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Feb. 8, 2018

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

Opening statement:
“Well, it was a tale of two halves. I thought Florida State was down the floor — statistically you see how many points they get in the paint, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds. They hit some tough pull-up threes, and they were getting in and splitting our defense. I didn’t think we did a great job. A lot of that was a credit to how aggressive [they were], the movement they had offensively and they played hard defensively.”

On Virginia’s second half adjustments:
“In the second half offensively, we got more aggressive off the bounce. We had to. They really overplay, so you have to use the dribble. Our bigs were clocking out, trying to open up the court. You needed to make some big shots and big plays and so we were aggressive there. We realize it’s a battle — the catches got a little easier as we moved a little harder. The pressure was really intense early — it was hard to even get catches, so we opened up the floor. And then defensively, we tried to get back even better. If we didn’t have a chance at an offensive rebound we said, `Let’s just make them play against a set defense, and do a better job of contesting their shots.’ They hurt us a couple times on that ball screen slip, but we felt like we needed to bounce the dribbler out just to keep him in front of us, and then try to rebound better. I thought we tightened the screws, and guys made some individual plays.”

On Florida State’s second-half, 9:01 drought from the field:
“Yeah, I didn’t know it was that long. Again, they probably missed some and I think we just realized, `We’re on the ropes, and we’d better get stops.’ We understand we have to be so good, and it was just one of those games where the game wasn’t out of reach, but you couldn’t exchange buckets with them. It was one of those where we needed to just get a stop. We always talk about scoring and stop, scoring and stop. Or at least quality shot, and they have to get a contested shot. I thought guys made some hustle plays, and we got some bounces. A couple big shots offensively infused us with energy and then it tightened up a little bit for them.”

On Florida State and Virginia’s mindset during the first half and beyond:
“At home, they’re good. And even on the road, they’ve been playing good basketball. And they have the depth and athleticism, and [Coach Hamilton] does a great job with that. So, we knew we were going to have to try to get it to our game, and you hope you can outlast them and that it would lighten up. But the way it was looking in the first half, it was coming in waves. And we had some breakdowns and that cost us. Once we got established in the second half, I could tell, `OK, it’s getting a little easier, we’re making some more plays.’ And you know, there’s so only much energy you have. And both teams — at least I can speak for us — we were riding those guys pretty hard so we were fatigued. But it was a gut check time.”

On being 12-0 in the ACC, and the challenge that this game presented them:
“I knew they were coming after us in this one. Just because of the spot we’re in, there’s a heightened sense of focus. But how they play, how they are playing, how they play at home and even on the road — I knew we were going to have to scrap and fight. I had a feeling it would be a challenge. Coach Soderberg’s got that little plaque that says, `Everyone’s got a plan until someone punches you in the mouth.’ I think that’s a Mike Tyson quote, actually. But we got punched in the mouth. And for a while, we were kind of lukewarm on how we responded. And in the second half, we responded. We got back to saying, `OK.’ And that leadership of Devon and how he played, and how guys made plays were the difference. Hard league to be successful in, and when you win on the road, that’s big.”

Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton

Opening statement:
“The first half I thought our kids put a tremendous amount of energy defensively. I thought we had an opportunity to be fairly disruptive, at least throw their rhythm off a little bit. That’s why we were able to get some deflections and get some easy baskets. We got some stops. They shot 34% the first half and we turned some of those into some of these opportunities for us. In the second half I thought they did a much better job with executing the offense. They were extremely patient. We had a tough time getting the stops to give us those easy opportunities to get the run out. I thought they made some very tough contested three’s. They were timely like good teams do. They’re exceptionally accurate. A couple of those 3’s caught our guys off-guard. They have such great range and they’re so accurate and they were confident in those shots that they took. In the second half, I thought we had it in the beginning of the game. But in the second half, I just didn’t think that we were quite as sharp. But we didn’t expect them to not come back and execute. You got to give them credit. I thought they played to themselves a little better than we played to ourselves. I thought that offensively, the second half, even though I thought we moved the ball, I don’t think we were quite as aggressive as we probably could have been in terms of getting to the foul line and getting to the basket. I thought they were extremely patient and they played to who they are. They moved the ball and had some contested three’s, they were a little bit more who they were. That’s why they’re one of the top teams in the country. We weren’t quite as sharp as them and you got to give them credit because they’re a very good basketball team.”

