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March 24, 2016

Perry Ellis

Landen Lucas

Bill Self

Louisville, Kentucky

Kansas - 79, Maryland - 63

THE MODERATOR: Whenever you're ready, Coach, opening statement for us.

COACH SELF: Well, we're so excited to be advancing and getting an opportunity to play for the right to go to the Final Four against a terrific, great Villanova team.

Tonight, I thought we played just superb. I thought the second half, we defended, we rebounded. We ran good offense for the most part and, of course, our two bigs played very, very well.

But it was a good team effort tonight.

MODERATOR: Questions for Perry and Landen, please.

Q. Perry, Landen moved into the starting lineup in the Texas game. How much has that freed you up to do more things offensively?
PERRY ELLIS: So much. He's such a smart player. He knows his position and he just does a great job. He just makes so many different plays, rebounding and just awesome player.

Q. Perry, being this is your last go-round, what does it mean to get this far?
PERRY ELLIS: Means so much. Just happy with the team. Just going to try to keep competing and just having fun with it.

Q. Perry, your game seems to fit so well with Coach Self's offenses. Was that natural, or did you have to kind of mold yourself to what he wants you to do?
PERRY ELLIS: Over the years, I'd say I got a lot more aggressive. They have a lot of confidence in me, teammates, coaches. They just tell me to be aggressive, and that's what I try to do.

Q. Wayne was talking about in the locker room how a lot of people made this to be a pros versus Joes matchup in terms of, quote/unquote, NBA talent, Landen. Was that something you guys talked about at all or thought about?
LANDEN LUCAS: We talked about it a little bit and naturally you think about it. But we just want to come out and show that we were the better team and get the win tonight.

If there was any competitive edge gained by that, I'm sure we used it. But the first goal was winning, because we knew that we could be the better team, and that was the main motivation.

Q. Landen, what was the -- how did you go about keeping Diamond Stone from being a huge factor in the game, and how would you grade the team's aggressiveness, particularly in the second half?
LANDEN LUCAS: With Stone, I had watched some tape on him, so I kind of could tell what he liked to do. And I knew I could be physical with them if the refs allowed it. That's what I tried to do. Then in the second half, I knew he liked to lower his shoulder a lot so there was an opportunity to pick up a charge.

As far as the team's aggressiveness, we were definitely aggressive. We stayed in the game by playing defense in the first half. In the second half, we knew that we could create some separation with a nice little run, and we did that, and that helped us separate a little bit.

Q. Landen, you've gotten so much credit for being a rebounder and a defender. How much fun is it to score and make shots the way you're making shots right now?
LANDEN LUCAS: I'll take it. That's credit to my team. They give me the ball in good position. That's the way I score, is off of those guys. I focus on the defense and the rebounds. If they're getting the ball close to the hoop like that, I can finish it, then I'm definitely happy with that too.

Q. What do you guys know about Villanova? What have you seen from them?
PERRY ELLIS: They're a great team, play great defense, got some shooters and some length also. They're just playing well.

LANDEN LUCAS: They're a very good team. We know that they get after it. They're very aggressive, and they're a veteran group. We are, too, so we're looking forward to a competitive game, and it will be fun.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. See you tomorrow.

Let's go to questions for Coach.

Q. Bill, the numbers show that since Landen became the starter, Perry's offense has really improved. It was already pretty good. His rebounding is down a little bit. Do you want him to make that sacrifice, the way he's playing right now?
COACH SELF: He's not rebounding like he -- what I think he can. But we'll probably still start him on Saturday. But Landen's also getting some of the ones that he would normally get. In my opinion, he's not -- his numbers aren't -- I don't know how many he ended up with tonight, five? I don't know. But his numbers aren't great.

But if you look at our team numbers, they're much better since Landen's been starting, though Perry's may not be as good. Landen makes it easy for Perry to play because he understands Perry's game. Landen's strengths allow Perry to play to his strengths as well.

Q. Bill, how much do you think Wayne helped kind of stabilize you guys in the first half? I just wonder in a broader sense what you -- how you account for the sort of transformation for him from a year ago at this stage in terms of consistency and delivering for you in postseason?
COACH SELF: Wayne is a very competitive individual. You can tell that. The first year, he played next to Wiggs, and he loved Wiggs, but it was about Wiggs. The next year he played next to Kelly, and he loved Kelly. But it was still more about Kelly.

This year he can probably take more ownership of what's going on, and he has. And I don't know if it's been a huge transformation. I just think he's playing to his athletic ability and his strength, better than he was the first couple of years. But certainly he's been -- he was really, really good tonight.

He gives us a physical confidence, a presence that I think this team really, really needed.

