Postgame Quotes

Dec. 31, 2012

Recap |  Notes |  AP Photos 

Postgame Quotes

No. 9/13 Minnesota (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten) 76, No. 18/18 Michigan State (11-3, 0-1 Big Ten) 63
Williams Arena - Minneapolis, Minn.

Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith

Opening statement:

“We're very happy to get this win. When you play the Spartans you know that you are going to have to play your best game. I thought today our kids showed a lot of character, a lot of heart and a lot of toughness down the stretch because a team like Michigan State is not going to beat themselves. You have got to find a way to win the game and I thought we did that. I thought we set the tone early in the game but, obviously, the most insignificant score is the halftime score and I knew they would make a number of runs. Down the stretch, guys like Andre Hollins, Trevor (Mbakwe) and Rodney (Williams) made their free throws when they counted and made stops when we needed them to get a good win and a good way to close out 2012.”

On if attacking the rim and drawing fouls was a key to the game:

“Absolutely, and then not fouling because we had a lot of fouls to give. That's critical. It's critical against any team but especially this Michigan State team. I thought our ability to get to the basket and force the foul, that was one of our game plans. We sort of put it in another gear there. We've got some guys that can put the ball on the floor. Early in the game Rodney was settling for the jumper and I told him 'Rodney, take it to the basket,' and it paid off for us.”

On the team answering the 15-3 run by the Spartans:

“It's something we've been learning how to do. We did it well down in the Bahamas. We've done a good job of that and I think it carried over from the NIT Tournament. Also, finding the leadership. We've got a guy like Andre Hollins who is really coming into his own as a point guard and as a leader. I think the guys are leading by example. Again, it's about the character, the heart and the toughness because in this league, against any team, it's all about who is going to establish their will from a mental capacity. It's not all physical. I thought today we played not only with our heart and toughness but we played with our head as well down the stretch.”

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

“We had a chance to steal a game. Great environment. Tubby’s team, his guards have really improved. Andre Hollins, I thought, really made some tough shots, made some good shots. We were up five and made a couple of key mistakes, lost our guy a couple times. But I thought… the difference was that first half. We had so many point blank jump hooks right there and then went 1-for-7 from the line. Those two things hurt us. I thought their transition game really hurt us. That’s why they shot so well.”

“Give them credit. The environment was phenomenal. I actually felt good about my team for all but the last five minutes. I thought we had stretches where we didn’t play well, but I thought in general our two young freshmen on the road in a hostile place competed pretty well. We got down 12, we got down eight, we got down nine, and would bounce right back and go up. That shows some character, but we just weren’t as good in areas we needed to be.”

Minnesota Players

Austin Hollins

On the play of Michigan State:

“Michigan State is a good team. They play tenaciously so we had to fight to keep our composure. They came back in the second half but we kept our composure and executed what we needed to do.”

On this team playing differently than last year’s team against tough Big Ten opponents:

“We weren’t very good down the stretch. Last year we played Michigan State here and we turned the ball over a lot towards the end of the game and they ended up coming out with the win. This year we’re much better at holding on to the ball and making shots.”

On whether or not this game shows that this team can close out a game with strength:

“Yes, in a way, I think it does; we weren’t very strong last year at closing out the game. Today, we proved that we can come out here and execute to our full potential.”

On what the team did defensively in the last 10 minutes to shut down the Spartan offense:

“It’s just a mindset. Everybody on the team wanted to win the game and that’s how we have to come out to every Big Ten game. We focus on defense. That’s one thing we do well. It was just a matter of
maintaining it for 40 minutes, especially down the stretch.“

Rodney Williams

On how this team was able to keep pace with Michigan State:

“We’re a completely different team this year. We have a lot of older guys with experience who know what it’s like to be through a Big Ten season, so we knew what we had to do and we came out and played within our system which allowed us to win.”

On the strategy when Michigan State got up five points in the second half:

“We knew we couldn’t panic, and we didn’t need to panic either. We knew we would get the stops that we needed we just needed to execute them. Everyone stayed poised and positive which allowed us to come back and push the lead up.”

On whether or not this game is a statement for Minnesota:

“I don’t think we proved too much today. We still have a long Big Ten season with a bigger target on our back, so we’ll celebrate this win and then come back and get ready for Northwestern so we can get our second win in the conference.”

Trevor Mbakwe

On this team proving that it can com eback despite another team having momentum:

“Definitely, we don’t want the same thing to keep happening every year. We came out today and said that this was our chance to get Michigan State, and we had some key stops and that allowed us to win
at the end of the game.”

On how his knee felt today compared to two months ago:

“It feels great. This was my first game off my brace and it felt good to play without it. But overall I feel a big difference from how I felt two months ago.”

On his lack of hesitation today:

“I’m more aggressive now and I don’t think about my knee anymore. The doctors were a little hesitant but I told them I felt confident with the strength of my knee. But Michigan State is a physical team so I knew I had to come out and not think about my knee but play physically as well.”

On the maturity of this team against Michigan State:

“We’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. They are always a tough team and they like to beat us on offensive rebounds. We knew we wanted to come in and have that first score which allowed us to get excited.”




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