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Warney on Cats: “They are going to be in the Final Four”

DES  MOINES — Stony Brook players Carson Puriefoy and Jameel Warney certainly were impressed with the way Kentucky played Thursday night.

“Once you get on the floor with them you can see how talented they are, great guards, athletic bigs,” Warney said. “They are going to be in the Final Four and they’re a great team and we tried our hardest.

“They’re a tremendous team. They came out with a great game plan and they shut our — they tried to shut our best players down and they made baskets and that’s what you have to do to win games at this level,” Puriefoy said.

Here’s more of what they had to say about Kentucky, which not plays Indiana at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

Q. For both players, you wanted to be here so bad. How would you describe your emotions of having been here and what this meant to you?
CARSON PURIEFOY: You know, it’s just a great experience. We finally, you know, we got to the tournament for the first time in school history, so no one can take that away from us. We wanted to come out here and have a better showing but we ran spew a really good team and they played extremely well and we didn’t play that well. So that’s what happened, but I’m still really thankful to be here and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

JAMEEL WARNEY: We’re all thankful to be here. Obviously, we didn’t have a great showing in this game, but you can’t take away from the season. This is going to hurt for probably a few days but at the end of the day you can reflect and show how far we came this season.

Q. Jameel, you guys had some success in the second half but in the first half it was a struggle. What was Kentucky doing to make things so difficult?
JAMEEL WARNEY: They were being Kentucky. They are a great defensive team. They were really athletic. They were huge on their 3 for 5. You can’t takeaway from their athleticism, and it’s a different level being face-to-face than just seeing them on TV.

Q. In the first 9 minutes it was still only 10-10 even though you were 3 for 17 shooting. Can you describe the frantic effort that you guys were putting in to keep it that close and how difficult was it to cope with that size?
CARSON PURIEFOY: I thought we played pretty good defense in those first few minutes. We were getting shots and rebounding well. But as the game wore on their athleticism kinda wore us down and they started to make shots, and we started to miss shots. And they started to get a lot of offensive rebounds and we can’t let a team like this get second chance points. They’re a No. 1 rated offense in the country. As the game wore on they got shots and they made them.

Q. Carson, you struggled with your shooting. What was it about their defense or your shot that wasn’t working tonight?
CARSON PURIEFOY: They’re really long and athletic and that probably bothered me a little bit, but I just think I had an off night, you know, it happens. Probably not the best situation for it to happen in, but it did. But credit to Kentucky, you know, they came out and they had a good game plan and they played me with bigger players and they got in my face, so all credit to them.

Q. You guys have played good teams this season. What do you think separates Kentucky from the other good teams you guys have played?
CARSON PURIEFOY: You know, they have tremendous guard play, high-scoring backcourt in the country as I’ve said a bunch of times, and their bigs are athletic. They have a great system, a great coach. They’re young, but, you know, they really know how to play the game and they really play well together, they play well as a team so I think they will go far in this tournament.

JAMEEL WARNEY: First of all, they have the best upside I’ve seen in my four years here. They get good every game. They were good this game and they’ll get better the next game. So they have a tremendous upside.

Q. Continuing on that theme you guys handled the size that Vanderbilt had. How did Kentucky use their size differently? Did it have to do with the fact that sometimes they ran those big guys out to the top of the key to guard?
JAMEEL WARNEY: Well, Kentucky had multiple bigs who can just run, jump and dunk, and it’s just — you have to respect their depth. They’re 10, 11 deep, and they wore us out.

CARSON PURIEFOY: I would say that Kentucky’s bigs are more athletic. You know, they switched on ball screens and they could cover me up at the top, which I don’t really see that often. So that’s credit to them and how athletic they are and how they play.

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