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March 9, 2016

Andy Enfield

Nikola Jovanovic

Jordan McLaughlin

Las Vegas, Nevada

USC - 95, UCLA - 71

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment, please.

COACH ENFIELD: Our players came out with a lot of energy tonight and played great defense to start the game and we were able to get out in transition and make some shots.

Very proud of this team. We have 21 wins, and they have done everything we've asked for of them this year. Haven't been a great team the entire season, but when we play like this, we can beat anybody on our schedule. And we're looking forward to competing tomorrow night against Utah.

Q. Coach, the way this tournament stuff goes, you only have 24 hours and you mentioned Utah. Talk about the game tomorrow night, what challenges they bring? They were really playing well down the stretch and they got you guys a couple weeks ago. What's going to be different tomorrow night?
COACH ENFIELD: Utah is an excellent basketball team. They have the Player of the Year. He presents difficulty for us because he can score the ball in the low post. He's an excellent passer and very smart player. In fact, I think he had 29-13 at home. They broke our home winning streak. We were 15-0, and they were the first team to beat us this season two weeks ago.

So we have a lot of respect for Utah. They play a very tough style, they're tough and they're very skilled, and we have to bring our A-game and compete tomorrow.

Q. Jordan and Nikola, they closed to 60-12 after your 11-0 beginning. It looked like you guys ratcheted up your help defense. Was that the key to get in the separation because it sure seemed to spark the offense? And could you just talk about how this help defense is really comfortable for you guys to play?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Our defense is key. We key on that in practice. We want to shrink the gaps and run people off the line, the shooters that are shooters, and we want to stick to the coach's game plan, whether we're switching guard to guard, letting the guards through, and just make sure we follow the game plan. Then when we get stops on defense, it's easy for us to run out in transition and get a couple easy ones.

NIKOLA JOVANOVIC: Yeah, it's normal that our team's going to make a run sometimes, so we just maintain the focus. We didn't panic and we were establishing the lead.

Q. I know you guys were struggling a little bit coming into the tournament, losing three of four games. How does it feel to win your first game in the tournament especially against UCLA? This is for both Jordan and Nikola.
NIKOLA JOVANOVIC: I mean, it feels really good. For now, this Wednesday was a whole new start of the season. We didn't care what we did in the regular season. We knew coming in we need to win games in order to stay in the tournament. So every day's a fight, and we're just going to go from game to game, and it really means a lot to us especially because it was UCLA for the energy booster.

JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Say the same. UCLA's a good team. We came out and did what we had to do. Jumped out on them early and then we kept our energy and intensity up and were able to pull away.

Q. Andy, obviously this was Bennie and Chimezie's first Pac-12 Tournament game. Would you say the freshmen exceeded your expectations tonight?
COACH ENFIELD: I had a feeling both would play well. Bennie was terrific early making those threes, and then Chimezie came in with his career high in rebounds with 11 -- 7 offensive, 4 offensive -- and he played a key part in our defensive scheme.

So when we can rotate big guys like Nikola and Chimezie and Bennie and Darion and Malik in there, and they're playing well, like tonight, we have a tremendous rotation.

So the freshmen played beyond their years this evening, and now we'll see what they do tomorrow. They have 24 hours to come, and they'll be playing against one of the best big men in the country.

Q. Coach, you talk about facing a big man like that, but plus 22 tonight in the rebounding battle, how important will that be tomorrow against Utah?
COACH ENFIELD: Any time you play a physical team like Utah, you have to hold your own on the backboard, and our game plan will be to try to rebound like we did tonight, and tonight was an exceptional game. We had 52 rebounds, 18 offensive. So when we're doing that, we're pretty good.

Q. Jordan, what's up with the fresh cut, my friend?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: I kind of did the same thing last year. I had the fro-hawk all throughout the season, and then when we came to Las Vegas I cut it off. I was injured there so not many people noticed. Kind of did the same thing this year. I got tired of the hair, so I cut it off.

Q. Do you think it might be a good luck charm?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: It might be. We'll see.

Q. Jordan and Nikola, Utah's moved the ball pretty well last time against you guys. What's kind of key and what can you do defensively to maybe limit what they can do and limit some of their options moving the ball?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Just playing hard and making sure we're active on defense, you know, talking, like I said. Making sure we're engaged and locked into the game plan, whether we're switching or playing the ball screens. We've got to make sure we're all on the same page.

Q. Jordan and Nikola, you guys looked like a different team tonight than you did after that loss to Oregon on Saturday. What was the biggest change for you guys over the past few days?
NIKOLA JOVANOVIC: I mean, ever since after the loss we came into the gym and we worked really hard to prepare for this game. Me personally, I think we lost the game unfortunately where we came back and we just didn't make the shots down the stretch. But we knew coming in it's a new opportunity and we play well.

JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I would agree. We were right there and we fell short. We weren't able to execute down the stretch a little bit, and we struggled on the rebounds as well, so it was just something we cleaned up in practice. We put emphasis on rebounding and defense and getting back to Trojan basketball.

Q. Jordan, could you take us through that lob you threw?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, well, the defense, I was just reading the defense. The big man hedged a little late and he was just playing the zone and kept penetrating and reading the big man. He never -- he kind of stepped up a little bit towards me, so I know, Chimezie, freak athlete. You've got to throw the ball anywhere inside the backboard, and he'll go get it and finish it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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