Video/Transcript: Tom Cream Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Missouri

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Video/Transcript: Tom Cream Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Missouri

On the lineup used during the second half run…

“We needed to change momentum. It wasn’t about positions as much then as it was about energy and toughness and movement. Anytime we have Jaxon [Etter] and K.D. [Johnson] in there, they bring an energy level and a competitiveness level that I think helps the guys. It was a makeshift lineup, not based on who’s guarding who, but who’s going to fight, compete, get on that glass, and in Jaxon’s case, the way he steps up and draws charges. Those are really, really important things. And so, we played basically played about eight guys in that span and were able to figure it out. After the timeout we took, I thought they regrouped, they changed, and then, we started to have some success against them.”

On gaining confidence against future deficits…

“We’ve come from behind before, but this is a really, really good team that’s ranked for a reason. I think to be able to come back like that—it wasn’t like they were sabotaging. They’re experienced, they’re playing hard. They weren’t self-inflicting their own wounds. They were really going, so we had to earn it. I think that was really, really important that we kept that pressure on them. They’re good, they’re really good. I know they’re missing [Jeremiah] Tilmon, but they’re even faster when he’s not in there. Cuonzo’s [Martin] a heck of a coach. I think the way we came back and got the momentum, the fact that we did it against such a good team, the fact that some guys were really on the attack, like Justin [Kier], K.D. [Johnson], Sahvir [Wheeler], Andrew [Garcia], those things can only hopefully help us because we’re fully aware of how good Florida is as we go in there on Saturday.”

On playing with desperation… 

“I use the term desperate. The term I heard a long time ago from Doug Collins, which I’ve used for so long is that you have to play blue collar desperate. We just say that we have to be tough. We had to be extremely aggressive against them. We had to be tough because they are, and the team that was the most committed to the hustle game was going to win, and that’s where the desperate comes in. It’s not desperate that we need a win. It’s desperate that we need to compete on a high level and a better level than what we have. If you do that, then you’re putting yourself in a position to win. That’s what was most important about that. I thought we had a lot of contributions, Jaxon [Etter] with nine. We had 16 deflections in the first half, which was not good. We had 46 for the game. K.D. [Johnson] gets 30 for the game. That’s 30 deflections more. That says a lot about our defense. We had eight three-stops in a row, and we had six three-scores in a row, and when you hit over seven in both of those, it’s tough to lose. We have, but it’s tough to lose because the whole key is that consistency. Once you get momentum back, can you stay consistent with it? I thought our guys did a good job of that.” 

On the poise shown by his team tonight… 

“Well, they were locked in. Again, the game Saturday, they just have to be reminded that we just won three in a row. We had just won 5-7. We came back against Tennessee. We didn’t play very well at the beginning. It was a 14-point game, and I reminded them of this in a timeout when it was 13. We missed a three that we shouldn’t have taken. We were in the bonus. We were in the bonus tonight at the 13:07 mark of the second half because we knew that was going to be a key part of the game, so let’s make sure we stay with that. It wasn’t about taking the jump shot. It wasn’t about making a move. It was about getting to the rim. We had just been in this position the other day. We missed two shots and had a turnover. They scored three straight times. That’s where the margin for error is not very high for us, so we needed to make sure that we were good and solid. If we were going to come back, we couldn’t be beating ourselves while we were coming back. We had to trust what was happening and get ourselves into that bonus. I think we may have been at two or three team fouls at that point. That’s the recipe for us because now we can set our defense, and it helps keep them out of transition.” 

On Justin Kier…

“Justin [Kier] was extremely locked in. I would say with P.J. [Horne] and Justin, we’ve put a little extra focus on them the last few days, at least I have. It’s basically reminders, reminding them what they are capable of, making sure he’s getting to the basket, playing assertively. P.J., trusting his shot, there’s always a few little technical things you need to remind guys of when they’re at their best, but sometimes it’s just to feed them the spirit they got to have and they know they’re capable and those guys. Justin and P.J., I have coached guys and I’ve coached teams that didn’t have guys on the team that really tried hard, they didn’t live and die with the losses. Those two kids overthink it, Andrew [Garcia] is the same way, they overwork, they really want to be good. Sometimes you’ve got to back that off too, and you’ve just got to get them back to square one on what’s most important for them. It starts with their spirit, it starts with their confidence, building that confidence back up. Not because I say it, but because I continue to remind them what they’ve done and what they’re capable of, and then we continue to help them work to get there.”

On getting into the bonus and being able to come back…

“Obviously it does, because you’re not only putting them in foul trouble, you’re not only getting two points potentially right there, you’re able to set your defense. They have to go against five guys and that’s so important. Especially for a team that runs in transition like they do. Our guys did a better job, we made better adjustments, we guarded Kobe Brown better in the second half in the post. We got away from our game plan a little bit, but we got that back. I think the adjustments that the guys made getting back to getting back to what was most important on the defensive end with the pressure, with the fronting of the post, better job at challenging the shots and that created some runouts for us and attacking the rim got us to the foul line.”

On game comeback by execution…

“I would say yeah, execution is always going to be a part of it no question about it—every game is different. We were giving them a lot of live ball turnovers which is huge. Execution is obviously a big part of it, putting multiple stops together is a big part of that, being active defensively. This past Saturday we were as active as we needed to be, we weren’t as active in the first half against Tennessee but we picked it up. We don’t have any choice but to be that way, because that is the way the game has got to be played, and that is when we are at our best.”

On what being “blue collar desperate” means to him…  

“It’s getting on the floor, it’s drawing charges, it’s winning 50-50’s, it’s attacking the rim, it’s not looking for a foul call, it’s not worrying or whining when something doesn’t go your way. You are locked in. I mean, blue collar people, if they are having a bad day, no one cares. That is what it is in basketball, they have to show up and go to work. They have got to show up and go to work to feed their families, they don’t get to have bad days. Well, you know what, that is where we are at in college basketball right now too. None of this is promised to us. Let alone, being in a program like this, we can never take it for granted, but more than ever you can never take a day for granted in a COVID[-19] year like this, with as many games getting cancelled left and right. Tomorrow is not promised, so you have got to do the very best you can do inside of that day. If they are going to be successful in life, it is not because they were passive and laid back. It is going to be because they put their hard hat on, so to speak, and they played harder and were really committed to playing with one another. That is what—you can’t have just a couple of guys, that are blue collar couple of guys, that are really locked in, you have to have a team full. I think our guys, especially in the second half, did a much better job at that.” 

On Jeremiah Tilmon’s absence… 

“I shouldn’t have said quick, just faster getting up the floor. I shouldn’t have said quick because he can really play. Maybe, yeah it is hypothetical. He wasn’t here, so we will never know. We just had to be aggressive and that is the most important thing. They are a really good team and hopefully he comes back for them the way that he is capable of and has the senior year that he is fully capable of having. I am a big fan of what Missouri does, I love the way they play. That is why it is extra special to have a win like that because you know you have to earn it. They are not going to give you the game, you have to truly earn it. I am proud of how they did that, our guys.” 

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