Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, P.J. Horne and Andrew Garcia Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Kentucky

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, P.J. Horne and Andrew Garcia Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Kentucky

On the winning inbound play… 

“We knew what we were looking for in the action, but we also knew we had time outs. That’s the greatest thing as a coach, for me, it’s taking timeouts home. You want to make sure that you have enough timeouts, so if you get in a situation like that you can use it if you don’t get what you want. He didn’t like the look. It wasn’t open, so he called the timeout, and we switched plays. Sahvir [Wheeler] did a great job first calling that timeout and second with the pass. Justin [Kier] did a great job with the screen and certainly P.J. [Horne] with the finish. For Sahvir [Wheeler] to have that presence of mind, and I never hesitated for a second having him take the ball out of bounds because he’s so smart, and he’s savvy, and I knew he would make the right play. 

On Georgia getting a statement win… 

“You know, I don’t know. It’s a great win against a great program. It hadn’t been done, and I didn’t realize until I said this on the radio, Mike Griffith told me that Kentucky had won 14 straight, and I wasn’t aware of that. I’m glad that we were able to break that. We needed the win. Our guys needed a win like this against a great opponent, and we needed to get on a one game winning streak again, which is easier said than done. To have that mentality is really important, so I’m proud of how the executed, how they persevered. We believed that we were going to win. I think that’s what’s so important. It’s not them believing me because I don’t have any trouble believing, but it’s them believing each other, and I think that’s what we had tonight, and that’s what we had against Ole Miss. That’s really helped us, and that’s a part of our growth process.” 

On decision to give the ball the P.J. Horne at the end… 

“We got the guy we wanted. That’s who I wanted to hit, and there was a second option to it, but that’s the guy we wanted. That’s what we wanted on the first one, and Justin Kier was involved in the screening in both cases. We wanted to have a little big, I don’t mean little but a guard, bigger screen. We didn’t want to screen like. It’s too easy to switch, and we went with our seniors to put themselves in position to execute the action, and both plays we’ve never run in a game. I’m very proud of the way that they responded inside the timeout and executed it. The second one, we had only run-in practice a long time ago, but I trust them on that. We came out of timeouts against Ole Miss and executed actions that we hadn’t gone over at all, that we just drew up in timeouts. Sometimes this team can run something and not run it correct that we’ve run for two months, and sometimes we can put something in inside of a minute, and they can execute it in no time. It’s youth. I’m very proud of how they locked in, they executed, and, again, everyone did their job in the end.” 

On persevering through… 

“I think it’s great. When you beat Kentucky, and it hasn’t been done in a while, it’s a benchmark. There’s no doubt about it. They’re as premiere of a program as there is in the country. I have great respect for John [Calipari]. I have great respect for their program. They’re a household name for a reason because they have tradition. I thought our players did a really good job of not being consumed by that. They weren’t playing the tradition. They weren’t playing the mystique. They weren’t playing the jersey. They were playing five-on-five against Kentucky’s players, and they executed. I think one of the biggest things was how we defended the three, for them to go 1-13 inside the game knowing that Dontaie Allen was 15-30 coming into the game in the league, and really [Davion] Mintz and [Devin] Askew a little bit, but Allen for sure with the three-point shooting was a really a key and a big thing for us. Keion Brooks hadn’t taken a three or made a three this year until tonight, but I think those are kind of the things that I’m prouder of tonight, not just beating Kentucky, but the way we beat Kentucky. It is the perseverance. It’s the defense. It’s getting 37 deflections, getting 10 steals, Justin [Kier] getting five of them. It’s persevering when it could have gone the other way and those guys believing in each other. That’s what we had to have.” 

On how the team has grown…

“Well, that was the only time I was uptight in the situation [the two technical fouls]. We were self-inflicting. That cannot happen. If you are going to lose, then let’s get beat. Let’s not lose the game because we made mistakes that we could have corrected. But, we are able to correct them. I thought the hardest part was when we were up nine and they called a time out and we came out and did not execute. It allowed them back in. We did not defend with the same intensity and we did not come in and execute. That is the part, and I said this to the team after the game, that is the part we need to grow up in a hurry. That is more concerning to me than the flagrant foul, which could have gone… I haven’t seen it I will reserve judgment on that. The technical he should not have done. He should not have talked. You hope that it will be called both ways in that. But, he should not have done it, he is too old for that. He does not need to do that. You’re a good player you do not need to tell anybody. That is how I feel about those types of situations. But, I am way more concerned with the fact that we let that lead go at nine when we should have stepped on the gas. That is what we need to learn how to do. It is still a young season in so many respects that, but we must figure that out. What we were doing was working, and now there is no need to stop or let the ball stick, or settle, or to not keep the ball moving. You can’t beat them if you let them stay in their standard defense and let the bigs control the paint. You can’t beat them; it is hard for us to beat anyone like that. That is why we have to keep moving the defense constantly so we can loosen up the rim.”

