Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings Opening Statement I thought the difference for us tonight was our defense. You look at the numbers and six of 25 from three and only got to the foul line 11 times. Those are not usually winning numbers for us. We did only have eight turnovers, which is terrific.
But our defense was the difference. It was really solid throughout. Got better as the game went along. I thought that Jeffery Taylor was as good defensively as I ever remember seeing him. And obviously for us to hold Gerald and Kentavious just down to three and two points, we couldn't have even hoped for that.
So we felt very good about our defensive play. And again, I thought that was the difference. I thought everybody on our team was energized and energized to play defensively, even though it wasn't our best night offensively.
If you could talk about Georgia went into the zone there in the first half and the team had some trouble shooting the jump shots. What do you think snapped them out of that? Well, I don't think that they really were only going zone maybe other than one or two possessions. But they were only playing zone on out-of-bounds place. So they were going zone when we had out-of-bounds plays. So then I don't think that they -- we have played them three games, and the only time they have defended us with zone has been on out-of-bounds plays. So I don't think that their plan was to sit back in a zone and take chances on Jenkins and Taylor and Tinsley and shooting balls and things like that.
First half, we were abysmal offensively and it was really not good offense. But in the second half, we got more movement, Fes started creating problems inside and we just were a lot more crisp in the second half with our cutting and our screening and our passing, I thought.
With the foul trouble they got in in the first half, what was the mindset for your team with the way they have kind of pieced together that lead with going deep on their bench? They were in a little bit of foul trouble, but so were we. Festus and Steve both had two. And that game, in a lot of ways, mirrored the game in Athens that we played a couple of weeks ago. Neither team was real sharp in the first half. The difference was we didn't turn the ball over a lot.
We missed some pretty good shots in the first half, I thought. But I didn't like our offense. I didn't think our offense was very good. But early, we missed some good shots and late we ran poor offense. In the second half again, we picked up the defense a little bit. We were able to get the ball inside more. And we were just going to stay with our game plan for 40 minutes. We weren't going to deviate unless we were just absolutely forced to.
Again, in the second half, we shot over 50 percent, and we did a better job of getting the ball to the basket and things like that. So the foul problems were created because we threw the ball inside and we tried to drive it inside and we weren't settling for as many jump shots.
But you don't see us with 20-point victories very often when we go 6 of 25 from three and only shoot 11 foul shots. Generally we're a good 3-point shooting team and we get to the foul line a lot, and that's usually why we're a good offensive team. Tonight obviously it was much different than that.
You guys scouted Ole Miss in that first game. How are they different from the first time you played them? Also how late do you let your guys sleep tomorrow morning? What time is the game tomorrow? And I ask that seriously, is it 2:30? 2:30. I don't know. Hopefully we can just get them to sleep, but I thought maybe I would let them go out and hang out on Bourbon Street for a while and just see what they thought.
No, Ole Miss, they're playing a couple different guys that didn't play the last time we played them. But they're still very much the same team. They do what they do. They're physical, they rebound, they drive the ball, they're not a team that tries to beat you from three.
I was very impressed with their overtime victory tonight. Seemingly they had the game in hand and then Tennessee hits an incredible three to get the game into overtime. And I tell you, a lot of teams would fold up their tent after something like that, after they got kicked in the gut like that. So you really have to be impressed with their fortitude and their ability to survive again an incredible shot and still win that game in overtime.
So in terms of the things that they're doing, they probably are doing a little bit different things. Again, they played a lot of zone tonight against Tennessee. They played a lot of zone against Tennessee the first time they played. I don't know if we'll see that much zone or not.
We'll hopefully be ready for whatever it is that they do. And I would like to play as well as we played tonight defensively and play a little better on offense and shoot the ball a little better if we could.
Guards John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley If you could talk about that energy level that you guys came out of both halves with, especially the second half and what you guys talked about at halftime. TINSLEY: We knew that we had to come out with a lot of energy. We have had a lot of games in the past where energy has really boosted our confidence in our play. So I think it started with the starters and the older guys, and I think that our whole team kind of feeds off of how we show that energy. And I thought we did that tonight.
If you could expand a little bit on what you guys did defensively as specific as you can with the two guards, and whether or not you felt like they and George's entire team got gassed in the second half a little bit. JENKINS: Well, Robinson and Pope are great players and they had great games last night. What we wanted to do was come out there and be aggressive and match their intensity. They played hard and we wanted to to come out there and really match their intensity.
And we wore them down a little bit with our defense and our offense wasn't clicking. But I think we moved around a lot more and had the energy in the second half to hit some shots, but not a lot.
You haven't had timed to think about Ole Miss, but bracket looked like it might be Tennessee. Just your initial reaction to Ole Miss, the way you guys played in Oxford earlier this year. TINSLEY: I thought we played very well down there. Still, they're a different team now. The post season, a lot of teams are fired up. We know it's going to be a tough one. It's going to take 40 minutes of solid defense to stop what they have and try to just execute really well on offense.
