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March 18, 2016

JeQuan Lewis

Mo Alie-Cox

Melvin Johnson

Will Wade

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

VCU-75, Oregon State-67

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by the VCU Rams, Coach Will Wade, Melvin Johnson, JeQuan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox. Coach, your thoughts about the game?

COACH WADE: I thought we got off to a really good start, which was key. We had talked about that. We sprinted out of the gate. Thought we did a nice job on the backboards. We had made a point all week, we wanted to win the glass by 10-plus, which we did.

I was really proud with how we responded to their run. When they went on their run to take the lead, we got a couple stops and we were able to get into flow offensively.

Melvin hit a big three to give us the lead, and then we pulled away down the stretch. I thought our free-throw shooting was excellent which was something we spent a lot of time working on. All in all, just a really well-played game on our part.

Oregon State's really good. Payton's just tremendous. He did a great job getting in the paint and making things happen, and Bruce has really come on as of late, but we had enough down the stretch.

Very happy for our guys, happy for Melvin and Korey, our two seniors. Really, really proud of JeQuan and Mo, the way they played. They had a hard time stopping those two on the two-man game.

Q. JeQuan, I'm wondering, when they made that run and took the lead in the second half, if you guys kind of had a we've-been-here-done-this kind of attitude and how much that played a role in being able to bounce back from that?
JEQUAN LEWIS: No, we understand the game. We know basketball's full of runs, so we kind of just took a deep breath and moved on because we knew everyone was coming.

Q. Melvin and Mo, would you guys please comment on the way JeQuan played today?
MELVIN JOHNSON: He played really well. Coming into the game, I just told him I don't have many of these left, and if he could do me a favor it would be for him to be aggressive, and he was extremely aggressive. He was really looking for his shot. I think that's when we're at our best when he's going north/south than when he's trying to be overly decisive on ball screens. He was really good for us and made some big-time plays and that's what big-time players do.

MO ALIE-COX: Coming into the game, we're in the pregame huddle, Mel just told everybody be aggressive. He said, if you're open, shoot the ball. JeQuan's a great shooter and we want him to shoot the ball when he's open instead of being hesitant. So he made big threes today.

On top of that, I didn't even know he had such a great game until after the game I looked at the stats. I said you have eight rebounds and seven assists or something like that. So very proud of him and the way he played.

Q. Melvin, the one three-pointer that you had, speaking of big threes, can you talk about that one?
MELVIN JOHNSON: It was huge. It was a confidence booster. I think I still missed two after that, but it was just good to see the ball go in. I thought a lot of those were going in, and I stayed to my shot and shot it the right way, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. The ball doesn't fall.

Coach, of course, gives me the ultimate confidence to continue to shoot. When JeQuan pitched it, he yelled, shoot, so I had no choice but to. Shot it the right way and once again it went in. From that point on, I think the momentum shifted back to our way again.

Q. JeQuan, could you talk a little bit about the way you were playing today and what you saw? Were you taking advantage of openings? Did you just want to push the ball up the court?
MO ALIE-COX: Yeah, in the huddles, Coach Wade was emphasizing pushing the ball in transition. When I got rebounds, it gave me the ability to just get ahead of everybody. I had Mo coming down and setting jack screens in transition which is very hard to guard and they opened some good things for us.

Q. JeQuan and Melvin, with the possible match-up against Buddy Hield in the second round, what are your thoughts? Maybe JeQuan you could start, what are your thoughts on guarding him and shutting him down?
JEQUAN LEWIS: I mean, he's a great player and he's a great scorer, but I'm sure the coach has a great game plan for us.

MELVIN JOHNSON: That's on the coaches.

COACH WADE: If he has 40, it's on me.

MELVIN JOHNSON: For the most part, we're going to go out here, watch them compete. They're a big-time team. They have one of the best players in college basketball, if not the best. It's basketball in March. You can't necessarily worry about who you're playing against, it's more so nameless, faceless. Go out, execute your formula and see what happens.

COACH WADE: To their point, we put everything we had into Oregon State. We haven't talked one thing about it. We haven't talked anything about Bakersfield or Oklahoma. We've spent all week on Oregon State. That's the only thing we cared about. That's the only thing we worked on. Half my team couldn't even tell you who the other two teams are that we could play. This is all we've been zeroed in on at this point. We'll figure it out tonight.