On not turning the ball over…

“I think that is a major key to the game. To be 25-11 on points on turnovers was huge. We turned them over and some were unforced and some we forced. The guys were tough and strong on the ball. I think that and the three-point defense, and the fact that the rebounding was within one—with as good of rebounding team as they are, those were the stories of the game. The end of the game is the result. The drama. Those were the guts of the game, the way the turnovers worked out, the way the rebounding worked out, and the way the three-point defense worked out were the keys.”

On how emotional this win was…

“Well, my wife is not here so we are having a hard week. My wife had an accident a week ago Tuesday, so she is not able to come to games right now. My girls were there and like I said, it was like old times. It really was like old times. They have been a part of some great wins with us and certainly when we played Kentucky. So, I am proud of them because they are home, one is 15 and one is 25 and they are doing an unbelievable job. My son, Riley, who is here with us in the program at 21 is doing a really good job. They are all doing a really good job of living their life but making up for the fact that their mother is out of commission a bit. That is all was. I just saw them there and shared that moment with them. The fans and the students were just fantastic. The energy of the crowd was tremendous. The music was great. I thought the energy was great. Really good job of that.”

On if the team is growing up…

“We are a really dynamic team, and we really haven’t worked on the break all week. We still got out on the break. We still have not really emphasized it. It has been more about what we have to do. Transition defense talk defense, taking challenging shots and blocking. We have not spent more time on anything than we have on rebounding the past few weeks. We work on rebounding every day. The emphasis was that if you allow them lobs and weakside boards because of the way they crash, the way John [Calipari] gets them to go to the glass we would not win the game. So, there are so many games within the game. You have to be able to control it the best that you can. That is a grind. You have to be willing to put your body on the line, all five guys, no matter what. Every time that shot goes up if they don’t give it they’re all they know if they don’t, they know you’ll get cracked by them. The game is always giving you something and you have to figure it out. What we have to stop doing is stop thinking that it is giving us something that it is not. That is my job. Keep looking for what the game is giving us. We have to come out there and execute. That is just where we have to improve. Sometimes it’s a grinder but, you know what? It is a thing of beauty when you get some execution on things that your work hard at. With the three-point defense, rebounding, they really earned it.”

On fan engagement…

“Absolutely, absolutely. We have set records for two years, right, and it is hard to imagine, but here we are, and we have eighteen-percent crowd, and we become accustomed in the last two years to play in front of these great crowds, well, not everyone can get here right now. So, we just need to continue to get people to make up for that and I thought they did a fantastic job of that. But, I thought the entire game operation, game management was fantastic and I am really, really proud of that.” 

On player experience… 

“Their experience is big; they need to feel like they belong in these games. Part of the mental battle with players a lot of times right now is getting them to believe that they do belong in these games because they will let their confidence weigh in so quick. But in the case of P.J. [Horne], Andrew [Garcia], and Justin [Kier], they don’t. I think it is they are finding themselves in these situations. You go against the SEC—you are going against household name teams every night. Well, Kentucky is as big as it gets in that sense. So, for them to come out and execute, but I did not think any of them had any—they were playing against the Kentucky players; they weren’t going against their tradition. I have had players that play against that tradition, and they play against that jersey, and they get distracted rather than lining up against the man they are going against. I thought our guys did a really good job at that and those three were phenomenal with it.” 

On P.J. Horne… 

“P.J. [Horne] is very poised, P.J. is just a grown man. He is well raised, great high school coach, and coached very well at Virginia Tech by Buzz Williams and Mike Young, no doubt about that, I mean no doubt about that. But, he is also a young professional. He is a young man that carries himself really well. He is quiet, but he is happy. You never see moodiness, you don’t see sullen, you don’t see aloof. I never walk in and say, ‘What’s bothering P.J.?’ Every once in a while, his knees may be bothering him or his body is hurting a little bit, but we have done a lot to help him change. He needed to make some real strides body wise and strength wise when he got here. There were certain parts of his body that as they continue to get stronger, he is going to get better. Bottom line, we have asked a lot of him since he got here. But, I had no doubt we were looking to run the action for him at the end of the game. I think a lot of it is the poise and he would be locked in and concentrated on it.”

