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March 4, 2016

Greg Lansing

Khristian Smith

Brenton Scott

St. Louis, Missouri - Arch Madness

Indiana State-65, Illinois State-57

THE MODERATOR: The victorious Sycamores are here. They have a date in the semifinals, Game 2 tomorrow against Evansville. Greg Lansing is in the middle. Khristian Smith, Niels Bunschoten, and Brenton Scott are here.

COACH LANSING: Just really pleased about a lot of different things, but most of all, just how hard these guys played tonight. We knew what we were up against. We were up against an outstanding team that beat us by 30. It was never a game at their place when we were on a tough stretch before.

But these guys have some pride, they have some togetherness, they have some toughness to them. We talked a lot about, hey, it's a new season coming in. In postseason, there's a lot of good teams going at it. You saw the close scores in the other games. It's the team that follows the game plan the best.

Both teams played their tails off, and we were fortunate enough to hang on there at the end, but I couldn't be happier for these guys. So proud of how hard they played and how they came together.

Q. Khristian, I'll start with you. Talk about the defensive commitment and the wherewithal you had from the tip of the game. Obviously, that had an influence on the first 45 minutes.
KHRISTIAN SMITH: That was the main focus. All our shots aren't going to fall. When we were at their place, we didn't guard them at all. We let them get everything they wanted to, and they moved the ball freely.

The coaches did a great job of readjusting the defensive game plan, and when we came out for the tip, we were ready. We were locked in on the scouting report, and we were just ready to defend. That's what's going to win you game in March, defending. Offense is going to take care of itself with all the fire power we have. That's not what we were worried about. We were worried about being the most locked in team on defense.

Q. This question is for Brenton and then Khristian. Coach Lansing talked about the game plan. It looked to me like defensively, getting a hand in on Illinois State's penetration going up the lane, kind of interfering with their ball handlers, talk about what the game plan was and how well you guys were able to follow it and how that went.
BRENTON SCOTT: The game plan was just that, be on the weak side, help dig in the post and stuff like that. Coach was on me all week about it.


BRENTON SCOTT: All year about it. So I did a better job tonight, and I was able to get my hand on a couple of steals and help our team score a couple baskets.

KHRISTIAN SMITH: I think the most important part was all five guys had to be tied in. They're a very versatile group. Their big man even dropped the ball. So even Murph and Emondre and Niels did a good job with the penetration. We were more in the gaps today than we normally were just because we know how good they are just getting to the basket and finishing. They have shooters, but we were just going to live with that. Like I said, we came out from the tip, and we were ready to play.

Q. Niels, you get the start today. Talk about your mentality coming into this game because you started off well on both ends. What was going through your mind when you found that out? Obviously, what did you try to bring to the game today?
NIELS BUNSCHOTEN: I just thought, it's a tournament game. It's go hard or go home. So I just decided to play as hard as I can and give everything that I got because there's nothing after this. So that's just what I thought.

And the starting thing doesn't really cross my mind. It's just the same thing. I just come in and play hard.

Q. Khristian and Brenton, can you talk about Niels' contribution, especially early, big energy source. Although all of you were playing pretty good defense, that was an important spark early.
KHRISTIAN SMITH: Yeah, Coach always talked about me being the energy guy on the team. This guy right here took it over. I kind of had to look back and let him be that guy. He came out and was locked in, and then he got that dunk. I think that right there sparked us. The bench was excited. The crowd was excited. We were into it, just to see him get the start and just rise to the occasion and attack the basket and be aggressive, which we want to do all the time anyway. He's always been that type of player. We've just got to get him to be more aggressive.

BRENTON SCOTT: I agree with Khristian. Niels has always been our energy guy coming off the bench, and tonight he got the spark. That early spark helped us get the momentum a little bit. And we just fed off that at the beginning, and we just carried it out throughout the rest of the game.

Q. Brenton, did you feel a lot of people didn't give you guys a real chance for this game? Did that give you guys a little chip, a little edge that you needed for this game?
BRENTON SCOTT: Yeah. A lot of people were counting us out, didn't think highly of us coming into this tournament. We used that as motivation. And we just used that as motivation, and we came in here with a chip on our shoulder and ready to play against Illinois State.

Q. Brenton, this is for you. Obviously, the last moments of the game were nervous ones. You guys don't typically have trouble breaking a press, but talk about getting your bearings and maybe what got you guys finally through to get to victory.
BRENTON SCOTT: They were pressing us pretty tough at the end. Coach just wanted us to take care of the ball and just be solid and confident with the ball. I was able to break through a couple times and I got Everett a basket towards the end of the game, and I think that layup and a couple other plays towards the end helped us win the game.

Q. Greg, can you elaborate a little bit on the defensive game plan and maybe what you saw in the guys that made you believe they'd have the intensity that they executed with.
COACH LANSING: Well, because I know we can. I've seen them do it. We've done it. I'll tell you what, about every day in practice we do it. That's what was frustrating when we weren't guarding there during that stretch. We just didn't have the energy. Kind of in this last couple weeks, we've got reenergized, got our mojo back a little bit.

