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March 10, 2018

Tubby Smith

Jamal Johnson

Kyvon Davenport

Orlando, Florida

Cincinnati - 70, Memphis - 60

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from Coach.

TUBBY SMITH: Well, it was a tale of two halves. We really played great the first half and really because of Cincinnati's intensity in the second half, we just didn't seem to match it when they started the second half. But really proud of this group, proud of how they competed all year long, especially in the last couple weeks. So, questions?

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach and the student-athletes, please.

Q. Can you talk about the a little bit more about the first half and you shot 50 percent and seemed to get whatever, seemed to get or make whatever shots you needed to make at whatever time.
TUBBY SMITH: Yeah, when you make shots, things go a lot smoother and look a lot easier and Jamal really got us off to a great start, and that was huge. Again, I thought the -- we did the things we needed to do - we rebounded with them, we did some things that period of time. In the first half we were really moving the ball, really doing a good job of penetrating, and finding people open. I thought we kind of got them back on their heels some because we became, because we were making shots and attacking the basket. And that was the difference.

Again, even though we got to the free-throw line and made our free throws in the first half, something we struggled a little bit in the second half with.

Q. Jamal, what was that feeling like going into halftime and just throughout the first half when you're kind of taking it to a really good team, and then I guess what do you think went wrong especially early in the second half when they went on a 21-2 run?
JAMAL JOHNSON: It was a great feeling, going into the half strong. We had a lot of momentum going into halftime, but Coach always tells us, like, the halftime score is the most insignificant score. And we came out in the second half just flat, we weren't focused, and we just didn't have the same amount of energy they came out with and that's why they came back, stormed back with the vengeance.

Q. Jamal's performance in the first half, how happy are you to see a performance like that at the end of the year kind of showing, it seemed like he had a confidence and just a way about him that maybe he didn't have at the beginning of the year. What did that tell you about him, that first half performance?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, he's been starting quite a few games for us and Jamal, he's had a bad shoulder most of the season and I know that affected his shot a lot. In this game when you're a freshman, it takes a while to build up your stamina, the endurance, the toughness you need to have. By this time last year they were maybe two weeks ago he was probably done playing basketball in high school.

So maybe it added a couple games to him and the physicality of the game, I thought that can wear you down. So I thought he went through a period during the season there where that took a toll. But then everybody gets rejuvenated when there's a new season, second half of the season, and post-season play. And he's been working hard on his shot. Looking at his line, 5-for-5, 4-for-4. Just an outstanding performance and certainly and that got us off to the great start.

Again, the second half was, as he said, we were a little flat coming out but a lot of it had to do with just their intensity level and their, they just raised their level of play.

Q. What are some of the challenges preparing for a player like Gary Clark?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, his versatility and his toughness. He can score around the basket, and then he can put it on the floor. He's a nightmare as far as a matchup is concerned. I thought that for the first half we were okay, but you look down he was still 4-for-7, leading scorer and leading rebounder for the half, and he was the guy that you know as long as he's not in foul trouble, he's going to be -- it's just his physicality; he's relentlessly always going after the ball. You got to box him out, you got to make sure that you get a good -- almost have to hold him to get him to stop from going to the basket. That's what makes him -- just his tenacity, just he's a hard worker and you can tell he's a tough kid.

Q. Obviously you've read and heard what's been said and this week about your job security. Do you think you've coached your last game at Memphis?
TUBBY SMITH: Who knows?

Q. A follow-up, do you think you've done enough to earn an invitation to the NIT this year?
TUBBY SMITH: You know, we have had a tough -- we have lost some tough games this year, some games that really hurt us. The East Carolina loss there, South Florida loss late, but we have done some good things at the end of the season. We really didn't beat anyone of significance, I guess you could say. But this group has really come on to kind of overachieve to some degree. When you picked to finish ninth in the league and we finish fifth, and we were one of the final four teams in the tournament, so it might help.

But I know there's a lot of good teams out there and certainly we would love to be in it, but again, that's not our -- we have a lot to do with it. If we had done what we were supposed to do, we would be in the big dance but we didn't. So now it's just a matter of, I think we could, because we're playing so well I think we would play well in it.

THE MODERATOR: Memphis, thank you.

TUBBY SMITH: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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