Q. Bill, back in late January, when you made the decision to start Landen, what did you see in him that you thought would work?
COACH SELF: I think that Landen -- Landen's is as bright as any player we have, maybe the brightest as far as basketball IQ. Late clock, he'll know how to set a fade screen to get a guy a shot or against a zone or whatnot.

My decision, and I told our guys all along, you know, and this is bad because it's not Cheick's fault, it's not the other guy's fault. It's just we need to play somebody that gives Perry a chance to be as good as he can be.

The key, I think, for our team and most teams or all teams is you have to put your best players in a position where they can play their best. I felt like that wasn't happening with Perry.

I think it became very obvious after visiting with the guys that they felt like Landen gave us the best chance to play at a higher level. And not that the other guys couldn't play well, but Perry didn't look near as good when he played with them.

Q. Bill, Wayne just said in the locker room that he felt that he heard that you were maybe a little bit more lenient with these guys since they're a veteran team as compared to teams you may have had in the past. How does that kind of manifest itself when you're preparing for a game?
COACH SELF: Lenient, maybe -- I think all coaches get softer as they get older. That may be a good word. I would say I trust them more. And when you trust your guys to do what they should be doing, then you don't have to be on their back near as much.

And they do a good job policing and coaching each other. I think it's been fun to watch the transformation of them becoming mature players and mature individuals and understanding what really wins over time so I don't have to harp on those same things. They basically coach the other guys.

So it's been a fun group. I probably have been a little bit softer or more lenient in some ways with this group just because their personality and what they've shown me is that I can trust them.

Q. Bill, what's it been like to coach Perry for four years and to see him playing the way he is now?
COACH SELF: It's why he came back to school, Pat. He could have bolted last year and been probably a mid-second round pick. But he comes from such a good family and rock solid. And he couldn't hurt himself by coming back to school. And he has a chance to leave Kansas with a legacy that will allow him to be a hero there for a lifetime.

So I think it feels great. When we got Perry, we knew he'd be good. I think he's done some things from an aggressive standpoint that's allowed him to be great. But really I'm proud of the whole team. But it's so good to see kids that have really spent some time in your program and gone through the ups and downs experience success this time of year.

Q. Bill, you said earlier you thought you guys plays superb. How much of that is playing through a lot of missed shots in the first half and having the lead even when you didn't play that well offensively?
COACH SELF: We started off -- Kurt told me, he said, Coach, we're .415 or .416 to start the game. They weren't shooting a great percentage either. There was still a little separation, but not much.

But I think guys get confidence -- and I worked for Coach Sutton, and one thing he taught me more than anything else is you can think you're playing poorly and you look up and you're up three. And that's what happens when you guard and you rebound for the most part.

I'm not saying we were great defensively tonight the first half, nor did we rebound great, but we kept in contact because we were at least pretty good in those areas.

In the second half, things just started flowing. But I don't know if the key to winning games is playing great all the time. The key to winning games is when you're not playing great, it's not allowing people to go on runs against you. We were able to do that the first half.

Q. Bill, can you give us some thoughts on your ball screen offense in the second half? Coach Turgeon just told us that he thought that was the difference, that you guys ran ball screen offense to Perry just really flawlessly in the second half.
COACH SELF: It helps when Perry makes shots. Everybody says I'm a high/low coach. We've been a ball screen-mode team for years. We run, you know, through our post or a high/low action as a play to score.

But I love putting the ball in good guards' hands. And tonight we were able to take advantage a little bit of their two bigs, because when they play two bigs, that allows -- Perry's basically a guard playing the big spot. That probably allowed him to have some bad closeouts and things like that that he could take advantage of.

Q. Coach, looking forward Villanova. They've been shooting the ball very well this tournament. What kind of matchup problems do they pose for you? What do you think of that matchup for you guys?
COACH SELF: I've only seen Villanova sparingly on TV, and then I watched some games going into this week, obviously, because we knew that if we won, we'd have a great chance to play them.

So but I haven't studied them. I know this. The way they shoot the ball from the four-spot and, of course, what was he tonight? Was he five for six, Jenkins? And so that will be kind of a good matchup, Perry and him, because they're both kind of -- Perry didn't shoot as many threes, but similar perimeter-type four men. Then they both have an anchor inside. We both have an anchor inside. Their guards are so clever and so good.

But if they go 10-of-15 and 18-of-19, you know, nobody's going to beat them. So we're going to have to do some things to hopefully at least allow them not to play within their comfort zone.

They were good on offense. What I think they're even better at is creating havoc defensively and getting confidence offensively because their defense is so aggressive and sound even though they do put themselves in a position to make a lot of steals.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, appreciate it. See you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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