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March 16, 2017

Mark Few

Johnathan Williams

Jordan Mathews

Zach Collins

Salt Lake City, Utah

Gonzaga - 66 South Dakota State - 46

COACH MARK FEW: Well, we had to really dig deep to show our toughness, to find a way through that thing and we definitely did that. Our defense carried us this entire game, which it has a lot this year. I think more than people realize. And the job, especially J3 did on Daum, ends up with 17, but I think he probably had five on J3. We ran their shooters off the line pretty good. That was a really, really confident, well coached, and tough physical team. I was very impressed with South Dakota State live. One of those teams that came in on a roll. You could tell the way they were shooting.

Really proud to get through this first one and excited to move on.

Q. Towards the end of the first half you held South Dakota State to a single field goal. How critical was that stretch, that defensive stretch for your offense going into the second half?
JORDAN MATHEWS: It was big for us. Something we work on every day. The coaches always preach defense travels. Our shots weren't falling in the first half, but the last couple stretches where Nigel got a steal and I was fortunate to get a steal and our bigs protected us with their protection, just helped us a ton.

Q. It was impressive what you did on Daum. I was just wondering what that experience was like and what he was like compared to maybe other guys you've had.
JOHNATHAN WILLIAMS: He was pretty tough to guard. We got a good scout report on Daum. And it's pretty hard to guard him. But I was able to move my feet and make it tough for him. But he's a great player.

Q. The atmosphere in your locker room at halftime, how different was it from other games this year?
ZACH COLLINS: It wasn't too different. When we come into halftime we're really confident, no matter what happened in the first half. This half defensively we were pretty satisfied. We knew the shots we took in the first half, they were shots we'd taken all year and they're shots that go in. We weren't worried about that. We were confident to come out and do some different things on the offensive end and exploit their defense in the ways we saw in the first half. We were just really confident.

Q. Talk about what they did defensively to start out that game and how they got in the lane and made you take those outside shots.
JORDAN MATHEWS: It was something we hadn't seen before. But we watched it on film. It was a matter of making shots, they like to sit in the paint. We worked on just getting ball movement out of it. It took us a couple of minutes to figure out, but once we did, it was basketball again. A bunch of guys that could make plays and we did that in the second half.

Q. I think you and every coach has said at one time or another that seeds don't really matter. But you've been everywhere in this tournament. Was that a 16 seed you played, at least for the first 30 minutes?
COACH MARK FEW: No, no. But I'm just telling you the extremes are scooting closer to the mean year in and year out. When you look at statistically all these things, one seed did this, it might have been back in the day. When you look at how close these games have been, and I watched it last year, the 1-16 game.

The thing that impressed me about those guys was they're really organized. They have an elite-level player that can get 30 on anybody in this tournament. And then their toughness. They're physically tough. We got to the first timeout, I was like, All right, this is going to be a war. And so I was very impressed with them.

And that's a team, I don't know what happened to them at the start of the year, sometimes it takes time to figure things out. He got guys in the right lineup and guys in the right roles and they were a confident, physical bunch.

That 1-16 game, someone can have that from here on out. I've served my time. I'll go ahead and land somewhere else. I'll explain that to the committee next year.

Q. You talked about the toughness of South Dakota State and they led you with I think it was 22-19. But it seemed like your size made all the difference. It really looked like they were looking to get shots blocked.
COACH MARK FEW: Well, I don't know about that. But I think everybody's always, over the years, focused on Gonzaga's offense. And we have, we've been an elite program offensively for years. This team has been great defensively all year. It's had elite-level rim protection and size. Karnowski is big, he's great around the rim. Johnathan Williams is probably the key to our whole offense, because we can put him on a guy like Daum, he can move his feet, he can switch onto the perimeters. We're in the process of growing Collins in that role. We have two guys like that that can switch out on the perimeter.

They're so dangerous, we even had Karnowski switching out there. They had success early with their guards. They have physical guards that like to post up. And we adjusted to that. I think our guards toughened up after the half. And like I said, I thought we did a great job on Daum and Tellinghuisen. He's a dangerous, dangerous shooter. And when you go 2-12 and 1-10 is really good defense.

Q. Doing a bit of a feature story on Jesse Wade.
COACH MARK FEW: We could have used Jesse today. He can bang in 3's from 30 feet and confident kid. And he's coming off his mission here in about a month. And we think he's going to be a really, really good player for us.

Q. I spent the day with his dad and brother watching the game. And obviously a chance to play in your hometown city, it would have all been great this year. But I can tell they're very proud of what he's doing and will come together next year, as well. Obviously you guys are excited to have him.
COACH MARK FEW: Yeah, just like I said. He's a wonderful, wonderful kid with unbelievable leadership qualities. And obviously of the highest character. But he can play. He can shoot. He can create. He's confident. And he was in our camp as a sophomore and he caught my eye with his ball screen reads. So we're very excited to have him.

Q. Zach said you guys weren't really concerned about the offense in the first half because you felt like -- he thought you were getting good looks. Was that your assessment as well, or was there anything that concerned you about the slow start offensively?
COACH MARK FEW: Well, we actually have a really, really good shooting team, especially all year from the three line, and obviously our offensive efficiency has been off the charts. We had bigs missing bunnies, we had guards just wide open. They chose to not guard us, and that turned out to be a good plan. I wouldn't recommend it against us, because usually -- Perkins can shoot, he shooting around 40 from three, and Nigel is up there in the high 30s. Silas is up around 40. Jordan Mathews can obviously make them.

But I think 1-16 first game, brand new balls, pumped up with way too much air. I don't know. But, we just changed our schemes a little bit, where to put our bigs and what to do. And we were able to find some success there. We found some success in transition, too, which is kind of who we are, also.

Q. You talked about Williams defensively, how good he was and everything. He also had a couple of big energy plays, a couple of big dunks. How big was that to loosen up the team and lighten the load a little bit?
COACH MARK FEW: You know, that's a great call. We talked a long time about celebrating plays and being excited. Sometimes you're a favorite in these games and you forget the game is meant to be fun. And J3 is one of those guys that he does get the rest of the guys excited and gets us going. We're at our best when we play with emotion. You look back at all our really good games this year, it's been when we've been high emotion and high energy, and obviously plays like that help.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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