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TRANSCRIPT | Everything Coach Yo Said After Ole Miss’ Thrilling OT Win over State: ‘That is Ole Miss women’s basketball…the grit, the toughness, the resiliency, the belief’

TRANSCRIPT | Everything Coach Yo Said After Ole Miss’ Thrilling OT Win over State: ‘That is Ole Miss women’s basketball…the grit, the toughness, the resiliency, the belief’

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss women’s basketball defeated Mississippi State 75-71 in a thrilling overtime game in the SJB Pavilion Sunday night. (Click here for the gamer.)

Facing an eight point deficit with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Rebels forced overtime for the second game in a row to defeat the Bulldogs. Ole Miss has now won in overtime in back-to-back games for the first time in program history.

After the game, head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin spoke about the win, the adversity her team has overcome, and what it means to play Ole Miss women’s basketball.

Coach Yo’s Opening Statement: 

That is Ole Miss women’s basketball. That what you saw is Ole Miss women’s basketball. The last two games — not being down 16 (against Florida), not being down eight — but the grit, the toughness, the resiliency, the belief.

“Mississippi State is a really, really good team. They have a first round draft pick, in my opinion, in Jessika Carter. They have players that have scored over 2000 points. I think they got like five of them. We were down a starter in Snudda Collins. She got hurt yesterday in practice and she wanted to play, but I told her if I didn’t feel like I needed her, we wouldn’t play her. And we just fought through. We had a freshman that played point for us and we have been grooming her the whole season. It goes back to even that Louisville game, the games in the Bahamas, just putting her in, giving her some some opportunities and she’s just fearless.

“And so what you saw last game (against Florida) and this game is Ole Miss women’s basketball. That’s what it should look like. That’s what it should sound like. That’s what it should feel like.

“And then lastly, I just want to really thank our fans for coming out and supporting us. I will never forget my first two years here when we would play at home. Mississippi State’s (former head coach) Vic Schaefer had six buses pull up to the Pavilion and they would do their chant. And I always promised to myself that, at some point, I don’t ever want to hear that chant in our Pavilion. And you didn’t hear it today. You didn’t hear it today. And so that’s a testament of me calling people up, them supporting our program, coming on and loving on our girls, which they deserve. They deserve it. And so this was a big win for us. We want to be in the top four of the SEC to get the double bye. And hopefully it’s a confidence booster because Mississippi State is a very good team. I have a lot of respect for their players.”

Question: Coach, how does this set you up going into this last four-game stretch that’s going to ultimately determine where you’re seeding is?

Coach Yo: “We can’t get too high or too low. Because that Georgia team we’re getting ready to play had South Carolina on the ropes. And their coach is pretty tough too. So, I imagine she will have them ready to go. And as you can see, we were in a dogfight with Florida who we played twice, a dogfight with Mississippi State, who we played twice, and they’re the next team that we’ve played twice. So I’m hoping that South Carolina wore them out because when you play at South Carolina, it takes a lot out of you. But, we’ve got to stay steady and just focus and take every game, one game at a time.”

Question: Coach, is that grit that you spoke about, that Madi (Scott) spoke about, is that sustainable heading into March?

Coach Yo: “Yeah. Because it’s not something they’re putting on, it’s who we are. We have really been grooming them to be tough. Our practices, we’re going right now 90 minutes. But it tough. They’re on, I mean knee pads on. We don’t walk through anything. So, we’re getting ourselves prepared to make a strong showing because we don’t want any doubt in anybody’s mind that we are a tournament worthy team and worthy of a legitimate seed, so that we could compete and not have to meet the number one team in the second round.”

Question: We asked Madi and Kennedy (Todd-Williams) the same question. But are y’all playing your best basketball like you want to be playing this time of the year?

Coach Yo: “No, but we’re playing well. What was it two games ago, one of our starters went out and it was like we couldn’t function. Today, one of our starters is out and we just kept on moving as if it was nothing. And that’s the growth, you know? And so are we playing our best? No, because we gave up 20 points one quarter. So that drove me nuts. But are we building the momentum that a coach wants to see in February? Absolutely.”

Question: Madi is a four-year player here. She’s had two huge games in a row, especially at the end of those games. What has it been like to see her blossom?

Coach Yo: “It’s been a proud moment for me. You know, yesterday she was in practice. Madi is our most unselfish player. So yesterday in practice she wants to, like, create passes for everybody. And I just finally stopped practice and I said, Madi, I promise you, there is not an assist award out there that you can get. Like there’s not an assist award. There is a double-double opportunity. And I hate she didn’t get, you know, ten but we want…Madi when she’s in her spots, she’s unstoppable. But she always wants to make everybody feel good and get them involved. It’s the point guard in her. But it’s been great to see her step up. My team’s gassed. We just played two overtime games, one on the road. So it’s not like we were home. We didn’t get back until like 11, almost midnight, like we’re pooped, you know? So it just shows her toughness and resilience.”

Question: Kind of the same question I asked Madi and be where you are, talk about that fourth seed and still have everything in front of you with what this roster is experienced, what does it say about them?

