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March 16, 2017

Steve Prohn

Nazareth Mitrou-Long

Monte Morris

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Iowa - 84, Nevada - 73

THE MODERATOR: Joined by Iowa State student-athletes, Monte Morris, who had 19 points and 8 assists tonight. And Naz Mitrou-Long, who had 13 points. Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm is with us, and he'll start with an opening statement. Then we'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Coach, please.

COACH PROHM: Great win. Happy for these guys, happy for our team, our university, our program. Want to congratulate Nevada. Really, really good basketball. Eric has done a great job in a quick time to turn that program around. They got a lot of history, lot of really good coaches been through there, and they're good. They can really score.

That was our biggest thing we talked to our guys about at halftime. We did have great first half defense. That probably won us the game. Not to let them get loose in the second half. And we did at times, partly because of them and partly because of our offense. It's a great win, and now we've got a great opportunity on Saturday against Purdue, which is obviously Big Ten champion. So it's a great matchup.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Monte, how tough was it in the second half during that five-minute stretch staying on the bench when they kept cutting into the lead?
MONTE MORRIS: It wasn't that hard. I mean, I knew the guys, Donovan, Deonte, and those guys was prepared all year. That's why we play those games for times like this. I was cool on the bench. We made big shots. Donovan hit a 2, Deonte got a baseline drive. I was fine on the bench. It was the Coach's decision, not mine. I'm not worried about whether I play or not. I make sure my guy is on because we're playing for the guy next to us. I'm all in.

Q. Were you anxious to get back in?
MONTE MORRIS: I didn't say nothing to him at all, man. I was going to get in, you know.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: Coach was going to bench him.

MONTE MORRIS: It's not my call or nobody's call or no player's fault.

Q. You guys, trying to put them away but couldn't clamp the door on them. They started to make a little bit of a comeback. How much of that is just trusting in your teammates' experience and knowing that someone is going to hit that shot every time you need it?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: It's everything, you know. Understanding that we -- that we have to stay disciplined and composed and poised. In this type of situation, anything can happen. That one shining moment, video you see all types of comebacks and game wins all the time. So it was our job to keep ourselves humbled and stick to the game plan, man.

That team is a great team. They're capable of doing good things. We knew the punches were going to come. We had to make sure we stopped the bleeding whenever the time came. It wasn't just one guy tonight. We were able to rely on a bunch of guys to do that.

Q. You were able to get up big and then withstand their runs. What kind of statement did you think you made?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: That's everything right there. You want to be able to have a team going into this Dance that's composed when you get hit in the face. And that's what we did, especially when our best player was on the bench, you know, and knowing that when he comes in the game, we're going to be able to stay composed because he doesn't turn the ball over and he's going to lead us to a victory. You know, he had 4 tonight, but that's something you're not going to see again. And you know it's good to have our bench coming in and create a great spark that really feels -- that puts us in a confident spot.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student-athletes? All right. You're dismissed. Thank you.

Questions for Coach Prohm, please.

Q. Steve, how good does that make you feel knowing you were able to kind of weather that storm with him on the bench?
COACH PROHM: Yeah. It was good. You know, he got that third foul quick. He got a second one because he did a good job of not letting them get an uncontested basket and then his third one came and played for a couple minutes with 3, and then I needed to get him out just to be safe. I was probably thinking about the eight-minute mark. I guess he went back in about six.

I thought Donovan played really well tonight. I thought he did a lot of really good things for us. I thought he continued to grow up. It's amazing to see the progress that he's made. And so Monte, like he said, he was into the game as everybody. Then you had to get him back in the game. When it got 5, I thought the little pullup, I don't know if that was in the little six-minute area, but that pullup jump shot, post-up 7 was big.

Q. That five-minute stretch with him on the bench and cut to it 4. I don't think you looked at him to put him in. Why not? And two, that group they banged out 7 in a row, 8 in a row. What did you see that kind of extended the lead back out, I think, to 11?
COACH PROHM: Those guys have been playing well. Look at the first half. Our bench was good. Donovan was really good in the first half. His plus/minus was pretty good tonight, off the top of my head. But then I knew it was time to get him back in.

I felt, you know -- you know, I'm not going to be pressured to play certain guys at times. I know obviously I need Monte Morris on the floor. But he got in there at winning time and was able to close the game for us. I thought Donovan was doing some good things for us. And then it may have went a minute or two too long. You know, it did get to 4, but fortunately Naz, Monte -- excuse me, Matt and Deonte made some big plays for us.

Q. Steve, a team like Nevada has proven they can find any which way to score. Was there anything in particular you told the guys to focus on, maybe they can do this, make sure to take this away down the stretch?
COACH PROHM: The transition defense was the first thing. I thought we were really good in the first half. We gave up a couple uncontested 3s. Make sure we contested every shot. Second half, you know, we had a chance to get it to 15 and we missed a layup. Sometimes it also -- if you ever go back and look at tape, watch what a missed layup usually leads to a basket. Instead of going 15, they hit a 3 to go to 10. We never could pull it away. But our biggest thing was to make sure we didn't give Marshall any good looks.

I thought we did that for the most part and then continued to do a great job on Oliver. Caroline did a good job driving us, getting a couple and-1s. But for the most part we were good. We were able to answer when we -- when we couldn't stop them, we were able to answer Matt's big 3 in front of our bench, Naz lofted 3.

We got seniors. We got guys that can really shoot and spread you out. That helps. But you watch Nevada play, they can really score. I mean Marshall, Oliver, those guys can really score. Caroline is very good. You've got to continue to play the right way.

Q. Seems like Monte is always trying to make a statement with every game. With the time he was in the game, what do you think his play said tonight?
COACH PROHM: Same thing it says every night. The best point guard in the country. Very fortunate to coach him. He's the winningest player in the history of this school. I talk about him all the time. I talk about him every interview. He knows what I think about it. Everybody knows.

He's the best point guard in the country. He's a winner. He won in high school. He's kept Iowa State -- really brought Iowa State basketball to being relevant and being a national program. He's been an integral part of that. Now he's got a chance to go to his third Sweet 16. How many kids can say that that play college basketball?

I love him, you know, and that's why I want to keep coaching him a couple more weeks before he goes off to the NBA.

Q. Coach, how does that first half rank as far as you go during the season defensively?
COACH PROHM: Yeah, we were good. My AD told me we were good, so that made me feel good. We were good defensively. You hold them to 30 percent shooting, contested shots. We were locked in. These guys have locked in. They bought in to trying to be good on the defensive end of the floor, contesting shots. Naz has really taken it upon himself to take a lot of pride in being our defensive stopper and putting him on the best guy. He's done that. I thought he done a terrific job.

Marshall finished with 16. He had to really work for those. I think our first half defense gave us an opportunity to extend the lead, to be up 13 to where we can weather a little bit of a run that Nevada would make.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach? Thank you. Good luck Saturday.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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