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March 7, 2018

Lon Kruger

Kristian Doolittle

Trae Young

Kansas City, Missouri

Oklahoma State - 71, Oklahoma - 60

THE MODERATOR: Okay, we are ready to begin with the Sooners of the University of Oklahoma, Coach Lon Kruger and his student-athletes are Kristian Doolittle and Trae Young. Coach, your thoughts on tonight's game?

LON KRUGER: Well, a game in which Oklahoma State did a good job, a little push there midway in the first half, both halves dictated for the most part on the rebounding side of it. We just didn't do the job we have to do against a good club in keeping them to one shot. Thought they were more aggressive in the first half when they popped a little bit of a lead and certainly when we made the comeback to get it within reach I thought rebounding, again, at that point was critical. We've got to do a much more physical job on the boards, but credit O-State and the job Mike has done. They certainly deserved the win.

Q. Kristian, can you address that issue, the rebounding? Because Mike Boynton came in and said we pride ourselves in playing harder than the opposition, and you guys were down at halftime some 15 or 16 and in the second half you came back and didn't gain any ground, actually went further in the hole in rebounding.
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: They were just bodying us on the boards. We were switching forward so they would have Cameron McGriff who is a big guy crashing the boards hard and being able to outjump some of us and the lack of boxing out was the main key. But we've got to move forward.

Q. Trae, did it feel out of sync defensively tonight, like you guys kind of took a while to arrive?
TRAE YOUNG: A little bit. We got back to playing. We played defense the second half, but you can't wait until the second half to beat a team like OSU. They're very well-coached. They play really hard. A lot of their points came off their rebounding. You can't get outrebounded like that and expect to win. I think that was the main key for tonight.

Q. For Trae, your lob pass to Brady on a fast break which was blown up by Mitchell Solomon. You guys were on a 14-2 run or 12-2 run at that point and it had chipped away and made it a 4-point game. They actually went on a run right after that. Can you describe that play from your perspective and how that kind of stopped things, the momentum you guys built up there?
TRAE YOUNG: I mean, I saw his man step up and I tried to throw a lob and I don't know what happened after that. I don't know if there was contact or anything like that, but that's been working all year. Brady goes and gets those and I was surprised he didn't get that without -- I'm surprised he didn't get that one.

Q. Kristian, can you and Trae talk about the next four days? Most projections say you're still in the NCAA tournament, but you never know. What's the waiting game going to be like?
TRAE YOUNG: Instead of taking care of business we left it in the committee's hands. I think our resume speaks for itself. I think we had the toughest schedule in America.

We had to go to Wichita State and play there, USC, a really good team. We played some Pac-12 teams in Oregon and then we played in the toughest conference in America. I think our resume speaks for itself. Instead of us taking care of business we left it in their hands, but we'll see what happens.

KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: When we get back to Norman we've got to focus in. We won't know who we are going to be playing until bracket comes out, so just focusing on ourselves. Just playing hard, building that mindset of we've got to -- it could be our last game. So just leave it all out on the floor.

Q. Trae, was this one of more physical games that you played?
TRAE YOUNG: No, I think all my games have been physical. I mean, it's just been different. I mean, all my games have been physical. I don't know how else to put it. I think that's the thing, all my past games have been physical. They're a very physical team. They're very well-coached, like I said. They pride themselves on playing hard and playing defense, and they did a really good job tonight and credit to them.

Q. Trae and Kristian, if you both want to address it, the shooting, that's the other statistic or statistics that jump out besides rebounding. James and the other guys, just trouble getting the ball in the hole. How frustrating is that moving forward and what options were you trying to get to in shooting such a low percentage?
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: We made a focus to get to the hole, trying to get to the free throw line, but it's not necessarily that we were getting fouled. We just weren't able to finish the easy ones around the rim. We started the game off shooting threes, but they weren't falling, which we are capable of making. But it's just not smart to keep shooting threes when they're not going down. So you've got to do something else to get yourself going. So we just made a focus to try to get to the hole. We were able to make some, but we weren't able to make enough to make a difference in the game.

TRAE YOUNG: Like Kristian said, we were playing, shooting a lot of threes early on in the game. Just weren't making them. Like I said, we were very capable of doing that and making shots and when they're falling everybody loves it, but when they're not falling it's not good.

Good for us and good for our team. We're going to continue to play the same way. We've got to get back to making shots and doing that. You never know.

Q. For Trae, two months ago people were talking about you guys possibly being a No. 1 seed or in the mix for that and now it's in the hands of the committee. Is it kind of surreal that you guys are in this position considering where you were not that long ago?
TRAE YOUNG: I mean, I didn't expect to be in this position by my means. It's a lot different. I didn't expect us to be in that position. I obviously expected us to keep winning and hopefully have a chance to get a 1 seed or 2 seed or up in that range. But our body of work speaks for itself and I think we have a good shot of getting in just because of our resume and all of that. We'll have to see. Hopefully we'll get in.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, we will let you go back to the locker room. Thanks for coming. Questions for Coach?

Q. Follow-up on the blow-up of the lob, the fast break lob from Mitchell Solomon. Did you sense anything at that point? That looked like a potential turning point in the game. You had such a good run going?
LON KRUGER: We had a good run going, cut into the lead and had the momentum and didn't finish that play, and as it turns out as you look back on it O-state then went on a run but then why did they back out. There plays that are going to change the momentum and that's one we didn't finish.

Q. Kind of along the lines of what I asked Trae, Lon, is it surreal that you guys have gone a different direction here down the stretch considering how well you were playing in January?
LON KRUGER: It's very disappointing. Obviously a very good stretch early, nonconference, early conference and then in February we just didn't play well at all. Actually played better the last couple weeks, better defensively, still not the way we need to play as well as we need to play, but, yeah, it's disappointing for sure.

Q. Lon, they had six players instead of three. How tough is it to defend a team that can do that? That has that kind of depth?
LON KRUGER: They've got a lot of guys that make shots. Again, they're playing well. They're doing a good job. Always the more guys that can make shots the more difficult it is to defend as a group.

I thought, again, decent job on the first attempt, but we can't give them that many second opportunities. Can't give any team let alone good teams that many second shots.

Q. Mike Boynton was talking earlier about they like to pride themselves on not being outworked or outworking the opponent. With the rebounding disparity, the offensive rebounding disparity, their sense of desperation like the only chance of continuing the season is to win here and win tomorrow and on and on. Do you feel like they played harder than you? Is that a fair characterization?
LON KRUGER: Anytime you get whipped on the boards like that. Certainly they were more aggressive. The stats speak for themselves in that way, for sure.

Q. Lon, very similar to that, in the locker room a couple of your guys mentioned lacking fight tonight maybe over the past month or so. Would you agree with that? If so, how do you manage that in March?
LON KRUGER: For sure. We've got to improve. Clearly rebounding is about competing and fighting, and yeah, we're not pleased with the job there at all.

Q. Do you feel comfortable on Sunday going into Sunday, you guys are going to be in the tournament?
LON KRUGER: Well, it's irrelevant, you know. We didn't take care of our business here, so we don't have any say in that at this point. But, again, when you look at the nonconference schedule and the number of quality wins, you know, that's what the committee will do.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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