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March 23, 2017

Chris Mack

Malcolm Bernard

J.P. Macura

Trevon Bluiett

San Jose, California

Xavier - 73, Arizona - 71

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Xavier head coach Chris Mack and student-athletes Trevon Bluiett, Malcolm Bernard and J.P. Macura. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MACK: Well, obviously an emotional game, a game -- I'm really proud of our kids. Our guys, they battled tooth and nail. We got down eight points with about four and a half minutes to go, and I just told them to not try to get it all back in one or two possessions. But it's gotten to the point where they already know that. They just sort of echo -- Coach we got it, we understand. And that hasn't always been the case.

And for us to be able to go out and put together consecutive stops and come down and execute, it says a lot about how much our team's grown.

I personally have so much love for Sean and his staff. I know it's heartbreaking for them because they had a special year, a special season. And I know it's tough. But today is a Xavier day. And I'm proud of these guys here at the dais.


Q. I know I haven't been on the beat the longest, Chris, but that was the most animated I've seen you on the sideline. Are you able to verbalize what this means to you and the program and how you feel for these guys?
COACH MACK: I just think that any team that can get through the eye of the needle to get to an Elite Eight, you're playing unbelievable teams. And I told these guys that after our first week in Orlando, which I thought we played selfless basketball. I thought we competed and played hard. There were a lot of people were talking about how we had a favorable draw. And I think that bothered our guys.

You know, it was almost like -- we beat the second place Big Ten team pretty convincingly in the second half. We throttled Florida State, a 3 seed, and all of a sudden it was all about how Florida State wasn't the team that everybody talked about.

And I think our guys earned a lot today. But they had already earned that in my book, the way we battled back in the six-game losing streak a long time ago. So, yeah, it was emotional. And really happy that our guys played to win every possession tonight.

Q. I know you just won the game, but your thoughts on facing Gonzaga on Saturday?
COACH MACK: I have no thoughts about Gonzaga at this point. And I'm not being flip. I know Karnowski. If I mispronounced his name I apologize. I know they have Nigel Goss. I know Mark Few has done an incredible job. I don't know a lot of their players. Johnathan Williams we tried to get on a transfer, and he didn't give us much. I put all our efforts into focusing on Arizona.

Q. Can you take us through that last play; was that something you drew up with the intention of getting it to Sean with Ristic off the court?
COACH MACK: When we came to the timeout, it was 50 seconds left in the game. And I called a play. I think -- two series, right, two pairs -- and felt like it was too long developing, and by the time the shot would have gone up, whether we had made it or not, Arizona would have had the ball with less than a shot clock's worth of possession.

So I opted to go with a little bit of a quicker play. And that one worked for us earlier in the game. We felt like they didn't press us, so Q was able to get the ball near half court because we wanted to go two for one down the stretch.

And fortunately Sean was able to catch a great pass by Tre and put it in through all that traffic and gave the guys a boost of confidence. And then we had to defend.

Q. Can you talk about solving Ristic and Markkanen, because they gave you guys fits earlier on there? How tough was that, and how big was Sean and RaShid?
COACH MACK: It's just a challenge. We wanted to keep the ball in front of us. They have elite athleticism and ability to get to the rim whether we play man or zone. I said at halftime that -- I didn't want to come into the locker room and just blast our guys for not blocking out, because that wasn't the case.

The problem was we weren't containing the ball on dribble penetration in the zone. So when the shot went up our bigs were helping and in no position to block out. I said if we can figure out a way, whether we're man or zone, to keep the ball in front of us, at least it will give us an opportunity to rebound the ball.

And we weren't perfect in the second half. But we were in the last three, four minutes of the game. And that's the reason that we were able to win. I told them first shots won't beat us. Second shots will, and we didn't give up any second shots down the stretch.

Q. Trevon, J.P., you lost to this Arizona team in the same spot when you were freshmen. What does it mean to come back in your junior year and advance to the Elite Eight?
TREVON BLUIETT: It feels good, just, for one, just to be able to kind of get that revenge that we have been looking for. And, two, just to make it to the Elite Eight. It's been a while since the program has done it. And just to get back there it's a surreal feeling.

