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February 12, 2020

Tom Crean

Athens, Georgia

South Carolina - 75, Georgia - 59

TOM CREAN: I told our team right after the game, every night in this league it's a fight, and it doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't matter what night, it doesn't matter what venue. Every night is a fight, and when you're not ready for that fight, you're not ready to get involved in that fight, this is the outcome. We were not ready to be in the fight tonight with South Carolina. That wasn't an indication of our practices; they were good. It got physical at the very beginning. They stood us up, and we stopped cutting as much, got our heads down because we weren't scoring, and the fight is the loose balls, the fight is the rebounds, the fight is the communication when it's not going well for you, the fight is continue to cut and move when it's not easy. There's a lot of things that go into a fight, and we didn't do that. We didn't do that, and we've got to get that back because that's what every night, every night in this league is. That's why it's such a good league.

Obviously we didn't have -- we don't have the physical size necessarily some of these teams have, especially like a South Carolina, but that's not an excuse to not have a fight, and we've got to regroup quickly on that.

Q. I guess I'm kind of wondering your philosophy on technical fouls. Sometimes it seems like when there's a really bad whistle going against a team a coach will unleash, and there were some calls that looked on the replay screen like they --
TOM CREAN: I'm not sure from my vantage point that -- I think a technical foul is if you think it's going to really change the outcome with your team and if it's going to change in the sense of how the game may be called for a few. But when you're in a situation -- I've never had anybody ask me that, by the way, before as a head coach, so that's a first. But bottom line is I think you don't want to put your team in any dire straits. I've lost a game because I've gotten a technical in a game and lost by one, and those kind of things are not easy to live with when your team is fighting tooth and nail. If I thought something like that would have changed our demeanor tonight, then that would have been something I would have considered, but that's not how I saw it. It just is what it is.

Q. You mentioned this league; what is it about the SEC exactly?
TOM CREAN: I'm not sure. It's not that the league is so different, it's that we're not -- we don't have -- first off, we don't have the experience or the size that some of these teams like tonight, and we played like a very young non-physical team, and it doesn't matter what league you're in. You can't do that. It doesn't matter who you're playing against. You can't do that.

Again, we can't walk into the game and say, okay, we're as physically big as this team or we have what they have up front. We don't right now. We don't have that. But we still have to be able to be in a situation where we're aggressive and where we're in a fight.

Q. Are you discouraged?
TOM CREAN: Discouraged? No, I'm disappointed. I don't really get discouraged. I'm disappointed because I want them to play -- I'm disappointed for our fans. I'm disappointed in our effort. You want your guys to be successful. Discouraged is not -- I don't really go there I don't think. Angry, disappointed, yeah, those things happen. But we've got to overcome it. We've got to overcome this lack of aggressiveness that we've had in some pretty good cases, and tonight we didn't have it. This league, when somebody imposes their will on you like they did tonight, you have to fight back, and we just didn't do a good enough job of that tonight. We cut it to 14, but we just didn't do a good enough job.

Q. What can you say about Jordan? Was his play something of a bright spot for you guys tonight?
TOM CREAN: Well, you know what, I think when you lose the game 75-59 it's really tough to find a bright spot, so I really can't give an answer on that one right now. Maybe I'll watch the film and I'll feel better.

Q. It's clear there's no passes tonight, but your team has played some pretty gut-wrenching defeats. Is there anything to the psychology of bottoming out?
TOM CREAN: Could be, but it didn't show up in the practices. Could be. Yeah, it could be, where we've had to overcome this. Is that what you mean? Yeah, we've had some very close losses. But this is where it's -- we're not in a situation where it's going to be -- I've said this before. We're not in a situation where it's one or two guys leading the way with a level of toughness and it's not one or two guys leading the way with a level of leadership, so it has to be more collective. That's what it has to be. If one or two guys can really, really springboard you in that direction, okay, now you're moving forward. But we don't have that. It's got to become more collective or you have what you have tonight.

It's the same thing when you lose; you've got to be able to overcome it. You've got to be able to move forward. That's what we have to continue. We are what we are right now in the sense of there's not anybody that you look out there and say, okay, they've been through some great wars and they know how to get through them and be successful. We don't have that right now, and that's just a fact, so we've got to be able to overcome it together. So I think that's why this rebuild has its moments like this. We've got to be able to build that up because we don't have those guys that we're falling back on them, some sustained success experience-wise in college. We just have to build towards it.

Q. When you start off kind of shooting like you did tonight, I'm sure some of that was South Carolina's defense --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, it was. We didn't make -- too many times we got in the paint where they make the next kick, right, and they were just dropping off to bigs constantly to block shots or be at the rim. Keep the ball -- like when we're passing, we started to make our run and they got it down to 14 and we were getting the ball moving. That's our game. That's what our game has got to be, and we didn't start out doing that very well.

Q. When it starts as bad as it was, 0 for 17 or something to start, is that a hopeless feeling on your end?
TOM CREAN: No, no, not at all because I didn't even know that until you said it. No, it's never about offense. We're going to get some good shots. What we've got to do is get good stops. We've got to get multiple stops. We've got to get three stops, four stops in a row. We've got to get rebounds. We can't defend well and then somebody slides down and gets an offensive rebound because somebody was unaware and standing straight up. That's the kind of stuff that we've got to be able to overcome. So to me we're going to get back in it offensively. Now, if we don't make the shots, that's another story. The shot has to go in. But it really became, okay, we've got to get this to foul line. We've got to get to the foul line, we've got to set our defense. It's not the jump shots right now. They're not going, so we've got to get something at the basket. We were able to get it to the bonus in both halves. But the game has always -- there's got to be something you can go to, and rarely as offense you're worrying about points. It's we've got to get enough stops so we can get our running game going to get those easy baskets, and that's what we never got going.

Q. We just talked with head coach Frank Martin when he was in here and he said his second year at both his programs was definitely was hardest year. Has that been your experience here?
TOM CREAN: Oh, my second year has been -- I don't ever talk about it publicly, but the second year at Marquette and the second year at Indiana, those are tough. I've lived them. I don't like living that, and I'm not saying that I am, so we've got to get better. Year twos are difficult. They're difficult, and for a lot of different reasons. We're extremely young and there's times that it shows itself more than others, and tonight was one of those nights.

Q. He said a lot of his was for lack of leadership. Do you feel like you've had that issue either here or at Marquette or Indiana?
TOM CREAN: Yeah, I just covered that. I just talked about leadership. It's got to be collective, right. We're trying to get collective leadership right now. That's all a part of it, absolutely.

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