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March 8, 2017

Tim Duryea

Koby McEwen

Jalen Moore

Las Vegas, Nevada

Utah State - 90 San Jose State - 64

COACH TIM DURYEA: Thought we started the game a little bit tight and a little bit cautious, and just kind of felt our way through it. Second half I thought we played with a lot more force, a lot more thrust. We got out, got in transition. I thought we just made a lot of really simple, easy plays that resulted in high-quality shots. And we knocked them down.

So defensively we scrambled around, tried to change our looks up on Clarke and just protect our paint in the second half. They did a good job I thought in the first half of driving the ball and getting us into some bad situations.

Obviously second half felt like we kind of found the rhythm of the game. First half felt like we were tight and sluggish and slow. Good to see the change.

Q. Did you feel more fresh today or how do you explain your big game? Did the shot at the end of the first half kind of get you going?
KOBY McEWEN: Yeah, I definitely felt fresh. Coach gave us a couple of days off when the season ended and we got right back to work Monday, Tuesday. So I was ready to go.

And the shot that I hit at the end of the half definitely got me going, just to see the ball go through the net. That usually -- that's a good thing for me to see that I just gain confidence and anything can happen after that.

Q. You guys got a lot of easy baskets today, both inside the paint and on the perimeter. Why were you able to get some easy looks?
JALEN MOORE: Just trying to penetrate and then kick for looks, and just drive the ball. We got in the bonus kind of early, just keep driving the ball, get to the free throw line, get some easy baskets.

The main thing was we were just trying to drive it, kick it to our open shooters, and just be more patient. Like Coach said we were a little tight the first half and came out in the second half. And transition helped us a ton, too.

Q. In the first half it seemed like you were able to get some looks that you weren't able to get to fall. How did you sort of handle that mentally? What changed for you the second half? Seemed like you were definitely more aggressive. Did you feed off of Koby and the second half he started to have?
JALEN MOORE: I was struggling a little bit, seniors, I'm used to it. I've just got to keep playing my game. I went out, like you said, got more aggressive and was just playing like I know something has got to fall eventually, and they ended up falling. I was just trying to help the team in other ways, passing it to open teammates, rebounding.

And Koby definitely fueled the fire for our team coming out hot. Me and Sam fed off of that and the rest of the team. From there on out we were just playing good ball.

Q. So as a team defensively you forced the Spartans to shoot 35 percent from the field. Why were you so effective on making them take difficult shots and having them get toward the end of the shot clock every single time?
KOBY McEWEN: That was credit to our coaches. They prepped us pretty well, watching film. We know -- they make us watch film a lot. We know a lot of their players' tendencies. So we just went out and executed the defensive game plan. We forced them to take bad shots at the end of the clock, and we started running.

Q. You had that transition dunk in the second half. It seemed kind of like an emphatic statement from you. And I don't know if a turning point is the right term. Did it feel like that from you guys on the court, did you feel that made the statement you wanted?
JALEN MOORE: Yeah. I feel like dunks like that always do. I just got out and ran and Sam found me. And after that I was like, I'm just taking off. So it was a fun play. That's always fun to do.

But it definitely -- that is a huge play in basketball, whenever you get a big dunk like that. That was big for our team, too. And from then on out we were just playing hard. I feel like we were the tougher team in the second half and that's where we were able to pull away from it.

Q. You've been a second half player for a lot of the year. Obviously you really got it going starting the second half.
KOBY McEWEN: In the first half, it wasn't that shots weren't falling. I was just really getting my teammates involved in the first half. I wasn't really taking any shots. And that wasn't really what I was supposed to do in the first half. All my teammates were helping. I was just trying to make the right play at the right time.

And the second half I just -- I didn't really come out saying I'm going to start gunning, it just felt right. And every time I felt right taking the shot I just shot it and just my instincts took over. And usually when I do that, good things happen.

Q. I wanted to ask you, how big was it to have Quinn Taylor cleared to come out and play?
JALEN MOORE: Quinn is just a solid player. We found out yesterday he was going to be able to play. He hadn't prepped at all. He's smart. Has a high basketball IQ. We played them three games ago, which helps us.

And Quinn came out and did what he does. Finished the plays, play defense, be a smart player out there. That was huge for us off the bench. He came in and gave us good minutes, and that's what he does. That was huge for us, we weren't sure we were going to have him or not, but when he's able to play he does what he's able to do. He's a great role player for us, and plays the way Quinn plays.

Q. You didn't stick with the small lineup for that long, but you did start out with a little bit different look. Did you feel any bit of difference, whether it was easing into the game or the spacing, did you notice any difference? Did you notice any difference when you were going back to your more traditional?
KOBY McEWEN: I felt like with Jalen playing the three it's easier for us to get out on transition. He's really athletic. He's always trying to make the right play. He gets to the basket real easy. I felt like our big lineup is not really as big as it really seems. We really have three guards out there, even when Jalen is playing the three. When we get out in transition it creates havoc for the defense, for San Jose.

I thought switching back to the original lineup was a good decision by the coaches.

Q. You kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, but when Koby and those guys are hitting those outside shots, how much does that open you up to do that inside-out game that you like to do?
JALEN MOORE: They're good shooters, so when I'm in the post and teams like to double me, I kick it to them. And they can usually knock it down. It expands our whole team when they're hitting the outside shots. We're tough to guard. We shoot well from the outside. We can drive it. We can kick it to open guys. It opens up the floor for me for drives and to finish or drive and kick to them that most likely they're going to hit open threes. It just opens up our whole offense for our team when they start hitting threes.

