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March 16, 2018

Mick Cronin

Gary Clark

Kyle Washington

Nashville, Tennessee

Cincinnati - 68, Georgia State - 53

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. On behalf of the Ohio Valley Conference, welcome back to the Bridgestone Arena for today's first post-game press conference, featuring both teams from game one.

The advancing Bearcats will play the winner of Nevada and Texas the day after tomorrow, on Sunday. Head coach Mick Cronin is with us, and the student-athletes are Kyle Washington and Gary Clark. We'll ask Mick to open up with a statement. Then we'll have questions for all three members of Cincinnati. Mick, please.

MICK CRONIN: First of all, I'd like to congratulate Georgia State on their season. Coach Hunter's done a tremendous job there since he's become the head coach at Georgia State. We expected this to be a fight.

Fortunately, I got mature kids that understood that they were far from a 15 seed. We believe in the KenPom and the efficiency ratings, which put them around a 13. And then you combine the fact that they have a guy who can start for anybody in our conference in D'Marcus Simonds, and they're an extremely formidable opponent, especially in a one-game shot.

Because of their ability to put the ball in his hands and put shooters around him. Very, very tough defensive assignment for our guys. We tried a lot of different things. The thing about my team, we've got guys that care about winning. It's easy to make adjustments during a game when guys know that that's the key to winning basketball games.

Get better on defense as the game goes on, which we continue to do. And if we want to continue to advance, that will be the key for us.

I thought, early on, we were trying to win with jump shooting. That's not who we are. Once we got back to focusing on what we do to win games, we started looking like the team that we are, and we went from down to up and they made a little run in the second half, but they're going to make some shots. They've got a really good team.

So, again, congratulations to Coach Hunter and his players on their season.

We did not play bad -- or badly, I should say, or poorly. They have a very good team.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for all three gentlemen.

Q. Obviously, your goal is to go farther than this in the tournament. Do you see reasons to celebrate this win?
MICK CRONIN: No. We're worried about one game at a time. We don't worry about what other people might say our goals are. We're just trying to win today, and we don't believe in entering a tournament to get to the second round or the fourth round.

If you're in the tournament, you're trying to win the tournament. That might be the Tiger Woods in me. I don't believe in Elite Eights and all that stuff. If we win three more in a row, I won't be celebrating.

Q. (No microphone.)
MICK CRONIN: No. That's not -- I do things differently than other people. We've already had a great season. No matter what happens, we've had an unbelievable season. We're in a tournament right now. There's five games left to win it. And I think that's always been my mindset, no matter what our seed has been. As long as I'm honored to be the head coach at Cincinnati, to me, you enter a tournament to win it.

At the end of the year, that's what banquets are for. So that's what I want my kids to believe, that we're in the tournament to try to win the tournament.

Better ask them. They've got you guys on the clock.

Q. Kyle, can you talk about your second half and your ability to get down low and score some buckets?
KYLE WASHINGTON: I think I was rushing a bit in the first half, and I think I just wanted to contribute for my team. I had to just read the defense and see how they were playing me a little bit. This team is known for strips and taking the ball away from the post once you turn around and show the ball.

I had to have some composure in the second half and my teammates did a good job of finding me. Gary did, Jarron did. I wanted to help my team out however I could.

Q. Gary, this is your fourth NCAA tournament. What have you learned in the past that's helping you this time in your senior year?
GARY CLARK: Like Coach said, it's one game and out. In this game, we had to adjust. In every game, that's how it's going to be. You've got to adjust to how the team's doing. Our adversity allows us to do that well. Being my fourth year, tell young guys to just enjoy it, live in the moment and not get too riled up about the crowd and all that. Just do what we've been doing all year.

Q. For Gary and Kyle, about Simonds' play, Coach said he can play with anybody in your conference. What did you think about his performance tonight?
KYLE WASHINGTON: Like we said before, we have to tip our hat to Georgia State. They're a hard coached program, hard playing program. He played with a chip on his shoulder, made tough shots. The whole team played extremely hard. We have to commend them for that. We're just happy to get out of here with a win.

GARY CLARK: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. The way he started off the game, getting them going early with his knocking down the three and getting to the rim. The second half, we just had to adjust and try to slow them down a little bit.

Q. Coach, can you speak a little bit about you out rebounding Georgia State as well as shooting more threes than when they're a 3-point shooting team?
MICK CRONIN: You've got to give them credit. We don't want to shoot 30 threes. They forced us to. They do a good job with their defense. They play a similar defense to us. Fortunately, we didn't have to play them on one-day prep. But it still forced us to take more 3s than we wanted to. That's why they're ninth in the nation, I think, in field goal percentage defense.

As far as out-rebounding them, obviously, our size advantage, but that was a big part of the game plan. If we don't turn the ball over, we rebound the ball at a high clip, almost 39 percent of our misses we usually get. We thought we would get more than that today if we didn't turn it over.

Jarron, now, I didn't see it coming, Jarron Cumberland getting eight offensive rebounds, but he was awesome today. He was the best player on the floor.

GARY CLARK: I like the bow tie.

Q. Kyle, maybe you can speak to this. We've seen Gary's demeanor throughout his career, whether things are going well or not going well. Kind of has that calm presence and leadership on the court. What's the influence that that brings for the rest of the guys on the team?
KYLE WASHINGTON: I think it's just a calming presence and, you know, he has quiet confidence. He's done damn near everything that you can do in this program in terms of achievements and benchmarks. So I'm just glad to be his front court mate, and I'm glad that our two kind of type of energies kind of play off of each other and help it, you know, have a pretty good, you know, atmosphere for the team. So I'm just happy for that and we're just going to keep on doing what we do.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations. See you Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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