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March 2, 2018

Matt Painter

Carsen Edwards

Vince Edwards

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

Purdue - 82, Rutgers - 75

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH PAINTER: Obviously we're pleased to be able to advance and have the opportunity to play Penn State. Have nothing but great things to say about Rutgers and their fight today.

This was one of those games that really could have went either way. They made a lot of difficult shots. They were great on the offensive glass.

But our guys hung in there. We made a lot of plays offensively and knocked down shots. And we were fortunate. We missed some free throws down the stretch that we normally make. But just hats off to Rutgers. They're a tough out and they were very good today.

But the two guys next to me really played well and stepped up and made some huge plays for us.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Carsen and Vince.

Q. What did Coach say to you during halftime to get you motivated to pick it up in the second half?
VINCE EDWARDS: Just came and said our energy wasn't there or where it needed to be and challenged us as a whole, so we had to get together and challenge each other, pick each other up. When your coach comes in and (indiscernible) and gets on you like that, he wants to see how you respond. It was a challenge and we were able to respond and get stops.

Q. Carsen, great game tonight, took the lead early in the second half for the first time. Even though they never came back and took it again, did it feel like you couldn't seize control or shake them the rest of the way?
CARSEN EDWARDS: Absolutely. Yes, sir. It came down to a lot of possessions and they were hitting tough shots. We were able to execute as well, but we were just kind of going back and forth, so it felt like, it was probably a close game the entire time. It was a fight, which we knew that coming in, though, but, yeah.

Q. Vince, you've obviously dealt with injury, illness. What was it like to have the game you had tonight in that situation?
VINCE EDWARDS: Huge, really. Just a good confidence booster, honestly. Credit my teammates for finding me and the coaches for putting me in position to make plays. But just to be able to walk again and walk normally and put pressure on my foot feels great. Really don't take anything for granted after going through that type of injury.

Q. Carsen, for a while it seemed like you and Vince were playing horse, going back and forth making shots. How did you feel your shot was going? You struggled a little bit in the beginning of the game but then, like, you really heated up in the second half?
CARSEN EDWARDS: I mean it's good to see -- I felt like Vince played well, played well in the first half. He had some big plays in the first half. But it was good to see some shots falling in the second half knowing I had a tougher first half, not even offensively but defensively as well. So just seeing some shots go in and able to take the lead in the second half was good and felt good.

Q. Every game today seemed like the underdog was a little fresher. Maybe the team with the bye was rusty. Did you feel like you had a hard time keeping up with their energy?
VINCE EDWARDS: I just felt, like you said, they were a little, maybe, I don't want to say fresher, but we've just got to come out and be ready. There's no excuse, whether you have a bye, double bye, or you've been playing for two or three days. So to be a player and to be a great player, you've gotta come to play no matter what the circumstances are.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. In the second half it seemed like Rutgers, their field goal percentage dropped. Was there something that you saw at halftime, how you defended them?
COACH PAINTER: Not really. As a coach, sometimes it's hard when people just want to get into isos and play. Because you normally want to build in your help and do some things differently to get them out of that rhythm.

So we were just trying to take up their space. And even the ones they made I thought they were pretty tough, you know, step-backs where our guys are right on them.

Kind of the issue for us is could we get a rebound. They got a lot of offensive rebounds. We didn't do a good job of boxing out and going to get it. It was just being better at what we do. It wasn't much of a change in what we were doing defensively.

We were switching three ways and we weren't switching with their 4. So the second half we thought we'd switch with their 4. But then you gotta worry about the iso post up, and you've got to worry about a guard trying to box out their 4-man, which is hard to do.

But guys like Mike Williams he really helped him. Deshawn Freeman got four offensive rebounds and Mike got five. They're hard to keep off the glass.

Q. It was brought up earlier today that some of the teams who had byes that it's hard to adjust and to get court time. Did you feel like you started off rusty because this was kind of a new environment and Rutgers had already played?
COACH PAINTER: I think that holds true at times. I don't think it did today. I think we took a couple shots early that we shouldn't have taken. I didn't think our weak-side defense was having good in that first four or five minutes.

We weren't there. We were very fortunate. I didn't think offense was our issue in the first half. I thought our defensive awareness and understanding at times was. And that's not to take anything away from them.

But I've been in that situation when I felt that is the case; the other team, they get that experience on that court, especially these guys playing two games.

But I didn't see fatigue from them at the end. Sometimes you see you wear a team down that has to play three games in a row. I didn't see that from Rutgers. I thought we made a couple more plays than they did.