On Terrance Mann’s night:
“They crowd the lane. But more than anything else, we’ve had games where everybody had opportunities and I don’t think they did anything in particular that created any more of a problem other than they played their defensive schemes were a little better than our offensive schemes. And sometimes what happens is when other shots go in, it opens up the lane more for some of the other players who are driving. But they are a team that crowds the lane. They don’t give you a whole lot of opportunities. That’s why you have to move the ball, make the extra pass to break their shell down, and they did a much better job the second half and we didn’t do quite as good of a job we did executing on the offense.”

On getting the shots Florida State wanted to take:
“I thought we had higher percentage shots than they made. I thought they made more tough shots than some of the shots that we had today. We had almost uncontested jump shots, and we’ve been a pretty good jump shot shooting team, which normally opens up the middle so that we can have more opportunities to drive. I think that as we move forward, we’re just getting Koumadje back into the rhythm; Mfiondu gave us a few looks inside. We probably have to have a little bit better balance of inside and outside. I was pleased with Ike’s finishing side. I thought (Christ) Koumadje had some good opportunities and so did Mfiondu (Kabengele). And we haven’t had that; that’s probably something we need to add a little bit more of so we don’t rely so much on our perimeter.”

On Braian Angola’s night:
“They call it being a human being. They’re not machines and they’re not always going to be on every night. (Braian) Angola played great defense and gave tremendous effort. He had good looks. Maybe a couple of them were in desperation and the clock was running down on a couple of them. But he’s one of the better three-point shooters in the conference. He had one of those nights where his shots didn’t fall. Every player will have one of those nights. Sometimes, you have more than one or two, but it’s the nature of the game.”

On Mfiondu Kabengele’s maturity:
“He’s an inexperienced player who I thought made some really good hustle plays inside. He got two big rebounds and had a nice turnaround. Mfiondu’s future with Florida State is very bright, but he’s still learning and growing. I like his attitude; love his energy. He’s a talented guy who really has a lot of different skills for his size. He can shoot it. He’s still learning how to play and tonight was one of those nights where he wasn’t engaged. Bouncing him back between what we call our five position and our other four play four frontal players and normally play a center. It’s been a little challenging for him when Christ was out to be playing our foul position, our center position. And now that Christ is back, we got him moving back to the perimeter. And that’s been a little challenging for him, making that adjustment, sometimes defensively as well as offensively.”

On the decision to foul when leading by three points:
“I think that was a wise thing to do. A lot just depends on the circumstances. Sometimes if they have three-point shooters, that’s something that you really want to do. And we normally try to foul under five seconds if we have a three-point lead and the clock’s running down. It’s tough to get across court and hopefully get into shooting range, but if it’s under five seconds and we’re up three and the clock’s running down, we definitely try to foul. That’s normally what a lot of guys would do.”

On MJ Walker’s performance in the ACC:
“I think he’s doing fine. He’s an inexperienced freshman guy that sometimes have good games. They go through a learning process is what I’m saying. I’ve been very pleased with his effort. He’s learning and growing and I think he’s going to be a great player for us. His effort was good; he’s very confident; he’s a very good three-point shooter. But tonight, he got fouled and the free throws didn’t fall. Sometimes, that’s emotion. Sometimes, that’s inexperience.”

On shot selection towards end of game:
“They’re a pretty good defensive team; they’re number one field goal defensive team in the country. You got to give them a little credit. It’s not always what we don’t do; sometimes, you got to give teams credit for what they do. They’re a very good defensive team and I thought they did a very good job crowding the lane. We didn’t get the normal drives that we did. We got into the lane but we missed some free throws there that maybe would’ve made a little difference. But I can’t fault Ike’s effort. I just think we came up a little short against a team that’s very good. This team tonight was a little sharper; they were a little better than us tonight. I like our effort; I like the disappointment that the guys feel in the locker room. I’m hoping that that parlay’s itself into us being more energized when we have another opportunity. That’s one thing about the ACC: you can’t have a pity party; you have to learn from your shortcomings. I thought we put ourselves in a pretty good position against a good basketball team and came up short.”

On expectations for the next game:
“Normally, when we lose a game, we bounce back pretty good and respond in a very positive way and I expect them to do that in our next game. I expect them to understand where we are. We have six games left and we need to make sure we win our fair share of them. We don’t have a whole lot of more room for error as I look at it. We’ll put ourselves in a position to have some post-season opportunities at the end of the season. But when you look at the ACC race, you have a lot of people clumping to that same area. Where six or seven teams have lost five or six games, and somebody’s going to come out of that pack and we hope that it’s going to be us.”

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