J.P. MACURA: I'd say I'm extremely happy on how we played together today. And I'm very proud of everyone on our team. We got a lot of tough guys. We played together. And I'm happy that we're advancing.

Q. J.P., you played a great game. You kept your composure. How were you able to do that especially when you guys get down? And then how do you keep your composure to bring this team back into it?
J.P. MACURA: Just staying level headed. My teammates have extreme confidence in me. I get riled up a little bit. I get into the game a little bit.

TREVON BLUIETT: More than a little bit.

J.P. MACURA: Yeah, a little bit. And I've just got to stay poised and just know my teammates have my back at all times.

Q. Malcolm, you shot very efficiently tonight. How much was the idea of this run ending going through your mind throughout the game? And how do you feel right now?
MALCOLM BERNARD: I feel incredible. Happy. I'm very excited. And I just really didn't want our season to end. We worked so hard, not only in the offseason but throughout the year battling adversity. And I just didn't think it was time for our season to end.

Q. For the three of you, Coach said he's got no thoughts on Gonzaga, but I'm wondering if any of the three of you saw them at any point during the regular season and what you think about them?
TREVON BLUIETT: No, I didn't get to catch them during the regular season. My answer is the same as Coach's. Really no thoughts. We were just preparing for the next team and that was Arizona.

J.P. MACURA: I don't know much about them. I just know they got a big guy. That's about it. That's all I really know.

MALCOLM BERNARD: Same here. I don't know much about them except Nigel Goss.

COACH MACK: That's not disrespectful. Our guys are tucked in bed by 10:30, 11:00, so they don't necessarily watch West Coast. I'm sure Gonzaga hasn't seen Xavier play much either. Coaching staffs are well prepared I'm sure for both programs. We've done advanced scouting with a couple of assistants. So those guys will tutor our team and myself here over the next 24 hours.

Q. You kind of mentioned this already, but when you look at the kind of matchup where you don't see very often between your team and Gonzaga, is that kind of what makes March Madness special?
COACH MACK: It makes it special for me. I'm sure fans are going to choose their favorite teams. But I don't know what you're insinuating, because we're small Jesuit schools or anything like that. But we're about good basketball. And we've got competitive guys.

Both programs have a storied tradition and started well before me, and started before Coach Few, with Coach Monson. It's going to be a great game and we look forward playing it. Gonzaga has had our number a couple times we've played them, so we've got to figure out a way to do better.

Q. Can you guys talk about a regrouping after the loss of Sumner? And how long it took you to do that, and what have you been able to -- how did you overcome that?
TREVON BLUIETT: Well, I mean, losing Ed was tough just because he was a key part to our team. And just whenever you have a guy that's playing the majority of minutes at the point guard position, it's going to be tough to kind of really get back into rhythm.

But I think Ed going down, I think Quentin stepped up pretty big for being a freshman. You know, I feel like it was, the click was always there. We just had to learn how to play for a full 40 minutes. Obviously that's all it really was.

J.P. MACURA: Obviously Ed went down, and then Tre had an ankle injury shortly after that. And honestly the main thing is we stuck together. We're all tough guys. We stuck together. And we've been playing tough together. And we're not really backing down from anybody. And if you have that mentality, you can beat a lot of teams.

MALCOLM BERNARD: I feel the same way as these guys. So they said all the words.

Q. Coach or Malcolm, or any of you guys want to touch on, I saw David West in the crowd. I know he's very proud to be an alumni, a great career. If he talked to you guys, what message and what kind of leadership he can give you guys?
COACH MACK: Dave's as big of a Xavier fan as our program has. He's arguably the greatest player that ever wore a Xavier uniform. He's had a special career in the NBA. Equally as important, Dave's an awesome person. He's a great man.

And like I said before, he loves Xavier. So when he found out that we were going to be out here and it was an off day, got shoot-around tomorrow morning at 8:30, but he's planning on coming back on Saturday. So it just says a lot about, not only Dave, but we have a lot of former players that support our program immensely. Guys come back in the summer, play with these guys, work out with them, talk to them. Tell them about their experience. And Dave's no different. I think he went around the locker room for a few minutes after our game tonight just being a proud alum.


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