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March 7, 2018

Tim Duryea

Dwayne Brown

Koby McEwen

Las Vegas, Nevada

Utah State - 76, Colorado State - 65

TIM DURYEA: Obviously not how you draw it up. We were sluggish to start. I don't know if it was nerves or what it was, but we were flat. No energy on either end of the floor and they took advantage of that. Got off to a great start, credit to Jase and his guys.

About halfway through the first half I thought our defensive activity and intensity picked up and that really kind of bled through the rest of our game. We started getting some stops, stringing those together. We got out on the break, we had a little more life to us offensively. And just chipped away at it.

Rough start. You don't get away with that too often but we slipped by today.

Q. Julion Pearre was one of the stabilizing forces in the first half. How important was he to you?
KOBY McEWEN: He was great. We needed it, especially because a lot of us couldn't seem to make a basket. He came in and hit those 3s. Those are big 3s. He kept us in the game, really.

I'm proud of Julion, I'm happy for him. We needed that really bad.

DWAYNE BROWN: With the only guy probably, one of the few guys on our team with experience playing in the tournament and stuff like that. And the way we were going in the first half, it was really big for him to step up and for the season he's kind of had for a senior year. So really proud of him and happy.

Q. On rebounds, especially early on Colorado State was having a lot of success, especially on the offensive boards. And then there in the second half, especially, you guys really clamped down on that and won the rebounding total 40 to 31. Was there a change in philosophy or what was the reason for that dramatic shift?
KOBY McEWEN: There was no change in philosophy. Our job -- well, our coach has preached to us every day we have to rebound, especially because we're undersized.

For us, we just have to clamp down and block out the guys who really crash hard, which are Carvacho, Che Bob, and James. They go hard to the glass. They play big. They played big this game. We knew we had to block out and get rebounds.

That was one of the only reasons why they were up so much because we couldn't get a board. And our coaches got on us and made us get rebounds because that was the only way that we were going to try to come back in this game.

DWAYNE BROWN: On the defensive side we had to lock in on rebounds for them because I felt like a lot of the second chance -- a lot of their points came off second-chance baskets because of their offensive rebounding.

So the philosophy on rebounding has always been the same; you've just got to do it. So we just basically had to listen to our coaches and do what we were told to do throughout the whole game and get it done.

Q. You've had some real struggles in some halves. Did that help you not panic tonight with the way things started the first half, you couldn't buy a bucket at all?
KOBY McEWEN: Yeah. You know, I wasn't really worried in terms of not just making baskets, because that's going to happen in games. This is the tournament. We can't give up. We have to keep grinding it out. We were getting good shots and running in transition, they were going on their ball screens, guys were taking their shots. We just couldn't make any.

But I feel like clamping down defensively and getting rebounds helped us make more shots. Trying to match them going back and forth wasn't really working for us. On the defensive side, it helped us get out in transition and get stops and get easier baskets, then the baskets really started to come.

DWAYNE BROWN: I wasn't really worried, either, because college basketball is a game of runs, and we weren't hitting shots early. All we had to do is make sure we stayed together as a team, lock in on the defensive side, because the game is scoring more than they do. If you stop them from scoring, it would be easy. We just had to get stops, kills, and make good plays for each other. We had to make plays for each other, and I think we did a great job on that side.

Q. Outside of Julion, you struggled for 3 of 19 from 3-point range. Is this something you're going to want to focus on in the next game?
KOBY McEWEN: If they're there we'll take them. It's not really anything we're focusing on. We take the shot that's available. We're a good 3-point shooting team, especially Sam is going to make more shots, I know that for sure. So I'm not really worried about our 3-point attempts and makes and stuff like that. I know next game, I know we're going to hit shots, I know we're going to get good looks. So this is really up to us to knock them down.

Q. What's going to be the key to carry this momentum into that Boise game? Are you really familiar with them? There's limited energy, back-to-back games can be tough. What's the key to staying as sharp as you were the second half today?
DWAYNE BROWN: Really, it's just playing hard, just playing harder than they do. Whoever wants it more. And I feel like on the rebounding side we have to stay locked in on that part, box them out, securing the rebound, and out-hustling them on the offensive side for our offensive rebounds so we can get second-chance points. And we need that to carry over into the game because that's how we need to play all the times.

KOBY McEWEN: We're pretty familiar with Boise. They're a good team. We scout them really well. We know how to guard them. And all we've got to do is execute the game plan, make sure that whoever needs to get taken out we take them out and force them to do what they don't want to do, rebound the ball and run. Just play free, just play good basketball, move the ball, and I think we'll be fine.

Q. When you guys beat Boise State at your place, you almost beat them in Boise, what is it about the matchup that you feel good about when you play against them?
DWAYNE BROWN: I think it's just the whole fact of they have Chandler Hutchison, we have Koby McEwen, and that whole matchup thing. That's how it looks in my eyes. I'm new to the Mountain West and everything. That's all you hear, when you hear Boise, you just hear his name.