Q. Every time you guys get a four, five, six, seven-point lead there in the second half, they would get a basket; the crowd would get crazy for them. Were you worried at all that the tsunami of emotions of the three days would overwhelm you guys at the end?
COACH PAINTER: Sure, to get kind of a functional piece in terms of basketball. As a coach you worry more on trying to guard them, trying to box them out, trying to do functional things from the basketball standpoint.

We have a rule when we go on the road and the crowd gets loud: Pass the basketball, move the basketball. Don't let it stick in your hands.

So we talked about it before and said, hey, they're going to have a strong following here at this game, if the crowd starts to get into it.

I think what you see in this game is sometimes what you see with those lower seeds in the NCAA Tournament. You go to a different -- you go play in Denver and you've got two teams from the East playing, but one team's a 12 and one team's a 5, Denver adopts that 12 seed as the game keeps going.

I felt like you have a little bit of that. They probably feel the same way when they come to Chicago and Indianapolis, especially when you've got a lower seed closer to them and you have more fans.

Q. Two or three seasons ago you went into Piscataway, I think, and beat them by 50. What have you seen in that short span of time how the program has improved?
COACH PAINTER: They compete. They play hard. I know that's a basic thing. But when you -- you face one of Steve's teams, you better bring your lunch. They're going to hit you. They're going to attack the glass. They're going to play hard.

The three constants I always talk about: Run, rebound and defend. That's what they do: They play hard, they rebound the basketball and they defend.

I think if you would have saw these shot-making from these guys the whole season, they would have a different record. They always gave the effort. They always laid it on the line. But those guys are out there making some tough shots.

They made those against us. Maybe that's the common denominator. But throughout the season they don't make those kind of shots all the time. If they can make shots like that, they're in business, because his teams defend and his teams rebound.

Q. Just that looked like 100 percent Vince. Did you feel like it was 100 percent Vince, or are you still seeing limitations?
COACH PAINTER: No, I thought he was fine. I thought he let some things come to him. Even that shot at the end that he missed, I thought he shot faked, pass faked, took a dribble and took a good shot. It just didn't go down.

But I thought tonight he took what the defense gives you. That's when he's at his best. When he takes what the defense gives him, plays off other people, takes his 3, drives the basketball, when he gets in that flow he's very effective.

This was a great game for him. I thought the key was him playing in our last game to kind of get the rust off and I think that helped him play well today.

Q. Specifically two weeks ago against Penn State you guys really had to claw to win at home, specifically with this team, this Penn State team, what about them makes them a tough out?
COACH PAINTER: Tony Carr to start with. He's tough to handle. He gets into isos and breaks people down. Lamar Stevens is a real tough cover at kind of that 3, 4-type guy that can post, drive you and play. I just like their personnel.

Shep's been around the block. Makes shots. You can't let him get going. Tony Carr get going. Lamar Stevens. Reaves is one of the best defenders in our league, obviously makes a big basket today.

I know they don't have Big Mike, but it shows you the quality of those guys I talked about. Pat's done a great job at getting them to play hard, getting them to play together.

And it's going to be a war. It's going to be a really tough game.

Q. You had seven turnovers in the first half, really cleaned it up after that, only had two the rest of the game. Was it just focus? Was it guys taking better care, what was the difference in the second half?
COACH PAINTER: Just the focus. Just being, getting into a rhythm. And I know Carsen takes -- Carsen's rhythm is different than other guys' rhythm. He can shoot the ball so well off the dribble. Sometimes he'll dribble in place and let one go where it's not that bad of a shot for him.

But I just thought we concentrated better, did little things better. I thought we were better on both ends of the court in the second half. But with all that being said, when you shoot the ball well, everything looks better.

Q. You talked about Sanders getting his point. P.J. spent a lot of time on him today. And he at least made him pretty inefficient. I think he had 23 points on 20 shots, something like that. He missed a big free throw, had four turnovers. What makes P.J. ideal for that kind of matchup, what makes him the guy that goes up on a guy like Sanders, maybe allows him to persevere through, a guy making some tough shots to wear him down?
COACH PAINTER: The one thing about Corey, he's not a great 3-point shooter. So like getting him and trying to get into his space and making those long 2s, it's hard. That's a hard thing.

But we just try to get P.J. to get under him and make it hard for him to come up and shoot the basketball and just stay with him. Be persistent. I thought we gave him too much space at times tonight. If he gets to a step back and jumps over us and shoots it, good for him, especially when it's a 2.

But Corey Sanders is a tough cover. I know we really struggled with him in the second half of our game at Rutgers. And tonight he was fabulous again.


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