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March 18, 2017

Kermit Davis

Reggie Upshaw

Antwain Johnson

JaCorey Williams

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Butler - 74, Middle Tennessee - 65

THE MODERATOR: Please welcome Middle Tennessee Head Coach, Kermit Davis, and Middle Tennessee student-athletes, JaCorey Williams, who had 20 points, 9 rebounds, Reggie Upshaw, who had 12 points, and Antwain Johnson, who had 19 points. We'll have an opening statement from Coach and then questions from the student-athletes.

Coach, please.

COACH DAVIS: First of all, I can't express, as I told our guys in the locker room, how much fun that they brought to Middle Tennessee fans and myself personally, how they represented us, you know. 31 wins is an unbelievable feat. We're all heartbroken. We wanted to get back to our home state in Memphis and play in the Sweet 16.

Butler played terrific. They came in 15 for their last 50 from 3 and just got off the a great hot start, and I thought they were physical. We kind of chased them the whole game. Kind of chased them and fought it and fought it and fought it and got it back to one possession game, and they just made a big 3 when the game was 3.

They just kind of tonight beat us in some of the areas we won a lot of games. Terrific year for us, and these three guys right here played really well tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Antwain, 19 points. What was key for you tonight?
ANTWAIN JOHNSON: It wasn't any way different. I was just trying to win.

Q. Reggie, Giddy came up to both you guys after the game, he said, "My fault." Have you been able to talk with him at all in the aftermath here?
REGGIE UPSHAW: No. When we got to the locker room, Coach Davis, he addressed the team and told us how he was proud of what we've done over the last year. And after that, everybody was kind of upset with how we played and that we didn't make it back to Memphis to play in front of our home state and our home fans. But I haven't said anything to Giddy yet.

JACOREY WILLIAMS: Not at all. He's kind of torn right now. Felt like he could have helped a little more. Let him cool off, and we'll talk to him later.

Q. Reggie, you close out one of the best careers ever at Middle Tennessee. Talk about your four years and how special it was for you.
REGGIE UPSHAW: I wouldn't trade anything that I've been through while I was here for anything in the world, you know. Coming here, I wasn't the most highly recruited athlete in my state or at my school or anything like that. And for Coach Davis to take a chance on me and see something in me that I didn't see in myself, you know, the way that he's helped me grow as a player and as a man, it's what Middle Tennessee is about. And you know, coming here and being a part of the different championship teams and the two NCAA appearances, you know, I would have never imagined myself doing this.

But again, I just have to thank Coach Davis and the rest of the coaches for taking a chance and seeing something in me that I didn't ever expect to see in myself.

THE MODERATOR: Other questions for the student-athletes?

Q. JaCorey, there in the first half you guys were letting things slip a little bit and really took it upon yourself, you scored 6 straight points. Talk about that run and why you thought you needed to make it by yourself.
JACOREY WILLIAMS: I mean, it wasn't that I was trying to make a run by myself or anything. I know we needed everybody to play well tonight to win. But I just tried to go get rebounds and try to play really physical inside. I didn't have a real physical presence early on. I tried to take it upon myself to go inside and try to make something happen, try to spark the team a little bit, try to get the crowd help us get back in the game a little bit.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

Questions for Coach, please.

Q. They were hitting shots from the start. In the second half they started getting the layups off the 1-3-1. What did they do to adjust?
COACH DAVIS: Give Butler credit, I'm almost went into a little panic stage a little bit. We tried to cheat out. We lost assignments and just got out of our defense. They started playing over the top. One time it hadn't happened all year, threw it the length of the floor, the guy laid it in. We kind of got out of character and we got it back. You know, we got it back, which was good. And that's just something that we probably, Joe, wouldn't have played as much in the second half but we were down and just trying to create turnovers. And you asked our players about Giddy. I hugged him in the locker room. He was in the bathroom by himself bawling. He thought he lost the game. He's such a critical reason why we're here and what a great year we had. I hate it for him that it happened on this stage tonight.

Q. Kermit, you hear what Reggie has to say about his four years. What has he meant to you as a coach in this program?
COACH DAVIS: I told him I loved him. I don't know if I've ever had a more favorite guy. Winning affects everything. How he's represented all of us, the fans love him. He'll be able to come back to Middle Tennessee when he's 40 and brings his kids, and those people are going to talk about not only the wins but what kind of person he was and how he carried himself. Yesterday or Thursday he broke the all-time winning record for 99 career wins, which is unbelievable, and two NCAA wins and maybe four championships.

Like I said, he impacted winning better than anybody in the history of our school. But the way he carried himself, he means an awful lot to me.

Q. Within the first couple minutes, it looked like there were sometimes where the guys were a little loose with the ball handling and at times some bickering in the first half. Was it maybe nerves that got to them a little bit? Did you think that's what contributed to the little bit of lack of composure?
COACH DAVIS: I don't think there were nerves at all. Our guys have been in a lot of big games. We were loose with the ball, though. Tyrik Dixon, our freshman, had a great year. He only had one turnover. The ball didn't move right, you know.

Our team is a real competitive bunch. You haven't seen our team very much, those guys are competitive with themselves. They love each other a lot. They play with a great edge and toughness. It's something that happens, you know, people who come to our games have seen it. It was not nerves at all. Maybe a little frustration, you know. Our team just didn't play with the identity that we played with most of the year.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach?

Q. Just looking forward, Kermit, obviously you have some good players coming back, Walters and Giddy and Antwain. Can you think about that right now?
COACH DAVIS: You know, I think about it everyday, Joe, I really do. We lose -- Reggie and JaCorey, it's hard to replace those two guys, but I like the base. We've had a great recruiting year early. We're going to sign a player or two maybe late. I do. I just think -- like we said, this will be a year that we'll look forward to, the sustainability of keeping our program going forward. It's going to be a tough task. Our guys will reflect on the year, and in a couple weeks, we'll get back at it.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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