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March 15, 2018

Rick Barnes

Admiral Schofield

Grant Williams

Dallas, Texas

Tennessee - 73, Wright State - 47

RICK BARNES: Obviously we're happy with the win and the fact that we felt coming in that Wright State would be as difficult a team that we've played all year in terms of the way they move without the ball. They're really a team that, you watching them on tape, you could tell they were just a terrific team. They understood each other. They've had one of those special years, a lot like we have.

So from that point, defensively we were really pretty good today against a team that's not a very easy team to guard.

Offensively once we settled in, we settled in, and we missed some easy ones early, but we settled in and got our offense going.

Q. Admiral or Grant, how important was it do you think to get one under your belt and kind of settle in to being in the tournament?
ADAM SILVER: It's always important because if you lose, you don't get to play again. But the biggest thing is we came out and did what we said we were going to do, try to run them out of their offense, and against a great team, like Coach Barnes said, a very special team that can shoot the ball. They're great with movement away from the ball, and we guarded pretty well. But towards the end of the game, we didn't do our job. We kind of let up on defense. So we've got to tighten down in that aspect, but we're going to get a day off and really recoup our bodies and our minds and get ready for whoever our next opponent is.

Q. How difficult of a prep was this the way they move on offense and why were you guys so successful on that end of the floor today?
GRANT WILLIAMS: Well, we've prepared for an entire year for something like this. We've played teams that are similar, that played similar basketball as they do. With basketball, it's a lot of constant motion, and you just have to understand these concepts. Really just going on the film and executing the scouting report that the coaches lay out for us because they do an amazing job with it. We trust them, and we go out on the court well prepared, and we just do our jobs.

ADAM SILVER: Like Grant said, our coaches do a great job of scheduling teams that play different styles like this early in the year, and our strength of schedule is important, and we get great teams like Lipscomb and different other schools that run different schemes.

We usually prepare early in the year, but at this time of year, you've got to be ready because any team can get hot, especially in a tournament like this. Everybody has a special year. Everyone is in good position at this time of year. The biggest thing for us is, like Grant said, executing the scouting report to a tee, just being able to go out and compete at a high level and also give a good effort on defense, which is our identity, and offensively just let things flow.

Q. Grant, I think 20 rebounds in the last two games on a pretty big stage. I know your coach -- it's a favorite topic for him. What's kind of been the key to you improving in that area?
GRANT WILLIAMS: Really I've just been pursuing the ball more. Normally I try and box guys out and make sure to keep them off the glass and allow other guys to get it because that's just how I used to do it. But recently I've been being more aggressive and being more pursuant of the ball. And just on the other end, it all flows and comes kind of easily, so just got to put an emphasis on one thing and harp on it.

Q. He's not in here, but can you guys talk about Kyle and what he's turning into on defense, how much is that a result of having a big guy in the middle that's playing like Kyle is?
ADAM SILVER: Well, Kyle is a game changer. He's very athletic, and when he's locked in and ready to go, he can really affect the game defensively and offensively, you know, getting us extra possessions on the glass and also protecting the rim. And when he does that, he makes us a lot better on both ends. He's really our anchor, really our X factor. But when he's really locked in, he changes the game for us in a big way.

Q. Grant, it looked like y'all were intentional about getting the ball to you early to start the second half. And then maybe some outside shots flowed out of that. Was that something y'all talked about in the locker room or maybe how did that work?
GRANT WILLIAMS: Not really. We just run our offense, and we get good looks out of it. We didn't harp on getting me the ball or nothing like that because I don't really have to score the ball with this team. It's a team where we have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket. Really just coming out and executing what Coach calls, and we did a good job of that. We were moving the ball well, and it led to open looks. It was important to just be aggressive and do what we do.

Q. Rick, it looked like you still had quite a bit of fire there on the bench, even with under eight minutes left. You guys had a comfortable lead. Were there some things that you wished y'all could have cleaned up a little more in the second half there?
RICK BARNES: Yeah, I think this time of year, you're looking for perfection. I thought when we got the lead, even in the first half, I didn't think we defended well in the last five minutes of the first half. I thought they looked up, and I think the score was 23-8, 21-8, something like that, and I just felt like we let down a little bit defensively.