We need to be aggressive and fly around, and you can't always do that. A lot of teams in this league really jam it in. They'll jam it in on Devonte and Brenton. They have across the board the toughest mismatches in the league individually. Like Khristian said, what they do, their bigs can put it on the floor and shoot it. Their guards are dynamic and can attack. We want to shorten those gaps, give them nowhere to go.

We made our mistakes. We did. But for Brenton to get five steals, and we kind of sprinkled a few more in there and gave up the offensive rebounds. But the energy in the start of the game and in the start of the second half was really, really good. And we can create some offense off our defense that really helps us. When you're not making shots -- and we've been guilty of not shooting very well in some games -- your defense has to be a constant.

Guys were locked in today. T.P. had them ready. Lou always, he's our defensive coordinator, those guys worked it out and followed the game plan pretty well.

Q. Greg, have you played that type of defense against Illinois State in either of the two meetings?
COACH LANSING: No. Obviously, over there, we didn't do anything. It was a layup show to start. We're missing shots, and they're going down and doing absolutely -- just attacking us one-on-one. You don't like to do that. It's hard to do that when people can shoot the ball, but we worked on some rotations, when we did go to help, committed to the help, attacking out of help, and we worked hard on having a full rotation. So we were ready for it. We did a pretty good job of it other than a couple times. That's pretty good for us subbing in and out like that.

We hadn't done it against anybody, we hadn't. And we figured to beat a very, very talented team like them, we're going to have to do something different.

Q. Greg, some of your defensive contributors, a couple of them up here, Brenton and Niels, aren't the first guys you would think of that would be defensive contributors on your team, to be honest, but they stepped up. Could you just talk about how that was indicative of the overall effort. They had some guys play some defense tonight and really show something on that side of the floor.
COACH LANSING: And that's the thing that's bothered us all year. It's a team defensive game. If one guy makes a mistake, you're probably going to give up an easy basket. It happens over and over and over and as much as we work on it.

But Niels is really good. He's a talker, like Khristian alluded to there. He's a good helper. He does so many good things, and the energy, you know, with the energy.

And Brenton, it's just an area where he'd never been taught any of it. It's something new to him. We try to pound it into his head as much as we can. He's so athletic and tough and competitive, coming from that weak side and helping, he was terrific getting some steals.

Now, he's going to make a mistake, and you're going to have to live with it, just like living with him taking a bad shot here and there, but we try to build a team defense. I thought we did a much better job of that tonight.

And then you get to play Evansville tomorrow, and if you're not locked in as a team, you have no chance.

Q. Obviously, the last couple minutes were stressful. Illinois State, to their credit, did a good job with their press, but what do you think was the defining factor that finally got you over the top?
COACH LANSING: Well, we didn't prepare for that like we needed to probably. We got ready for the zone because we thought he goes to zone a lot. He goes to zone at times when we're ahead. Hey, if we're ahead, we have to go to zone. So we were more ready for that.

The press, I think you had asked, it doesn't usually bother us. I'm so confident in those guys. We got a little out of whack. We kept staying around and waiting for one guy to break, and you can't do that. They're too good. When the double-team comes, just make an extra pass and attack. We'll look at it and learn from it. We didn't handle it very well, but that's probably more on me than the guys.

Then, in a high energy game, when they're making a run, they're making shots, and the crowd's into it, that's when you've really got to be tough and come together. We finally did that. It certainly wasn't pretty, but we hung on enough. I would trust Devonte in there. And Everett is tough when the ball is in his hands. But we got through it.

Q. You guys shot 23 threes, they shot 33 threes, that's an odd number for both of you guys. Talk about that a little bit. And after watching six games this weekend, did we go back to the old officiating ways this weekend?
COACH LANSING: I don't know. Eddie's around. You can ask him when you see him. I know was begging for a few, especially when they were making a run. Those guys have tough jobs. We all just grew up knowing the officiating is tough. Probably never count on them being great for you, but you don't worry about it too much. It was a physical game. They're physical, and they're talented. We wanted to be physical and be a little more physical than they were.

But it was -- a lot of close games. I've watched bits and pieces of all of them. But in this league, and I've always said this, and you know it, it's so well coached. These guys, you're not going to out-coach any of them. You're going to have to come, you're going to have to have a plan. You're going to have to prepare and do well. Everybody plays hard. It's one of those things that you've got to control what you can control, and that is certainly not one of the things we can control.

Q. Real quickly, Greg, I know you have a lot of respect for Evansville. Just talk about that matchup tomorrow.
COACH LANSING: I like the guy, he's a tremendous coach. He's still -- he's the only guy in the country that does true motion, and they've stuck to it. They've had tons of success for it. Obviously, this team is built for this year. This is the year they're looking forward to be the NCAA Tournament team. Tons of respect for them. They have tremendous players.

And it's not just the two that were First Team All League either. Jaylon Brown is as improved as anybody, and the young Simmons making shots, and I always thought Mislav was outstanding coming off the bench. So they're not a two-player team for sure. They're very well coached. They're very well prepared, and they're tough. It's going to be a possession by possession game tomorrow. We're going to have to fight like crazy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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