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March 10, 2017

Tom Izzo

Miles Bridges

Tum Tum Nairn

Washington, D.C.

Minnesota - 63, Michigan State - 58

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH IZZO: I've been very proud of this team the last 10-12 games. I have to admit, I was disappointed today. I do not think we competed with the same grit. I was worried about how my young guys would react to a half-a-day prep.

So either the coaches did a bad job, or we just didn't play with the same spunk we played with. We did a decent James Blake in the first half of staying on the boards. That was the only way we stayed in the game. We kept saying on the bench, How are we in this game?

I give Minnesota credit. They must have checked us awfully well for us to shoot probably a season low in both field goal and three-point. But I was disappointed in our performance, I really was. I'm sure the players are, too.

It's a learning lesson. It seems like the whole damn year has been a learning lesson. We learned again today, if you don't come at this level, it's not an AAU tournament, and play 40 minutes, you can play better the second half, you can play better in different parts. It's not going to be good enough.

I think we'll learn from it, grow from it, hopefully do a better job if we get a chance to play again.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students.

Q. You just heard your coach say all that. What is your reaction? Do you agree?
TUM TUM NAIRN: I put that on myself, not bringing everybody ready to play. Got to do a better job as a leader of the team to make sure guys are locked in and ready to play.

MILES BRIDGES: Yeah, we just didn't come ready to play. Myself, I didn't rebound well. We just got to bring it every 40 minutes, man. We can't just come half of the game. We have to bring it every 40 minutes.

Q. I hear there's a cliché that it's hard to beat a team three times in a season. You swept them in the regular season. Did they do anything different the third time around?
MILES BRIDGES: They just played harder. They rebounded better. They just wanted to win worse than us. That's on us. We got to come ready to play. We're playing for a championship. We didn't bring it today.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. You may return to the locker room.

We'll take questions for Coach Izzo.

COACH IZZO: I want to quantify his statement. Wasn't like we didn't care. I just don't think some of our young guys understand. Miles played okay. We didn't get much out of Nick early. We didn't get anything out of Cassius. We got a lot better second half out of Josh than first.

I just don't think they understand yet that it gets racheted up. That's what these games are all about.

We tried to warn them. I do give Minnesota a lot of credit. They played hard. They played tough. I mean, we did out-rebound them, which is hard for us to do. We're not that big. We were out-rebounding them by eight or ten at halftime.

We just didn't make some shots. We missed some layups. They did a better job. They hit some shots. It's not like they shot the lights out of it either.

So probably played a little better D than I give us credit for, but we did not execute. We stood around a lot. I thought they just had more zip.


Q. Do you think the guys seeing what happened today will have a different approach next week?
COACH IZZO: Well, you hope so. I said it's been a learning year for me and for them.

Maybe it's my fault, because I talked to them about it last night. I guarded against this. I know what happens.

You win a game. You get back to the hotel. You got an hour, then you're going to a gym to practice on the next team.

But that's what one-and-done time is all about. But they don't know that. AAU ball, if you lose this game, you probably play another one in a couple hours, right? Then another one tomorrow morning. If you lose that, you play in the afternoon.

I think that's really hurt these kids personally. I just think too much, winning is never valued. It's not like they on purpose said, We're not going to play hard. They just don't understand the rise of the level that it takes.

The two threes they hit were just scouting report to the T. Scuffle dribble left and shoot. One thing we've been really good at over the years, why we've been a good turnaround team, is taking one game, by the next day being prepared for the next team.

It is a little more difficult when you have so many young guys. So I'll learn a lesson, too. Maybe we got to change how we did it. I just couldn't believe we were in the game, because I thought they played hard, and I didn't think we played nearly well enough.

Q. After a pretty big win yesterday, do you think their youth and their ability to handle or not handle success played into this? Do you not allow for that?
COACH IZZO: I don't think it had anything to do with beating them three times. Like I said, we played them so long ago, I feel like we played them last year. In fact, one of the games was last year, 2016.

I don't think it had anything to do with that. It wasn't like they ran all over us.

I don't know if we didn't handle that, to me, the word 'intensity'. It seemed like we just couldn't get through that you just got to play harder.

Man, I got great kids. I got the greatest kids. I'm going to have to live with it. It's part of the process. I hate the process, but it is part of the process.

Q. You mentioned having a very young team. They didn't seem scared to me. Do you think there might be some nerves because there's freshmen and it's the conference tourney?
COACH IZZO: I'd like to say yes because it would make me feel better, but nerves would make you miss shots, but I don't think it would make you not run, not be up on ball screens. The things that we didn't do, I don't think those are nerves.

Missed free throws, missed threes, yeah, that can be nerves. I'm cool with that. They should be a little nervous.

That's not why we lost. We lost because we just didn't bring it early. I was disappointed. There haven't been many times, guys, that I've been disappointed in this team this year. Today was one of them. I'm disappointed in myself. I must not have done a good enough job last night.

We got beat by a team that's probably a little better than us, but it would be interesting to see how Richard thought they played. They shot 40%, 31%. We out-rebounded them. I'm not sure he's tickled to death. But they found a way to win. Those juniors and seniors did a better job of finding a way to win. We just didn't do as good a job.

That could be in coaching some. Seriously, I got to do a better job. I just felt like our players did not realize, you know, the sense of urgency is needed for 40 minutes when you play in one-and-done time. It's such a unique thing to do.

So maybe this helps us. Maybe we'll do a better job if we get to play again in a tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks very much.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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