Mississippi State coach Ben Howland and players Robert Woodard and Tyson Carter spoke after the Kentucky game.

Ben Howland 

Robert Woodard and Tyson Carter 

Quotes from UK Athletics

Mississippi State Head Coach Ben Howland

Opening statement…

“I thought the University of Kentucky was really impressive tonight. Facing them here, I liked their defense in particular, they really caused us a lot of problems. They forced us nine turnovers in the first half, although two or three of those were ones where we shot our self in the foot. I thought they had us playing fast and had us playing to where we were in a hurry rather than being in control offensively in the first half, and we were probably fortunate to only be down eight, and I thought we did a great job battling back. It was 41-39 and they called a timeout and we had some momentum at that point and right away they came out and really executed well on both ends of the floor. We were in about six or seven minutes where they were scoring four points and we really struggled tonight offensively and give them credit with their defense.”

On being three of 20 on 3s…

“We’ve actually struggled the last two games. We were five of 19 on Saturday as well so I thought a few of them were just rushed and we were down big, but in general we were rushed offensively tonight. I think they did a good job speeding us up and getting us hurried when we were playing real fast and not really controlled enough offensively. Credit to their defense, I thought they did a really good job attacking us in the punch. Obviously PJ Washington had a great game, really hurt us when he shot right from the 3 and really played out there and looked like an All-SEC player to me and I think he’s a heck of a player. Tyler (Herro) played really well as their point guard minus four turnovers, again he did a great job running the clock and they run their stuff really well and they have two very, more than two really, big guys who can score in the post.”

On the decision to bring Lamar Peters off the bench…

“That was a total mistake, there was no decision there. I had no idea. According to what the official said, my assistant marked the wrong person, I couldn’t believe it. It was a total mishap so now we have to double check that every game and make sure we have the right people in the starting lineup, unbelievable.”

On only two shots by the starting four and five…

“That was the problem, you know Aric Holman is one of our best offensive players and you have to get him more touches and do more. He was in foul trouble and so that hurt us, and when he dove on the floor for the ball in the second half and picked up his shot directly, he really never got on track offensively. He’ll bounce back though.”

On if PJ Washington was what he was expecting…

“No, we have great respect for him and I thought he was really effective in driving us and also the three pointers. He had taken 29 3s on the year going into the game and he had five tonight. So, that’s a big number and what he’s been doing when they shoot the ball and he’s a really good player. I thought he made a great decision to come back last year and he was probably a second-round pick I remember reading. He’s an outstanding player.”

On how Kentucky sped up Mississippi State’s offense…

“I thought they really pressured us and we didn’t handle that pressure very well. We should be able to handle that better than we did. I thought in the first half we were penetrating, which was what we needed to do. They were so spaced out. We have to attack the basket. We were getting in there and not jump stopping. We were getting sped up. You have to stop and slow down. We missed a number of opportunities to kick out to open shots. We took some bad shots early in the game. It was reflective in our shooting percentage, our lack of assists. We need to do a better job executing. We need to learn from this experience.”

On how difficult it is to defend PJ Washington…

“He is versatile, he can face up, he can bounce it, he can create off the dribble, he’s a good passer, and he can score with his back to the basket. He can hurt you in any way possible.”

On Kentucky’s 18-2 run…

“That’s a great question, I thought that we got rushed so we hurried into some shots. We had a number of turnovers. They really plagued us. I bet there were four or five times during that period. When when you look at the first half, we were down eight, they had 12 points off our turnovers, ten of which were on the fast break, 22 of their 32 points were generated from transition or off our turnovers.”

On how efficient Calipari has his team in January…

“It really helps to have a fifth year in Reid (Travis). There is a lot of experience between him and PJ Washington. For him to be a sophomore and be as good as he is. They have two really experienced guys up there. Nick Richards is back for his sophomore year, it’s just something that hasn’t always happened because these guys sometimes leave early. I think those three guys really anchor their front line. I think their perimeter players, those three freshman are really good. They have Ashton (Hagans) who is 19 years old and he’s mature. I think Tyler (Herro) is fantastic. He really hurt us early tonight. When we talk about that run I mean they ran something they haven’t run before. They had a double screen, he jumped out of bounds then jumped in bounds and caught for a 3. Those guys did a really good job and I think Immanuel (Quickley) give them good depth coming in. He’s a real high level guard. They don’t drop out when he comes in the game. So, they’ve got good depth and they are playing with a lot of poise. Part of it is their schedule, they have played a tough schedule early. Think about where they were during the first game of the year versus Duke. It’s credit to John (Calipari) and his staff – Hall of fame coach.”

On how coming back to Kentucky affected Aric Holman…

“They wrote an article about him here locally. They talk about how it’s his senior year and how he has a lot of family here. That’s something you would have to ask him. That necessarily wouldn’t be a big surprise if that happened.”

Mississippi State Student-Athletes

#12, Robert Woodard II, Fr., G

On their poor shooting from the arc …

“Sometimes you have those nights where you’re just struggling from three-point range. I guess you could say that was one of our nights, so it’s all about trusting our shots, trusting our teammates and getting back in the gym and making things work.”

On not being able to get many shots in the paint …

“They’re a great defensive team, so I guess they kind of just avoided the ball touching the paint that much. That was a great job by them. We definitely have to focus on getting more post touches to affect the game more.”

On the play of PJ Washington …

“He played great tonight. He had a great game. It’s just a game nowadays. You have to be ready for anybody on any given night. This time and day you have guys his size, his height being able to attack the rim, rebound, shoot, do whatever he needs to do to help his team win, and that’s what he did tonight. I feel like we just have to prepare better.”

#23, Tyson Carter, Jr., G

On what happened after they cut the deficit to two in the second half …

“They kind of took us out of our offense, pressure defense a little bit. Like he said, we struggled shooting the ball, just couldn’t make shots, but we’ll get back and work on that.”

On moving past this game and getting ready for Auburn …

“We don’t really have much time to think about this loss. We just have to get back to practice and work harder because we’ve got games, another tough opponent Saturday. We don’t have time to lick our wounds. We’ve got to keep it moving, think about the next game. We’ll see them again.”

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