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March 8, 2017

Steve Fisher

D'Erryl Williams

Malik Pope

Dakarai Allen

Las Vegas, Nevada

San Diego State - 62 (OT) UNLV - 52

COACH STEVE FISHER: I rarely get on my phone after a game. But we had a minute before we came down here and I was talking to Angie, my wife. And she -- first thing she said was how happy she was for me and our team. And very quickly out of her mouth came how bad she felt for Marvin, Marvin Menzies, who is like family to us. And then she went on to say, But Marvin's day will come. And it will. And it will. He will get players. He will love them and teach them and he will win.

This was a game where not many people, including our own fans, thought we had a chance at halftime. And anything we could do to hurt ourselves we did. And they were brimming with confidence. And we found a way to muster the fight that you have to have to have a chance. You've got to fight.

And my only comment was, it was nothing about, Here's what we're going to do with X's and O's; it's fight. And have some pride in the name on the front of your jersey, in this program. This program has done too many good things.

And I said I know I'm going to start two guys. I wanted to start the guys that normally start for us. But until I talked to the staff, I said I'm starting Zylan, because you've got a fight. It's got to be a productive fight in the second half. And I'm starting Dakarai. And Dakarai and D'Erryl didn't want to go home. And I think Dakarai tried too hard in the first half. But he's a prince of a man, and nobody competes harder, nobody is for the team more than he is. And we found a way to make a basket and then they did what we did in the first half, they couldn't make a basket.

So we're appreciative that we're playing tomorrow. And we're going to be determined to play 40 minutes, like we did the last 20.

Q. That first half, was it more of what UNLV was doing defensively or was it you guys just not converting?
DAKARAI ALLEN: I feel like it was more of us. I know I had three turnovers in the first half. And they really get out and run here. So that's something we talked about, we harped on, not turning the ball over. And as a senior, as a leader, I can't do that. I have to play better for us to continue winning.

Q. What kind of clicked in the team the second half? You came out in the second half and you didn't really do anything different than the first half. And then Trey hit that three. But what clicked? Did you decide we're not going to lose? What happened there?
DAKARAI ALLEN: Well, when Trey hit that three, instead of laying a ball up to three people, he kicked it up to me, I made an extra pass, and he hit that three and that's how we need to play, if we want to continue winning. And so that's what we did.

Q. Obviously offensively there was trouble for you guys first half. But second half from a defensive standpoint, do you think the impact you had particularly against Christian Jones was a huge factor to turn things around in that second half?
MALIK POPE: Yeah, I would say so. Fish honestly just told us to be more tough in the second half. And it all started with guarding -- with five. And that really turned the game around for us offensively, because you know that creates momentum. We just followed Coach Fisher, he has experience and we know we can trust him. That's what it came down to for us. Just being tough, having some grit in the game, not playing soft.

Q. Did you feel that you were a little soft up until maybe the final ten minutes or so? Coach talked about a couple of guys that had to fight, didn't mention your name, but you definitely seemed to turn it up in the last ten minutes. Give us that perception. And also what was said at halftime.
MALIK POPE: I wouldn't necessarily say I was playing soft. I just wasn't grabbing the ball. I was boxing out and doing what I could to get the ball, and I would get my hands on it and just couldn't get it. I stepped my game up in the second half. I wouldn't necessarily put myself in soft, but I wouldn't put myself in aggressive, either.

And at halftime, those were really the words that were spoken, soft and aggressive. And that was our transition to go to win this game. That's what it came down to.

Q. Coach, you went through something similar your first season that Marvin is going through. What is it about him that tells you he is going to turn it around the way you have?
COACH STEVE FISHER: I've known Marvin for 18 years now. And I've watched how he handles every situation. He's tough minded. He's fair. He's relentless in his approach to recruit. And this game starts with recruiting. You need players. Everybody needs players. And he was working with less than a half-filled deck. Nobody's fault. But that's a fact.

Tonight we benefited from that, when they had limited numbers and they got in foul trouble, Mooring fouled out. And to see a team compete like they did for 40 minutes tells you that he has the respect of his club, that they listen and they care. And that will win for you.

Marvin can recruit. And Marvin can coach. So you combine the two, I'm convinced he will be successful.

Q. Can you give us an update on D'Erryl Williams, and also with his injury, and also talk about what kind of lift he gave to the team? It was like you had a point guard out there for the first time all season.
COACH STEVE FISHER: I hope D'Erryl is okay. He said he dove for a loose ball and hit and kind of jammed his head. So I think his neck is where he's having some issues. I think he's okay. I'm sure he's going to be sore and stiff.

But you're spot on. I told the team after the game, I said this is not about individuals, so I don't like to single out, but I have to. D'Erryl Williams was such a huge factor in our winning this game tonight. And he didn't try to do anything extraordinary, he just tried to make the right play and be relentless with how he played. I think so often we let up just enough, whether it's consciously -- usually not consciously -- just a little bit, because of a negative play. And you can't do that.

But your point, D'Erryl made the right play. He made some plays off a ball screen and hit a guy on a lift. He made a play off a ball screen and took it to the rim and got an and-one. He made some plays that you win with, that you didn't say, Well, they got lucky. He made the right play and right read and we got easy looks as a result of that.

