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March 7, 2018

Mike Boynton

Mitchell Solomon

Kendall Smith

Kansas City, Missouri

Oklahoma State - 71, Oklahoma - 60

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, Coach Mike Boynton and his two student-athletes, Kendall Smith and Mitchell Solomon. Coach, we will call on you for an opening statement. Congratulations.

MIKE BOYNTON: Thank you. Thank you all for being here. I'm really proud of obviously the way our guys competed.

We tried to make a conscious effort to be the hardest playing team for forty minutes today, and I feel like we accomplished that. I think it shows up most notably on the stat sheet on the rebounding. Proud of these guys. They fought a lot of noise all season and for us to be playing as well as we are this time of year shows their character and not just good kids, we got a good team.

Q. Kendall, you played in conference tournaments before but nothing like this. Talk about what it was like to sit down twice, once with four fouls and once fouling out, how frustrating that had to be for you?
KENDALL SMITH: Definitely. They put on a phenomenal event, and in terms of fouls I wanted to play. But the main thing for me is to remain a great teammate. That's one thing Coach Mike told me. After my fifth foul, he said be a great teammate and those things mean more to me than sometimes being on the court.

Q. Mitchell, you guys had pretty good control of the game and they get hot from outside, go on a 14-2 run, they have a fast break from Trae Young to Brady Manek, and it ended their run. It speaks to what the coach was talking about, the hardest playing team, the effort that you put into that one play that turned the game around. Can you describe what you saw and how that changed the game?
MITCHELL SOLOMON: It's not necessarily one guy. If I don't have a team to help me then I can't do what I do. But that particular play, I mean, they had a fast break. So I knew I had to, like, put a stop to it. I know Trae likes to throw lobs, so bated, jabbed, played fundamental 2-on-1 defense and was able to get a hand on it and found Kendall down court.

Q. For any of you, you were successful with Trae driving to the hoop today. I just wondered if there was any different defensive mindset going in or anything tactically that you did differently than you did that first game because you got him frustrated and fairly ineffective.
MITCHELL SOLOMON: We just try to play as hard as we can. There are different scheming things that we can do, but as long as we're playing hard together and playing well on the defensive end we're capable of doing anything.

Q. Mike, anything tactically?
MIKE BOYNTON: With a guy like that he's a tremendous player and will continue to have a great basketball career. You try to make him as inefficient as possible and I think we accomplished that. It was a team effort like Mitchell said defensively, had a lot of bodies that he was running into in there and tried to make him see traffic as much as possible.

Q. Kendall, how were you so physical on Trae without sending him to the free throw line because that's something a lot of players have struggled with this year?
KENDALL SMITH: Just tried to stay fundamentally sound on defense. But when I have four other guys that are competing their butts off just as hard as I am, it makes it a lot easier. It was a full-team effort and we sent different looks at them and stuck to our fundamentals defensively.

Q. Kendall, this season didn't look so great at one point in the year. You guys have turned it around. What do you point to?
KENDALL SMITH: I think it's a credit to the 14 guys that we have in the locker room. We've got guys that every day we're pulling for each other and we push each other. We got a phenomenal coaching staff that believes in us, so when you got good people surrounding you, no matter the ups and downs that you go through, as long as you stay true to our values we will be fine and we knew that.

Q. Mitchell, what did you think for Cam's performance? He seemed to be a spark for you guys emotionally when you really needed it?
MITCHELL SOLOMON: Cam played great today. He is always a little guy kind of like me. He prides himself on playing hard and getting the loose balls, getting rebounds when we need him. He was definitely a spark and important to our team's success today.

Q. Kendall, how important was it for you guys to get back in transition defense?
KENDALL SMITH: Extremely important. That's one thing that Coach Mike preached. Told us it was going to be a game about transition defense, so our last couple days in practice we really worked on that and I think guys are really locked in. We really wanted to win tonight. Came in with the right mindset and the right attitude.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Questions for Coach?

