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March 18, 2016

Steve Prohm

Georges Niang

Monte Morris

Denver, Colorado

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Iowa State student-athletes.

We'll open it up to questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Monte, you'll have a tough assignment tomorrow guarding Josh Hagins. What did you notice from Little Rock and what do you see from him in particular?
MONTE MORRIS: That he a tremendous player. He's capable of making tough shots. He made tough shots down the stretch. It speaks a lot about what type of player he is, having two points at halftime, coming through in the clutch to have 29 in the second half.

He's a great player. We're just going to have to slow him down, come out victorious. It's going to take a unit to slow him down tomorrow.

Q. A matchup of different styles. How have you been able to assert your tempo in teams you faced this year who play a little bit slower?
GEORGES NIANG: I think the biggest thing is making things difficult for them. They do a good job of getting the ball side to side, getting the defense rotating.

If we can slow that down, make them have to step out further, get out of their comfort zones, hopefully get them to turn the ball over.

We're going to be tough with Hagins. He does a good job of controlling tempo. But if we can speed them up, get them out of place, that can help change the tempo of the game.

Q. Monte, saw you live in Kansas City last week. Saw you yesterday, you looked back to normal. How do you feel compared to last week with the shoulder?
MONTE MORRIS: Night and day. I felt probably about 95% yesterday. Probably like 65 at the Big 12.

Like I said, we have a great training staff. I take my hat off to them. They got me back feeling healthy. Just going to continue working on the shoulder and see how the results play out.

Q. Georges, getting the win in the first round, how much of a relief was that considering what happened with this team last year?
GEORGES NIANG: Obviously, like I talked about yesterday, that stinging feeling of going out in the first round is something you want to get rid of. We did that.

That was yesterday. The past is in the past. We have to prep and get ready for a really good Little Rock team. They really stick to their guns and know how to win games. Any team that can win 30 games, I don't care who you're playing, that's a tough challenge.

We're going to have our hands full with them. That's what we'll focus on. Whatever happened yesterday is in the past. We need to focus on what's ahead of us.

Q. Your first-round game was kind of more like a normal game. Little Rock's broke up, was wild. When a game gets wild, do you try to sort of bring yourself down and get a little bit more grounded? Do you ride it like a wave?
MONTE MORRIS: I feel like we got a core group of older guys with Georges, Abdel and Jameel being the seniors. Even Naz on the bench. I think we got a lot of experience. We know when to speed it up, when to slow it down.

I think with the experienced guys around us, I think that's when we able to dictate, moments when to push and when to slow it down.

GEORGES NIANG: To be honest, I think it all comes down to, like Monte said, having experienced guys. When you have a great point guard like we do who doesn't feel speed, never gets sped up, never turns the ball over. That's the biggest thing. He controls the whole game.

He's done a great job since I've been here. I'm sure he'll do a great job next year. When you have a great point guard like we do, you don't worry about those situations because he handles it with poise and he's a great leader.

Q. Some guys were getting oxygen on the sidelines in other games. How much did the altitude affect you and Monte in this game?
GEORGES NIANG: They got the hookup, man. Oxygen (smiling).

It was tough till the first media. You really started to feel it. We knew we had to battle through. We knew we weren't going to let altitude slow us down from achieving our goals.

I know it's tough, I want to say it's more of a mental thing. It's March. You don't work this hard to blame a loss on altitude. That will never come out of my mouth. You have to grind it out. It's how bad do you want it.

Q. With Coach Prohm coming in from Murray State, what has he told you about not taking a mid-major like Little Rock lightly tomorrow?
GEORGES NIANG: Obviously since coach came from Murray State, he knows what it's like to come from a mid-major, really get to the NCAA tournament. That takes a lot of grind and grit. They don't have the luxury of being able to lose in their conference tournament.

So he said they're all in. Those type of guys are all bought in. They have great teams.

The biggest thing with them is they're playing as a unit when it comes to March. He preaches the biggest thing is, Are you guys going to stick together when adversity hits, are you going to come together as a unit and grind out stops and score the ball?

Teams like Little Rock, other mid-major teams, they may play in a smaller conference, but they bought into each other, they've bought into the bigger goal of advancing. Some high-major teams lose sight of that. That's not a good thing. That's how teams get beat.

I think we're beyond that. I think we have a bunch of experienced guys in this locker room that just want to win. So anything we have to do to win.

MONTE MORRIS: I'll just say that Little Rock, you know, they might not get publicity that we get like on ESPN and those things. If you was on the other side, like me and Georges is on that team, we had the opportunity to take on a Big 12 powerhouse like us, we going to give it our all, try to play our best.

I feel like that's how they going to come out, like they have a point to prove. They not wrong for doing that.

We have to come in focused, try to stay in the moment and try to advance to the Sweet 16.

Q. With regard to A.J. English, how important has he been defensively for this team?
MONTE MORRIS: I think it goes under looked a little bit. That guy worked so hard this summer. Early mornings with footwork after we went hard for an hour and a half in the weight room. He would go out in the gym, do lateral drills with his feet, lateral fitness.

Naz going out, he stepped in and filled in the role. I think the sky's the limit. He's got so much more growth. He's going to continue to show that.

THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes at this time. Thank you, gentlemen.

We're ready to begin with Iowa State coach. If you could give us some thoughts on your upcoming match tomorrow.

COACH PROHM: It's a great opportunity for our guys and our school and these players. Opportunity to go to the Sweet 16 is a great thing.

We've got to beat a really good basketball team in Little Rock. Anytime you win 30 games, league, mid-major, low-major, high-major, you've got a really good basketball team. Chris has done a really good job, just being there one year, assembling a roster. He's really maxed those guys out, terrifically defensively. They have a toughness about them.

