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March 9, 2017

Larry Eustachy

Prentiss Nixon

Gian Clavell

Las Vegas, Nevada

Colorado State - 81 Air Force - 55

COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: Well, I was really proud of our guys. We got here and we were a little loose and yesterday we really got focused I thought. And they were really listening to what I had to say, understanding what Air Force had done to Wyoming.

So I give these guys a ton of credit right here for being ahead of their years as far as maturity and really locking in in a place that can be distracting, and not be distracted. And Air Force, they showed what they could do yesterday going on 25-0 run. For us to do that to that team was very impressive in my mind, it was seven guys and I'm really proud of them.

Q. You got 58 points in two games against Air Force. I believe you hit 11 3's combined in those two games. What feels right when you're playing against the Falcons?
GIAN CLAVELL: I just -- I'm just playing my game. I'm a very confident player so I just -- if I like it, I shoot it. He always says that. If you're open, you like it, shoot it. They are a very defensive team, too. It's always hard to play against them. But I don't know what to say.

Q. Graham hit his first four field goals in this game, had 13 points in the first half. He was the reason they could stay in it early. In the second half he only had two points, those were on free throws, so you clearly shut him down the second half. How were you able to shut him down?
GIAN CLAVELL: It wasn't just me. It was a team effort. We switched pick and roll handoffs. It was a team effort, the whole team. I think we were aware of where he was at the time. We lost him at times during the first half. And it was a team effort.

Q. Was there any discussion in the locker room about how to key on him the second half?
GIAN CLAVELL: Play the board.

COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: You liar. I said he's the one guy that's hurting us (laughter).

See what I've got to deal with? Give me a little credit. I'm kidding (laughter).

Q. They got off to a really strong start and you seemed to stay locked in. Was the focus really significantly better today, like Coach said? They made 70 percent of their shots in the first seven or eight minutes and you were able to stay locked in and keep going and got on your own run to take control.
GIAN CLAVELL: He's right. Yesterday he talked to us about being focused. And today in the locker room everybody was locked in. Air Force is a great team. They have a great coach. Yeah, if we wanted to win this game, we had to be locked in and focused on what we want to do.

Q. Just from your perspective what was it like seeing Gian go off like that, more points than minutes played tonight?
PRENTISS NIXON: When he's hot, get him the ball. That's what I've learned since I've been here. That's my job being a point guard, if someone is hot, get him the ball in the right spots. Gian knocked them down.

Q. It seemed like the harder shot, the harder the difficulty, the better you are, more contested or fading away. What makes you so good or more comfortable in those situations?
GIAN CLAVELL: Honestly -- playing with my brother, since he was always taller than me. I think that helped a little bit. I don't know, I just feel more comfortable taking those shots.

Q. You seem to be always smiling out there tonight. Are you, not in a bad way, but are you taking things a little less serious and having fun, is that bringing your game out?
GIAN CLAVELL: I'm just having fun. I take everything serious, but I'm having fun, enjoying this last year. He always says, it's a great opportunity that you don't get a lot. I'm a happy guy, I'm always smiling.

Q. What's the thought process in terms of the semifinals, is there a team you'd rather play, or are you going to approach Boise State or San Diego State the same way?
GIAN CLAVELL: Whoever wins we play.

Q. You guys have a much bigger goal. How do you enjoy this and yet make sure you're focused for the semifinals, and you obviously want to be in the title game?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: We want to be in the title game. So whatever we have to do, that's what we're going to do. If that's being focused and being locked in, that's what we have to do. Yeah, it's a great win, but we've got to play tomorrow.

Q. I think you're 10-0 against Air Force at CSU. What is it about this matchup that just favors you guys so much?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: Well, we've been fortunate in a lot of those games. They've come down to last-minute plays. So I don't know if it's -- they're hard to play against. They're extremely well coached. They're obviously disciplined being in the Air Force. We've been fortunate, I think.

I don't think the record indicates just how good Air Force has been in those ten games. And we've been fortunate enough to win. But there were a couple of games where we basically had lost and it took some special situations to come back and win those. 10-0 is not indicative of how tough this series has been.

Q. Is there a bad shot that Gian can take?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: He has a lot of freedom. And that's what we recruit to. If you can make it, you can take it. But he discounts -- he really did a great job of distributing the ball early. He moved the ball well, got it out of his hands. We talked a lot about kind of the LeBron James theory, where -- LeBron won't take a shot in the first quarter sometimes, he gets his teammates involved. And Gian, I thought does a great job of getting his teammates involved. And obviously late clock he's our best, and you want him shooting it.

