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March 11, 2015

Andy Enfield

Julian Jacobs

Elijah Stewart


USC テや 67
Arizona State - 64

THE MODERATOR:テつ Okay, we'll open with a summary from Coach Enfield and then questions.
COACH ENFIELD:テつ I was proud of our team's effort.テつ We were in another close game.テつ We've lost so many close games down the stretch.テつ Seven total in the last minute of the Pac‑12 season.テつ So it's nice to win one.テつ I'm proud of our effort to come back, take the lead and hold onto it.
And these two guys next to me made some big‑time plays down the last three, four minutes of the game.

Q.テつ This is your first Pac‑12 win outside of the Galen Center.テつ What do you think you did to get it done in a hostile environment?
COACH ENFIELD:テつ We won a road game last year.テつ This would be our second.テつ I count those.テつ When you only have two of them, that's big.

Q.テつ How do you fashion a 21‑4 run to end the game?
COACH ENFIELD:テつ We went to a zone defense.テつ Our zone has been very good for us the last month of the season.テつ Our guys are really learning how to switch and recover and then rebound out of it.テつ And I thought that was effective, because we were active in it.
And I think they only made one field goal down the stretch.テつ So we have to be able to rebound the ball at a higher level.テつ They did have a lot of offensive rebounds against our man‑to‑man defense.テつ But I was very happy.テつ That was a big key, the zone defense.テつ And then these guys made plays.テつ They make shots.
We struggled early on.テつ We didn't play well in the first half.テつ There were times in the second half where we turned the ball over, just missed easy shots.テつ And I'm a big believer, players win games.テつ When your better players play well, you're pretty well off.テつ When your better players don't play well, like some of our guys in the first half, you struggle.
So they deserve the credit.テつ They played an outstanding game.

Q.テつ Elijah, you were pretty much on fire all game.テつ Did you know like in warmups it's going to be a pretty good day for me, or when did you feel that?
ELIJAH STEWART:テつ Just been putting in the preparation for this game.テつ Getting the shots, working on dribble moves, coming off screens and stuff like that, and it showed in the game.

Q.テつ Can you talk about the strategy in the last four minutes of the game.テつ It seems like you guys attacked the basket much harder when Jacobsen was out.テつ Did you see that and did you tell your players, hey, Gilling is in the middle, attack the basket more?
COACH ENFIELD:テつ Julian is in attack mode.テつ Julian is one of the best I've seen at getting in the lane and using his body and using his athleticism to attack the rim.
And he was able to do that.テつ We also got some kickouts.テつ So it really had no effect on who was in the game.テつ It was more on us.テつ I thought we let him off the hook in the first half where we were driving the ball, but we were driving laterally instead of‑‑ we had to cut our angles down.テつ In fact, at halftime we drew it on the board and made a point of emphasis.
When you drive the ball, you have to drive it in a straight line.テつ You can't keep letting the defense slide back in or hand check your arm bar and let them tell you where you're going.テつ You have to tell the defense where you're going.
And I thought they did a tremendous job the last few minutes.

Q.テつ Julian, after losing so many close games this season, what was different about the mindset in the last few minutes this time?
JULIAN JACOBS:テつ Coach made a point at halftime that the season was at stake.テつ We didn't really want to go out losing to a team that we felt we should have beaten in the past and that this was a winnable game.
So we really just were ultra focused and remained poised, and I think that was the key.

Q.テつ Julian, how do you feel about playing UCLA again?テつ Do you feel like you have a lot less to lose heading into tomorrow?
JULIAN JACOBS:テつ That's how we approach heading into a game.テつ Being last in the pack, teams can't really afford to lose to us.テつ We're aware they're on the bubble of making the tournament.テつ And we'd love to stop them from making the tournament as well.テつ And also we've never beat them.テつ So it would be a great win for us, too.

Q.テつ It might be hard to judge this by wins and losses, seems like the team has been improving a lot over the second half of the Pac‑12 season.テつ Did you sense a turning point after ‑‑ at some point?テつ Was it the Utah game or another point when you sensed kind of moving in the right direction?
COACH ENFIELD:テつ If you look at our Pac‑12 season, a couple of teams, Arizona and Utah, and a little bit of UCLA at times, really physically hurt us in the interior with their bigger players.テつ And the other teams we've been extremely competitive with.
Like I said we lost seven games in the last minute, five in the last possession, where we didn't get a defensive rebound.テつ We've had a stop, we've had a desperation shot go against us, we've had a triple‑overtime game where we lost, had three chances to win.テつ We missed a couple of wide‑open shots, either tie or take the lead in some of these games.
And so we have never let those losses define who we are or where our program is going.テつ Elijah Stewart and Julian Jacobs are much better players now than they were a month ago.テつ When the Pac‑12 started, when we first went on the road trip to Colorado and Utah, Elijah had no clue about anything in the Pac‑12.テつ And he played like it.
But to his credit and to Julian's credit and to Malik Marquetti, you start three freshmen, our other freshman, Jordan McLaughlin, he's been out for the last ‑‑ over a month with shoulder surgery and he missed a couple times, stretches this season with shoulder injuries on his right and left shoulder.
You're talking all freshmen and sophomores, we've never defined who we are by our close losses, because we saw it every day in practice, every week, and then we performed in games.
We were getting better and better.テつ Now, we're not a great team yet.テつ We still have our weaknesses.テつ We don't rebound the ball very well.テつ We turn the ball over at times too much.テつ We're like every other team.テつ We miss open shots at times.テつ But we've improved dramatically.テつ And we never felt better about the future of our basketball program than right now.
But that hasn't changed in the last month.テつ We've kept the plan.テつ We're staying with it.テつ And we believe in these young men.テつ We believe we have the right core here to grow and we have the right core to compete next year and the following years.
How many wins that will be, I have no idea.テつ That's on them.テつ They have to go out and produce.テつ But this year was certainly a growing year for us.テつ I'm a much better basketball coach now because of this experience.
And I think our players are lot better players now because of what they've gone through.テつ And Julian is starting to show big‑time leadership.テつ I've seen that growth in him this year.
So we're excited.テつ So to answer your question, we're much better having only three conference wins during the regular season because we've been competing.テつ But we don't make any excuses.
Those teams that beat us in the last minute are good teams.テつ And they have good coaches and good quality players.
So we never made any excuses.テつ I can't say we deserve to win those games because we didn't.テつ But I can say that we think we have a young core that we're very, very happy with and very proud of.

Q.テつ It seemed you were frustrated with Nikola's play to start the game.テつ What did you or the coaching staff tell him that led to him making several big plays down the stretch including the block?
COACH ENFIELD:テつ That gets back to my point.テつ Nikola is one of our better players, and he struggled in the first half.テつ That's why we were down.テつ He turned the ball over three times and had two misses in the lane.テつ He was 0 for 5 in the lane for the first half.
We told him at halftime to play like the Niko we've seen all season, the consistent performer who averages 12 and 6, and that we needed him in the second half.
And second half, he got off to a slow start again.テつ Brought him out of the game twice.テつ And then we just went down the bench.テつ I told him at timeout to keep his head up and we believe in him and he has to perform.テつ If we're going to win this game, he's gotta get in there and do it.
And he did.テつ He played some of his best basketball this season down in the last seven minutes of the game.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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