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March 11, 2016

Laimonas Chatkevicius

Frank Martin

Sindarius Thornwell

Nashville, Tennessee

Georgia - 65, South Carolina - 64

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with South Carolina.

COACH MARTIN: Really disappointed for our guys. I couldn't ask them to play any harder than they played today. We gave up some offensive rebounds coming down the stretch, and that cost us the game. Struggled to score. Struggled to get to the free-throw line.

But I can't fault our guys for their effort. Great for our league, Georgia winning. They're -- I thought all year that they're an NCAA team. They've played, I don't know, third, fourth hardest schedule in the country with some young kids on the front line that didn't know what they were doing early in the year. They've obviously gotten better and better and better.

But real proud of my guys. They came out here and fought, fought, fought. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way to close the game out.

Q. Sin, what was the plan on that last play, and what happened?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Well, we got the stop. Coach called a play, and the plan was to get a shot. Coach believed in me. I mean, I didn't know the situation, which is a mental mistake by me because I usually know the timing of the situation. I thought we were down when I turned the ball over. So it was like a reaction to go for the ball.

But there's no excuse, and I let my team down. That's it.

Q. For both you guys, Sin and Laimo, with this loss, do you guys think you're still safely in the NCAA Tournament?
LAIMONAS CHATKEVICIUS: I really don't know. I hope so. And we'll see on Sunday.

SINDARIUS THORNWELL: I mean, I hope so. I feel like we did -- we've done enough throughout the year with us winning the tournament in the Virgin Islands. So we're going undefeated nonconference, and winning a couple big games in conference play. I feel like our body of work has put us in a pretty good situation for Sunday, when selection day comes. But that's it.

Q. Laimo, you had some big buckets particularly in the second half. Was the plan in the second half to kind of go to you and get it going down to the post?
LAIMONAS CHATKEVICIUS: Not really. It was just, as always. Coach ran a couple plays, but really the team sharing the ball, looking for an open guy and stuff. So a couple times I couldn't do anything. I had to kick it out, and then Duane made a play and Sin made a play.

Q. With Frazier, not the free throw, but the play where he just drove through, was that how good of a player he can be to twist through? I think he got through all five on that possession.
COACH MARTIN: It's what it is. We're going to come ball screen 150 times for him, and your ball screen defense has to be good. And coming down the stretch, we made three mistakes on ball screen defense, and he made us pay all three times.

What hurt us was defensive rebounding. We just didn't rebound coming down the stretch. Last four, five minutes of the game, we couldn't get a clean rebound, and that hurt us.

Q. Coach, how do you pick someone up like Sin, who obviously means so much to your team, made a critical mistake down the stretch? Obviously, he feels real bad right now. How do you pick his spirits up to help this team move forward for a pending tournament run?
COACH MARTIN: If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be an NCAA team, and we wouldn't have been in the situation we're in in tonight's game. It hurts him that what happened happened because he cares so much. He'll be fine. He'll be fine.

Q. That was kind of along the same lines as my question, but how much does it say about Sin that he so quickly took ownership of that mistake?
COACH MARTIN: That's why he cares. When you invest, you care. When you care, you're willing to take a chance to do good things, and that's what he does. Obviously, the end of that last possession is not something that he's real proud of, or me or anybody. But if it's not for him, we don't win 24 games. If it's not for him, we don't finish third in league play. If it's not for him, we're not in the situation that we were in at the end of tonight's game.

Sin is a high character kid that's got a huge heart. He'll be perfectly fine.

Q. Coach, a rebound away from a double double for Laimonas. What did that do for your team going down the stretch?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah, any time he gives us a presence on the interior, we've got a chance to win. He was fairly active. He posted strong. You know, he rebounded better than he had been for a while. He gave us a chance to win. That's all you can ask from your kids.

Q. Frank, do you think that you guys have done enough to safely be in where you don't have to sweat out Sunday?
COACH MARTIN: I'm glad you asked me because these two guys have no idea. They've never been in it. So they've got no idea what it takes to be in it.

Absolutely. If the third place team that set a school record for regular season wins, that won 11 league games, didn't lose a single game in nonconference play, whose opponents had the seventh toughest schedule in the country is not worthy of the NCAA, then we've got a problem in our business.

I don't care what anyone else has to say. I don't care what their opinions are. That's a fact. I'd like to see a lot of these so-called teams that got better looking numbers than us play in our league 18 games and see what their record would be at the end of the year.

Q. Coach, just seven minutes from P.J. tonight. What do you lose with him off the floor?
COACH MARTIN: Can't foul. Starts the game, two fouls. Put him in, fouls. Put him in, fouls again. Can't foul. He's a guy that gives us an ability to pass. He can see certain passes that other guys on our team can't because of his size, but fouling's been his problem all year. And it's frustrating because, by the end of the year, you'd like for him to be in a better place from that standpoint.

But that's his challenge. As he continues to improve as a player is to not foul so he can stay on the floor.

Q. How important was missing Carrera tonight, and what is the situation with him moving forward in the possible NCAA run?
COACH MARTIN: He wanted to play today. He ran at practice today. I'm the one who made the decision that he was not going to play. I'm not going to sacrifice a young man to further injure himself to win a basketball game. I'm just not going to do that.

We're a team. We've had a mantra from day one. We call it all hands on deck. We've had guys out with the flu. We figured out a way to win. We've had guys out with something else. We figured out a way to win.

Unfortunately for Mike, he got himself hurt here towards the end of the year, and he gutted it out today. He wanted to show me that he could play, but I'm not going to do that to him.

Q. Coach, it might be too early to ask, but are you giving the guys the rest of the weekend off? Or do you want these guys back in the gym, watching film? Just what's sort of the plan for the team until the selection show?
COACH MARTIN: We'll travel home tomorrow. Won't do anything tomorrow. I got to decide what we're going to do Sunday during the day, and then we'll watch that show on Sunday.

I find it hard to believe that, if your numbers and everything you do say that you're solidly in an NCAA Tournament, that because you lose a game against another NCAA team on a neutral site, that that knocks you out of the NCAA Tournament. I struggle with that one. I'm not real intelligent, but I struggle with that one.

You know, we played a real good basketball team that's playing their best basketball of the year at the end of the season, and they got us. But, I mean, are we going to start judging people based on a game in a conference tournament, or are we going to judge people on what they do in a six-month period? I think what we did in a six-month period is pretty good.

Q. Marcus had to play some valuable minutes obviously tonight and has played well over the last three or four games. Are you feeling more and more confident every time he gets out on the floor?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. We recruited Marcus because we thought he could do some of the things that he's doing right now. We always loved his aggressiveness, his toughness, and he's doing those things. Marcus, every time he starts having success, he gets sick, something happens that kind of kicks him to the curb a little bit.

But that's the guy that played out there today is the guy that we recruited, the guy that played real well at Arkansas, the guy that we felt would be a real good player in our program.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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