Q. Simple question, why the constant switches back and forth between the zone and man defense?
COACH TIM DURYEA: I thought that was one of the ways that -- and they were doing the same thing to us, by the way. There's a lot of change in defenses going on out there. But just thought that was another way to keep them off balance.

When we play them, we try to neutralize Clarke any way we can, whether that's doubling him when we play man or going zone, just giving him different looks I think neutralizes them kind of playing through him. And that's probably the main reason.

But I thought that was key for us in keeping them off balance. We got them to miss, in the second half, especially. And like I say, we played with a little more thrust going to the other end and we were able to convert some easy ones.

Q. Did you have a sense Koby was a different guy today? He hit some kind of wall late in the season.
COACH TIM DURYEA: He and Sam both have had a pretty rough for freshmen, and we put a lot on those guys, not only offensively but defensively. Koby is kind of learning to run a team as he goes, along with he's always had to score the ball at a high rate for the team he's played on.

I thought the first half, even though he didn't score, he made a lot of really good plays. We didn't convert them all, but I thought he was seeing the floor really well. And then the shot right before the end of the half was big, not only for him, but for our team. Because we were really struggling and didn't feel like we had much flow. And to get out of half when you go tied to the halftime in the locker room, I thought that was mentally huge for us coming out the second half.

Q. You look like a different team the second half. Was your halftime message more motivational or did you make some adjustments that helped to play better the second half?
COACH TIM DURYEA: I think it was more them. When you come to a tournament the first game, the first half of the first game is hard because they all obviously know it's single elimination. You're fighting for every possession. You're fighting for your life. You're fighting to get to the next day. And it takes a little bit to kind of work through that and start playing basketball.

That was my message at halftime that it's a one-half game. The most aggressive team is probably going to win the game. And that's really what we talked about, being more aggressive. We made one free throw in the first half, they had made nine. And I told them, that can't be the case in the second half because that means they're more aggressive than we are, and that's not going to be a good sign.

So it was all about being more aggressive, freeing up mentally, physically. Jalen, I thought, made a couple of key plays to kind of infuse some energy into our team and helped us kind of get going.

Q. Going into halftime would you say you were somewhat encouraged that you hadn't got what you usually expect to get out of your big three, they didn't give you what you usually get? Or was it more anxiety it just a night where they're all going to have less than what you expect?
COACH TIM DURYEA: There was some anxiety early in the half. But by the time I got to halftime I was relieved to be tied at half, to be honest. I just did not think we played with any rhythm or fluidity in the first half, at all. And so to be tied, we got a handle for how they were playing us a little bit. They switched defenses more than they ever have against us, throwing some junk out there, some triangle and two, some zone, some man. We knew we they were going to press us most of the game. That was one thing we talked about this week, we're going to have to handle full court, three-quarter court pressure. We didn't do a great job of that at their place, we only played them once this year, and I knew that was going to be something that Dave hit us with pretty hard. Second half we were much better.

Q. Jalen had a couple of big threes, seemed like he hit buckets when you were struggling.
COACH TIM DURYEA: I thought he had two of the bigger shots in the game. The one in the second half when they were coming back at us a little bit, I thought that was a huge play. They lost him once and he made them pay. Julion did a good job in the first half. I thought it was one of his better performances, in terms we weren't getting -- like we just mentioned, we weren't getting some production we usually do, and I thought he came in and hit a couple of timely shots for us.

Q. I wanted to comment about Quinn Taylor being cleared to play.
COACH TIM DURYEA: We've added some new stuff to our offense and Quinn has not played, obviously, or practiced. And so Quinn and I were in the hotel lobby today walking through our new stuff. That's not a position you really want to be in on the day of your first game of the tournament.

But Quinn was just cleared yesterday afternoon after his cardiac MRI and we were thrilled. The whole team obviously loves Quinn. He's a great teammate, besides being a very key component of our team. And we found out yesterday right before we got on the flight that he was cleared to play. That gave everybody a little boost.

We practiced four days not thinking we may have him. So we were juggling and moving some things around. That was great to have him. He was big in the second half. He kind of makes things work, he's a facilitator, both ends of the floor. He talks on defense constantly and offensively he's great at making his teammates better, in subtle ways, he makes the offense work. Love having him back.

Q. Nevada tomorrow, how do you prepare for them and how do you make sure it's more like the first time you played them instead of the second?
COACH TIM DURYEA: We've got to rebound the ball. In the second half or the second time we played them, I didn't think we played that poorly at their place. But we got killed on the boards. We gave ourselves no chance to win, just in that area. And so obviously that's the biggest thing we've got to talk about and do going into the game is we have got to rebound the ball, which we did in Logan. We did a really good job on Marshall, No. 1, and we rebounded the ball.

The game at their place I thought we did some good things. They played us a little bit differently. But when you get beat as bad as we did on the boards, you give yourself no chance to win. That's probably the key going into the game tomorrow.

Q. That was the start of Marshall's little mini slump, he's since turned it around. Do you notice any difference with his shooting the last four games you've seen on film?
COACH TIM DURYEA: No, he's an aggressive guy. He makes tough shots. He takes tough shots. And we did a good job in Logan of making almost every look he took be tough. And he just missed them. We gave him a couple of open looks. We lost him a couple of times in Reno, and he made us pay. So it's kind of us one and Marshall one in terms of that battle.

But he's a guy you can't really stop from taking shots because he takes guarded shots. He's just a talented enough guy to be able to make those shots. And that's a pretty rare guard that can take that tough a shot and shoot the percentage he does. We'll do the best we can on him. We hope he misses a few. And like I said earlier, we've got to do a better job, if he does miss, of getting Caroline and Oliver and those guys off the glass.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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