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Feb. 24, 2013

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On the game:
“I thought that when they made their run, we were a little bit lackadaisical on the transition defense. What sparked us certainly was Jontel Evans’ play, his ability to get to the rim and make some plays. Taylor (Barnette) gave us a nice lift, and did a solid job defensively. I just thought we became harder to score against.”

On home crowd and 15-game winning streak:
“The crowd has been terrific. Certainly our fans have been giving us great energy. I told our guys, it’s by being sound and tough-minded as they can, that allows them to have some success here. Don’t ever mistake that.”

“You certainly can feel the energy. That’s what home court’s all about. It’s nice to see that the crowd’s really rallying behind these guys. It has to make a difference, without a doubt.”

On offensive play:
“We shot the ball. We had some decent action early, till we got some stuff at the rim. Georgia Tech was switching some, so we had to figure out some things. I keep talking to the guys, and say ‘will you work? Will you share the ball? Will you set good screens and take available, good shots with a level of patience?’ Now, when a guy gets hot, obviously there’s what you call a heat check in the game. If a guy hits a couple of threes, and we can get him a quick one, we’ll take a look at it. I thought they were unselfish. We talked about serving each other, with the way they play. With only five turnovers and 15 assists, that makes for usually good offense.”

On Jontel Evans:
“Jontel (Evans) has had some very good stretches for us. He played a very good game. He was very hard to keep out of the lane. He broke the press. I was happy to see that. I thought he did a really good job for us against Miami. I really thought everything about his game against Miami was about the team. I loved it. I thought he was trying to make the plays for other people, and worked his tail off against (Shane) Larkin. I thought he picked up where he left off. Then, obviously, getting to the basket and scoring some points was good. He played at a high level today.”

On Mike Tobey:
“He wasn’t bashful when he got his hands on the ball. Mike’s got a scoring mentality. It was good. I can hear my dad’s words in my ear, saying ‘get some lead in your pencil’ whenever I shoot and I leave it on the front of the rim. I think he looked a little leg-wearier, and needed a little more energy. I thought those were good minutes for him, good action. There’s a pace and a timing when you’re in a game that’s a little different than practice, and he’s only had two practices.”

Virginia Freshman Guard Taylor Barnette

On how he has improved throughout the season:
“It is a lot of continual hard work. My teammates have been working out with me and that helps. I try to persevere through the defensive mistakes that I’ve had. I try to work hard everyday and get better.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“This is completely different than high school, but it is good for me and I’m starting to catch on, and I’m starting to get better.”

On season:
“It has been an awesome experience. It has been a blessing from God. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I have great teammates and great coaches, so it has been a ton of fun.”

On today’s game:
“I felt really good out there today. My teammates did really well distributing the ball and setting screens and that helps me out a lot. You just have to let the game come to you. If a shot presents itself, I’m going to take that opportunity and just let it fly.”

Virginia Senior Guard Jontel Evans

On Georgia Tech closing to 45-40:
“They were trying to speed us up and we can’t get seduced into that. We’re not an up and down team. We like to play in the half-court and I just told my guys to settle down and do the things we’re capable of doing and we were able to do that.”

On his matchup with Mfon Udofia:
“Last game (Mfon) Udofia had too many open shots. I feel like I had a bad defensive performance, so tonight I was really locked in on not letting him get open. I feel like we should have beaten them [in Atlanta]. We were in a great position, but we just let it slip away.”

Virginia Junior Forward Akil Mitchell

On today as a revenge game:
“They snuck one in on us and we took it personally. I feel like we had something to prove to ourselves, and I think we did that tonight. “

On the second half:
“I looked up and we were up by five, but I think Jontel, or someone, made the first basket there and it got us going. We know what we need to do to pull away and we know what we need to do to win games and it’s just a matter of doing it. I feel like we really committed to locking them down on the defensive end and taking good shots offensively. “

Georgia Tech Head Coach Brian Gregory

Opening Statement:
“Give Tony and that team credit, they played very well today. Over the last six weeks they’ve been playing just as well, if not better, than everybody in this league. They showed that today. They have a lot of weapons and their upper class guys are playing well. They out performed us in every aspect of the game today. It was the first time in a long time that we did not compete at the level you need to compete in this league, so I’m disappointed in that.”

On falling behind after cutting Virginia’s lead to five:
“We came out in the second half with a little more energy. I thought that the first six minutes of that half and the first three minutes of the game were the only times that we were playing at the level that you need to play at against Virginia. We cut the lead and got them into a couple of scrambles, but you have to rebound the ball. We didn’t rebound well all day long. They were a little quicker to every ball, and it showed on those plays [in the second half.]”

On the number turnovers the team allowed:
“We shot 54% from the field in the first half. Again, our turnovers are an Achilles heel for us. It’s not just at the guards spot; it’s with our big guys. They need to value the possession a little more. We have guys coming in, playing limited minutes from the bench and turning the ball over. Those guys need to understand that need to do a better job of protecting the basketball as well.”

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