JENKINS: Last time we just shot really well and we defended really well, and we were very poised on the road. And I think they're going to come out here tomorrow for sure with physicality like they always do and we got to match their intensity and also rebound.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox Opening Statement Really we had a poor start to the second half and then dug ourselves a hole and just couldn't get out of it. Credit to Vanderbilt, they're a good basketball team, an experienced basketball team, and they were a better one tonight.
I know that you don't like these things because it sounds like excuses, but did you think your team looked tired in the second half? We just didn't defend well enough. That would be unfair to Vanderbilt to say that. Our defense was pretty good in the first half. I think they made their first five or six shots to start the second half, and I really think that was the big key. Then we certainly didn't finish enough plays ourselves offensively. But our defense just failed us and I thought that was a big key.
When you're not getting anything from Gerald and Kentavious for whatever reason, is that just pretty much debilitating? No. It makes it hard. We didn't get anything from them the in the first half, really, and we were ahead at the half. But we knew we do need those guys or this team needs those guys to score for us. And tonight they didn't. So it certainly made it hard.
But I don't think any of us were able to really leave here and say we played well offensively. We just had 17 turnovers tonight, which that's almost twice what we have been getting, and just didn't play well enough.
And Vandy, have to give them credit for playing a good second half for sure.
Following up on that, Vanderbilt particularly defensively against those two Caldwell-Pope and Gerald, anything stand out particularly about that? Well, Kentavious was in trouble in the first half and that's hard to score from the bench. I thought they did a nice job switching some screening action and really did a good job of keeping Gerald away from the rim and never had easy looks at the basket.
I know the end-of-the-season questions are never easy, but you guys played fairly well down the stretch in the league, and you've got a young group coming back. Just talk about how you feel about this team moving forward, especially with the two freshmen getting significant playing time this year.
Started two freshmen and two sophomores tonight. I feel very good about the experience that those guys were able to get. I feel very good about the players we're bringing into our team.
And this group had a challenge because we had so much inexperience and a couple guys leave early. I thought they accepted that with great class, and that experience will be very valuable for us moving forward.
The first half, can you talk about I guess you went like 12 guys total and some lineup pairings that you probably hadn't done too much. What was kind of juggling that around like? Well, that was a challenge. We just had foul trouble and then Nemanja got a little fatigued there and Marcus was in foul trouble. And they have a big lineup, so we ended up actually playing, played some guys in some spots that they don't normally play.
But that's as bad a foul trouble as we maybe have been in all year. We have had a couple games like that. But our bench was good in the first half, but we certainly had to go a little deeper into it than most coaches would ever plan on.
Kind of along the same lines, but Cannon comes off the bench there and played almost a perfect half in terms of rebounds and making all his free throws, one for one from the line. Brantley, though, seemed like was giving you some good defensive minutes. Talk about the positives those two guys brought.
Well, John Cannon has really practiced very well the last couple months. We kind of had a rotation established and he's going to be a really good player. I think he's probably, of anybody on our team, it took him the longest to really get comfortable in the system. But obviously tonight he played well.
Sherrard rebounded the ball very well tonight and Sherrard has been thrust into some time at the small forward, and he's really a two guard. And that's one of the challenges with our team all year with Kentavious and Sherrard having to play so much at the three when they're really shooting guards. That makes you a little bit undersized. It makes every possession a real challenge for those guys.
Guards Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Dustin Ware Coach spoke pretty strongly yesterday saying that he thought you wouldn't be tired despite that hard game the night before. You guys seemed tired in the second half. Was fatigue a factor at all? GERALD ROBINSON, JR.: Maybe a little bit, but that's part of basketball. You got to learn how to play through that. And just tonight we just weren't able to overcome that. We dug ourself a hole at the beginning of the game and was actually able to overcome that and be up a couple points at halftime. Dug ourself one in the second half and just couldn't overcome it and get over the hump.
DUSTIN WARE: Fatigue was a little bit, but when you're in the tournament, everybody feels the same thing. You are just really out there just battling. Coach said we really put ourselves into two holes. We were able to fight out the first one. The second half, against a good team like that, it's going to be tough to recover.
You guys were able to get a lot of production from the bench in the first half. It seemed like the starters together maybe didn't really get going. How difficult did that make it for the team tonight to have so many guys kind of a little bit off? GERALD ROBINSON, JR.: In basketball, it's a team game, so it was good to get some production from our bench. And I'm actually very glad, they actually kept us in the game in the first half. We wasn't getting anything from our starters. We were in foul trouble, people were in and out of the game and on the bench, so it made it difficult. But it was actually that we were able to overcome that beginning. We should have been able to regroup in the second half. We just couldn't.
Any solace to ending up with a thousand points. You got to feel good to leave your Georgia career with that? DUSTIN WARE: Yeah, I guess it feels good. I definitely wish I could have left on a win. But it's definitely an accomplishment. Something I set out to do and I was glad I was able to accomplish it.