you test your mettle at Vanderbilt, who, it's like any college team, with that experience right there, they can make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, you go to their home floor, and then play the way we played today, I think it just reemphasized what we already thought. We have a really competitive team that can play with most teams in college basketball."
On Coach Stallings' comment about the game having a feel of an NCAA First Round game: "That's a big compliment from Kevin, and I sure hope we're in the first round. But it is, it had the feel of that. I was proud of our fans that got tickets here, that always makes for an interesting deal, our fans here and the Vanderbilt fans are always terrific. It did have an NCAA kind of feel to it and both teams played like it today."
On Jenkins' 3-pt game: "He gets going and he just spreads you out so much, and I think that part of his game's just improved."
On JT Sulton's foul troubles: "It was just that kind of game. JT was playing so well. JT's been here for three years, he started a lot of games, and he's got to be able to play in big games like this. I don't really remember his fifth foul but your better players have to play in those kind of games in the last five or six minutes. You bring in Jason Jones who isn't as athletic but he's a good player, but it's tough to lose JT."
On your comfort level being on the floor: "Every game I’m feeling just a little bit better, trying to slow the game back down."
Looked like your teammates were looking for you: "They’ve been seeing it in practices, Coach has seen that I’ve been getting better at offense so they kind of emphasized it a little bit."
On LaRon Dendy: "He’s a good player. He’s very good. He takes it off the bounce and so it’s a little different than the other guys that I have to guard. Usually, I just have to be physical in the post so this was someone who I had to move my feet. It was tough guarding him."
On free-throw effectiveness: "I shot a 100 last night before, and I had to text coach how many I made so I‘ve just been in the gym the whole time. I kind of changed up my form a little bit too. I made a 100 out of 123."
On late-game poise: "I think so. We came out and we starting to develop a little bit of a killer instinct so that’s good. So we just came out at the end, and just focused kind of upped the intensity too."
On the physicalness of the game: "They’re pretty physical and they were trying to get under our skin a lot. And they bumped us off cuts a little bit, but we just had to get stronger as the game went on."
On the amount of layups down the stretch: "They were pressuring us pretty tough so we knew we couldn’t just settle for three’s, or settle for hard shots, so we wanted to draw the ball inside and give it to Fes."
On layup late in the game on feed from Tinsley: "Right, Brad was kind of stuck, he picked up his dribble so we had to get outlooks fast and my man was over playing me so I back cutted really quick and made a good layup."
How tough was it to hold onto the ball: "It was tough man, stopping the ball, but I just had to be tough with it and go up strong."
On the way the game felt like a NCAA Tournament game: "I definitely think they’ll be in the tournament. They’re a really good team. And down the stretch and throughout the whole game, yes, it definitely had that feel. They’re a really really good team."
On winning a close one: "Definitely. We knew that just because we weren’t playing an SEC team, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy today. The coaches were really, really emphasizing that in practice leading up to this game, so it was good to get this one done early. They’re a really good team. And, I think that we acquired a quality win in the season."
#13 Bruce Massey
On the NCAA Tournament feel to the game: “When we came to warm-up, we could feel that it was going to be a tough atmosphere from the get-go. We knew Vandy was a great team coming in. We knew they had experience. They’ve been together three or four years, so we knew this was going to be a tough road game. Also, it let us know what we need to work on.”
On the difference at the end of the game: “Their veteran attitude, their confidence, and their experience kicked in. They made plays down the stretch that we’re not really used to in these types of games. Veteran teams do that, so now we know what we need to work on going back to practice.”
On the upcoming road trip: “Going back to Sun Belt Conference play we need to realize that this is a conference game. We’re still 9-0 in conference, and we’re still number one, so this game let us know where we’re at if we make the tournament. We are still number one though, people are still trying to knock us off, and so we have to get right back to work.”
On making a statement: “We made a little statement. We led most of the game, but down the stretch their experience kicked in, and they won the game.”
On where MTSU stacks up: “We think we can play with a lot of teams across the country, but we have to keep working hard. If we just play our game, and make more plays down the stretch like they did, we’ll be fine.”
#1 LaRon Dendy
On playing his best game against MTSU’s best opponent: “I feel like I have to come out and play my best against these good teams, to pull my team over the hump and get the win, but obviously it didn’t happen tonight. The last two minutes, with the turnovers, really hurt us.”
On Vandy making more plays at the end: “It was bad execution on defense and offense in the last two minutes. We live and we learn. We have a lot of games ahead of us. We’re going to work on it, and get better from it.”