Text of Andy Kennedy’s comments from postgame after the South Carolina win. …
(What were your instructions to Marshall Henderson when he was trying to throw in the ball with six seconds left?)
“Throw it to them. Let’s have a controversy to see who it was out on. Let’s let them get it with 1.8 and guard them.
(Long pause here. Seemed like people weren’t sure if Kennedy was kidding or not. Then he continues …)
“Obviously we don’t want to throw it to them, but we didn’t get open. We panicked a little bit. I had three guys who were supposed to screen and get open. At this level if you can’t get open on an out-of-bounds play, you’ve got problems, but I was really proud of the grit our guys showed in the second half.
(What happened with Perez’ foul on Sindarius Thornwell with a 5-point Ole Miss lead and 35 seconds to play?)
“Not a very smart play by an inexperienced player. Anthony Perez was our MVP. Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz were coming off their best combined game in college in our last win against LSU. Sebas had 20 and 9, AJ had 13 and 13. Tonight they both foul out in 15 minutes. Next man up. That’s the essence of a team. Anthony had his opportunity most of it at the 4 against a pretty big team.
“Frank (Martin) has had some injuries to his backcourt, but his frontcourt is big and long, and I thought Anthony really stepped up for us down the stretch.
“He just made a bone-headed play. You never do that. What are you doing? He fouled him. Then we fouled a 3-point shooter. A guy who’s been our team MVP (Summers) misses two free throws at the end.
“So we certainly didn’t close the game as efficiently as I would have hoped, but I thought save for the last 90 seconds in the second half we played very good basketball. We shot the ball well, held our own on the glass. We’re still turning it over too much, which is very uncharacteristic for us. Twenty turnovers is a season-high, and usually when we turn it over 14 or 15 times we don’t win, because we play a possessions game, and we obviously struggle on the glass, but they’ve got a big point guard. I thought they were very physical on the perimeter. We settled in too much, we were taking bad shots, forced shots. We had three or four jump shots blocked, which is not good fundamental basketball. I know Frank well, and I know they’re going to be aggressive. They had a back to the wall mentality, and they played that way.
“I thought the energy in the building was outstanding. South Carolina fed off that early. Our guys withstood it. That’s the reason you feel good coming into an opponent’s arena when you have veteran guards. I’ve got a fifth-year senior in Marshall Henderson, and I’ve got a three-year starter in Jarvis Summers who’s logged a lot of minutes, and I thought that poise really helped us get back in the game in the second half.
(Did the officials explain the all that resulted in AJ’s fourth foul? It looked like the foul should have been on Cox.)
“They don’t explain much. It killed us. Sebas fouled out in 15 minutes, AJ fouled out in 15 minutes. Anthony’s got four. I thought Demarco, he fouls out in 29 minutes, we had foul trouble all across our board. Perez stepped up and played huge, huge minutes at the four spot which allowed us to get out of here with a win.
(Your thoughts on the first half?)
“It’s not unusual for me to be disgusted at the half, especially when you play as poorly as we did in the first half. The thing most encouraging to me was that our players were equally mad. They know they did not play well. I thought South Carolina out-toughed us. I thought we gave in to the way the game was being played as opposed to trying to impose our well. The second half, it didn’t take us 10 minutes to climb back. It took us about three minutes to climb back, and then we said, ‘Hey, this is a basketball game.’