Q. Obviously a tale of two halves for both these teams tonight. Can you talk about your approach going into the overtime period after coming off a solid second half for you guys.
COACH STEVE FISHER: We just talked about, let's get the tip. We wanted to run a particular look to throw the ball inside. We got the ball and we got a basket to start the overtime. So we had a positive feel right out of the gate starting the overtime. And all of us knew we got lucky. We got lucky that we were able to come back. Rarely do you come back from as big a deficit as we had. Because usually you're playing so bad, so poorly that you don't have the toughness to come back.

Somebody talked about Malik and not having toughness. He had 12 rebounds, and he looked, body language was better as the game went on. And it's not easy. But if it was easy we'd have a million people that would say give me a scholarship, and you give them to the smartest and best looking.

We've got a group of guys that care. We haven't played great this year, you know that. And we've had games like this, where we've had moments we played okay and moments where we've looked God awful. And we did just enough to get ourselves a victory today. And at this stage of what we do, that's most important, because we're playing. We're going to be playing tomorrow. And we'll be excited to play. We're going to have to play well for more than 20 minutes. And I think that we will.

Q. You get down by 21 points at one point. What do you say to the guys or how do you get them to believe that they can win this game down 21?
A. There's not a time for a lot of pep talk. We talked about, what I said before, have some pride in who you are. Believe that you're good. Make one play. And I think what helped us out of the gate in the second half, and it wasn't right out of the gate. I looked up and I asked Mark, my son, What was the halftime score? And he said, Exactly what it is right now, and that was about four or five minutes in.

And then when Trey made that three, we'd been -- the game, it felt -- there was a little bit of a lift finally. It shouldn't be that way, but I thought our defense was a little bit better, a little bit smarter.

And, again, when Mooring got in foul trouble and fouled out, they're playing too many minutes for their key players, but they had to. That helped us, too. And I think D'Erryl needs to get a little Q and A for him, because he was so instrumental in what we did.

Q. Just give us an update on what happened on that play and how you're doing.
D'ERRYL WILLIAMS: I just saw a loose ball, and I've always been taught to dive on loose balls, and go for every loose balls you can. I tried to dive on the loose ball. Another UNLV player was coming in and my head kind of smashed into somebody's back and kind of flexion downward. The right side of my neck is a little sore, but I'll be all right.

Q. Coach was talking earlier and the players were talking about what happened in the second half. And a lot of talk about heart and not being soft. Did you as a senior just say I don't want this to be my last game?
D'ERRYL WILLIAMS: Of course as a senior you always think about that last game. And me coming off the bench, my job is always to bring energy to the team and just make the right play for others. I just try to go in the game and observe the floor, make the right play, if it's me taking a layup or just me hitting somebody for a wide open three, a dunk, whatever I can do to help the team win I'm going to do, and that's been me from day one.

Q. Coach, I want to follow up on the point you made. You said you guys haven't played well this year, obviously, and with a 6th seed coming into the tournament, pinpoint the reasoning why you don't think you have played well up until this point.
COACH STEVE FISHER: We've played well. We haven't played well enough. We haven't played well for 40 minutes. I said to our team, and maybe to Mark Zeigler, if you give me ten points to use any way I want we'll get four more wins, in league play. And now we're fighting for first in the last game, instead of fighting to stay out of the play-in game. But we didn't.

So through 18 games we weren't the best team in the league. We were picked first, but we weren't the best team in the league. We were picked first maybe because we were 16-2 last year, maybe because we've been good lately. And oftentimes people say, well, they're good, they're supposed to be good. Yeah, they're good, they've got these guys back, but you have to play. And nothing is given to you. And we haven't played well enough. We've played in spots well enough. But we haven't been consistently what you have to be.

Will we be that tomorrow for 40 minutes? I hope so. They get harder as you go. But we'll have a chance to do that tomorrow. And D'Erryl is the epitome, and I've said this before, of what you hope to have in a student-athlete, going to med school, eventually, he cares. He cares about the team. He cares about winning more than he cares about himself and stats. And you win doing that.

He gave us a huge lift tonight. He knows that. Our team knows that. And when we've had games where we didn't come back, we didn't get that lift from somebody. Somebody has to make a play or two for you. Tonight we did. And he was the ringleader on guys making plays for us. He started. Trey made the three, but he started it with his energy and intelligence when he came in.

Hopefully we'll get more of that from everybody tomorrow.

Q. It's been two months since you played Boise State, just curious on your thoughts on the matchup tomorrow.
COACH STEVE FISHER: They're good. The worm has turned. We won every game for a while. I didn't think they were ever going to beat us. And now they have started to win these games, in different fashions. They beat us up pretty good at their place in the first game. If you watch our first game, the first 10 or 12 minutes, we looked like the best team in the league. But we couldn't sustain it. They made plays. They ran by us. They beat us down.

A year ago, we had the game won, seven, nine points ahead with a minute or two to go, and couldn't make a free throw. They did to us what we did to them when they first came into the league. They're a good team. They're well coached. They've got a nice blend of youth and veterans and they make you guard. And they can make shots. They've been tough on us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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