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Nov. 25, 2008

Recap | Final Stats

South Carolina Head Coach Darrin Horn
Opening statement…
We knew coming into the game that this would be our stiffest test so far. This is a team that is difficult to play against because of how they play. They shoot the basketball well. They’re really good at what they do. We knew that coming in. I think the difference was over a 40-minute period, our effort, though not great all the way through. We just kept trying to find a way to grind it out to get the game the way we wanted it on a team level against a team that shoots the ball as well as they do; to 31% is a positive that we can take away from this game. I think the other good thing that you take away from this game is that we had so many different people contribute in key ways. Austin Steed came off the bench and grabbed 11 rebounds for us. Branden Conrad was terrific for us tonight. He played within himself. He took the right shots and knocked them down. I thought Robert Wilder changed the atmosphere of the game. He made a couple of hustle plays coming off the bench. Here’s a guy who’s stat line is empty except for one foul, one turnover, and one steal and I think he impacted the game. Those are positives that we want to keep seeing. A lot of guys gave us that; we just need to keep getting better and working.

On the overall play of the team…
I think it was our best job of just keep trying to play. Maybe not our best play, but just continuing to try to grind it out and play the way we want to play, trust our system, and let it work to our advantage over a 40 minute period. On that standpoint, I think it was maybe our best game. I think for the most part we did a better job, especially in the second half, of understanding when we needed to take shots and what kind. We had a couple of careless turnovers that we need to work on, but for the most part we saw some growth.

On the play of Devan Downey
I think Devan Downey did what All-SEC players do when his team needs it. More importantly, he was better defensively in the second half because he wasn’t very good in the first half. One of the things that you have to love about Devan Downey is that he is a warrior. He always responds and I thought he responded well to us challenging him to be good defensively. We know what he can do on the offensive end in the second half. He’s done it time and time again. I thought he ran our team very well. I thought the shots he took were the right kind of shots and didn’t force shots. He was outstanding in the second half, but you need your All-SEC players to be that way.

Senior Guard Zam Frederick
On Gardner-Webb trying to get them to play zone…
They tried to play zone because they figured they could slow us down. Man or zone, we are going to run the same offense but just attack it in a different way. But they did try to take us out of what we do, but the quote or goal of the year is just to `Do what we do.’ But we did force them too. We forced the tempo, made them speed up a little bit and forced some turnovers which helped us get a little cushion.

Junior Point Guard Devan Downey
On Gardner Webb as a wake up call…
We can’t worry about that, but I told my team all week to be prepared. I saw the Oklahoma game and the Virginia Tech game, and I have been telling my teammates all week to not let the name on the front of the jersey fool you, these guys are for real.

On his and the team’s play…
I feel like whatever my team needs that is what I am going to do. Whenever I feel that my team needs me to step up, then that is what I am going to do, but you know that it all starts on the defensive end. We really started picking up our defense in the second half and that led to open looks. The offense will come from our defense.

Sophomore Forward Mike Holmes
On whether this was the toughest game so far…
Yeah, I think so. They really came after us tonight. We just really had to respond to what they gave us. One thing we really need to work on is our defense, but I think it will get better as the season goes along.

On what changed in the second half to out-rebound Gardner Webb…
We just had to adjust to what they were doing. One thing that they do real well is block out for rebounds. Austin Steed came off the bench and gave us 11 boards, and that was huge.