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Dec. 11, 2010

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Pitt vs. Tennessee, CONSOL Energy Center, December 11, 2010

No. 11 Tennessee 83, No. 3 Pitt 76


Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon


Opening Statement:


“I have to give credit to Tennessee. They’re a very good ball club. They played well tonight and made some tough shots from a variety of spots on the court. They put us in a hole, we built too big of a hole and never got to play our game – they just beat us at our game. They made shots at the end of the clock, ran us out and ran us short. Our guys played hard, battled and really cut the defect. But we cut too big of a whole to come back.”


On Tennessee maintaining its lead:


“First of all, we got in a hole with the lead and fouled too much, so that helped them out. They really hurt us with possessions with either fouling us or making tough shots. Scotty Hopson made some really good shots. They did a good job of making big shots. Looking down at the percentages speaks the volumes. We didn’t’ make the free shots, they did. We didn’t make 3s, they did. We need to defend better.


On what the loss will do for the team:


“It has to be a learning experience for us. It was a disappointing loss. It’s December 11, we have finals starting here so we need to get focused on academics and then get ready to play the next game. They’re a good team, so I’m not surprised. Our kids can use the different things that happened today in different ways. Anything you can as coaches or players is to use these things as motivation or a positive. I think that’s how most coaches would handle a situation. They’re a good team. They’re experienced, deep and play a lot of guys. They’re playing four seniors and five juniors. They just beat us tonight.”


On Ashton Gibbs’ performance


“He made shots in the second half. I think we just got in a hole and our offense suffered because of it. We have to respond better to it. We have to learn to respond offensively, not to get away from our game and do what we want to do. We battled back and fought the whole way through. If you look at the stats, we got out rebounded. We have to out rebound teams, and we just didn’t do it today. We forced 20 turnovers from them, but for us, 15 is just too high of a number.”


On Scotty Hopson:


“There were some transition buckets that got him going early. He had some tough shots. They didn’t get loose balls, they seemed to pick up the loose balls - it was one of those types of situations. We have a rebound where it hits the rubber, nobody’s around there and it bounces off. They’re very good. Both teams played very hard, no effort was questioned by either team. They got us in a hole and we just didn’t recover.”


On Tennessee’s size and depth:


“It’s not like their big guys scored big, or shot and made big numbers. They made their three’s early. I just thought that we didn’t defend well early on. They had 21 points with less then 8 minutes gone. Even though the number at the half wasn’t a high number, that was the hole that was built for us in this game.”


Quoting Pitt’s Gilbert Brown


On allowing Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson to score 27 points:


“He played well because of a lack of concentration that we had on defense. He and his team had some fast break opportunities against us. He’s an excellent player and I tip my hat to him. In the first half, we gave him a few transition three-pointers and that got him going and he kept attacking. It’s tough to stop talented player once he gets going.  That was the key. ”


On the last 10 minutes of the game:


“The last ten minutes compared to the first half we started to execute and we were making plays and our intensity was up. Tennessee had a good first punch and we were trying to play catch up the whole time. We kept trying to make a run but they kept making plays. I wish we could have played the whole game like how we play those last ten minutes.”


Quoting Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker


On the difference in the game:


“Tennessee had a good first punch and we just didn’t respond. They attacked us and they got rebounds off of our missed shots. I think the key to the game was our lack of offensive rebounding and coming out ready to play. I give them credit. They’ve prepared for us and they kept making plays.”


On the physical game:


“It was our most physical game by far and it’s something that we knew was going to happen and we were still surprised. They brought it to us and they just kept coming. It felt like a conference game, but any time we play a good opponent, it feels like a Big East game to us. The best teams in the country are usually the most physical. That’s why they’re good.”


Quoting Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl


On playing in the SEC/BIG East Tournament game in Pittsburgh:


“The game came about because there are 12 teams in the SEC and 16 teams in the Big East, and somebody had to step up, that’s my attempt at humor. Since there are so many teams in the Big East, some other teams in the SEC needed to go and play. John Calapari volunteered to go play in Kentucky and I volunteered to go play in Pittsburgh through encouragement of my commissioner.