But our guys are ready. They're ready for this moment. They're really locked in and more focused than they've been all year.

So we're really looking forward to tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions.

Q. What kind of similarities do you see in your first season at Murray State and the season that Coach Beard is having at Little Rock?
COACH PROHM: I hope the one similarity is that they lose the second-round game (laughter). I hope that's the main one.

You know, I think of their team, I compare them a little bit with that first year. A great run through your conference. Some great non-conference wins. Then you get on the national stage and you prove to everybody you're worthy of your accolades.

That's why I said anytime you win 30 games, that's remarkable, especially at the mid-major level. High level too.

I inherited the roster at Murray. Chris walked into a brand-new situation where he had a couple really good players in there, then he brought a couple really good players in there. He's given those guys loads of confidence.

They won games early. It's funny. You look back, you see some games early that they won. I remember my first year we beat Southern Miss in double overtime. You have to win games like that to give your guys confidence and belief.

You look at their schedule the games they won they won non-league, they played really well and they played a good schedule as well. They've done a great job. He's done a tremendous job. I love their toughness and I love their spirit.

Q. Purdue matched up really well with Little Rock for three-quarters of the game, then it got wild. How much of your preparation for this game is working on matchups and how much is trying to control the craziness? Can you control the unpredictable parts of the tournament, do you even try?
COACH PROHM: No, you can't worry about that stuff. I think what you can worry about is just your team and getting them right on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively.

We watched the Purdue game again when we got back last night. Obviously they guarded Purdue a certain way. Purdue was big. Purdue ended up going small. Purdue was in control of the game, up 14 with four minutes to go. Then Little Rock's pressure really bothered them.

I hope our guard play, Monte, Georges, being his skill level, I hope that gives us an ability to handle their pressure better.

Whether we play big, small, we don't have the size of Purdue. But we can space the floor. We can spread you out. We can do some different things offensively that Purdue may not be able to do.

Purdue's the Big Ten, physical, big guys in the paint. So Purdue is in great shape, 14-point game. But Little Rock, when you win so many games, those kids believe they are going to win. They kept coming and they kept coming. Then Hagins made kind of March shots, I call them, where you go, How did that one go? He rose up to the moment.

We've been defended so many different ways this year, you almost need to wait till the game starts to see how people are going to defend you and then adjust.

Q. You've been in the post-season as the underdog, now you're on the other side of things. What is the difference in how you feel being on this side?
COACH PROHM: It's great being on this side from the standpoint for a lot of reasons. Being at Iowa State is a blessing. Being in the Big 12 is incredible. It's an unbelievable league.

The one difference is we are the favorite. Both teams will be crushed if they lose, but the mid-major, you're going out there, you're just throwing all your punches. Whatever happens, you know, happens.

Obviously at this level you're expected to win. You'll be beyond crushed if you didn't get there and you didn't max out. I wouldn't trade this position, though. I wouldn't trade this position for anything.

I think our guys are ready, our guys are focused. It's a neutral floor, so great respect for both teams I think both ways. Now we got to go play. You're not worried about conference affiliation when you're playing out there, it's just Iowa State and Little Rock.

Q. What do you make of the high that this team is on, Little Rock? They're the talk of the tournament so far. You've been there.
COACH PROHM: Going through it is some of the best times of your life. But I know for our team tomorrow, if we can win at 6:30, it will be the best time of our lives.

At this time of year, winning in this tournament is so special, and it's so tough. Especially once you get into the round of 32, the first round is hard enough, to advance to the Sweet 16 is extremely difficult.

What Little Rock has got going on right now is extremely special. Those kids are very deserving, they've earned it. Hagins, like he said yesterday, I heard a quote, he's been waiting for this for 22 years. We got a lot of guys on our roster waiting for this moment, too.

I've been waiting for this moment since last year, what happened to my team last year, what happened to my team four years ago, three years ago, whatever that was.

We're not getting a lot of pub, Iowa State. But that's good. Maybe we got too much pub early with all the newness and all the change. Maybe it puts a little chip on our shoulder.

Q. We don't hear a ton about Matt Thomas. He guarded A.J. English. How important has he been, especially defensively, for this team to season?
COACH PROHM: He's been great. Obviously Buddy Hield was amazing in the conference tournament. Before those two games, we did a great job on Buddy, we did a great job on Jarrod Uthoff.

I thought we did a great job on English. He got some things in transition. He's a great player so he's going to make some plays.

We didn't get our ball-screen coverage right. But Matt has been really solid for us this year in so many different ways. You know you can count on him. You know what you're going to get from him. Then he's made shots at a really high clip. We're going to need him to shoot that well tomorrow.

He probably won't guard Hagins, though, tomorrow just because Hagins' size and quickness, being a smaller guard than Buddy. Matt matches up with those guys a little bit better. We'll probably guard Hagins with somebody different.

But Matt has been terrific for us.

Q. The challenges of playing two games in three days with somewhat of a short bench. What are the challenges with that?
COACH PROHM: These timeouts are so long, I was talking in there in the back, the timeouts are long. We don't play. If we're fortunate and blessed to win, we don't play till next Friday. If these guys got to play 36, 38, 39, 40 minutes, these guys will be ready. We didn't do much today.

I think right now it's about your mental state, making sure we're totally focused on the job at hand, and that's winning and being prepared.

I don't think fatigue will be a factor. Little Rock does play nine, ten guys. They throw different lineups at you. We played six guys a lot this year. We can play seven and eight a little bit.

If it's six guys we play tomorrow, they'll be ready to go, and they'll leave everything out there on the floor. I don't think that will be a factor in the game.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time, coach.

COACH PROHM: Thank you.

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