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March 10, 2016

Andy Enfield

Julian Jacobs

Jordan McLaughlin

Las Vegas, Nevada

Utah - 80, USC - 72

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment about tonight's game?

COACH ENFIELD: Fought hard for 40 minutes. They made a couple huge shots down the stretch and we cut it to two, a 30-footer with the time expiring and the three by Kuzma really gave them the cushion they needed.

I give them credit. They're a very good basketball team. So are we, and I thought it was a really good game.

Q. Coach, 3-8 now this season against teams top 30 in the RPI. What do you have to do to take that next step?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, 12 top 100 wins and five in the top 50, so we played a challenging schedule. Three-quarters of our schedule have been in the top 10 of the RPI and we have 12 of those wins.

I'm proud of our team. We've competed. Obviously we've come up short against a couple teams that are in the top of our league that are ranked in the top 15, top 10 in the country.

But as you saw, we were one possession away from taking the lead with two and a half minutes left today. So, we're one or two possessions away from beating a top 10 team in the country.

So we're right there. We didn't play great tonight, but we played hard enough, especially in the second half to come back. We missed a couple lay-ups in transition, in the middle second half. Jordan missed a wide-open lay-up, and then they come down and hit the three. It was a five-point swing, it could have cut it to four and set us at nine, then we battled back and we cut to two again.

Obviously our players didn't quit. We're one or two possessions away. Now we've had some huge wins this year. Anytime you beat UCLA three times, beat Arizona, beat Colorado, Oregon State, Washington, Wichita State, Monmouth, et cetera, a lot of those teams are going into the NCAA Tournament.

So to have 12 top 100 wins, and we haven't had a loss outside the top 100, so we played a very challenging schedule the whole year. This is no different today, another top 12 team in the country.

Q. What is going to be the difference in turning the corner and not just being competitive in games like this but being able to win these types of match-ups?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we lost 20 games this year, so turning the corner, I think we've turned quite a few corners. In fact, we might be circling right now. We have 21 wins, and, as I just said, we've beaten a lot of good teams this year.

Now, what's the next step for our team? We have to win on the road. We have everyone coming back next year. We had one senior, the bulk of our team is coming back next year, so hopefully we'll have some more games to play next week.

But as we look into the future, we have to learn to win on the road. That comes with maturity, comes with leadership, and these two players are going to have to figure it out in the off-season how to do that.

But I can't be upset at them. We have 21 wins, and we just lost to a top 12 team in the country and we fought hard. So we're right there. We're right where we need to be. Obviously I'd like to have 24, 25 wins, but at the same time I'm sure all of you sitting there thought we'd have about 12 or 13 wins right now, so I think we've turned quite a few corners.

Q. You touched on your credentials quite a bit here. How confident are you that that's enough to hear your name called on Sunday?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, I think with our strength of schedule and how many top 100 wins we have, I think there is no question that we deserve to be in the tournament. I certainly wouldn't want to play us. We're very streaky and explosive, as you saw the last two games. But that's out of our hands. We respect the Selection Committee and what they have, and we'll be like a lot of other teams waiting on Sunday to see what the situation is.

Q. Julian, you kind of had the same demeanor last time you guys lost to these guys 80-69. You heard what Coach said as far as your resume goes. What's on your mind right now losing this game?
JULIAN JACOBS: Well, you know, it's never a good feeling when you lose, especially when you're highly capable of beating a good team. But with that being said, I'm still proud of the team and what we've accomplished so far. But, yeah, it just sucks losing.

Q. What changed in the second half to really allow you to kind of go off and give your team a spark to go on a run?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Got a couple easy ones in transition from our team defense. We got a couple stops and then my teammates were finding me for wide-open shots, and I just had confidence to knock them down.

Q. Jordan and Julian, only five turnovers tonight, but also only nine assists against Utah. What do you think the defense did that was so effective in limiting the ball movement?
JULIAN JACOBS: Well, I'm sure a major part of their scout was to stop our transition game. That's something we thrive off of. They're a well-coached team. A lot of credit goes to them. They're a mature basketball team. They've got a couple of older guys. They've been playing together for some time now, and even though we didn't turn the ball over, I still felt that we moved the ball in certain times and that's when we were doing well.

But there were times when the ball got stagnant and we weren't moving it and made some selfish plays, and that's probably the reason why we didn't have that many assists.

Q. Andy, the strategy against Poeltl seemed to be to double and sometimes have three guys on him. He was limited more than he was the first game against him but some other guys went off. How effective do you think that strategy was?
COACH ENFIELD: We had a chance to win the game down the stretch. So as I look at the game as a whole, we gave ourselves a chance. We were down two with under 3:00 or 4:00, 3:30, 3:30 left, and then we were down three and they hit that desperation. We went to our zone. I think it was under 2:30 at that point at the end of the shot clock.

So anytime you give yourself a chance to win, you're not going to stop Utah. Poeltl is considered to be the best center in the United States, and to hold him to 14 and 8, he did have four turnovers and four assists. He's an exceptional basketball player. But you're not going to take everything away. You just have to hope.

We were a little unlucky. Give them credit. Taylor hit a 30-footer, a one-possession game with two minutes left, and then Kuzma came down, and he's not a three-point shooter and he hit a three the next possession and that was the difference in the game.

So I thought our strategy was solid. But give Utah credit. Their players, like Kuzma, stepped up and had a big game against us, and that's what happens. You try to take something away or maybe their first or second option, and if the third or fourth option beats you, then you lose.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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