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March 9, 2018

Eric Musselman

Jordan Caroline

Hallice Cooke

Las Vegas, Nevada

San Diego State - 90, Nevada - 73

ERIC MUSSELMAN: Thought San Diego State came out from the get-go the first half, played phenomenal basketball. We didn't defend like we're capable of in the first half. Free throws attempted is the difference in the basketball game. It was from the very beginning of the game.

Give San Diego State a lot of credit for putting pressure on us and drawing 34 fouls attempted to our 17. And surprisingly we took 14 more shots and still couldn't get to the line.

Having said that, San Diego State played really well. Our teams played well not just in March, we played well for an entire season, which is why you have 30 games on your schedule, 31 games. We got beat tonight. Obviously San Diego State played much better than us, not just better. And give credit to the Aztecs.

Q. You guys have been able to come out of deficits. You did it yesterday. What was it about this game where you just couldn't get any traction or make a run to dent into their lead?
JORDAN CAROLINE: You just had to be ready to play from the get-go, and since we weren't, we couldn't fight back from a 30-point deficit at the half.

HALLICE COOKE: You've got to be ready to play when the ball goes up in the air from the jump. And tonight we didn't do that. And we kept fighting hard. We didn't start playing really hard until the second half, and we were already down 30. And you can't make up for that many points in 20 minutes.

Q. San Diego State is not a team that, at least for long stretches of the season, made a lot of perimeter shots. Did that surprise you and get you off guard when they started hitting the 3s and making everything they put up?
HALLICE COOKE: We helped give them confidence by giving them open shots early. And as the game got on their confidence kept growing and growing. And they were able to make shots. And we dug ourselves into too much of a hole. And then we were down, they were getting run-outs and fast break points.

JORDAN CAROLINE: Yeah, I agree with that. We let them get easy shots, get into a rhythm early. If you let them get in a rhythm early they're going to hit shots that they normally wouldn't hit.

Q. Did they play you as a team any differently than they did last Saturday when you played them much closer down there?
JORDAN CAROLINE: I think it was just we weren't prepared from the get-go and that's what happened.

Q. You haven't played your last basketball, obviously. How do you rebound from this going into the next tournament?
HALLICE COOKE: Every game you lose is an opportunity to learn something. And we've got a lot of guys hurting right now. And to be a person who faced a lot of adversity, this is the first time this season, losing with double digits, I'm sure we're going to bounce back in practice. Coach is going to come with that same energy and enthusiasm and passion that he brings every day. We've got to believe what he tells us and go out and execute like we did tonight.

JORDAN CAROLINE: We can learn something from this, and our next opportunity as a team we have to be ready to play. And we can't take anything for granted. From here on out it's one or done, we do or die.

Q. This has typically been a tough team for you guys to play. What is it about San Diego State that's given this team fits over the last couple of years?
JORDAN CAROLINE: I really can't tell you. They're a really talented team. I just don't think we came out to play each time we played them as we should. I think that's the biggest thing. I'm not taking anything against them, they have great players, but the times we played them we haven't been prepared.

Q. You guys didn't start playing really, really hard until the second half. Were they a more desperate team from the get-go?
HALLICE COOKE: They had a deeper team. And I feel like playing three games in three days, we did everything treatment-wise, but a lot of our shots were short. Guys weren't using their legs. So I think that had to factor into it.

There's no excuses. We work hard all summer. We push each other so hard. So games like this shouldn't happen. And you have to learn from it and get better.

Q. You mentioned the free throw disparity and the foul disparity. Did you feel like the officiating was inconsistent tonight?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: I'm not going to comment. We had more blocks than San Diego State, we had five more steals than San Diego State, 27 field goals to 28 field goals, seven 3s to eight 3s.

There's one glaring stat -- you guys all have the stat sheet, you can see it. And there's one glaring thing, they out-rebounded us, too, significantly.

Q. You talked earlier this week just about how proud you were that you hadn't had any double-digit losses and been able to be competitive. What kind of happened in this one?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: We lost. They played better than us. We had obviously our worst outing of the year not at a good time. Having said that, we're not a team that lost three out of four or anything like that. We played an entire season of college basketball and a ranked team for five weeks, whatever, the last five weeks, and seven total weeks. We've had an incredible season and we didn't play very good tonight. And we played against a good team that I think is extremely talented. And, you know, they won the game. It's quite obvious.

Q. You played these guys on February 10th at your place, outscored them by 25 points in the second half. They were 13-10 at the time, in 8th place. What's the difference between the team you saw that night in Reno and the team you saw today?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: I mean obviously I think every game, and all of our local media has heard me say it over and over, every game has its own theme, it's own identity. And San Diego State played great tonight. At San Diego with 50 seconds to go it was a two-point game. And we didn't play very good that night, either. And you can certainly attribute it to San Diego State.

So I don't want to take any credit away from them whatsoever. We were bad tonight and they were really good and that's why you see the difference in 55 to 25 at halftime.

And having said all that, our guys did not quit in the second half. We outscored them in the second half by 13 or whatever. And we didn't quit.

Q. You said earlier this week that you felt you had done enough to get in the tournament irregardless of what happened here. Do you still feel that way? Do you feel the tournament committee will feel that way?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: We certainly feel we're one of the best teams in the country, without question. And if we just got hot recently or something and then lost, maybe not, but we've been so consistent from the very beginning. We put together an unbelievable non-conference schedule. We won on the road at a high, high, high rate. And so we certainly think that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee looks at the entire body of work.

And so, yeah, we feel like we've done more than enough based on how we played an entire season, not getting hot during a stretch or anything like that. Yeah, we do feel like we have done enough.

Q. Kendall turned his ankle early in the second half. Is that something that you feel could stretch into the next game?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: We don't think so. It's just precautionary, we were down and went with some guys that could trap and press. Up to that point in 20 minutes Kendall hadn't hit a three and hadn't gotten a rebound. We wanted to just play Josh, because we thought he'd give us a little more activity.

Q. Was it frustrating that you have to defend a 27-7 record?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: No, I don't think we're defending. Like I said, we're coming in tonight 22 ranked team in the country and we've held that top 25 for quite some time. And you guys are asking the question.

I'm not really defending it. We went out and did what the committee told us, which was to schedule as many road games as you could. And we went out and won on the road. 12 road wins is a lot of road wins. And we didn't stay in our region and play a bunch of local games at home. We didn't do that. We went out and played. We have no Division II teams on our schedule. And we have confidence that a body of work that we've done, we'll be playing -- find out who we're playing on Sunday, that's how we feel.

Q. You mentioned the rebounding, I think in the first half, you missed 12 shots, got eight of those back on offensive boards. Was that something that you weren't doing as a team?
ERIC MUSSELMAN: I thought Jalen did a good job and Kameron did a good job, too, on the glass in the first half and their activity. Playing UNLV and San Diego State, both teams that have length on the inside, playing them back-to-back nights, you know, certainly affected us on the rebounds, I thought. We knew when we saw the brackets the way they came out that San Diego State and UNLV were really, really talented and matched some of our athleticism and such.

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