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February 20, 2019

Tom Crean

Athens, Georgia

Mississippi State - 68, Georgia - 67

TOM CREAN: First and foremost, for us to come back from 17 down, the way we closed the half, and have our spirit intact the way it was, to have our togetherness, I'm very proud of that. I'm really not a moral victory guy, really not, especially tonight. But I'm proud of the way that they played because, again, we did not close it well in the first half. But they came back, and we gave ourselves a chance to win.

We executed. We got really good play from a lot of different guys, and it wasn't beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but we played hard. So I'm proud of the way -- when you have a record that's tough right now in the last few weeks, since Texas, I'm proud of the way that they're bringing their practice game to the court because I thought we did that against LSU, and I thought we did that tonight.

So I'll just cover the technical thing. To my knowledge, I'm 52 years of age, been a head coach for 19 years, been an assistant -- been coaching since I was 18 and college since I was 20, I've never seen that. Not without a warning. And certainly without an explanation.

So you know what my thought process is, I just saw something land on the floor, so my first reaction is to go to grab the mic myself. We're in it together. I've done it my whole career as a head coach because that usually takes care of it. That usually takes care of it and you usually don't have that problem again, and I've had officials in the past thank me for doing it, right. It's just part of the game. But there was absolutely -- I didn't even know we were assessed a technical until I heard the coaches tell me what's going on. It's not like anybody came and explained anything to me. But that's all I'm going to say about it because that's the truth.

I don't have a better answer because I've never been a part of that. I mean, I know what the rule says. I know the rule says that you've got to be able to know who did it. It's pretty hard to know in that situation. But that's what we have. So go ahead.

Q. Just trying to get the time down, it sounded like they called a technical after you went to the mic --
TOM CREAN: That's what I've been told, which -- I don't know what sense that makes. But again, I just have to talk to the league and see what they say. But I do know -- I shouldn't say I know. I'm pretty sure that you can call one if you know whose fan base threw it.

Q. Obviously they had another free throw coming anyway --
TOM CREAN: But they had missed the first.

Q. Right, so the importance of them having that technical free throw, which gives them some margin for error --
TOM CREAN: Absolutely.

Q. Miss the second one on purpose, you don't get it --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, it's a free free throw basically, yeah. It's the whole woulda, shoulda, coulda, hindsight is 20/20, whatever you want to call it, but you miss the first, maybe you miss the second and we're going to overtime. But we're never going to know. We're never going to know, so...

I'm just perplexed because no one out there would tell me what's going on, and it's -- it just makes zero sense to me. It really does. But I've got to get over it because nobody did.

Q. Did you reach out to Dan Liebowicz or someone like that?
TOM CREAN: We'll deal with that behind the scenes later, yeah. But I did see a ruling. I mean, I did see what the rule is on that, but we'll just see what happens. I mean, it's not going to change anything.

Q. You have a team that's been struggling, lost all these games in a row, and then you fight back from a 17-point deficit. How frustrating is it to have a game like this end with a technical?
TOM CREAN: Oh, I'm not going to -- here's the bottom line. I keep saying that and I know it sounds like a broken record. They're getting better. These guys are getting better, they really are, and I hope all of you can see it. I know it's not moral victory and we didn't win the game. I've got that, but they're getting better and improving, and like I said, they're bringing that practice game -- we've had some great practices all year. We just always haven't brought that to the game. But we've just got to keep getting better from it and not let frustration set in or any of that type of stuff. My energy and my staff's energy and everything we'll try to do to make sure our players' energy is as high as it can be after a disappointing night. We'll be as high as it's been all year tomorrow, I guarantee it.

Q. Talking about getting better, I think this is one of the first times in the season you guys were plus in the turnover margin --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, I haven't looked at the stats sheet. I've been preoccupied.

Q. In terms of on a general scale, how do you think you guys just took care of the ball --
TOM CREAN: Well, other than that little stretch at the end of the first half, I thought we did a good job, all right, but we got a little flustered, we gave up a couple buckets with our hands down, and we come out of a time-out, we don't run it right. We had a couple of those situations, and they capitalized. But we responded.

So that's all you want. You want your team to respond, understand it's a long game, and let's keep going, and I thought they did that, and certainly not turning it over considerable -- what was the margin?

Q. I think it was 12 and 9.
TOM CREAN: Yeah, that's good. That's good. It's a positive, I guess.

Q. Coach Howland said that what he noticed about your team is that they just don't quit. Is that something that you coach to them --
TOM CREAN: Well, I'd hope so, yeah. I'd hope so. I have a lot of respect for him. The last time we competed against each other was 2003 in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in the Metrodome. It was a lot warmer in here tonight than it was in that Metrodome in a night, but he's a great coach, fantastic coach. I've got a lot of respect for him, and I think it's a mutual respect. I consider him a friend even though I don't see him a lot, but I just have tremendous respect for him. Man, I think he's a great coach.

Q. Tyree has the big three to tie the ballgame. Seven seconds remained, but did you finally feel that might have been the -- was it going to be the shot or --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, we just needed to come down and get a stop, right, and then take it to OT, and we were right in the vicinity of that. No, it was great execution out of the time-out. We had two options out of that and we had plenty enough time, but the first one was there, so they executed. They came out of some other time-outs, executed, and we got better in those areas. We just didn't get the result.

Q. What have you done to cut the turnover -- I mean, it's been drastic these last two games, your turnovers have been cut drastically. What are you doing differently?
TOM CREAN: I don't have a great answer for you because we want to play fast but we don't want to be in a rush, and we're trying to get guys to understand that the simple thing matters. We've taken some steps in practice, but I can't say we did that over the last two days as much, but our competition has been very strong in practice, and as there has been on the year, there's a penalty when you turn it over in a time score situation when we're practicing. But I think it's -- I think it's guys just understanding, like if you really stay true to the space and you stay with the action -- sometimes we're going to run a set that this is exactly what we want to get, especially when you call a time-out. We didn't do that a couple times tonight. And then there's other times we did. So it's the same thing when you're coming down on the break. Just make it simple. The majority of our turnovers come on the break, and we want to play fast, but we just don't want to try to make something happen that's not there. We don't want to take a quit shot and it's not there. We want our spacing and our ball movement and our cutting to do the job, and so let's hope we can keep that up. It's certainly not going to be easy with Ole Miss's pressure on Saturday, but let's hope we can keep it up.

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