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March 10, 2018

Andy Enfield

Nick Rakocevic

Jordan McLaughlin

Las Vegas, Nevada

Arizona - 75, USC - 61

THE MODERATOR: Coach Enfield, can you describe the game?

ANDY ENFIELD: We're very proud of our players. They played extremely hard today. It was a tight game, and with about 8 or 10 minutes left, we just could not make a shot. Missed lay-ups, floaters, wide-open threes and free throws. And to bait a team like Arizona, we just have to make shots.

I thought our defense was good enough to give us a chance to win, but give Arizona credit. They played exceptional basketball, and congratulations to them.

Q. In the second half, obviously, things changed. Did you notice a difference in the physicality of the Wildcats that made that penetration a little more difficult to stop?
ANDY ENFIELD: As I said, we missed a lot of open shots that we should have made or could have made, and the difference between the last couple games we played -- last night we made open shots, made lay-ups, made free throws.

Once again, to beat a team like Arizona, you have to make shots. And when they go on runs, you have to score with them for that brief period, and you have to try to stop that run.

We were not able to do that tonight, but our players -- it wasn't from a lack of effort. Certainly wasn't from a lack of execution. We only had seven turnovers in the game. Just when you go 8 for 16 from the foul line, miss lay-ups and wide-open threes, that just happens. It's the game of basketball. But our guys battled, and just couldn't make a shot.

Q. Jordan, as a senior and the team captain, what are you telling your team now after this loss and going into the NCAA Tournament?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Just stick with it. We know we're a talented team and we know we can go on a run. We've just got to watch what we did wrong on film and just make the adjustments and get ready for the tournament.

Q. Andy, how much do you think the game changed when Chimezie got his fourth foul with ten minutes to go, especially trying to combat Ayton and Ristic inside?
ANDY ENFIELD: It changed. We had to take him out. Obviously, he's our best shot blocker. He had four steals and was affecting the game. Looked like Ristic had zero fouls. Chim had four, so it was obviously a big advantage when one of their bigs has zero and ours has four that we have to take him out.

So he was able to play the remainder of the game, but we got him back in there fairly quickly. But I thought Nick gave us great minutes tonight. 34 minutes, and obviously we need Chimezie against a front line like this. It's hard when one of your bigs gets in foul trouble.

Q. Defense was really pretty awesome all weekend. Compared to earlier in the year, can you talk to just the vast improvement that seems to have been made?
ANDY ENFIELD: Well, our players have given great effort. We started to really understand our rotations and our zone. Our man-to-man has been pretty good, but our zone has been excellent.

In a game like this, we thought zone was the best defense because of their size and to take away their three-point shooting so we didn't have to double the post in the man-to-man.

But our defense has been great. We're very proud of our players for giving that effort and the attention to detail. As I said, to give up 54 points last night and 48 the first night to get us to the championship was impressive, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.

Q. Andy, what was the message in the locker room after the game to your players? I mean, because this is a hard loss to take, and you've got the NCAA Tournament coming up. So what did you tell them?
ANDY ENFIELD: Yeah, we had a three-point lead at halftime in a Pac-12 Championship. That's what you play for, that's what you dream about. That's what you set goals at the beginning of the season to compete for a Pac-12 Championship. Here we are, we're up three at halftime, 10 minutes left and it's a tie game. We just missed some easy shots, and they scored some buckets in the lane.

So the message is we played well enough from an execution standpoint and effort standpoint to win the game. But we didn't. Now we hopefully we're going to the NCAA Tournament. We won't know that until tomorrow. But this team is playing very well together. I think we've won 7 out of 9 now. They've come together on both ends of the floor, so it's fun to watch.

Q. Even though you guys lost tonight, the fact that it was back and forth for a long stretch of time against Arizona who is one of the more talented teams in the country, do you think that's enough of a compelling case to the selection committee and the week you guys have had that you guys belong and should get a good seed or anything like that?
ANDY ENFIELD: I don't think because we went back and forth with Arizona gets you into a tournament. We have 23 wins. We're second place in the regular season of the Pac-12, and we're second place now in the championship game. We have 12 Top 100 wins. We have an RPI that was 33 going into today. We have 11 wins away from home. We have all the quadrant wins, we have a lot of those too.

We're very proud of our players. Coming in second in a league like this, and people say, well, your best win was so-and-so, well, try going on the road to the Arizona schools and the Oregon schools and the Mountain schools. We're the first team in Pac-12 history to ever sweep the Mountain schools and the Oregon schools in the same year. First team in Pac-12 history. Only five schools have ever done it in the Mountain schools. That's how hard it is to win in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Oregon State, not to mention going to the Arizona schools. Unfortunately with the unbalanced schedule we didn't have the Arizona schools come to our place this year.

Back and forth in an Arizona championship game doesn't get you in a tournament. But if you look at our body of work over the season, we're the second place team in a major conference. With all our injuries and the guys out we've had, we're just thrilled to be here. We are so proud of our players for what they've accomplished. And to have a chance going into halftime up three against a very good team in Arizona and have a chance to win a Pac-12 Championship. Didn't work out, but we weren't ever focused on the NCAA Tournament. We were focused on competing for a Pac-12 Championship. Whatever happens next, we'll find out tomorrow and we'll go from there.

Q. Nick, with Ayton, was there anything in particular that you found especially difficult about what he was doing in the block and on the glass?
NICK RAKOCEVIC: He's a big guy and very skilled. Going to be a top pick in the NBA draft this upcoming year. So, I mean, me and Chimezie tried to do everything we could to just contain him, because I don't think you're going to stop a guy like that. So we just have to try to do our best to contain him. Although he went off tonight.

But you have to give us credit. We fought till the end. I think that my teammates and I, we had great effort all the way to the end of the game.

Q. Jordan and Nick, obviously the shots weren't falling late in the second half. Was it a big factor that you were playing your third game in three nights, or was it just being unlucky?
JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN: Nope, just missed shots. That's all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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