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March 15, 2017

Andy Enfield

Jordan McLaughlin

Bennie Boatwright

Nick Rakocevic

Dayton, Ohio

USC - 75, Providence - 71

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the USC Trojans, coach Andy Enfield and student-athletes Bennie Boatwright, Jordan McLaughlin and Nick Rakocevic.

COACH ENFIELD: Give Providence a lot of credit. We really respect them. Coach Cooley and his staff have just done an outstanding job building that program.

Been to four NCAA Tournaments and what they've done is really impressive. We really noticed. And we played them last year, and this is another great game. Both games have been down to the last minute or two, and we're fortunate to win this game.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Bennie and Jordan, your coach mentioned the meeting a year ago. I know winning NCAA Tournament game is its own reward, but do you take any extra value out of beating a team that knocked you out last year?
BENNIE BOATWRIGHT: We gotta give them a lot of credit. We went out there and played hard and played together. And it does feel good getting payback from last year, because that was a tough loss. So we came out with a W and we played a great team.

JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Like Bennie said, like Coach said, they're a well-coached team. Their players, they played hard. It was a good game, and it was a dogfight all the way to the end. And it feels good to come out on top this time.

Q. Your play especially in the second half seemed to be pretty inspired. Did you kind of come of age tonight?
NICK RAKOCEVIC: I think that just my teammates just got me more involved and telling me to stay focused. And our coaching staff at halftime just talking to us about being focused and just coming out more aggressive. And I think that was all the motivation that I needed. And I thought my teammates did a great job of just getting me the ball when I was open and I just made the easy shot.

Q. This is yet another major comeback for you guys, where you were down by double digits and you came back. Is there anything in particular you all do to keep your resolve and be able to make these comebacks game after game?
NICK RAKOCEVIC: I'm not sure why we do it, you know. I think it's just, give Coach a heart attack or something. I don't really know why we do it.

But I think that just our mindset after, you know, just being talked to after the second half by the coaches and just being more focused, I think, just after halftime, just coming out and just knowing that we weren't playing hard enough the first half.

So the second half kind of really opens our eyes, and I think in the first couple of minutes we kept cutting it down. And Coach gave us a game plan to just keep chopping away, keep chopping away at the lead. And everybody's energy was on point tonight, and I think that's why we came away with a great win.

Q. Jordan, can you speak to that, too, just what the attitude was out there from your vantage point? And what did you see from Providence as you guys just kind of came roaring back?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Like Nick said, Coach kept telling us to cut it down to certain points of the game. And every time he said that we did that, and then our offense started opening up. We started making shots in the second half, which we knew we would do. You know, they're eventually going to falling and stuff.

We got into the paint a lot. Once we got into the paint, everybody's playing on two feet and making the right passes and right decisions. And we were making the easy layups and knocking down jump shots.

Q. You guys, there were lots of doubts even for you just even getting into the tournament. What did you prove tonight to yourselves and your upcoming opponents?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: That we could compete anyway. We knew that all year. Our coaches, they have confidence in us, we have confidence in ourselves. And we know when we're playing like we did the second half that we're able to compete with anybody. And it's just a matter of us just bringing the energy and knocking down shots and just competing all the way to the end.

Q. Can Bennie answer that, too.
BENNIE BOATWRIGHT: I think we're not too worried about what other people say about us. We know who we are as a unit. So we believe in each other. Our coaches believe in us. And we're like J-Mac said, we're not too worried about proving anything to anybody, because we know who we are.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Similar to what I asked these players right off the bat, how much from a coaching perspective does revenge work? Or how much has that been brought up with your guys over the last year?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, it's ironic that we played them again. It doesn't happen too often in the NCAA Tournament where you get matched up in the same round with the same opponent. But Providence, we knew they were a very good team, we knew their style, and we knew what we had to beat them. We obviously did not do that in the first half but we played much better in the second.

Q. I'm curious, were you more worried about your offense or defense? Obviously, both improved in the second half.
COACH ENFIELD: When you miss six layups in one-half, you don't guard anybody, I guess the answer is we were concerned about both. They scored against our zone. They scored against our man. We weren't talking. We got discouraged.

We missed a lot of easy shots and I thought it affected our energy on the defensive end. I think that's human nature at times.

We have a very young team. As you noticed we played three freshmen a lot and we have no seniors. So I think it's -- when you look out there, we struggled early finishing shots at the rim, missed some open 3s. And then give Providence credit, they were on fire.

They made 3 after 3, and a couple were with a hand in their face. And we actually fouled them once on a 3-point once. So I think they had seven 3s in the first half, really eight because we fouled them on 3-point shot and made all their free throws. When somebody is shooting the ball like that, especially in a NCAA Tournament, it's tough to guard.

Q. What do you know about SMU? What's on your mind right now? Because I imagine you've already moved on?
COACH ENFIELD: Where is SMU? Does anybody know what city? I'm joking because we played them early this year.

They're a terrific basketball team. They've won 17, 18 games in a row. They have five guys in their starting lineup that are similar to Providence. They're big, they're long, they're very skilled. And they're just -- I think they're 30-4 right now, something like that.

So we were fortunate enough to beat them at home. We know that they're playing very well. So are we. It should be a great college basketball game in Tulsa on Friday.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about how you did get things turned around on defense, because you said Providence hit seven or eight 3s from behind the line? And in the second half, they were not hitting. Could you talk about what you changed?
COACH ENFIELD: They only got five 3-point attempts in the second half. They were 1-for-5, and the one they made was late, under a minute left. It was a very good shot.

But we started switching 1 through 4. Then went big. It's the first time this year we put Boatwright at the 3 because Nick, who was just sitting here, was playing so well, and our guards were struggling a little bit shooting the basketball.

So we put Bennie at 3 at 6'10", a small forward, and we put Chimezie at the power forward, and Nick at center. And we played big for at least 10, 12 minutes of the game. We haven't done it all season. For our players to adjust to that, that was impressive. That was impressive.

On the defensive end, we had 16 offensive rebounds because of our size, and we were able to post up Boatwright -- we set a couple of cross screens with him, got the ball in the post, isolated him on their smaller guys. And when they switched, we isolated him on their bigger guys.

So we were just trying to do anything we could to try to see what would work, and we just gave it a shot. So I give our players credit, because when you don't play like that for an entire season and you're in a NCAA Tournament game in the second half, that was really special for them to adjust and to play so well together.

Q. A lot of people over the country said SMU was maybe under-seeded as a 6 seed, maybe deserving of a higher seed. Does it mean anything to you and your players playing a team that might be the better than their seed line they received?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we thought we should have been a 5 seed, too, so ... SMU is an outstanding basketball team. If they had been a 3 or 4 seed they -- had just -- when you win 30 games, you win your league and your tournament, that's pretty good.

So we know how good they are. They're not going to surprise us with how talented what a great team they are. We know we have to go play and we have to play very well to beat them.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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