He's been extremely coachable. He's having fun out there. That's a good observation. He's having fun. And I'm having fun coaching him.

Q. You always talk about wanting to be playing your best basketball in March. It's March. Is this team playing its best basketball of the year right now?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: Well, we hadn't. You know, the last three games have been a struggle up until today. We played as good of any team play at Colorado State at New Mexico, then we did lose focus. The word Gian used so much. We're lucky to get away with a win against Wyoming and San Diego State, and it caught up with us against Nevada.

That's what's neat about this team. They believe what I say. And they see it on film. And they know that we had to get back to who we were. And I really loved the way we played today. We played so hard. You guys saw it. We just played so hard. When guys came out they were just totally spent. The game plan was to switch everything and we did an excellent job of it.

Q. When you see Gian out there having that much fun, what effect do you see it having on his teammates?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: Yeah, we have seven players and they all have a role. And he wasn't the only guy having fun out there today. Everybody knows what is expected of them. And we like to steal something from the Patriots, just do your job. J.D. Paige does a great job of throwing the ball up to the rim for Emmanuel. He just dribbles the ball extremely well. He's one of the better defenders, him and Prentiss. I don't know if there's a better tandem of two defenders of sophomores in the country.

Gian is not the only one having fun. They like each other, which isn't mandatory, but it helps. It really helps. They get along. They have each others' back. It's obviously been an up-and-down season with a lot of events. And I've often said people have tried to break us, but this team has not even bent, let alone break.

Q. How did a short bench, how big was it in a low-stress situation, late in this game, to be able to rest a few of your starters moving forward?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: I thought it was neat and it was good we got Juan in there, who is icing his elbow right now, because he got three shots off in about 30 seconds. But Willie Glover is really someone who does a great job for us.

I'm always so paranoid, with four minutes to go and you're up 30, I asked, Can we lose this game? I've always been so worried about that until it is over. But we did get a chance to sit Emmanuel and sit Gian. And I think it's big.

But this team is built to play three straight games, all of them could play 40 minutes, being that's what they've done and they've had success at it. But it only helps when you can -- first, when they're not in there they can't get hurt. And second, we need all the energy we can get.

Q. You guys have been to the semifinals now a bunch of times in the last couple of years. You're there again. But you haven't gotten past that. What's it going to take to get to the final. Are you in a position, even though you don't have 7 guys, but no one is injured, where that hasn't been the case the last couple of years?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: Yeah, we came so close. Last year we could have really won it had Emmanuel not been out and Dantiel gotten in foul trouble. We came so close in spite of those things against Fresno, and then Fresno went on to win the conference championship here.

So there's just some really good teams left in this. Fresno is playing as well as any top 40, 30 team in the country. Reno is playing just as well. The winner of this game, both teams are playing terrific.

So the only thing I want to say is they say this league is down. It's ranked 9th in the country. You take the power 5's out and we're stronger than the WCC, according to -- maybe I could be wrong, but somebody told me this -- we're stronger than the Missouri Valley. This is a strong, strong league. It just doesn't have your typical top 25 team in it.

But from top to bottom it's as strong as it's been. Look what San Jose State has done. Look who's beaten who. On a given night people -- anybody could have beaten anybody, and that hasn't ever been the case since I've been here until this year.

Q. You've lost two tight games to Boise State, and won two tight games against San Diego State. Do you feel you match up better with either of those teams or is it kind of the same at this point?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: You know, I just walked, Coach Fisher's locker room, accidentally, we were laughing about we hope we play each other. But both coaches are great friends of mine. And I don't know, I think they're both a tough matchup. They're, again, extremely well coached. They play similar. Boise shoots it probably better. San Diego State is more athletic. But either team is, I'm sure, the line would be whatever, would be very similar, whoever we play.

And we are more focused on ourselves. Today wasn't about Air Force, it was about us. And I thought we did a great job of the word "focus" has been used a lot and we were extremely focused. Now we've got to put this game behind us today and find out who wins and prepare for them.

Q. And Boise State has beat you by a combined four points, has that gotten in your team's head at all or it doesn't really matter?
COACH LARRY EUSTACHY: You must be in between millenniums because this new millennium they don't -- there is no thought about those type of things. They're more worried about is their phone charged than those type of things. So I don't think it has anything to do with that.

Again, either team will be very difficult to beat.

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