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March 8, 2018

Kevin Ollie

Christian Vital

Antwoine Anderson

Orlando, Florida

SMU - 80, UConn - 73

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from Coach and then take questions.

KEVIN OLLIE: First, I just want to thank our seniors for their commitment to our university, and this is a lifetime for them, for us and us being a family so I really appreciate them for giving their heart and soul this season.

This game started off kind of like our whole season a little bit, getting down and then playing from behind. So just got to clean that up with defense and rebounding and we have to be connected with that from the beginning, and SMU took advantage. Once again, our guys didn't give in, didn't stop fighting, we got back in the game, but when you get down by 20 or you get down by 15, everything's got to be perfect and unfortunately today is wasn't perfect and we couldn't get over the hump.

THE MODERATOR: Take questions, please.

Q. Obviously it's been a tough season, tough last couple of seasons, as you sit here right now do you expect to be back coaching this team again next year?

Q. Was there something, is Jalen's wrist bothering him? Because he wasn't as aggressive offensively today as he has been in the past and just wonder if that was any impact.
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, I know he hurt his wrist, hurt his thumb in the Houston game. So it was a tough situation for him, but he's a warrior. He's fought for us the whole year, he's led the conference in minutes played two years in a row, so I know he's a warrior.

But at the end of the day he was making the right plays. He was making passes, he was getting, trying to get everybody involved, and I just appreciate him playing the right way and he's done that the whole year. With the scoring, with leading us in assists. So he's been a player that had to make a lot of plays for us, and he's done that through the course of the season.

But at the end of the day we have to be more consistent on the defensive end, and that's where I'm going to be really pressing upon them to get better defensively, and that leads to us getting in the fast break, us getting stops and us building the momentum.

Q. Christian and Antwoine, perimeter defense has been kind of tough a lot of the year, how did they get free and how demoralizing is that when they hit six or seven in the first half there?
CHRISTIAN VITAL: No, give credit to them, they made tough shots. They also got some easy shots, which was on us as the players. We didn't execute the defense to our best ability and it comes down to us. It comes down to the players who are on the court. All of this extra stuff about everything else, I just think it comes down to us and we didn't execute. And I'll give credit to SMU, they played a good day of basketball, and they gave themselves a chance to move on in this tournament.

ANTWOINE ANDERSON: The biggest thing was just our energy in the first half. We didn't play with no energy and we came out slow, and it's just like Coach Kevin says, it's just hard to come back from 20 points and that's just pretty much it.

Q. Christian, we talked many times after games like this about coming out slow, falling behind and then playing catch-up in the end. Have you ever put your finger on why you guys were never really able to figure that part of it out this year?
CHRISTIAN VITAL: Well, if I could have figured it out I think I would have tried to tell my teammates and I think the outcomes would have been different. But it's just we weren't unable as a team from the starters to the people who came into the game. I'll keep saying it, it was just on us as players. We just couldn't get it done.

Q. When y'all started to go on those runs in the second half, what was working for you and what kind of adjustments did y'all make?
ANTWOINE ANDERSON: Defense, that was the biggest thing. Energy. We decided to come out and play 90 feet, defense, and just try to get them rattled and get them to turn the ball over a little bit, and that's what kind of got us our run, that started our offense.

KEVIN OLLIE: And then we completed defensive plays by rebounding. I think in the first 10 minutes we didn't get one rebound, a clean rebound. In the second half we played with a little bit more energy, we got clean rebounds and we were able to push the pace. And those guys, as Antwoine said and CV, they took the challenge from the start. But then you have to have a back line playing that solid defense, also. And you let Agau get 21 points in 24 minutes, you can't do that. Not saying that he's a bad player, but he's got 21 points in 24 minutes. It's tough to play when they got McMurray going and they got him going. So they got the inside and outside going, and we have to do a better job defensively.

But when we went on runs, we're a pretty good team. When we share the basketball, when we get defensive stops, we rebound, we get amazing shots, and that's what -- an example is we shot 54, 55 percent in the second half, but that has to be a sense of urgency from the first half.

Q. Is there anything about the season that you would have done differently if you had to do it over again?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, you know, just everything. When you get back this is a tough question now, but I'm going to assess everything that I've done as a coach and see how I can get better. Of course CV says it's about the players but it's about the coaching staff too, how can I get these guys to play better and play together?

So I can't name down the list but we don't want to be here. We don't want to be 14-18. And that's unacceptable and we have to get better in every category, and I'm in the top to evaluate myself, how I can get these guys to play better, how can I get my coaching staff to execute better and we're all in this together.

So it's going to be a long evaluation for myself, my coaching staff, my team. We got to get players, and we got to find out who is staying. And we got our seniors, they got to get replaced. Those are meetings that we're going to have over the next two weeks, and we want to make sure our guys finish strong, their academics, too. So we can't drop the ball on that, also.

Q. I was just wondering, to open the second half you opened up on that really good run and then there was the media timeout, and then SMU came back with another 11-0 run, you guys cut it to 10 and then they put it back up to 21. I'm wondering what exactly happened during that run? What from the timeout happened there?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, we went on a great run, and if you watched the game, we had probably about five turnovers right in front of every about five possessions in a row we had a turnover. So you give up live turnovers, they've got great players on that end, so they're going to make you pay. So we can't turn the ball over. I believe we had a media timeout, McMurray came in and banked a shot. I think CV played wonderful defense. Antwoine, he banked a shot in, and we came down and had five turnovers.

So I mean, if you know the game, you seen the game. I mean, it's hard to win when you don't get a shot up on the rim. And those turnovers was right in front of their zone. And those kind of lead out to fast breaks. It wasn't like we're going to the basket, they're blocking a shot. We were right in their 2-3 zone, and they're getting a steal there and that leads out to fast-break points, and it's hard to get back on the defense.

But credit them, when we made a run, they stopped our run and they stopped our momentum by executing on the defensive end and getting stops.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

KEVIN OLLIE: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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