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March 17, 2017

Tim Jankovich

Semi Ojeleye

Ben Moore

Tulsa, Oklahoma

USC - 66, SMU - 65

COACH JANKOVICH: There used to be a show on TV when I was little talking about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I think it was Wide World of Sports. I can certainly realty to that show right now.

Incredibly proud of our team over the course of many, many months, and including today. Today is obviously an incredible heartbreak. If ever there was a team to deserve some great things, some more great things to happen, particularly this time of year, it was these guys.

But give Southern Cal credit. They battled from behind the entire game, and just right at the right time good things happened for them. So you always have to give your opponent credit for that.

But amazingly disappointed, and this was a team that I love dearly and I feel very badly for the way they're feeling right now.

Q. Coach, can you just tell me what you saw from your perspective on that last sequence and last shot you guys got?
COACH JANKOVICH: The very last one, we got the drive, and -- was that the drive into the paint? Was that the last one? Yeah. We were in a two-for-one situation with a minute to go, two-point lead, and if I'm not mistaken, we got a rough call, we stepped out of bounds, I think, in the first one; and then they hit -- I think they hit the three coming back off the hand off. Boatwright hits the three. And we came down -- it's kind of a multiple action that we ran -- probably didn't execute it great. Didn't execute it great. But you know what, it's, you know, a little pressure in that situation, it's the NCAA tournament and didn't go maybe as well as we planned. But no fault of anybody. No fault.

We got the ball in the paint, almost went in. If it goes in, we got a whole different conversation right now.

Q. It looked like their defense really tightened up late in the game there and kind of held you guys to a lower shooting percentage. What did you see defensively out of them or what might have given you a little trouble late in the game?
COACH JANKOVICH: I don't know if it's different -- they zoned. They just zoned. How many possessions a man did they play the whole game? They chose the zone, played some man early. I don't remember how many other possessions of zone, and they did a pretty good job, was very active and they've got great size. That's one of the real factors in how good your zone is, and they are very big, very, very big, and they're very athletic. And today I thought they played -- it as active. No, I thought it was the most active they've played it in any of the games that we watched. So give them credit for that.

Maybe not our best day of executing zone offense, but certainly understandable. You look around the country, the opening games of the NCAA, everybody doesn't necessarily look 100 percent in their comfort zone, you know. We did some good things executing, but not every single down, every time down, and I know we all wish we had some of those possessions back. But missed some good shots. Wish we could have got some more rebounds. They did a good job blocking us out. But basically their defense was pretty much the same the whole game. They sat in a 2-3 zone.

Q. Ben, as you went to the line for those final free throws, the refs had to review something over to the table. Did you feel like you got froze in that moment or was it just an unfortunate coincidence?
BEN MOORE: Just an unfortunate coincidence. And right now I got a big knot in my throat that I'm trying to ignore it. And I let a lot of people down in the locker room that I didn't want to with missing that free throw. But I'm glad we had a great season. I'm glad we did what we did this year.

Q. What can you guys take from this game to use moving forward?
SEMI OJELEYE: I mean you talk about it all year, the little things are what will send you home in March. And today was a couple of possessions that really hurt us late, a few box-outs here, a few communications on defense.

We try to work on those things all year, and you harp about it, but when the moment comes, we have to execute, and we didn't do that today.

COACH JANKOVICH: I'd like to chime in because Ben doesn't have any more games, you know, and it kills me for him to -- that was partly probably my fault because our bench was feeling like that three might not have been a three. That's a pretty important point, you know, if it wasn't a three. So we were debating, do we tell them to go review it knowing that that puts Ben up on the line a little bit longer, and that's always a tough situation.

And yet I would hate to have gone to the end of the game and said, gees, you guys should have reviewed. It was a two. That was a fairly big point, one single point. So I feel badly for that.

Bigger than that, I don't want Ben to feel that at all. The game is not won or lost -- I've always believed that. The games -- we talk about them more. We talk about -- the very first question is what happened on the last possession. We always talk about what happened at the very end, but the games are won over a 40-minute period. And if you can get yourself in a position that you don't have to talk about a last possession, that's -- in fact, we've done that about, I don't know, 29 times this year where there were very few last-possession games. There just weren't. And that's how you hope to have it.

But in Ben's case, I just want him and everybody else to remember that he's, you know, all-time winningest player, the things he's done, hundred million things he's done in his career, including the loyalty, the work ethic, the teammate, the unselfishness, the basketball IQ, all the things that he's done.

What I care about is that he doesn't think for one second that he let anybody down. If anything, he built a whole lot of people up for his entire career.

Q. Coach, in that last sequence when the ball kind of froze there on the right-hand side a little bit, was there a thought to call timeout?
COACH JANKOVICH: I knew I'd get the timeout -- everybody loves to say, boy, you should have called timeout. I love the timeout call. You have to have a philosophy on that, you know, and here's mine: Like good coaches, when you call timeout, now you never know what you're going to get. You never know what you're going to get. They could double. They can switch their zone. They can go to man. They can go to man and they can switch your ball screens. They can double your ball screens. They can double your post.

So if you call timeout, you have no idea what's coming, but when you let flow happen and you're right in front of you and your team knows what you're calling, it seems to me that it's a bad idea. We know what we're running, and so we know what they're running. We know what defense they're in and we know how they've been playing it. So what we call is going to make sense against what they're guarding.

Now, does it always go in? Of course not. But I've just never been a believer. It's kind of like Coaching 101. My God, you get the ball, hurry up and call timeout, when you got your team right in front of you, knowing full well what the defense is in. You know what they've been playing you. You make a call that you feel like has a good chance to work.

What we did was a multiple option play, so it's not just one and done. And then oh, my gosh. And certainly we didn't execute it great, but I'm not going to blame anyone for that. But that's my philosophy. I just think if you have the ability to communicate your team without a timeout late in the game, I think it's 10 to 1 you have a better chance.

Q. For both student-athletes, I was just curious when you looked at the breakdown, you guys led for almost 36 minutes in the game. Looked like kind of the way you would close the season out. Did you feel you guys were in control most of the way this game?
BEN MOORE: Yes, we did. But we made a couple of mistakes that were uncharacteristic for us down the stretch that cost it. But we felt like we were in control most of the game.

SEMI OJELEYE: I mean, can't say it much better than that. I mean we watched them play Providence. They're a team that doesn't quit, so we knew that even if we were in control we never had the game won until it was over, obviously. We're always aware that they could have come back, and that's what they did.

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