Q. Mike, what level of desperation did you feel like having to win this game tonight meant?
MIKE BOYNTON: None. I don't operate that way and for people who have been around me, you know, I just control the things I can control. The only thing I was worried about for the last three days since we played on Saturday was getting my team ready to play today.

I know that if I can get those guys focused on a few things and they can come out and play hard and execute, we can win. You don't have to be desperate when you have success, you win and you let the rest of it tell its own story.

Q. I know it's hard to beat a team three times in one season especially a team like Kansas. What are your thoughts knowing they're up next with one day?
MIKE BOYNTON: I don't know. I don't buy into that either. What would make it harder to beat somebody three times versus one? They're a really good team to beat, ever! So tomorrow's game will have no bearing on what the other two games were like. Between now and I guess about eighteen hours from now we've got to refresh our bodies and our minds and come out and try to be the hardest-playing team. It's who we are. It won't come into our minds third time around versus the first.

Q. Mike, do you feel like you guys have done enough to be an NCAA tournament team now?
MIKE BOYNTON: Yeah, I've said this since opening of the season, I think -- I've been with these guys since June, I've watched them work and grow and develop and become a better team over the course of the season. We've obviously played our best basketball in the last two and a half weeks. Not that that she had mean more than the rest of the season, but I don't feel like we played poorly at any point in the year.

Obviously we have some losses, but they're all to teams that are by everybody's estimation going to be in the field. Got a lot of high-quality wins on the road away from home, and we play in the toughest league in America and now we have nine wins against that competition. We'll see.

Q. I wanted I wanted to follow up on, you said you haven't been worried about the NCAA tournament or getting that message across to those guys or qualifying, you've been worrying about that one game. What's the motivation, because it's March? We're in the tournament time. You've been here as an assistant coach and as a player. We're tournament time now, how do you get guys motivated if it's not hey we have to win to get to the tournament?
MIKE BOYNTON: I don't know if you have to have a mindset of getting to the tournament to come out and play hard. We have to be who we are every day. We came here to win the big tournament and we'll worry about whatever is next week when next week comes. I know that we can only win the tournament if we won today. We couldn't win the tournament today. We had to beat Oklahoma today and now we've got to change our mind from Oklahoma and the team with tremendously dynamic point guard who dominates the ball a lot to a team that has a lot of different weapons and we have to figure out how to combat that somehow.

Q. It's not ideal to have your point guard foul out, but is it nice that he did play limited minutes with the more games on the horizon?
MIKE BOYNTON: I don't know. I wasn't worried about it, I may have sat him too long to be honest and he got stiff and couldn't move as well on that defensive play, because he was telling me for about 3 minutes that he could play with 4 and he lasted about 8 seconds out there.

Those things happen. I have great confidence in Brandon Averette to come in and in a different way have an affect on our team and have success out there.

Q. Talk about the absence of Azubuike in tomorrow's game?
MIKE BOYNTON: I don't know what you're talking.

Q. He was ruled out with a strain of his left MCL?
MIKE BOYNTON: News to me. I don't know when that was announced or determined, but I guess I will need to think about that. Obviously changes their team. He's a big factor in there for them, but those guys have a lot of really good players. The thing they do best is shoot the 3-point shot and he doesn't make any. Obviously we have a different approach it if we don't have to worry about doubling a guy like that in the post, but you have to contend probably now with a fifth guy in there who can shoot threes.

Q. Mike, when you took Kendall out with his fourth foul, you guys -- I don't know how long he sat, 3, 4 minutes, 16-point lead went down to 6. When he fouled out you didn't evaporate like that. You extended the lead. What was different when Brandon came in for the second stretch?
MIKE BOYNTON: The thing that we got away from in the second half and early on and midway through was our defense took a step back, we didn't have the same level of intensity and they got some good looks from 3 and you can't do that. Brady Manek got one on the right side, and McGusty may have gotten one on the left side and we needed to refocus our defense in order to be able to close out the game.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, we will see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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