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March 10, 2016

Craig Neal

Tim Williams

Elijah Brown

Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada - 64 New Mexico - 62

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if we can start with you, just some thoughts on today's game.

HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: Well, you've got to give Nevada credit. I thought our guys played hard. I thought we were in position to make some plays to win the game late. It just didn't happen for us. I thought our guys gave great effort. If you look at the stats, we held them to 42 percent shooting, 28 percent from three. Had more free throws and more 3's made, but their two-point field goals was the difference and their offensive rebounding was the difference.

Came up with big plays late. And I just feel bad for the guys because they were in a good frame of mind. They played hard. We did some things. But it was a hard-fought battle and we just didn't come out on top, but you've got to give Nevada credit.

Q. First half I think it was 1 of 7 shooting, you end up with double figures, got it going a little in the second half. What was the biggest difference in what they were doing to you and your game overall?
TIM WILLIAMS: I think I rushed a couple of shots and I didn't take my time in the post was the reason I missed a couple easy ones. So in the second half I kind of got settled in and I think that's why some shots went in.

Q. You end up with 26 points. Coach Musselman paid a really high compliment to you as a scorer, and said you were a big focus. You end up with 26, you were able to draw fouls. Were you happy with this performance, were you frustrated by things they were trying to do to deny you what you've normally been doing this season?
ELIJAH BROWN: No. I scored the ball, but I missed too many shots. I had way too many turnovers like I have the last four games. I've had at least six turnovers, that's something that's just inexcusable. I'm not happy, no.

Q. Are the turnovers a sign of anything you can put your finger on? For four games in a row if you're having that problem, is it something that teams are doing, is it something you're doing, is it a dead legs issue, end of season?
ELIJAH BROWN: No, it's just me. I've got to get better.

Q. You guys were both transfers first year with the Lobos. Kind of looking back at the season that was, what do you guys take from what happened? Was it what you expected?
TIM WILLIAMS: I think we're a young group. I think we had some highs this season, also some lows this season. I mean, that just comes with maturing. And we all played together for the first time this year. I don't take anything away from the season that was bad. I enjoyed the guys. I love everybody on the team and the staff. And it was an honor playing with them for the first year.

ELIJAH BROWN: I definitely felt like Tim said, we were a young team. We progressed. I just don't feel like we were able to put consistent games together. We had some really good stretches, some good flashes, even in this game, we showed what we were capable of. But I think we just need to get more consistent and get better moving forward.

But overall I think this was a great experience for myself, being a part of this new program. It's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life. But I'm definitely disappointed. Because I feel like we're a lot better than we showed, a lot better.

Q. The off-the-court stuff with you in basketball, you've got a fan base that shows up. Every team in the league would take the fan base that the Lobos have, here and at home. But that's also the fan base, because of that passion, jumps on you in December when you have a four-game losing streak. There's a lot of noise around the program. How much of a distraction, and does it ever get too much in the locker room the way the off-the-court drama around Lobos basketball becomes, especially this season?
ELIJAH BROWN: No, I think we're a brotherhood. Whatever we do in our locker room, it stays in our locker room. We try not to let outside forces, whether they're good or bad, impact us in a negative or positive way. We appreciate the support obviously from the fans. We feel like they're probably the best fans in the country. So we understand that if we play bad we'll be criticized for it and if we play good we'll be praised. It's just something that becomes part of the territory.

TIM WILLIAMS: Basically the same thing. Everybody is always going to have something to say when you're playing good, and when you're on top they'll love you. I think that's anywhere you go. We've got to tune that out and come together.

Q. I want to start with Cam Oliver, 26 and 15, four blocks. What can you say about his game? Was it unexpected in any way from you that he would perform that well?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: Not really, just because of his capability. I knew that Eric was going to do something to kind of engage Tim and O. When we've played well, O's been really good. And what I mean by his activity, rebounding, shot blocking. And they went at him early. And they got him two fouls early, he played two minutes the first half and he couldn't get into it. And he's a big part of what we do. So that played a big part.

And he made some great plays. And you've got to give the kid credit that made good plays. I didn't think coming into this game that Oliver would have 26 and 15 and Criswell would have 20. But they made plays. They had three or four offensive rebounds late that we needed to get when we were up five, even when we were up one, up three. They got four big offensive rebounds that hurt us. And those are the possessions you've got to come up with to win games like this.

Q. On the final sequence, it looked like Elijah had the ball on the left-hand side. You guys swing it all the way around, you've said at times has been a problem. It ended up in Cullen's hands. It was right in front of the bench. Was the shot there?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: I just think the clocks ran down. Maybe he could have shot faked it and taken a dribble in, but he's got to try to get a shot off. The clock's running down. By the time they catch the ball and it's over, it's .5, it's not like there's a lot of time left. Plus you want to get a shot up in case you get an offensive rebound.

Q. You're in a position when you're the team that won the first two, do you outguess yourself a little bit for what they're going to try to change, do you stick with what they did, knowing they're making adjustments? How did you think you did from Saturday to today in terms of adjustments? And what adjustments did you make?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: We couldn't get out in transition, and when we did, we were able to get easy scores. We only had 7 fast break points. When we beat them both times before we were able to go out in transition.

I didn't think our execution was bad. I think the things we ran were really good. I just think we hurried. We just seemed to be in a hurry. We seemed to be a little anxious, playing a little bit too fast. So that's something that this group's done all year.

And I think some guys did some things out of characteristic just trying to make things happen. But we were in the driver's seat up five and we just didn't make the plays. And we had four big turnovers in the last five minutes that hurt us. And you can't turn the ball over. It was a low at 13, but it's still four crucial ones late.

Q. Is it your hope that you guys play beyond today?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: Yeah, I hope so. I think this group needs to. I'll go back and talk to them. But I think this group needs as much basketball as it can get. And with everybody coming back except Tim Jacobs, who played well tonight, and Mike and Connor, there's a lot of guys coming back, and they need to play basketball.

Q. With that in mind, if this was the last game of the season for you guys, looking back on this season, how would you grade yourself, how would you grade this program for what it was?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: Well, I think you've got to look at it is that as a coach I didn't really know what I had. I thought that -- I ended up having by media two first-teamers. By coaches I had a second-teamer. I thought those guys were pretty good. I think they fit in the program where we do things a certain way and it kind of showcases their strengths and what they can do. I don't think as a group we were able to ever guard like we have in the past. I thought we showed flashes. Now we're going to have great stats for defense, but when we really needed crucial stops or consistency, I don't think we had that.

So that's something that we work on every day and try to get better at, but hopefully they'll get better. But that's the things that I look on. I thought they battled back. We had a couple of good runs. Of course we got off to a pretty decent start and then we had the four losses and then we had a big win in Nevada. Coming in I thought our guys were in a good frame of mind and they played pretty good. We just couldn't make the plays at the end.

We've got a lot of work to do but I'm happy with where the team is, I'm happy with the guys I've got coming back, I'm happy with the recruits coming in, so we'll go forward.

Q. You're happy with the guys coming back. Is there anything you can say about transition this off season, be it staff transition or player transition, and specifically have you and your son made a decision if he's going to be a Lobos next year?
HEAD COACH CRAIG NEAL: We haven't talked about that. We're worried about the season. We're trying to go forward. I don't think there will be any staff changes. But if guys get better jobs and better opportunities and get head coaches' jobs, which has happened at our place, then they have to do that. We want to promote that. I think that's why we're in the business and I think that's why we try to make coaches better. And I've just been very fortunate that I've had two guys go and be head coaches. I've had another guy go on and be a top assistant. That's a credit to our program and what we've done.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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