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Jan. 13, 2015

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On how Virginia separated itself in the second half:
“I thought we guarded and rebounded pretty well. Offensively, we were rotating the ball. Clemson is a very physical team and are good defensively, so we had to work at it. Clemson makes you play that way. We got different kinds of looks and guys knocked down shots. I thought we were closer to not having letdowns on both ends of the floor in that half. We got great lifts from some guys.”

On Justin Anderson’s shooting to end the first half:
“We were laboring a little bit, so certainly that was big. To get a little separation like that was helpful. We opened up with a little run and didn’t look back.”

On bench players getting minutes in conference play:
“I told them that these are valuable possessions so don’t waste them. For Devon Hall and B.J. [Stith] and Isaiah [Wilkins] to get good minutes during important times was significant for them. At the end, it was great to reward our `Green Machine.’ They work so hard at practice to get us ready and are such selfless guys. I love to see them get out there.”

On Isaiah Wilkins’ increased role:
“We’ve played some teams that have been very mobile at the four and we’ve played a little flat. Isaiah is such an active player. He’s got a textbook stance the way he spreads out. He plays so hard in practice and is a relentless worker. Sometimes you feel like you need an injection of energy. It was good to see him being active tonight. Hopefully, he’ll keep coming.”

On Anthony Gill:
“We told him, `Do what you do.’ He’s a terrific offensive rebounder and we want him to be aggressive. I thought he really had a nice game and was assertive. We needed his physicality. He embraces that.”

On what he says to the team to keep them grounded:
“We talk about playing at a high level. I told them that they’re unbeaten, and asked if they are willing to stay unbeaten. We know what it takes. They just have to be ready to rise up when we step on the floor at practice and during games. For everything else, they just need to stay level. We’re very thankful and humble for where we’re at, but we’re going to continue to contend for it.”

On Malcolm Brogdon:
“In the second half, he really got it going. I thought he got us going with his drives. He’s such a physical driver. It loosened up Clemson’s defense a bit. He was running the show and doing a good job.”

Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell

Opening statement:
“Congratulations to Tony and his guys. They played great in the second half. I thought we played well in the first half. We probably should have had the lead more often. We shot a good percentage and got the ball in good places. We got to the free throw line and I don’t think they got to the bonus, but we got to the bonus. We had too many turnovers and too many missed shots. We missed four open threes to start the second half. They locked in and did some better things defensively. Our second half performance was very poor. I was upset with a couple guys on our team who didn’t play the way they should have, so I didn’t play them as much. Virginia played well and they showed why they are so good. They are a very talented and well-coached team.”

On difficulty of scoring on Virginia:
“It was a combination of them and us. We are not a great scoring team. We have scored less against lesser defensive teams than Virginia. Obviously some of it is them, but I don’t think enough is made of their offense. Their offensive execution keeps them from getting in defensive transition, which is the easiest way to score in college. They don’t take many bad shots and they don’t turn the ball over a lot. You don’t get a chance to run and score before they get set-up. Certainly they are very good in the defensive half of the court, but they are exceptional at offensive execution, so they don’t turn the ball over to help you score.”

On Virginia’s Justin Anderson’s two 3-pointers at the end of the first half:
“Those were really tough. One especially was really tough. It was deep and a guy was on him and they both made a big difference. Sometimes the game is as a simple as a guy making a tough shot or a deep three that gets the crowd going. It makes everyone feel good. We made eight threes against Pitt, which we don’t do very often. It was why we won the game. It energizes your team defensively because you scored. When you don’t score it can be demoralizing for you, then you give in defensively and I think that’s what happened to us tonight.”

