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March 18, 2016

Javan Felix

Isaiah Taylor

Shaka Smart

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

UNI-75, Texas-72

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by the Texas Longhorns, Coach Shaka Smart, his two student-athletes Javan Felix and Isaiah Taylor. Coach, your thoughts?

COACH SMART: Congrats to Northern Iowa. They played a great game. Obviously, Jesperson hit a big shot to win it for them.

I thought both teams really battled. That was probably the best game we've had in terms of our response to getting down in the game. Our guys really responded well. I thought when we were the more aggressive team those were our best stretches, but you've got to give Northern Iowa credit for the way they battled back after we took the lead, and they ultimately won the game.

Q. Isaiah, can you talk about the driving shot where you tried to get it in and it just didn't go? And as soon as they got the ball and he turned it loose, what did you think?
ISAIAH TAYLOR: You talking about the last shot?

Q. Your last shot.
ISAIAH TAYLOR: My last shot, oh, I mean, when it went in, I seen the clock was going down. I think there were a couple seconds on the clock me, I just knew they had to heave it. It's March Madness. He hit a half court shot. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen during this time of year. Northern Iowa, they made one more shot than us. We played hard, we fought hard. Proud of my guys, especially the seniors, Javan, Danny, Prince, Cam, Connor, Demarcus. We wanted to do this for them. Unfortunately, we fell short, but just want to say I love those guys and to Coach Smart. He's been a great mentor to me, great mentor to the rest of our team, and been like a father figure to us on and off the court and he's made us all better.

Q. Javan, you guys have pulled off some of these before. Did you feel like when Isaiah made that shot that this was another one of those moments that you guys enjoyed? I guess if you could walk through your view of that last shot by them too.
JAVAN FELIX: When a play like that happens, you just try to worry about how much time's left on the clock, and didn't think about where to go from there. But we were confident the whole game. Once they made that shot we were still confident. It gave us another chance. That was my thought process. I'm pretty sure that was the rest of the team's thought process also.

Q. Javan, I know it goes in and the season's over. But to be down like you were, what's that say about the spirit of your team?
JAVAN FELIX: I think it speaks volumes about us, especially we've responded all year. People have picked against us, people have counted us out, and we've responded and leaned on each other to play through it. Even our response from our last game before this to this one, I think it talks about how we came together as a team. It's just unfortunate we came up short for this one.

Q. Isaiah, you guys get off to the good start. You're up 11-4 with 15:30 left in the first half, and things kind of unravel. What was going on there?
ISAIAH TAYLOR: Basketball is a game of runs. We made our runs in the game. We came out and punched them in the mouth and they punched back. I think we responded well at the end of the half. Javan hit a three, got it within single digits.

We came out the second half and we fought. I think we did a great job of responding. Came back and took the lead in the second half and it was back and forth from there and the result was the result.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Smart.

Q. What was the defensive game plan against Washpun? Because he appeared to be, no matter who was guarding him down the floor, he was trying to switch off and get what he felt was a better match-up.
COACH SMART: Yeah, he's a good player. I mean, we knew coming into the game that the ball was going to be in his hands the vast majority of the time. It's one thing when you go out and make plays, but when you do that when you know -- when the other team knows that you're going to do it, that says even more about you. I thought we had some possessions where we really defended him well. We tried to send them to his right-hand.

In the first half, we did not defend him as well, and he was able to create some plays for himself and for his teammates. Second half I thought we defended better. That's why we were able to come back and take the lead. Just looking at the statistics, they only made eight field goals in the second half. The problem is we put them to the foul line too much for the whole game. I think that really was the difference. They made 25 free throws, we made 13.

Q. Shaka, throughout the year, if you had one critique of the team, it was that they tended to get bummed out when things went bad. Tonight it seems like one of the nights when they didn't. Like you said earlier, was this the best case of them kind of fighting through adversity? Does that make it all the more difficult to see how it ended?
COACH SMART: It does. I thought this was about as well as we've responded to getting down all year. When they got up, I think, 16 in the first half, and they were almost scoring at will and we weren't scoring the ball very well. Our guys, the things they were saying in the timeouts and the look on their faces was one of resolve, and our guys did a good job battling back, cutting the lead to a manageable number at the half and really came out of the half executing all the stuff that we talked about doing.

But Northern Iowa's a good team. I thought there was a stretch there in the second half where they scored maybe three, four times in a row, and some of them might have been fouls, but we just didn't defend them as well in their motion and some of the stuff they were doing, and that was the big difference because we went from being up five or so to them coming back and taking the lead.

Q. What did you see in that last sequence? I mean, it's so improbable, but what did you see?
COACH SMART: Well, we called timeout in the free throw, before he shot free throws, and we diagrammed a play in case we were down three. We got fortunate that he missed the second free throw, so it was a two-point game.

We just said, Isaiah, just go. He made a great play, scored. But UNI made a head's up play from there. They got the ball in. Jesperson kind of weaved a little bit, and when the shot left his hand, I didn't know it was in, but it looked like it was a real chance. You know, if you can have that -- our guys kind of got out of the way a little bit because they didn't want to foul.

If you could have that play back, you try to make it tougher on him. But the kid made a shot from half court, so you've got to give him credit.

Q. This is obviously not the way you wanted to go out, but how much do you feel like you've been able to accomplish with this program your first year at Texas?
COACH SMART: You know, I'll take some time after today and think about that. I'm just disappointed about tonight, how it went. I wanted our guys to be able to keep playing, especially our older guys. I do think that they've made a lot of progress in terms of them demonstrating a genuine level of care and concern for one another. I think that's what goes into any team being great. We've had our moments this year where we've done some really good things. We're certainly going to have to get more consistent as we move forward.

But I'm proud of these guys, the way that they battled. It's a really, really tough one to take, but, again, you've got to give Northern Iowa credit. Coach Jacobson does a phenomenal job and they deserved to win.

Q. What did you say to your guys after the game?
COACH SMART: It's hard. I mean, you never know. There's not really much you can say to make them feel better in moments like this. I just told them I love them and I'm proud of them. I told the seniors that I'm just so proud of the progress they've made.

When I met those guys in the spring, they all had different reasons for why they hadn't done as well as they thought they should have done or other people thought they should have done. But what's happened over the course of the last several months is those guys have grown to take on a level of accountability and understand that they're probably -- no, they definitely have to be the biggest part of their own success, and I think those guys have learned that. It's taken us some time to learn that as a group.

But, again, I thought the way our guys responded after getting down tonight really showed that they wanted to do it for each other. That's why losing is so hard because I think our guys really took a step.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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