Feb. 26, 2013
Minnesota (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten) 77, No. 1/1 Indiana (24-4, 12-3 Big Ten) 73
Williams Arena - Minneapolis, Minn.
Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith
“Tonight’s game was a real character test. We hadn’t played well the last couple of games, coming in against the best team in the country in Indiana. They’re very deserving of that status. Tom Crean always does a great job. His teams always play hard, so we are very fortunate to get the win tonight. I thought our guys were focused on the right things. Trevor Mbakwe set the tone early on with his aggressive play and his ability to score around the basket. We got good, solid play from the bench tonight, especially Elliott (Eliason). This was just a good win for our program and a good win for us. It gives us some confidence, something to feel good about ourselves.”
On if he got the aggressiveness and sense of urgency that he was seeking from the team:
“Yeah, we’ve got a lot of good kids in our program. It’s probably an extension of us, who we are in being patient and caring, but we do need to have a little bit more of a sense of urgency and to play with an edge. Tonight, Trevor (Mbakwe) set that tone for us and I think that other players picked up on it and played harder and smarter. We are similar teams, Indiana and us, in our personnel. I think we match up with them pretty well.”
On if the team played harder tonight than he had seen all season:
“Yeah, it’s the best I’ve seen of it. We play hard all the time. We don’t play as efficiently as we should always. I thought tonight they stuck to the game plan, listened to the scouting report and didn’t listen to anything else. We’ve had a lot of people encouraging them, supporting them, and I think they knew coming in how important this game was. I sensed a very calm, matter-of-fact group of guys tonight that I hadn’t seen in a while. They weren’t really loose but they were very confident about who they are. Before the game I thought it was good to see them having fun. Even during the game, you have got to play hard, and we played smart. We played a lot smarter then we’ve played in the last couple of games, especially taking care of the basketball.”
Minnesota Forward Rodney Williams
On how big this moment is:
“This is a real big moment for us. Everybody counted us out. We were on a two-game losing streak. We lost pretty badly to two teams we feel we could have beaten. For us to come out here and play like we did and for our fans to be as supportive as they have been, for them to finally be able to rush the court, I feel like this is a big moment for us and everyone else in the community.”
On beating the No. 1-ranked team:
“It means a whole lot. Any time you get the No. 1 team in your house, you want to play your best and get the W. We were able to feed off of Trevor’s play early. Andre came on late. Elliott came in and gave us some huge minutes. Everybody, from the bench to the crowd to the coaching staff, everybody was locked in and on the same page. That’s what you need when you’ve got the No. 1 team coming into your house.”
Minnesota Guard Austin Hollins
On the play of Trevor Mbakwe:
“He was just a beast out there. On the boards, he was unstoppable. In the paint, he was scoring, he was playing defense, he was doing what it took to win the game. I think he put us on our back and carried the team.”
On if there was more energy tonight:
“Oh yeah, definitely. I think there was definitely a lot more energy than we’ve been playing with. We knew that we needed that energy, it was just a matter of doing it. I think everyone knew what was at stake tonight. This is a huge win for us. We came out knowing that we needed this and everyone played their role.”
Minnesota Center Elliott Eliason
On stepping up when Mbakwe was on the bench:
"Trevor got into some foul trouble and I knew I had to be more aggressive because we were down by eight points. I wanted to tackle more and do what I needed to do."
On seeing the student section get ready to rush the court:
"I knew they were going to be coming. It's an unbelievable feeling to rush the court, so I just had to take it all in and experience it."
On if he expected Mbakwe to have such a standout game:
"He was really fired up. We were all fired up for this game. We played two really poor games and we knew we were better than that so we came out and played the way we knew we could. Trevor is our leader and when he set the tone the rest of us followed."
Minnesota Forward Trevor Mbakwe
On whether or not he thought the team would have an advantage inside:
"Yeah, I think we felt that we could go after them. Cody is a great player and once he got into foul trouble that helped us the rest of the way."
On this win as a reward for sticking with the team for so long:
"Definitely. It feels awesome. We went through a tough stretch and had some tough losses but the way we bounce back is unbelievable. We showed that we are one of the best teams in the country and we need to build off this. We've got another tough game against Penn State and turn this season around for the better."
On being fired up for the game:
"We were playing well. I got in some foul trouble and Elliott came in and started playing at another level and that's what we needed. That's been our winning formula, when we have guys come in and step up big when we need them. It was a wonderful moment and I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could."
Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean
“There is nothing more glaring than the rebounds. That was our biggest issue, the fact that we hade six offensive rebounds at half and got four in the second half. (Minnesota) got nine (offensive rebounds) in the first half and 14 in the second half. (Rebounding) was the difference.”
On Trevor Mbakwe’s play:
“He is a high-level, high-energy tough guy. He plays the game at a high level. Obviously, I am biased, but there is no shame in that. When I signed him at Marquette, I did not feel I would have him more than two years. That is a grown man, who is one of the top rebounders in the country. He was the toughest guy on the court.”
On Cody Zeller’s play:
“(Minnesota) was extremely physical with him. Cody is certainly capable of a lot, and I think he will bounce back just fine.”
On Tubby Smith and his team:
“(Minnesota) has a great coach. I do not know how many people here have hall of fame votes, but when his time comes, he belongs in there. He is a high-level coach. He has a really good team. They were great on the glass and made big buckets.”
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