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March 16, 2018

Chris Jans

Zach Lofton

Joe Garza

San Diego, California

Clemson - 79, New Mexico State - 68

THE MODERATOR: For New Mexico State, head coach Chris Jans and student-athletes, Joe Garza and Zach Lofton. We will begin with a statement from Coach Jans.

CHRIS JANS: Clemson deserved to win. I thought they played better than us. They executed better than us. They had a great game plan and they deserved to win. Felt good about going to the game. Didn't think our team played with the same type of playing personality the first 20 minutes of the game that we were accustomed to. Certainly addressed that at halftime and played better in the second half.

Just not sure why we did that, but we did. Obviously in this tournament when you are the higher seed playing against a lower seed you expect the higher seed to play a little harder but we didn't the first half for whatever reason. It's the first time this season that I remember us not rising our level of play that was required because of the opponent or the platform and it's certainly disappointing.

Q. Zach, I think you guys got it cut down to 6 with 5 minutes to go, was there a feeling that if you got a big shot, get a stop, get the crowd back in the game and you could maybe tie or take the lead?
ZACH LOFTON: We've been in that position before, you know what I mean? We've come back from deficits like that and just couldn't get that big stop and score that we needed.

Q. I know it's kinda hard to look back on the season now but obviously this was a special season for you guys, as seniors, too. What does the season mean to both of you guys and what are you going to remember about playing at New Mexico State?
ZACH LOFTON: It changed my life. I couldn't have made a better decision, you know what I mean? Coming here with Coach Jans. There's too much to say up here. I had a great season these guys. Coach Jans is a lifetime mentor. I don't show it the right way sometimes, but he means the world to me and just sad we went out like that for him. But I'm happy we had the season we had.

Q. Zach, especially in that first half, it appeared to be an unfriendly rim. It wasn't that you guys weren't getting there, the ball just wasn't going in. What is that feeling like and maybe what was said at halftime?
ZACH LOFTON: That's happened before to us, our defense usually gets us through. That's who we are, but I don't think we were locked in mentally. Like Coach said at halftime, we were flat lined and I think that's the key word to what we were in the first half. I don't think it was about shots more so than it was defense.

CHRIS JANS: The rim wasn't unkind to them. They shredded us, 56%, field goal percentage defense isn't good enough and to answer your question, we missed three or four bunnies in the first half that just didn't go in. For whatever reason and shots that are 90%-type shots and we make those shots. It's a 6 or 8-point halftime deficit instead of 12 which certainly feels a lot different at halftime. I thought we did an excellent job on the back boards, gave up three offensive rebounds, two of them were real early, the first or second possession. But at the end of the day their guards really hurt us. We knew they were good. It's well documented how good they are. They all had 15, 23, 22 and they were a load. They were hard to handle.

Q. Joe, just a dream come true for you to play with this program the past two years. Talk about what you remember most about being on this team and playing for New Mexico State and accomplishing a dream?
JOE GARZA: Like you said, it's a dream come true. But I think what made this season so special was everything that we went through as a team, you know, we got a bunch of new guys, a whole new coaching staff, and I mean, it wasn't pretty in the beginning. We found a way to come together and we found a way to win games and we trusted Coach Jans and he trusted us; and, you know, I would do it all over again for my teammates, everything we went through. I wouldn't change a thing about it. I wouldn't change a thing about it. It was special for me for Coach Jans to allow me to continue my opportunity on the team and for these guys to accept me as one of their leaders. I'll remember that for the rest of my life and it was very special to me.

Q. Coach, when you look back on the journey and getting to campus and putting together the roster and things like that, I know the loss is fresh for you, but will you look back at this as a successful year and what will you remember most about this year?
CHRIS JANS: Hopefully we will look back at it fondly some day, certainly not now. We just talked about that in the locker room with the fellows that. I believe once we get away from this a little bit we will have time to reflect and celebrate the year we had, the championships we won. We wanted more. I thought this team was capable of making a run in this tournament. We just didn't play well enough. It's a tough way to end the season.

We've been come-from-behind guys a lot this season. We were on the road where we came from behind and won and once we kind of started getting on that roll I thought here we go again. Credit needs to go to them, because they hit some big shots when they really needed them. When he missed the bunny and they made the 3 it was going to be tough to overcome that because we had fought back to that point. But hopefully some day. It ain't going to be today or tomorrow, but someday soon we will look back and be able to enjoy this team and the season and all the successes that we had.

Q. This is a team that really loves playing in transition. All season you guys were free, loose, running up the floor. It didn't look like you guys were able to get into transition tonight. What specifically did they do and how did you try to adjust your game plan accordingly?
ZACH LOFTON: I just don't think we were running, you know what I mean, running the floor hard enough, simple at that. Simple as that.

Q. Obviously, Jemerrio Jones isn't up here, but it was his last game tonight. What will you two guys remember about him the most?
JOE GARZA: Mario, that's my guy, my roommate, one of my best friends on the team. He's Mario. That's the description of him. It describes him. I love that guy! He just cared so much, and that's what I will remember about him most is that he cared, maybe in his own way sometimes, but he cared more than maybe more than any of us. I will always remember that.

ZACH LOFTON: His personality, you know what I mean? He made me feel at home as soon as I got here, as soon as I sat down, so his personality. He's a good guy, man.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. We will continue with Coach Jans.

Q. Chris, the way this program has gone, getting to the tournament has never been an issue at all, 7 of the past 9 years. How do you turn this program into a team that come tournament time can make some noise?
CHRIS JANS: Well, we thought we were in position to do it this year. We had a pretty good seed. Everybody is good in the tournament. We felt good about the match-up. Just didn't go our way tonight. For me and our staff and the returning players, you know, we don't have any relationship with last year or three years ago or five years ago, so being a new coach it's hard to relate to what those certain teams went through, how good they were, how close they were to winning, I don't know. But we had a chance. We had a chance to do it tonight. I think having that taste, from my experience being around it, once you get that taste of what this feels like to play in this type of tournament, it motivates you to work harder. I anticipate the returning players and all the new guys we bring in to be a little more motivated maybe and certainly to have all spring and summer with our team rather than not having them last year hopefully will make a difference in our training and continuing to build our culture. That's the goal. We want to win championships. Won a couple this year, and we want to continue to have that attitude and have that mantra of more, more, more. Hopefully it will happen next year.

Q. Chris, I know it's hard to look back on this now. What did the season mean to you personally with the way the community, the students, the team embraced you and the run you guys had?
CHRIS JANS: It felt great. They didn't have to do that. They have embraced my family and I, and they've made us feel welcome. The crowds got better and better as the season progressed. You could feel the buzz in the city. I kept saying I think we play a style of basketball that resonates with last cruises. I know they're disappointed right now and I'm sure they're not happy with the results, and neither are we. But it was a great first season in terms of the relationship that I think that we are building with one another and I think it will only get better.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

CHRIS JANS: Thank you. Thank you, media, for covering us all year long. I appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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