Q. Going off that, you guys outrebounded them in the second half. Do you think you could continue that going forward? Do you think you could have that rebounding advantage over teams down the road?
COACH WADE: I mean, we'll see. Oregon State, that was one of their weaknesses. I told the guys before the game we've got to outrebound by 10-plus. They've been outrebounded on the year. It's rare you run into a team from one of those conferences that gets outrebounded. That was something we needed to do.

I thought the rebounding was important, but we came up with huge offensive rebounds. Burgess got the one, and got the and-one. We got some really, really timely ones. They did a good job in the first half. We didn't have any offensive rebounds at the half. We got nine in the second half. We practice it, we work on rebounding quite a bit. It's a point of emphasis. We'll see what happens.

Like I said, I couldn't even tell you what Bakersfield or Oklahoma's rebounding numbers are on the year. I have no Earthly idea. So we'll get into all of that tonight.

Q. Coach, with you being back with this group and now the first time this season and the number one chair in the tournament, how nice is it during a game like this when it gets close in the second half to look down a line and see a group that's so tournament tested and to have that experience to rely on in the second half when they made that run?
COACH WADE: Yeah, I didn't really call a timeout. I trust our guys quite a bit. I trust this guy a lot, and I trust JeQuan with the ball, and Mo, and Korey and all those guys. We've got a good level of trust, good level of connectivity between our team and the coaching staff. That helps you win in March.

But these guys have been through it. And you've got to roll with them, and that's what we did today. They came through big for us, like I knew they would.

Q. Coach, 46 points in the paint today. I mean, is that indicative of the style of play that you want you guys to be at right now with your guards constantly attacking in the paint?
COACH WADE: Yes, that's a huge point of emphasis for us. Kind of that thing in the paint off of post feeds, off of drives, just putting a lot of pressure on the rim. In our wins we've been very good at that when we shoot a bunch of threes. We're spotty from three. We're 4 of 20 today. We're one of those teams that may shoot 4 of 20 today and shoot 14 of 20 on Sunday. That's just the way we are from three.

We led our league in three-point percentage, believe it or not, because we had some really, really big games. We shot almost 40% as a team at one point. Yeah, we want to get inside out threes, pound the paint, play inside out. So that's a huge point of emphasis for us is being able to get that thing inside, whether it be off post feeds, the bounce, whatever.

Q. JeQuan, your thoughts on Gary Payton and did going against a guy with his reputation and his ability offer any motivation to you?
JEQUAN LEWIS: I mean, yeah, he's a great player, but we're all players at the end of the day. We just stuck to what we do. We weren't really thinking about anything else.

Q. Coach Tinkle was talking about the physical nature that your guys showed. I wondered how much of it was that and how much was the ability of your quickness and ability to get up and down the court?
COACH WADE: Yeah, I thought we had a pretty good athleticism advantage in a lot of spots and we wanted to play in the open court and play in space where we could use our quickness advantage. They were bigger than us in most spots, but I tell our guys all the time, I'd rather be the quicker team than the bigger team sometimes. So we were able to use our quickness. We played small most of the game. Really, we're going to try to feel it out, but we decided going small was best. It opened up some driving lanes and opened up some space for our guys and got us to the single side drag screens and ball screens which is where we really hurt them.

But our guys played tough. Our guys were really good from the jump, and they deserve credit for that.

Q. Korey is kind of the hometown guy here, maybe didn't have his best statistical game, but thinking back to when you recruited him to the program when he got his waiver, is this what you guys talked about, having the opportunity to be in the position you're in now?
COACH WADE: Yeah, I told him basically when I recruited him -- well, I told him, when I recruited him, he needed to get better in a couple areas. His three-point percentage is a lot better. He's over 40%. I don't know what he was today, but he's over 40% on the year and we need to get better there.

I told him, one, you're going to get a chance to get a graduate degree. Two, you're going to have a chance to win a conference championship, which he did in the regular season. And three, you're going to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament. So pretty much we can check all three boxes at this point, and that's a successful year. He's been really good for us.

Those fifth-year kids are either horror stories or they're great stories, and he's been great for us. He's been really, really good for us. We're happy to have him. Hopefully now he can settle in a little bit and be ready to go and put his best foot forward on Sunday.

Q. You were talking several weeks ago about how you found JeQuan and you got a tip to go look at him. You didn't say who gave you the tip, but is that person someone you'll be calling tonight to say thank you?
COACH WADE: It was actually another AAU coach in their organization. I was happy for JeQuan. His mentor was here today, which is the first time he's seen him play in an NCAA Tournament game, and that was awesome. So I was really happy he played well and responded really well all game long. I would like to get another tip from that person, yes.

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