Media: How do you get the guys to bounce back after obviously a tough game?
Kevin Stallings: That won't be hard, they've bounced back all season long and we're a playing for quite a bit. It's exciting at this time of year to be having games where the games are very meaningful and a lot is on the line. That means that you've done something or at least got close to accomplishing something. I'm not worried about them bouncing back, they'll bounce back and play hard and hopefully play well.
Media: All year long you've set goals and tried to get ready. Now that you've mentioned
playing for a significant goal, second place, how does that change how guys react to
KS: I don't know that you know that until you get into that situation. I think that we might not know that until Sunday. I think that they'll practice hard for these two days and they've done that all season long. I was surprised at our play on Wednesday night at Mississippi State. I still contend that a lot of it had to do with them. Hopefully we will play better, I think we will. But as far as how they are going to handle different situations; when you haven't been in those situations before it's hard to predict what will happen. We have to treat this game just like we treat all our other games and have our very best intentions and very best preparation going into it.
Media: Does Kentucky challenge you guys physically as much anyone in the SEC?
KS: I think that Kentucky is always a challenge physically and obviously they have great players and McDonalds All-Americans. Tubby is obviously a terrific coach but this game and these couple of days before the game it's much more about us and our mindset and how prepared we are to play and given the kind of effort that our team gives and play with the kind of execution we need to play to be successful.
Media: All the guys say that the win in Rupp seems like forever ago, like it was even last
season. As a coach are you glad to hear them saying that, that it's not in the back of
KS: I don't know if I'm glad to hear them say that or not but that's the way it feels to me too. It's like I can't even remember when that game was played. That's the grind and the length of a conference season, that's what it does to you and that's a shame because that was a great day for us. But you can't hold onto the losses and you can't hold on to the wins, you just got to keep going and keep you head down and play all 16 of them and count them when you are finished.
Media: Kevin Ross said that you guys might have been out-aggressed at Mississippi State. I
don't know if that is a word or not but the concept . . .
KS: It's a word that we use, now whether we are creating our own dictionary or not, I don't know. It's certainly two words that we use. I don't know if you hyphenate that one or not but in any event they were more aggressive, they were faster and quicker and they started the game with a better energy level than us. I don't think our energy level was poor; I didn't think our energy level matched theirs. For our team to be successful we have to win the energy game and aggression game and we didn't do that Wednesday night and we caught a team that was playing great and did those things and that's why we lost.
Media: Is that a concern for you at this point?
KS: Nothing concerns me at this point. We are excited to be where we are at. I have a great amount of confidence in our team that they are going to play hard. I never know how well we are going to play, that is sometimes dictated by circumstances of the game and your opponent and things like that. I'm not the least bit of concerned about where our team's mindset is, they are very accountable and feel responsible for the way we played the other night, just like I feel responsible for the way I coached, which obviously wasn't good enough. It's a new day. The good thing about the league season is that when you lose you are forced to look at what is coming up next. I guess the bad thing is we didn't get to enjoy the Florida game long enough.
Media: You said the resilience to come back has been going on all year long, What do you
attribute that to?
KS: I just think the character of our team. I think that we have some experienced players that have great character and they've given great leadership to our younger guys in that regard. We have been very resilient and that one of the reasons we are standing where we are standing right now because without that resilientsy this season could have gone in a different direction.
Media: What in your mind makes Kentucky so difficult an opponent to attack?
KS: They've always been a great team, they've got a great tradition and a great amount of pride, a great coach. It's just why they are Kentucky, that's why they've won more championships in this league than the rest of us put together. They are just different in that regard. I don't think our guys will be intimidated or afraid but we certainly do have a high degree of respect for them.
Media: Would you characterize as saying that you would be more worried about their defensive pressure than their offense? I wouldn't say that we would be more worried about them more so on either side of the ball. I think we are equally concerned on both sides of the ball. We think they defend well, they score well, they score from the outside and they score from the inside and they rebound well; there's nothing that their team doesn't do well and in part because they have an outstanding coach.
Media: With a couple more wins is Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament?
KS: Ask the committee that one. I'm not on the committee.
Media: I think coming out of the UT game you were a little concerned about the idle date that
previous Wednesday and how that went as in terms of rhythm and that kind of thing.
Having said that, do you have any concerns about the Sunday game?
KS: I don't have any concerns. This is a lot closer to being a normal week than that week was. In retrospect I might have miss-managed that week but I'm not concerned about that.