On the inbound play and the importance of the victory…  

“It was big. I knew I had about 3.6 seconds left on the clock, so I knew I had time to figure something out to get the ball in the basket. I know it’s a big win, and we need to continue on with Florida coming up—we have to be able to prepare for that one and get ready to battle again.”

On how it feels to be a part of snapping the 14-game losing streak to Kentucky… 

“It feels great. It feels amazing to be able to beat a team like Kentucky, who obviously is a good team coached by a great coach. We came to battle, and we came to fight. We had to believe, and I believe in my teammates on my side, who were telling me the whole time, ‘We’re going to win this game; we’re going to win this game’. So, I just went on and played to my best ability.” 

On what the first inbound play was supposed to be and how it changed in the huddle… 

“The first inbound play, we had never run before. We ran it maybe one time in practice, but we never really covered it, and it was a more complicated play rather than something we can get on the fly. I feel like it was a good job by Sahvir [Wheeler] to call a timeout to regroup and not force anything that wasn’t there.” 

On where that shot ranks in his basketball career… 

“I can’t say. I feel like it’s a top-five, even a top-three maybe. I know it’s a great experience to hit a game-winner, and that was my first in collegiate basketball, so it definitely ranks up there.” 

On the extended length of time in between the first inbound attempt and the second one… 

“I feel like that it helped us. One thing that we did in the huddle was that all we thought about was executing the play with whatever Coach [Crean] drew up. We needed to execute it to the best of our ability and try to get the win. We never thought negatively about anything, we just knew that we had to win this game, somehow. So, we went with what Coach had, and he drew up a great play.” 

On what else would be in the top three moments of his collegiate career… 

“I don’t know… It’s kind of a toss-up between my freshman year when we beat Duke in the last regular-season game to go to the tournament at home, and then, the next year actually, we ended up beating them again at home.” 

On the scene in the locker room after the game… 

“It was a great atmosphere. Obviously, I got jumped on, but it was a great feeling. All my teammates were hype in there, celebrating the win. It was such an intense win, very intense.” 

On if the play was designed for him and his thoughts… 

“There were options. When he drew it up on the board, there were different options for someone to get the ball and score. Sahvir [Wheeler] just threw it to me, and I knew that I had three point something seconds on the clock, so I ended up trying to find a way to get the ball in the basket.” 

On if the last play was heavily practiced or brand new… 

“Coach drew that up in the last few seconds. It was a write-in play, but it was an easily executed play. Of course, it wasn’t easy getting the play done, but as far as us knowing where and when to go, the timing part was easier.” 

On if he was aware of the 14-game losing streak before the game… 

“Yes, I was hearing my teammates talk about it, the veteran guys like Tye Fagan and Toumai [Camara]. Tye Fagan told me that he hadn’t beaten them since he’d been here, and I said ‘Wow’, I was shocked. I know my team; I know that they are a very good team, and I feel like it was a great accomplishment. Now, we just have to keep stepping and stepping.” 

On the rough start to SEC play and the upside of this team… 

“I would just say that we need to continue to grow and continue to push through mentally more than physically. Physically, we can all go out there and play. But as far as mentally, we have to be able to believe that we can win the game. No matter if we’re down five or 10 or 15, we have to always believe that we can win the game. I feel like a lot of times we get down and have to pick each other back up, and I know that over time we will get better with that. We just have got to keep fighting and pushing trying to get that figured out.”

On the inbound play and the importance of the victory…  

“It was big. I knew I had about 3.6 seconds left on the clock, so I knew I had time to figure something out to get the ball in the basket. I know it’s a big win, and we need to continue on with Florida coming up—we have to be able to prepare for that one and get ready to battle again.”

On getting off to a rough start in SEC play and what he sees as the upside for the team…

“We are a young team. Everybody is emotional, and everybody wants to fight and wants to win. I feel like a lot of times we get in our heads and kind of get dismantled. I feel like what we learned across those games is we are a family. Off the court we are always together. Going to each other’s houses and stuff like that. It was about translating it to the game and keeping our positivity no matter what happens. If it is a turnover then we pick each other up and say, ‘Alright bro, next play.’ I am proud of our team and I am proud of our coaches. They have done a phenomenal job as whole unit. I feel like the way we are pushing is in the right direction.” 