Coach Yo: “Here’s the thing. People don’t talk about it and I’m not going to bring it up. But since you brought it up I’ll bring it up. We’re missing our starting PG, you know, and then not only that, then we were missing our starting wing that knows the rivalry better than anybody else. Snudda (Collins) from Brookhaven.

“So, I’m proud of this group because they could find every excuse to quit. And yes, we have, here and there, but like I told you all, it’s par for the course, and I’m just proud of my staff as well. Because I’ve been calling everybody up. You know, I look at myself in the mirror, I challenge myself. Y ‘all, in the past 72 hours, I could probably count on two hands how many hours of sleep I got. We are burning the candle right now. And so everybody is working. Everybody is all-in. They believe in.  They’re locked in and they’re bought in to what we’re trying to do.”

Question: What was it about your defense that kind of stuck out to you in those final few minutes that allowed you to to get that comeback and ultimately clinch the win?

Coach Yo: “I think it was just the connectivity, We we just came back from (down) 16. So (down) eight in our mind is nothing. And I just reminded them, I looked up and I remember it was four minutes and 58 seconds left and I said, ‘Guys like, we have more than enough time.’ But we started pressing and started shooting threes, as if we needed….I said, ‘We don’t need a three to win this game. It’s a two-possession, at most three-possession game with five minutes left. Let’s just get stops and be who we are, a transition team.’ And so we were able to do that and that’s what worked for us.

Question: You mentioned Jessika Carter being a first round level talent. She fouls out there… How much did you feel like things changed for State what they were doing offensively with her out of the game.

Coach Yo: “I looked up to the Heavens and I said, ‘Lord. Thank you.’ And that is why I pay my tithes every month. Because at some point, I need the Big Fella to throw me a bone. And when she fouled out tonight, I was elated because she’s unstoppable. She’s in shape. She looks great. She she’s a first round draft pick. And kudos to our players. Really, Rita Igbokwe really took it at Jess and put her in that situation to get those fouls. But she is a pro. I looked up to the big guy. He looked out. It was destined for us to win this game.”

Question: Coach, you’re probably unlike any other NCAA coach. You have fan support here that you call the fans up before and they showed up today. You’ve got a whole country behind you in the Bahamas. Does that add any pressure to what you’re doing here at Ole Miss?

Coach Yo: “No, because I think a lot of people forget that I’m not from here. I’m not from America. So, I was born in the Bahamas and raised in the Bahamas. And Bahamians, we are prideful people. We’re colorful, we’re jovial, we’re honest, we’re outspoken, and we make no apologies for that. And so sometimes it comes off as, ‘Oh, Yo’s brash’ or ‘how could she say that?’ But we’re also loving people. And so like when I speak, sometimes I forget that I’m a Power Five coach at Ole Miss. I don’t know how to be a Power Five coach at Ole Miss — I only know how to be me. And you know who I am? I am a loving person. I coach with and everything I do is with passion.

“I love hard when I join a community, I’m a part of this community. So, yeah, I call them out and I’ve called my Bahamian people out too, because as the way I look at it is, I’m a part of it. So why can’t I speak on what I believe I’m a part of, you know? So I make no apologies for that. That’s just who I am. And I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but I can tell you this. I get more love than I get hate. And I’m not changing because it’s pure, and this is me.”

Question: Coach, you’ve talked a lot about— since KK (Deans) went down— kind of accepting who you are and playing Ole Miss women’s basketball. Is that version of Ole Miss women’s basketball good enough after these last two games to accomplish the goals you had preseason in your opinion?

Coach Yo: Yeah, that’s a great question. I do think it is. And if I’m being honest, I did not think it would be enough. When K.K. went down, I was probably, for two weeks, I don’t want to use the word ‘depressed,’ but I was very down, you know, because like, depression is real and I really wasn’t depressed, but I was sad and I felt sorry for myself for about two weeks. Because when you have a plan and you feel like you have everything you need, and some something like that happens it’s a jolt. And there was a space where I felt like everything it was over for us. But this team never felt that way.

“And then I had to get back to being tough and resilient and not being a victim and just trying to figure it out. So boom, we put Madi at the point and then I’m like, ‘I like this.’ And I fell in love with that for maybe three games. And then people started to figure it out. I’m like, ‘yeah, let me move Madi from the point.’ So then Toddy (Kennedy Todd-Williams), I put her at the point.

“And then when I found out this morning….I didn’t find out that Snudda wasn’t playing until this morning at about 10:00, I was like, ‘Zakiya (Stephenson), I’m going with you.’ Because I feel like Mississippi State is a great defensive team and it didn’t hurt us to have another ball handler. And she is that, and on the offensive end, Zakiya is fearless. But it’s good and bad. Defensively is where she gives me heartburn. But we’ve talked about it, and I asked the team, I said, ‘Just look out for Zakiya as she goes through it.’ And I was super proud of her. And I know we have some really cool stats, but she definitely is in the running, in my opinion, for player of the game. 

Next Up

With only four regular season games remaining, the Rebels remain in Oxford and welcome Georgia to the SJB Pavilion on Thursday (Feb. 22) for their second meeting of the year. Tip against the Bulldogs is set for 6:30 p.m. CT, streaming on SEC Network +

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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