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March 14, 2018

Devin Watson

Malik Pope

Trey Kell

Wichita, Kansas

THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll take questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Devin, the program at San Diego State historically has been one that's been known for being defensive minded, but this year you guys have shown a lot more offensive versatility, not just with the starting line up, but off the bench. What has this team done offensively this year that's helped kind of shake some of that defensive-first talk?
DEVIN WATSON: I just think that this team has a lot of confidence. We're also really talented. And we play well together. So with those three things, it's easy to have a great offensive team.

Q. NCAA Tournament's a different kind of animal, and you guys have been there before. I think Kam and Max also have. No one on their roster has. Is that a big deal? I know it was when you played St. John's three years ago. They had nobody on their roster played. Why is experience important in this event in?
TREY KELL: I think it's important because it's just the level of intensity and things of that nature pick up. Obviously it's win or go home. It's nationally televised games and things of that nature. So it's kind of easy for a team to go on a run, and you kind of overreact when we all know it's a game of runs that could change just like that.

So the main message you just have to preach is even though it's not another game, it is another game and just go out there and play the way we're capable of and everything will take care of itself.

MALIK POPE: Can you repeat the end of the question for me.

Q. You've been in this tournament before. How important is that experience versus not having ever played in this before?
MALIK POPE: I feel like the experience is just important itself in terms of leading, you know, the guys that haven't been here. That will be a vital part of us becoming successful in the future. So experience and just knowing what's coming is big.

Q. This is kind of a follow-up on that one. Does it feel any different or do you approach it any differently being an NCAA Tournament now as a senior as opposed to being a freshman last time?
MALIK POPE: Kind of lost me. Can you repeat that?

Q. Does it feel any different being in the NCAA Tournament, or do you approach it any differently now as a senior and it being your second time as opposed to as a freshman in 2015?
MALIK POPE: Yeah. A senior it's your last go-around, so of course it's that important. It's kind of do or die. You gotta leave it all out there. Being back, you just have that urgency as leaders and vets and rookies, whatever you want to call them. You guys just have that level of urgency and ready to go.

TREY KELL: Yeah. I just look at it as I have a different role. My freshman year my main focus was come in, don't mess up. Now it's, you know, I'm one of the vocal points of the team. So, you know, just gotta keep the team level headed, go out there, try to make plays and just leave it all out there, as Malik was saying.

DEVIN WATSON: Even though this is my first time playing in the NCAA Tournament, I've played in a lot of big games, so I'm kind of one of the older guys on the team. So I think I can help in those categories as well.

Q. Malik, this year, back on that thought about offensively how you guys might be a little bit different this season, you're scoring more points as a team. You're taking less time per possession. Seems like you're pushing it offensively at a quicker pace. What's that felt like and what have you noticed about that change this season? The numbers seem to bear that out.
MALIK POPE: Yeah. Like Devin said, we have a lot of guys that have confidence in theirself and in the game and with our game shouters mainly being to get up and down which is our style of play. We try to emphasize that and play to our strengths. And I feel like we have been doing a good job with that.

Q. This is for Trey and Malik also. Going back to NCAA Tournament game against Duke three years ago, you guys had a sequence where you had back-to-back plays. Trey drove off the ball screen and fed you for a three-pointer. Do you remember that? Could you talk about that and what that felt like and how that's sort of remained and bonded you guys?
TREY KELL: That's funny because I was just on the way to practice, that exact sequence, I was thinking about that. You know, just read. Read the defense really and knowing Malik, he can shoot. So that helped on me a couple of times and I was able to hit him for threes. We still have that same connection and vibe off ball screens. So hopefully we can have some of that same magic tomorrow.

MALIK POPE: Yeah. It was just a level of synergy and connection, and luckily I was able to knock down those two shots. Yeah. We was definitely just talking about that before.

Q. When you think about the matchup with Michigan, what's the one area that you guys are emphasizing in scouting them that you're going to have to be really sharp in tomorrow?
MALIK POPE: You say against Michigan?

Q. I'm sorry. Houston. But same question. What's the one area?
MALIK POPE: It's definitely matching their physicality in my area. We kind of have different jobs. But we know that they're pretty big down there, really strong and physical. We're aware that their guards can play a little bit. They can get up and down just like us.

So just matching their intensity and their momentum and containing their fast breaks, you know, how they get out and transition to get up threes. So just matching that pretty much.

TREY KELL: Yeah. I would just kind of go off what Malik was saying. We know they're a real physical team. They play really hard. So, I mean, I feel like before anything you just gotta match the intensity of the game. And then also just they push the ball a lot in transition, and they got really good guards.

So if we can do a good job of containing them a little bit, I feel like that'll put us in the right direction.

DEVIN WATSON: I think we're definitely going to have to bring the fight to them, be aggressive, match their intensity. Yeah, and it's definitely going to be a physical game, like Malik and Trey said. So yeah.

Q. For Trey and anybody else who wants to chime in on this, one of the unique things about the NCAA Tournament is often you get referees, officials who have never seen you guys play. What's that like as a player, and how do you have to adjust to that? Can that become a factor?
TREY KELL: I don't think it's something you really think about too much. It's just like every other game. Obviously we're going to have the best of the best refs in this tournament. But at the same time we know they're not going to be perfect. They're going to miss some calls.

So just the main thing, move on to the next play. Keep a level head, and I feel like if you worry about the refs, then you're already at a disadvantage.

DEVIN WATSON: Sometimes on the court I have a pretty good relationship with the refs, and probably going to be a little different not having seen refs that I see over and over again. So it won't be a challenge, but it'll just be a little different.

Q. I was going to ask Trey, Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said that Dutch probably was -- I forget the phrase he used, but licking his chops, something like that, looking at the size advantage you guys have at so many positions, and he specifically talked about how big you guys are as a guard court, talked about your ability to post their guys up, but basically that size advantage that you guys have. How do you view that heading into this game or how do you use that or utilize that?
TREY KELL: Yeah, we for sure have a height advantage, but I don't think it's something that they haven't faced before. I think that's where they make up with their physicality. They do a really good job of knowing that they're not the tallest team, but being physical at the same time.

So just the main thing, you know, is gotta match their physicality and know that we have that height advantage if we happen to get the ball on the low block or something like that. And if we can do that, then that'll help us a lot.

THE MODERATOR: Malik, do you want to add to that?

MALIK POPE: Can you repeat the question?

Q. You guys have a size advantage at almost every position, and Houston coach Kelvin Sampson talked about it. So how do you take advantage of that advantage?
MALIK POPE: Like T.K. said, I'm pretty sure they've seen a height advantage before, so I think our job would be just to make the best, the smartest play there that's presented within the defense and go from there.

THE MODERATOR: If there are no other questions, we'll dismiss the players. Thank you very much. Best of luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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