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November 26, 2014

Jamie Dixon

Ryan Luther

James Robinson

Michael Young


Pittsburgh – 70
Kansas State- 47

THE MODERATOR:  Coach, some opening comments on tonight's win.
COACH DIXON:  Obviously, we showed a lot of character from a young group that's gone through a lot of changes over a short period of time here in the last couple of months, and they responded in a big way.  That's a very good team, Kansas State, that we beat, and we beat it the way we wanted to do it as far as defense, execution on the offensive end, and smart play throughout.
So very proud of our guys how they responded.  We were obviously embarrassed by our performance yesterday and they responded in a big way.  So really a true test of character by our guys in this situation.  Very proud of them, and I look forward to practicing on the layover on the way back.  We've got a tired group.  We've got a tired group that they've everything they can.  They've been through a lot, and I think going forward here we're going to be in good shape.

Q.  Just talk about the team's surge in the second half and what was going right for your team?
JAMES ROBINSON:  We had a three‑point lead going into the half, and we were pretty excited at our first half performance, but we knew we had 20 more minutes, and Kansas State wasn't going to back down.  Basically we knew they were not going to quit, so we had to turn it up another notch for that last 20 minutes.  We still made some mistakes.  We still did some things we need to correct.  But for the most part we needed to execute and finish strong down towards the end of the game.

Q.  James, this is the probably the first time you guys as a team looked like Pitt, in terms of how you defended and the urgency on that side of the ball.  What changed from last night to today that you were able to come back out and play that way?
JAMES ROBINSON:  Being embarrassed on national television.  I mean, that will do it.  I mean, basically we got embarrassed last night and everybody went back to the hotel and it was a bad feeling.  Coach told us we have an hour to feel bad and then turn around and you've got a good team in Kansas State who played Arizona stuff the day before.
So we knew we had to come out and play hard.  I just challenged everybody last night to find it within themselves to play as hard as they could.  We came out and played really, really hard on defense.  We paid attention to detail and got the job done.

Q.  Ryan, first podium game for you comes on this stage in Maui and a big win like this, how encouraging is that for you as a young guy going forward with the way you played tonight?
RYAN LUTHER:  It was definitely good to get a little confidence, couple more minutes.  When they get on the floor, I'm looking to play defense.  Really I made a couple shots because I was working on defense, and got some easy looks and some good set‑ups there.

Q.  Talk about how happy you guys were that Joshua hit that last shot?
JAMES ROBINSON:  It's always good to see guys like Josh Ko, Mike Lecak, and Aron Phillips‑Nwankwo get in the game.  But especially for Josh's homecoming, to have him come out and hit that shot was big.  I think we were all really excited for him.  It was just big time.  I think that's something we're all going to remember, and hopefully he does too.

Q.  Just overall thoughts on the tournament now that it's over.  What you guys got out of it, and what you can take from it going forward?
MICHAEL YOUNG:  Well, we ended up beating a good team in Kansas State, and we're taking this game to our next‑‑ I think it's Indiana.  Just from the tournament, a lot of experience for me being a sophomore and being a captain on this team for the first year, and really trying to lead this team offensively and defensively.  That was a lot of experience for me going up against different types of teams that we might see in the ACC.  Also good experience for our young guys, Cameron and Ryan.  Ryan played really big today.  I was proud of him as far as defense and offense, and making shots.
Overall as a team, we're a pretty young team.  So this was a great experience.  Having this game and winning big I think is what we're going to take off.  We've seen it once.  We knew we were going to play defense.  We went out there and showed it, and I think as a team we're going to take off.

Q.  Jamie, what exactly were you able to do to get them to play as well as they did defensively considering the battles you've been fighting for the last couple of weeks?
COACH DIXON:  Well, we felt like we were making strides even though the numbers didn't seem to indicate it in the last couple games.  So I think getting healthy, I think getting Ryan, getting Derrick back.  I think those are important things.  Obviously we've been kind of‑‑ no team has gone through as much changes in a month and a half, two months than we have as far as what we thought we were going to have and what we did have.
So it's just been a process.  Every day has been something new.  I think we responded in a big way.  We let some things bother us on the offensive end that hurt us and affected our defense.  That's something we've got to get beyond.  But playing‑‑ Ryan has become one of our best post defenders, if not our best.  It's been an amazing transformation considering where he came from in the summer.
So it's just getting guys better, and just having guys available I think is usually a factor.  We don't spend too much time talking about what we don't have, but we've got some good performances from a lot of guys, and I think they'll get better.  This is something they needed and they earned it.

Q.  You guys held Kansas State to one guy in double figures, Thomas Gipson.  What do you think he did well across the board defensively?
COACH DIXON:  Well, we double teamed him pretty much throughout the game.  I thought we turned it on and off a little bit, trying to keep him off balance.  I thought that helped some.  I thought we did a very good job on Foster.  I can't really explain that because I saw some of the shots he hit and the plays he made last night in the semifinal game.  He's very good, very good.
But I don't know how we were able to contain.  We did a good job on the ball screens with him.  I thought that was important.  He scores off of that, and we didn't want him to get to the foul line, I thought that was important.  We didn't want to give him any easy ones.  We thought we made a mistake on the one he hit in the first half on the simple to the corner pass.  But other than that, I thought everything was pretty well guarded.

Q.  What happened?  They got you guys down quick.  What did you do offensively?  What happened right there?
COACH DIXON:  To me there were some strange turnovers.  You had a drive to the rim, and we were in a pretty good spot.  He slips.  Drops it out of bounds.  But that's what killed us other the night.  The turnovers in the transition baskets, our defense.  You look at the stats and look at field goal percentage defense.  You go, if you turn it over and they get lay‑ups on the back end, that's not much defense that can be played.  That's what started again today early in the game.  We're a low turnover team.  That's what we're going to be.  I think we have to find I think our personnel.
We obviously went into a season thinking our two leading scorers were going to be two other guys, and now we have to readjust, and that's not what you normally do at this time of the year.  But we're fighting.  We're battling, and I think they showed a whole lot of character going forward.  So we have guys in roles that never even thought a possibility.  You may have guys in new roles, but then you're talking about putting guys in new roles they didn't even think about going into the season, and that's what you have in this situation right now.  I mean, we're going to red‑shirt Ryan Luther and Cameron Johnson.  Obviously a couple things happen and now you can't, so you have to readjust.

Q.  What did you learn about your team in these four games here on the island.  Did you get what you wanted out of it?
COACH DIXON:  We're exhausted.  There is no question.  Probably more so than I anticipated.  The travel was tougher than I thought, and I've done it a few times.  But just how things worked out.  But what we saw is this is the team we are.  Not the team we were a week ago or two weeks ago, and this is what we are going forward.  I'd rather be at this point at the end of the week than the other way around.
So that's what you want to do.  You want the team that gets better, and we obviously have.  We've got an opportunity to grow here going forward.  We've got some adjusting to do still, but they're hungry.  They did‑‑ we executed, and they had success with it, and we needed that.

Q.  Going after the UH game and going into this tournament you talked about the last game is usually how you feel going back.  Now that it's done, how do you feel with all your Hawaii ties and at the end of this trip now with your team, how do you personally feel about this journey out here?
COACH DIXON:  Obviously, you don't have the guys you think you're going to have, and you make plans and it doesn't work out the way you want it to, and we wanted to win the whole tournament.  But Kansas State's really good.  I'd rather, like I said, finish the way we just did beating a team like that as we did and the way we did it.  So I feel good right now because you're only as good as your last game.  But these guys needed to see what defense could do and what it could do for your offense.  That was, I think, a big part of‑‑ a big, big benefit of this afternoon's game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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