On not coming aggressive…
"We didn’t come out aggressive enough. We paid for it by not coming out and matching their intensity."
On what Kentucky was doing…
"They were more aggressive. Their coach had them ready and they executed better because of that. They played harder."
On Brandon Knight’s big game…
"We had to adjust because we were practicing going under the screens. He is a good shooter. I’ve known that. He was knocking shots down on the open screens."
On Kentucky’s success…
"They got going. They hit a couple threes there. We gambled on the ball screens and they did a good job of hitting shots down the stretch."
On not being surprised by Kentucky’s game…
"No surprises. We didn’t stick to our game plan. We went away from what we wanted to do. We allowed too many open drives to the middle."
On team’s success this season…
"I’m proud of this team. We went through so much adversity. We just kept on fighting. The five seniors that are leaving, I wish the best of luck to them in the future."
The press conference transcript is after the jump.Q. For Joe, I'm wondering, what do you kind of attribute that drought to starting the second half, and do you think that was maybe where this game went wrong for you?
JOE MAZZULLA: I mean, I guess just lack of focus on our part. Lack of intensity coming out in the first half ‑‑ in the second half. Yeah, I think that had a lot to do with it. We knew they were going to come out strong, and we had talked about trying to weather that storm in the first four or five minutes, and we didn't do a good job.
Q. For Kevin, Joe talked about you guys didn't have the intensity coming out at the start of the second half. It seemed like you were starting to make a run there and then it just sort of slipped away. Where do you think it turned on you?
KEVIN JONES: Well, we got them going basically in the first half. We kind of stepped on them for the most part and got them out of what they wanted to do. In the second half, we just let them get out in transition, get easy baskets, and the key players started getting into the flow of the game.
Q. Kevin, in that second half, there was a period there where you guys really didn't get many good looks at the basket. Did you attribute that to anything they did defensively, or could you guys have done something differently offensively to create those shots?
KEVIN JONES: I think we took a lot of rushed shots. We had a lot of unforced turnovers that could have been avoided. And I mean, they had good help deep for the most part, but we definitely did rush a lot of things in our offense, whereas in the first half we were just running the offense real good and passing the ball around.
Q. As difficult as losing was, you're friends with Cal. I just kind of wonder what you guys had to say to each other in that long embrace there after it was over.
COACH HUGGINS: I just wished him good luck. I told him go win the thing.
Q. It looked like they made a couple of defensive adjustments on who they had guarding Mazzulla and things like that. Can you talk about what they did in the second half well to hold you guys to only 22 points?
COACH HUGGINS: Yeah, they played Liggins on Joe, just put a little more size on him. We just got all balled up again. When we stayed spread, we had a better chance. We just got ‑‑ we didn't get wide enough. And when you start creeping in, your defense creeps in, and then ‑‑ like K.J. said, they had good help defense, but we didn't spread them the way we spreaded them in the first half. We're just too small not to spread people. We just get swallowed up with size if we don't spread people.
You know, and the truth of the matter is we had a couple wide‑open looks from guys that ‑‑ we don't have a lot of guys that normally make them, but we have a couple, and they didn't go down for us.
They went down and scored ‑‑ I thought Cal made some adjustments offensively against the match‑up that we didn't react to it very well at the start of the second half.
Q. When you coach against a good friend, is it any easier or harder when you lose to him?
COACH HUGGINS: Maybe it'll be a little easier tomorrow knowing that he's still playing. It doesn't help today, but ‑‑ yeah, tomorrow, I mean ‑‑ I've played my former assistants because at least you know you feel a little bit better that somebody you like wins rather than some people that you don't like. Not that I don't like them, I like most guys, it's just I don't like them as much.
Q. Going back on that topic, you had so much success against him. Do you think he feels the same way when you've beaten him over the years?
COACH HUGGINS: Well, we beat him in Memphis, and I think it was an afternoon game. We went to the Rendezvous and Cal came over and joined us and brought the priest from UMass. And he said to me, I brought the priest from UMass for good luck. I said, he didn't help you at UMass; why did you think he'd help you here. But we sat down and had dinner, yeah. The time they beat us in Memphis, I went over and did his TV show. Actually I just walked in to make sure he didn't spin it the wrong way.
Yeah, it's harder this time of year because it's the finality of the whole thing.
Q. Could you kind of put into perspective the careers of Mazzulla and those five or six seniors that you obviously have had a lot of success the last three years?
COACH HUGGINS: Well, it's hard for anybody to understand what Joe's been through. I mean, he woke up every day for the better part of a year not knowing whether he'd ever play basketball again. Actually didn't know whether he'd ever be able to get his arm above his shoulder. And I don't think anybody will ever realize the physical part that he went through, the time he spent in the training room, the rehab that he did. It took him pretty much a year and a half or almost two years to be able to play again. A lot of people wouldn't have done that.
You know, and Cam we recruited as a guard. He's playing center. He's physically overmatched every game. I don't think he'd mind me telling you he doesn't shoot it very well. But he just competes and he knows how to play. You know, I think the thing that can be said for all those guys is they compete, you know, they step to the plate and compete. You know, we've only had Casey for two years, and would have liked to have been able to have him for four. I think we probably could have done a little more for him. But it is what it is.
John Flowers has come a long way. John coming into this year was below a 50 percent free throw shooter. The last time I looked he was shooting 76 percent. He's come a long, long way. They're guys that like to be in the gym. They like to be in the gym, guys that love being in the gym.
Jonnie West wasn't going to play this year, and I asked him to come back out. And he said, coach, if you need me, I'm there. When Jon decided he was just going to go to school full‑time, I said, I don't want you to be away. I want to be able to spend time with you and see you, and he's in the gym every day. Came to every workout.
They're good people. You know, I think that's ‑‑ they're good people who are going to be very successful in whatever it is that they choose to do.
Q. West came in there near the end when you were down by six. Was that the look you were looking for on that three‑pointer?
COACH HUGGINS: Yeah, he had a great look. He got a great look. I mean, it's hard, he sat there the whole game. I understood it was hard, but he knows what he's doing a little bit better than some other people do, and Jonnie is our best shooter. I put him in a tough position, but I mean, he understands. I mean, that's what we had to do to win. He had a great look. He had a great look. I'd say the ball slipped a little bit. When you haven't been in there ‑‑ his fingers were probably froze. It was a little cold sitting over there on the bench.
Q. Can you talk about the performance of Brandon Knight, and the last game of course he didn't attempt many shots and he seemed to come out looking for it early in both halves today?
COACH HUGGINS: We seem to bring that out in people. He was really good. I thought we did a better job after we gave him the first whatever he got. I think he got 14 or 16 of their first 20, something like that. I thought we did a much better job on him after that, had a bunch of them at the end shooting free throws.
In the second half, I thought we did a much better job the second half, but there's a reason why everybody recruits those guys; they're pretty good. Terrence Jones made some huge plays for them, some huge baskets. They're talented. They're really, really talented.
Once again...A huge thank you to ASAPsports.com, Amy Woodruff (SID at USF) for providing the above content and Ken DeCelles of Voodoo Five and SB Nation Tampa for thinking of us when it was given to him.