We always play a tough schedule, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. When you want to be a top-20 program, you have to perform and behave like one. These seniors – Josh Bone, John Fields, Melvin Goins, Michael Hubert and Brian Williams, have all helped Scotty Hopson with this team and encourage him to do the things that he needs to do. They’re not threatened by him, they encourage him. Scotty had a good freshman year, a better sophomore year and now he’s playing like a potential NBA guy. So much has been expected of him, and that’s why some people may be disappointed. If you look at our defense, all our seniors – minus Cameron Tatum, because he’s phenomenal on defense – have gotten better. That puts a lot of pressure on freshmen to defend and perform at a certain level.”


On comparing Pitt’s performance to Tennessee’s game against Oklahoma State in the 2009 NCAA Tournament:


“I didn’t think it was a good matchup. I was hoping that year I’d go to Boston, because that’s where I grew up, but we didn’t end up going there. We didn’t have some groundwork on Pitt. I said the other day that my assistant coaches – Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay, don’t get enough credit. Those guys compete about who has which scouts. Jason Shay is called super scout. He’s the primary guy that helps me build game plans. He helps me explain to the guys about what we need to do. We had 22 defensive rebounds and they had 18, it’s about the percentage that they need to be on. Pittsburgh may have been a little impatient in the offensive end, and played defensively much better.”


On being surprised about the team’s early success:


“I’m surprised that we’re good enough to beat Villanova right now, and Pittsburgh. I’ve never said that this is a young team. We have plenty of seniors. Cameron Tatum didn’t always look like this. All our seniors are pretty much brand new starters. Everybody contributed tonight, it was a good team effort.”


On team expectations for this season:


“We play Oakland Tuesday night, and they just lost to Michigan by one point tonight. I talked to the team at length about Oakland, and then we go to Charlotte on Friday. I talked about the team the other night about this match up. That we’re either going to win and do well, or get beat and exposed a little bit; at that point it’s all about how do we respond to that? It’s all about where you go from here.”


Quoting Tennessee’s Cameron Tatum


On his thoughts coming into the game:


“We understood coming into this game it was going to be tough, they are number three for a reason. Coach came in with a great game plan and we knew we had to match their intensity. We knew we had to play tough defense, and that’s our identity. “


On the defense:


“It’s not all about offense, it’s defense and rebounding that win championships. We can celebrate this win now, but once we get back home we’ll have to try to get even better defensively. We can guard, and if we continue to do that we can beat anyone in the country. We have great players out there making plays, and we have all the tools we need to make a run, so I’m looking forward to getting back out on the practice floor and sticking to it.”


His overall thoughts on the game:


“I think the key thing coming in was respect, we respected Pitt and we knew we had to go in with extreme focus.  Being prepared on all aspects was also key, both offensively and defensively. So they respect factor was there, we just had to make sure we went out there and executed. We wanted to see where we were at as a team, both on offense and defense; and I think we can go very far. The win was real big for our team. We still have a lot of work to do and we approach the season with a humble mind and attitude.”


On the crowd:


“Sometimes it’s better when we’re on the road, especially in a hostile environment against a top-10 team. If you shut the crowd up, then you have the advantage already.”


Quoting Tennessee’s Melvin Goins


On the team’s mentality coming into the game:


“I felt like we had a great chance to win this game going in. Our preparation was great, and our coaches did a great job. We came in focused, and we knew we had to play tough to have a chance to win.”


On what the win means for the future:


“We get through games and win move on, which is exactly what we’re going to do after today. We will relish it and then put it to the side and get ready for the next game.”


On the made free throws:


“It’s just about repetitions.  We are in the gym a lot, practice from the free throw line and the practice is paying off especially late in the game. I feel comfortable out there.”


Quoting Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson


On his play:


“I just got to keep it up, be consistent and be aggressive for the team. I was trying to be in attack mood the whole game, and I am trying to be more consistent for the team.  Coach put me in a position to be successful so I wanted to go out there and make plays for him.  I just wanted to keep my intensity up and execute the game plan. I just wanted to make plays and give myself the opportunity to be successful.”

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