So that matchup is very real because we're a really good team. We're playing good. We're altogether and everything like that. And they're really stacked down the line; they've got point guards, shooting guards, Hutchison plays the three, he's 6-8. They have a 6-9 power forward, and 6-10, 6-11 center. Down the line it looks like a great team. But I think we're a very tough team throughout working through all summer, from our first year being here. I think we're a very tough team. And I think that's what helps us out when we play them.

KOBY McEWEN: Yeah, what really helps us out is we know we can play with them. And we have the utmost confidence in ourselves that we can be on the same court as Boise, no matter what the standings are. Our guys know that and believe that, and when we play they play like it.

So like I said, coaches gave us a good game plan for Boise. And once we execute it we usually do well against them, especially at home this year. So all we've got to do is do that again, play a little harder, play a little smarter, make more shots. I think we'll be fine.

Q. So you guys definitely got off to a little bit of slow start, 21-7 run and all of a sudden you're back in it. Koby, you had a couple of big shots in that. Was there something about the timeout break? What was the mentality during that run?
KOBY McEWEN: We stayed together. We were poised, we weren't worried about what they were doing. There were more of us. We were beating ourselves more than they were beating us.

Once we clamped down on the turnovers, once we started getting rebounds, and started making shots, stopped turning the ball over, once we did those things, you know, the game started to slow down for us and we slowly came back in and it was manageable from there, from halftime on.

So that's really what it was. It was just us being ourselves. And we can do that at tournament time. Like coach said to us before the game, we've got to eliminate free points. We gave them a lot of free points. Tournament time especially, we've got to eliminate that.

Once we started eliminating their free points, and getting kills and stops and running out in transition, the game started opening up for us.

Q. It's been an up-and-down season, just a big roller coaster. How did it feel for you to come down here on the biggest stage and lay down 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and have the game that you did?
KOBY McEWEN: Ask the question again.

Q. It's just an up-and-down season, injuries and everything with the team. How good does it feel to you to come down and put down the game that you did?
KOBY McEWEN: It feels great. Coaches and my teammates put me in a great position to be successful. I did the easy part by just hitting shots. Finding my teammates, they did great screens for me. I was usually taking what the defense gave me. And usually when I do that I'm pretty successful.

But all credit to my teammates and my coaching staff. They did a tremendous job today just helping me out and being successful.

Q. The two-point shooting percentages for each team were quite diverse. What did you do to execute so well and defend inside so well?
TIM DURYEA: You know, we've tried to make a bigger emphasis of throwing the ball inside, and we have some stuff in our package that gets us pretty good two-point looks. And sometimes we are such a perimeter-oriented team that sometimes we forget about Alex Dargenton down there at the block. We probably need to throw him the ball even more. And when we do that, when we did that today, it was very productive.

I think our guys do a good job of executing in the half court. We have a pretty diverse set of things that we run, and like I said, try to give us easy looks. When you run a set play I think you need to look at a layup if you can, and if the defense makes a mistake, our guys are getting pretty good at identifying that and taking advantage of it. It's game 32 today and they're getting a pretty good feel for that.

But I wish we would do a little bit better job of throwing the ball to Alex, especially Alex on the block. He's gotten better and better, even though he's fought injuries all year, but he's really pretty confident down there. We need to get him the ball more.

I thought we did a good job of crowding the ball, changing shots without fouling. They didn't convert, maybe something they usually do. And then I thought we did a good job of not letting them get a second shot, which they're really good at. When they did miss we usually secured the defensive board. I thought that was huge.

Q. So you were down 20-5, and then Julion hit his first of four 3-point shots. How big was that, his performance, in helping you get back in the game the first half?
TIM DURYEA: We had to have it from somebody. We talked before the game as coaches, we identified four guys and said two of those four need to shoot it well today because we know the way Colorado State guards us. They do their best to take Koby and Sam out of the game. When they do that it opens up some things for other people; guys like Dwayne Brown, Daron Henson, Diogo Brito, Julion Pearre. We talked about we need some production from at least two of those guys. And we had really nothing going, we just didn't have any movement, any sharpness to what we were doing there at the start of the game.

And Julion popped open a few times, which is kind of the look that they're going to give us. And he capitalized. So kind of moved the chains for us a couple of times when we didn't have much going.

Q. Just curious, your thoughts on Boise State, you beat them already once at your place almost beat them in Boise. What is it about the matchup that you guys like?
TIM DURYEA: Yeah, it's hard to say. I don't know what it is about the matchup, really. I think we play a similar style, maybe explains it as good as anything. It's not like one team is a power basketball team, the other team is a finesse team. We both play four out, we ball screen a lot, we rely on ball movement, screening, playing together, really five-man type basketball. And I think Boise tries to play the same way. They're up-tempo, we try to be up-tempo; they're a little better at that than we are, a little deeper.

Maybe the similarities in style result in close games. And you could look, not only this year, but you can go back three or four years in our games with Boise and almost every game is a three-point, four-point, five-point game. And this year in Logan we kind of flipped the script. Usually in the past games we've led for most of the games and lost the game. In Logan I think Boise led for as much or more than we did, and then we ended up winning later. It was probably one of the better games that we've been involved with all year. It was close the whole game. And I thought it was a great college basketball game in Logan and was good to finally beat them.

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