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December 17, 2016

Marc Loving

Thad Matta

Jae'Sean Tate

Las Vegas, Nevada

UCLA - 86, Ohio State - 73

Q. You guys are down 3 at the half and cut it to six with like eight minutes to go or something like that and they kind of pulled away. What ended up being the difference for you guys in those last seven, eight minutes of the game?
MARC LOVING: I feel like it was just a sense of urgency. Our huddles weren't as energetic and vocal as they normally were, and I feel like that carried over on to the court in certain instances where, like I said, just a sense of urgency wasn't there. The loose balls ended up bouncing their way and long rebounds. The mental aspect of turning the ball over two or three times in a row.

Q. Jae'Sean, why do you think that was the case?
JAE'SEAN TATE: I don't know. They hit some tough ones so it kind of hurt us down the stretch. We turned the ball over at key moments in the last couple minutes of the game. Let them go on runs, so...

Q. Marc, you seemed to really get to the basket or hit a bunch of jumpers today and you got to the basket a couple times. What were you able to do offensively that was able to help out tonight?
MARC LOVING: I just happened to be in the right spots. My teammates were really looking for me, and spacing was pretty good in the first half for the most part. And I was just able to get my legs going and knock some drives down.

Q. As a team, it was another tough night from three. I'm just wondering what you guys are going through mentally right now? Is it confidence, do you not like the shots that you're getting? What's happening from behind the arc?
JAE'SEAN TATE: We're still liking the shots. They're eventually going to fall. I mean, we work on those shots the majority of practice coming in this week. But we've just got to keep taking them and eventually they've got to fall.

Q. The run you went on to close the first half, you were down 10, and a 7-0 run, what was going right there, and what did it feel like in the locker room after that?
JAE'SEAN TATE: We felt connected. We shot pretty well. We were playing Buckeye defense and executing our offense. We regrouped, but we didn't come out with that sense of urgency. That's happened in the past, but we have to learn from this and figure out how to stop that from happening over and over again, and get ready for Tuesday.

Q. I know you never want to lose, but does it feel like a step backward?
JAE'SEAN TATE: I don't want to say step backward. I would just say that we know we didn't play to the best of our ability, and we've just got to learn from that.

Q. Marc, as a defense, you guys are among the top 20 in a lot of categories, and this is obviously a high-powered offense. What was the challenge like coming in for this? I know they obviously got a role in the second half. But how did you feel you held up for the majority of the game trying to contain them?
MARC LOVING: I feel like we did all right for the most part, but they shot 48%, which is, I mean, it's hard to beat a team shooting that well. So just, I mean, trying to make their shots as tough as possible, but we gave up too many open transition threes and they started to float a couple of them back-to-back.

Q. What's your message to the team after this? I mean, Jae'Sean says he doesn't feel like it's a step backward, maybe a step sideways? What do you take out of this game?
THAD MATTA: Well, we've got to take things we did well, and build on them. We've got to take the things we do well and alleviate them the best that we can. When you're playing a team like UCLA, the one thing you can't do is give them the basketball back.

We had some possessions at key opportunities in the first half that you can't do that, because percentage says they're eventually going to score. We had a couple outlet passes that gave it back to them. We had some transition errors. Those are the things that have to be alleviated. I thought for stretches there we did a really, really good job defensively on a great offensive team. And the thing that they do is if you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay for it. And we had a couple of mistakes which was probably the difference in the game.

Q. You mentioned outlet passes. I think Micah had one and Trevor had one in the second half. And Trevor in the second half it seemed they had two or three offensive rebounds and you guys couldn't get the ball. Is that a turning point for you? You cut it to six, and it looked like two or three chances maybe?
THAD MATTA: Yeah, that wasn't the play that was the game but it was sort of a momentum-type. There were a lot of swings of momentum in this game, and we were a little bit of a role there. But those are the ones that we sort of have to alleviate. We felt like we could run great offense against them and felt like we could get the shots that we wanted to get. But once again, our guys are struggling from the three-point line right now.

Quite honestly, I thought we had some phenomenal looks, so somehow, someway we've got to knock those shots down.

Q. Obviously, that would be part of the game plan. But when you looked at how you were going to try to beat these guys, how much did you need to shoot better from three than what you did?
THAD MATTA: It wasn't twos or threes; it was more we knew we had to be as sound as we could defensively and do both in terms of taking the shot and guarding the basketball. Offensively, we just wanted to execute. We tightened things up in the week leading into the game. And I thought we had pretty good possessions, but it's those empty possessions that cost you in a game like this.

Q. Coach, he goes small in the game and in the first half of games which he's been doing. When you look at his team and go into March, and somebody who has been so deep into March, what will cause people problems against these guys? What will the issues be playing them maybe back-to-back in an NCAA tournament every other day? What would be the issues?
THAD MATTA: Well, I think that the first and foremost is the balance. Because you look throughout the course of this game, and there were several times where different guys kind of went on a run, and that's a great thing to have. You don't know who it is, but you know it's coming.

The one thing I think they do tremendously well, they obviously shoot the three, but they finish at the rim. They're really, really good in the paint at finishing floaters and pull-ups and the big guys seem to really have a great understanding of what they're supposed to do, and they do it well.

Q. For a while there it seemed like you had kind of taken their transition game away from them. How difficult is that to do for 40 minutes?
THAD MATTA: Well, the hard thing is is it just keeps coming, which I love how they go about it. A lot of different guys can -- and they do a great job of sharing the basketball. But that was a huge focus for us. When I started watching them last week I was a little bit taken back by -- they're not like the old Loyola Marymount or even to our equivalent, like Michigan State where guys are -- they just throw it to the open guy, and it's amazing how that works.

When you've got guys out there that can really shoot it, I think that sort of opens up their transition a lot.

Q. I can't recall a time that you've brought your program out here to Las Vegas. Can you talk about the city as a host city for you guys?
THAD MATTA: Well, great experience. I think this is, in 17 years, this is the third or fourth time I've crossed the Mississippi River to play a non-conference game, and there's a reason for it. I won't get into it. We've had a good experience. Obviously, we spend, as coaches, out here sometime in July recruiting and this arena is as nice as I've seen. You look at the three games we've played in this deal from Chicago to Brooklyn to now Vegas, great opportunity, good experience for the guys. Wish we played a little better.

Q. To open the second half, like the guys talked about, you were down three. They went on a run and pushed it to 11, pushed it to 14. I know early in the season that was an issue. Was this similar to some of those early season struggles?
THAD MATTA: No, it's funny, because we had in that stretch three great looks. I mean, couldn't draw it up better on the board and go out and execute. The looks we had that didn't go down. I thought that tightened us up a little bit on the defensive end, we panicked a little bit. And that was something we had talked about.

They're going to go on the runs. They're a high-powered, offensive team, they're talented and well coached. You can't panic with the shots. I thought we did a good job of that in the first half. Especially the run we went on to end the half. There was no panic to us. We stuck to our game plan and did what we were supposed to do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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