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March 10, 2017

Tubby Smith

K.J. Lawson

Dedric Lawson

Jeremiah Martin

Hartford, Connecticut

UCF - 84, Memphis - 54

THE MODERATOR: Okay. Joined by Coach Tubby Smith. Student-athletes Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson, Jeremiah Martin.

We'll take an opening statement from Coach and take questions from the student-athletes and dismiss student-athletes from the locker room.

Coach, if you give your thoughts on the game and your season as a whole, please.

TUBBY SMITH: Well, I first want to commend Central Florida. They shot the lights out today. They were focused and ready. We got off to a good start. It was hard. We had a tough time defending the three and that was our downfall.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes at this time, please.

Q. K.J., with the way this season ended, some people say this team kind of lost its way. How would you describe -- did this team quit? I mean, how would you describe the way these last two games have gone for you guys?
K.J. LAWSON: I think this team gave their all this whole season. We went out there and tried to compete every time out. And I just think, you know, we just didn't win the games we was supposed to win at home, and we just put ourself in a tough situation at the end of the year. But, you know, it was a great year and we all played hard. All the guys got in the game, so nobody quit.

Q. Dedric, I know you're sick of these questions, but I've got to ask. Is this your last game in a Memphis uniform? What's your -- have you made a decision yet?
DEDRIC LAWSON: No, I haven't made a decision. I was too focused on the season and trying to further along our season, so this is just something that hasn't been discussed yet between me and Coach and my parents. So, it was just -- I was just focusing on this game going into post play.

Q. Jeremiah, you guys got off to a pretty solid start in this one. What do you think went wrong there five minutes into the first half? What did you guys do poorly, defensively, and what went wrong offensively. I think you missed 15 shots in a row at one point?
JEREMIAH MARTIN: I just think -- we was getting the shots that we wanted. I mean, we weren't making them, and then we had a couple of defensive breakdowns, consecutively, and they was making their threes. And they had just kind of got to a run, and they had stayed on it. And this wasn't our best effort.

Q. For Dedric, the last two games, 71 points combined, losses. Does that surprise you? You know Memphis basketball and know how well the team competed at the beginning of the year. Embarrassing, surprised? What's your reaction?
DEDRIC LAWSON: It's definitely surprising. No one plans to lose by 30 in both games. Of course, it's disappointing for the guys that -- this is from me and from the guys, just the sense of pride of planning the game of basketball, and losing by a combination of 71 points. It's kind of embarrassing, but as long as you give it your all, that's all you can ask for.

I know every guy on the team played to the best of their ability, and when guys are making shots and we're not making shots, of course it's going to hard for us to win. At the end of the day, I'm proud of my teammates and I loved playing for them these years. It's been a great year. It's been a great year. That's all you can hope for.

Q. K.J., all of a sudden you guys played your hardest. What was the difference between this group at the end of the year and the group of guys that was there in January, and December, when you guys were playing pretty well?
K.J. LAWSON: Like he said, we just didn't make shot. They got 26 bench points. I think everything else is dependent on the end. We had more points than them in the paint and off turnovers and second chances and fast breaks, but they benched points, beat us by 12, and we let a shooter get rolling. They got a guy into a groove early.

Q. I mean just in general, you've lost six, seven games --
K.J. LAWSON: That's basketball. Win or lose, you're -- you can play the game to win or you lose. We lost. We lost games. Nobody expected us to win 19 games anyway, so we went out and gave it our all at the beginning of the year and at the end.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes?

Gentlemen, thank you, we'll excuse you to the locker room. And we'll take questions for Coach Smith at this time.

Q. What do you think the last couple games --
I mean, they all said they gave it their all.


Q. It felt like --
TUBBY SMITH: Well, we hit the wall. We just hit the wall, simple as that. We logged a lot of minutes, played guys a lot of minutes early in the season. It was probably my fault. I should probably have developed more of a bench, but we went through a stretch there without some real inside presence, without Chad. And then when Chad came back, we really didn't get the -- really the lift that we needed.

And when you're not making shots, and you're worn down, your shot changes, so, again, I don't think anybody ever quit, we just got outplayed, outshot by them. We were defending extremely well, and that's something we had a real problem with was defending the three, late, and especially in the last few games. That's been costly for us, especially with, I think the last game, they had about 14 or 15 threes, and today they had 14 threes. You're not going to win games allowing people to -- again, that's where you see the -- what did I say, the -- not energy level, but the size and the bulk, and the disparity when you run up against teams like SMU and Central Florida. We just got to get some bigger and stronger players.

Q. I hate to ask this, but there's rumors and whatever, but I'm curious, are you happy at Memphis, and take out the media, the fans, were you happy with how this season went overall?
TUBBY SMITH: I'm never happy when you lose. Nobody's going to be -- but, yeah, we just -- we hit the wall there. We're pleased with what things -- things are going. I think we hit it in the -- other than the last six games, I think we're heading in the right direction. Probably started right here when we had a 17-point lead against Connecticut, and -- but I was hoping that we would respond better and be a little more patient.

I think -- again, that's what happens when you're fatigued and you're worn down. You can't sustain that level of intensity, and then you break down psychologically. And, you know, we didn't -- again, we got some -- even guys that haven't played much, like Keon Clergeot, just in practice, you're going hard and practicing. I don't know what else we can do other than -- because I thought our guys competed every day in practice, just needed to be more competition in practice so they can get better.

Q. Going forward this offseason, like you said yesterday most of these guys will be back. What will be your focus this offseason to get this group back on track to the way they are playing?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, stronger. That's one of the things you saw. I think, again, we had -- you really didn't have a lot of time to be in the weight room, and I think that's where you see the -- the difference in physicality of opposing teams that are a little more mature and maybe more experienced. But, again, with all of these guys that are underclassman, we only -- we didn't start a senior, and then we had Christian Kessee and Chad Rykhoek. That's where we'll start to focus right away.

We probably had a period there when we first took the job, we didn't get on the weights like we should. We really hadn't -- really didn't have a strength coach until later and I think those things probably -- that makes a big difference.

Q. Coming out of a time-out with about three minutes left, K.J. and Dedric were laughing a little bit coming out of the time out. Does this team --
TUBBY SMITH: In the what, in the last --

Q. In the last three minutes, coming out of a time-out. They were sort of laughing. Did this team -- did winning and losing matter enough to them? Did you establish --
TUBBY SMITH: I would hope so. Nobody wants to lose, so if -- and attitudes about winning and losing, having some pride, those are the things we'll talk about, and those are the things that we need to instill in our players.

We hope we had, but, as I said before, when adversity sets in, you're not sure how guys are going to respond, or how they're going to act or how they're going to behave. You hope they behave the right way and you hope you've taught them how to -- about that. But sometimes, it takes time.

THE MODERATOR: One more for Coach, please.

Q. What will you -- you know, what will you take as the positive? What did you think you established this season that you can take going forward with this group?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, I think, you know, when I look at the youth, and the -- and inexperience, we've had some good wins and we've had some bad losses. You know, last two games were bad losses, but we were in every -- pretty much most of the games until the last two games. We had a great chance to win here against Connecticut. We had a good chance to win against -- we played poor at home, but we lose to Houston at home. I think we had some good runs. I think just in the end, the lack of experience -- because I've done enough to know we had the same issues at Texas Tech. We had young players, we got hammered by 45. You've got to establish something good somewhere. So, we have to -- sometimes you have to take the bitter with the sweet and hope guys will come back and look at this game and say, you know what? This is not going to happen again and that's what you have to do.

THE MODERATOR: Coach Smith, thank you.

TUBBY SMITH: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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