On Clemson’s offense:
“It’s been hard. Obviously we lost K.J. (McDaniels) and he is who we ran our offense through last year. We are just not equipped to lose a guy like that. It has made it harder for us. I think we have some good players, but we don’t have a go to guy to draw a foul, overpower someone, or make a tough shot that bails you out. Like Justin Anderson jumping up and making a 23-foot three with a guy on him, we don’t have that. Sometimes it’s just about players making big shots to start the run or get the crowd going at home. I thought we played really well against Virginia, and we’re still down six (in the first half). That speaks to how good Virginia is. We’re playing well. We got the ball to good places, but we didn’t make any shots. Part of that is why Virginia is so good.”

On the second half:
“Certainly some of it is their offense. They have good players who do good things. They screen and cut hard. We had a couple of baskets where I thought we just didn’t compete as hard as we needed to. Some of it is bad offense. Our offense in the second half wasn’t any good so then it gets away from you.”

Virginia Junior Guard Malcolm Brogdon

On Coach Bennett’s praise of the team’s high level of play in the second half:
“He said our second half was really good. But, you know the first half we were a little out of sorts offensively and we have to clean that up. We have to come out of the gate better.”

On the importance of Justin Anderson’s two three-pointers at the end of the first half:
“They were huge. Making shots going into halftime, taking momentum, and extending the lead are always huge for us going into the second half.”

On starting the second half on a 12-2 run:
“When we can make shots, when we can get stops, there aren’t many teams in the country that can compete at a high level for a full 40 minutes like we can. I thought that in the second half we played very well.”

On the differences between the team’s quality of play in the two halves:
“We screened harder and we moved harder on offense. We moved the ball really well and got a lot of open shots. I thought our bigs played very well defensively. They rebounded really well, not [allowing] any second chance points. I thought we cleaned everything up in the second half.”

Virginia Junior Guard Justin Anderson

On the game’s physical nature:
“Coach Bennett said they’re definitely going to come out and try to out-physical us. They’re a very physical team with (Landry) Nnoko in the bottom and then stretch you with (Jaron) Blossomgame. They like to pressure your big men, so it was definitely a game where we need to pack it in and help each other, and I think we did a great job of that.”

On the first game back from break:
“It was fun. It’s nice to be able to breathe easy about it. A lot of energy goes into getting back into the school rhythm, so for us to come out and take care of business was good for our team. Now we have to make sure that all we see is the next step, and that’s Boston College. They’re a tough team and we need to make sure we keep our eyes on the prize”

On Isaiah Wilkins and B.J. Stith:
“It was great to see those guys play well. BJ (Stith) has been shooting the ball great in practice lately and it was good to see him knock down a three-pointer. Isaiah (Wilkins) played great on defense, both at Notre Dame and tonight.”

Virginia Junior Forward Isaiah Wilkins

On his preparation for the game:
“I had a feeling that I was going to get at least some time this game, so I came in ready and prepared and focused to go out and do what I need to do. I know these guys have got my back.”

On his made three-pointer:
“I didn’t really know where I was. I just knew the shot clock was running down and I was excited.”

On this game’s effect on his confidence:
“It helps. My confidence has been pretty good lately. All the guys are telling me that it’s ok when I’m not playing, that my number’s going to be called, and they’re going to need me this year. It’s such a positive team that it’s easy to have self confidence.”

Clemson Junior Center Landry Nnoko

On the offensive struggles:
“At some point, you’ve got to stop the bleeding and score the ball. They made a tough run. They were stopping us and we didn’t compete as hard on the defensive end so it created a long drought, and we had to find a way to stop it.”

On getting the offense to run effectively:
“Our offense is fine. Our main problem is our defense because it’s our identity. We just have to find ways to figure out the defense. At times we show it and at times we don’t, so we just have to find ways to get it going.”

On Virginia making an offensive run in the second half:
“It was tough watching them shoot those wide open threes and layups. We didn’t compete in the second half. We just have to find a way. Hopefully next game we find a way to compete on the defensive end.”

On going home to play in front of the home crowd:
“We’re definitely excited to get home and compete against Syracuse on Saturday.”

On fixing team issues:
“We just had a long talk about it. We still just have to find a way to fix it and watch film, and we will be alright.”

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