On the team respect for P.J. Horne… 

“It is awesome. Everybody has the upmost respect for P[J Horne]. We look at him as the uncle. The man that plays at his pace, that knows the game so well, that doesn’t get sped up and gets it done. Every time we need a three, he is open and not afraid to pull it, and that’s what we want him to do. I am not surprised that he was able to make that, and it feels good that one of our veterans could do that for us.” 

On his productivity and the height of Kentucky… 

“Coach Cream and Coach McClain and the rest of the coaches were always harping on, ‘You got to be low.’ The last couple days they were preparing, they were drilling us ‘stay low.’ We knew [Olivier] Sarr is an incredible player, he’s tall, he’s big, he can shoot, he can move. We wanted to beat him to the spot. We wanted to make sure as a unit we call out as we get to the post, ‘Fire, fire.’ That kind of helped me. I am relentless. So, any way I can, I just try to fight down there. And, shout out to the coaches for helping us prepare. Because taking that post away helped us a lot.” 

On coming to UGA from Stony Brook and what this game means… 

“It is a great experience. I never look at it for myself. I always look at it as I love to win. This was such a collective win from all of us on the team. Like the way Mikal Starks came in and guarded the ball and got that steal—that is important and everybody recognizes that 100- percent, and the fact that we can all have a part; it just makes it more memorable and more exciting for everybody. Because it wasn’t just one person, it was the whole team that got us this win.” 

On the flagrant on Tye Fagan and his technical… 

“I would say throughout the game it was very intense. Everybody played at this high level, we wanted it. Looking at Ty Fagan’s call. They said that he probably held him [Kentucky player] a little bit too long and he obviously fell. Then with me, obviously within the game, you get at it a little bit. So that was my bad on my part, and something I need to take care of and be a leader and not do something like that because that could have been the game. Within the games like this we have to keep our composure and stay as a team.” 

On ranking this among the most exciting games of his career… 

“Oh, yeah this is definitely one of the most exciting games. Back at Stony Brook, we beat some high-major teams. I think my junior year we beat South Carolina, and we even came down 20 point to George Washington to come back and win the game. These games are always exciting to be a part of because as a collective, fighting unit, no matter what we are going to win. No matter what the score is, no matter what the odds are, and to prove something, uplifts out team. One game at a time—this is what we have to do.  

On what the team’s message was in the second half and what inspired the rally… 

“So, when we came to that timeout, Coach Crean stopped everything and told us to take three breaths. I thought that, as cliché as it sounds, I thought that really helped us. We were excited, everybody was pumped. We kind of get out of ourselves for a second. We got a little regroup. It was a little reminder that we got here playing as a team. That is how we are going to win—playing as a team. We took those three deep breaths and just got right back into it to fight.” 

On what makes P.J. Horne the “uncle” of the team… 

“Day in and day out, P[J Horne] brings the positivity. I have never seen him down, I have never seen P not bring somebody up, not bring the energy. Fighting through pain, fighting through anything he is feeling, and that shows a lot, like that shows you are indispensable. That shows we can look at him at any point in the game—whether it is in the game or in practice—to do his job. It’s almost like second nature for us to be like, ‘Yeah, P for the three.’ So it’s like, we love that guy and we are lucky to have him, for real.” 

“Oh, yeah this is definitely one of the most exciting games. Back at Stony Brook, we beat some high-major teams. I think my junior year we beat South Carolina, and we even came down 20 point to George Washington to come back and win the game. These games are always exciting to be a part of because as a collective, fighting unit, no matter what we are going to win. No matter what the score is, no matter what the odds are, and to prove something, uplifts out team. One game at a time—this is what we have to do.  

On what the team’s message was in the second half and what inspired the rally… 

“So, when we came to that timeout, Coach Crean stopped everything and told us to take three breaths. I thought that, as cliché as it sounds, I thought that really helped us. We were excited, everybody was pumped. We kind of get out of ourselves for a second. We got a little regroup. It was a little reminder that we got here playing as a team. That is how we are going to win—playing as a team. We took those three deep breaths and just got right back into it to fight.” 

On what makes P.J. Horne the “uncle” of the team… 

“Day in and day out, P[J Horne] brings the positivity. I have never seen him down, I have never seen P not bring somebody up, not bring the energy. Fighting through pain, fighting through anything he is feeling, and that shows a lot, like that shows you are indispensable. That shows we can look at him at any point in the game—whether it is in the game or in practice—to do his job. It’s almost like second nature for us to be like, ‘Yeah, P for the three.’ So it’s like, we love that guy and we are lucky to have him, for real.” 

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