You know, it's a game of momentum, but when they started pressing, they went with five guards -- you know, a big key, too, was Love getting in foul trouble, and they were playing five guards a lot and just really going downhill hard with the ball. We adjusted to that okay, but I thought, again, with five guards at the end, you know they're going to trap and press. And we were a little bit sloppy, just weren't on edge the way I want us to be. I just think it's a game of habits. I want them to play every possession like it matters.

Q. Coach, the first five minutes of the second half are usually typically pretty important, and up 11 anything can happen. How happy were you with the way you guys opened the second half?
RICK BARNES: Well, you know, we've tried to talk to these guys about a lot of different things with this tournament, and actually one thing I forgot to tell them is the longer halftime, and we were back there longer than normal. But you watched us all year. We've been really good out at halftime. We've had ten points lead where we've come out and let teams score four, five straight possessions, and we just keep talking about -- I told them, we're not waiting one possession. You'd better be locked in, because we had the ball, so you'd better be locked in on the defensive end the first time we go down, and we were. So that gets us started.

I mean, we're better when we're locked in on the defensive end, and then obviously Love was in the game. All we talked about was maybe at the end of shot clocks putting him in ball screens if we needed to do that, but otherwise we were just going to execute our offense.

Q. Rick, how would you describe your Tennessee basketball team, and is it not a team that can just out-talent other clubs?
RICK BARNES: You're saying can we out-talent clubs? No, we've never looked at that because one thing we've told our players, and we say it all the time, everybody can play. I mean, I was really impressed with our team tonight because we looked at this team, and they play hard. They do a lot of good things. And we probably have better players that people want to give us credit for, but I do know we've got -- I do think hard work is a talent. I don't think that's a given. There's not everyone that works hard.

Overall we've got a group of guys that have embraced that talent of working hard, and they've -- we've tried to create our own standard, our own identity in terms of how hard we think we can play on defense and on offense when we stay together and execute -- I mean, we missed some shots at the beginning of the game that we need to knock down, but that's part of the game, and you expect some of that, especially in the opening game of this tournament. But we settled in, and again, I think our players are probably a little bit better certainly than people thought at the beginning of the year.

Q. What specifically did you like defensively in the first half as you built that lead?
RICK BARNES: Well, you know, we knew that they knew that we were a pressure team, and we knew they would counter with back cuts, and they did a couple, but we had pretty good ball pressure that they weren't able to really get that pass. And they cut really hard. They do a good job of that.

Our post defense was important. You know, with Love, he does such a great job of creating angles. And if you let him catch it with a foot in the lane, it's hard to guard. Our ball pressure was good early, but overall in our help line was there, and we rebounded. We thought we had to rebound, and we thought we could get to the offensive boards.

Someone had told me they made a comment they wanted to play a little bit faster to keep us off the offensive boards, but we felt we could get there, and that probably got us going as much as anything, what we were able to do on those second shots during the start of the game. And our ball screen defense -- because they're very good at coming down in transition with drag screens.

If you're not up there to touch, they can shoot the ball, and we just did not want them coming off ball screens looking to raise up and shoot threes.

Q. This is a little off topic, but former Texas baseball Coach Augie Garrido passed away yesterday. I was wondering if you have a comment on his passing.
RICK BARNES: Sad day. Just many fond memories of Augie. I can remember seasons would be going, and when things weren't going well, he was one of those guys like Yoda. He always had a little something he could tell you. I remember we were playing and struggling a little bit, and he came over and told a story about -- they had won the National Championship at Fullerton. And next year, he put so much pressure on his team, and he said he was with his mom one day, and she had a picture, and she said, you notice when your guys won the championship, you're holding the trophy. Why don't you let the kids hold it. He said, I realized that day that it really is not about me. And he told me, he said, the key to this, what you're doing, is can you get your guys to play like little boys that love the game.

But we had many, many -- I loved being around him. Sad day. I just hate it when I heard the news the other day. But my time at Texas with he and Mack and Deloss, there were so many memories, and we lost truly a beautiful personality, and his baseball record and all that. But I loved him more as a man than I did as a baseball coach.

Tennessee - 73, Wright State - 47.

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