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Dec. 19, 2017

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On focus and effort of the team:
“We talked about really being alert and ready. You watch them, you can see that they can hit threes quickly. You have to be back in transition and quick to close outs. It was the idea of not just being ready but being good, we talked about that. We got off to a really solid, good start with 12-0 and Ty [Jerome] was making some shots. They usually play zone but we brought them out of their zone, when they went to man. We got some good opportunities for some of the other guys and again, good things happened.”

On the play of sophomore guard Ty Jerome:
“He is a neck-up player, as we say. He was sharp tonight. Obviously, he hit 3 of 3 from three and did a good job whenever he caught the ball in the middle of the zone. I thought he was sharp tonight. We always talk about finding an alternative scorer and it wasn’t needed as much, but early it was and he did a good job.”

On second-half play:
“We try to play a lot of guys and give guys looks and opportunities. The starters did a good job and sometimes when guys came in off the bench, we weren’t as sharp and we had some lapses there. But those are valuable playing minutes and opportunities for those guys to get experience and play through mistakes and work defensively against teams that are trying to shoot it quick and get down the floor. I thought our first unit started the second half well and whenever they were out there it was good, and it was good to get minutes for the other guys.”

On the bench playing more minutes than the starters:
“It was pretty balanced, everybody. Savannah State, they were in a ten-point game with nine minutes against Baylor. And a team that shoots like that, they were in a lot of games in the first half and usually there was separation. They are on quite a road trip and they have played quite a schedule, and I thought if we were fortunate enough in this game to play solid, absolutely then, can we get more minutes, more playing experience for the guys that haven’t gotten as much. I thought if we played well, I always think that. That’s why sometimes I’ll get frustrated if we have a bigger lead and then we have a lapse and can’t get those valuable playing experiences for those news guys or those guys coming off the bench.”

On readiness of the team nearing the end of non-conference play:
“I think so. I think we have a pretty good feel of who we are. We’ll start watching film on Hampton and getting a feel for them. But we obviously know how good the ACC is, that goes without saying, and I think you’ll continue to be in so many tough battles against high level competition and we just have to keep improving. I like the leadership, that has emerged as I thought it would with Isaiah and Devon and Jack, our captains. We talked about empowering them from day one and they have done a good job of continuing to try to find different guys at different times to step up and score. Those are some things that we’ve seen and hopefully we’ll continue to evolve and develop.”

Savannah State Head Coach Horace Broadnax

On today’s game:
“Coach Bennett does a tremendous job. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. Before the game, I said `how can a guy score 2,200 points as a player, be the NCAA record holder for percentage from the 3-point line, and be a defensive madman?’ His team plays well. They do not get out of spots and they don’t chase anybody. They always stay in position. It was a good lesson. I thought we could shoot the ball a little bit better. I know we put up a lot, but they were disrupting a lot of stuff we tried to do. I think our guys felt that psychologically. Great team; great coach. They don’t burn energy in unnecessary areas and that is why they are so efficient on both ends of the floor.”

On missing 3-9 of their first three-pointers:
“It’s tough against anybody to have that start. I tried to get our guys to be loose, but at the same time we need to burn energy. There’s a difference between the players we have and the players in the ACC. That shattered a little bit of confidence and self-esteem we had. It was kind of tough to come back from that.”

On the upcoming conference games:
“That is what we talked about in practice the other day. We didn’t want to feel sorry for ourselves from traveling from Texas A&M to Baylor to Virginia. We wanted to fight through and compete and try to get something positive out of it. We knew that they were going to be a good defensive team, staying in front of us, and not have too many defensive breakdowns. We wanted to try and fight through that. At the same time, we land tomorrow and have a couple of days off. We could probably make excuses, but at the same time, we have to move forward. Our guys played well, but they stayed in positions and created problems for us.”

On tough opponent schedule and traveling:
“It’s tough. I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve been through it. As a coach, you throw chairs and kick and scream, but you’ve got to get your guys and compete. If we can make shots against Wichita State, we shot 20 times more than them, but we didn’t make shots. Tonight, we were 0-9 at the start. If we can make the shots and feel good, it can bring some energy to the table. We have a small window to compete against these guys and if we don’t step through that early, it could get out of hand and they can control the game from there.”

On Ty Jerome:
“Our defense was basically giving him clean looks and that is why I got out of the 2-3 zone to get away from that. Coach Bennett teaches extremely well, he teaches efficiency. You give the guy who can shoot halfway decent a clean look, he is going to score. A lot of people understand that we sit back in our 2-3 zone and hope that they do shoot and miss and we can get it and run. A lot of teams will be aggressive to our 2-3 zone. They know that we are doing a shell as opposed to competing.”

Virginia Sophomore Guard Ty Jerome

On if this game builds confidence:
“I don’t want to say that because I do not think my confidence ever wavers. It is just a matter of being aggressive and making the right decisions, and the shots have got to fall.”

On what was said during the timeout in the second half:
“Just to stay ready. It does not matter if we are playing Savannah State or a top-five team in the country, or on the road or at home, it is just a matter of whenever you are on the court executing every play. That is the level of execution it takes to be good.”

On De’Andre Hunter‘s development and emergence:
“He is tremendous as an on-ball defender, right now. I think he showed that in the West Virginia game. He showed that in a bunch of bigger games, too. I think his offense is going to come because he is super talented. I know you guys maybe have not seen it yet, but the guys on our team have seen it in pickup. We have seen it in a lot of practices where he has outstanding offensive days. But that is going to come.”

On if it is a challenge to stay focused on Friday night’s game before the holiday break:
“No, not at all. This is the best time of the year. We are out of class. We are just playing basketball.”

Virginia Redshirt Junior Center Jack Salt

On if it is difficult to maintain focus during games that are lopsided:
“It can be, but we need to stay focused no matter what the situation. If we are up a few, we have got to stay locked in and we cannot lose that. I know in stretches we did lose that focus and we cannot let that happen.”

On if it is his job to bring the energy when there are lulls in the game:
“Yeah, for sure. That comes from the senior guys and the guys that control the ball a lot. We cannot let that slide, against any team, no matter the competition. Because when we go against tough competition we’re going to need to be focused the whole game.”

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