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March 18, 2018

Chris Mack

Paul Scruggs

J.P. Macura

Nashville, Tennessee

Florida State - 75, Xavier - 70

THE MODERATOR: Xavier Musketeers are with us now. Head coach Chris Mack is also with J.P. Macura and Paul Scruggs. I'll ask Chris to start off with a statement on this game and we'll go for questions for all three gentlemen on the dais.

Chris, please.

CHRIS MACK: Obviously, tough loss for our group. Pretty emotional ending, the finality of what I think is the greatest sporting event in our country.

It's tough. I've got a group that I love being around, I love coaching. Our seniors have been amazing not just this year, but throughout their entire career. I couldn't ask for a better group, a more selfless group, a group that thinks about team before self and so I'm going to miss coaching them.

I tell you, the reason that we're not moving on, turnovers on our part caused by a tremendous amount of pressure from Florida State. We didn't hit our free throws when we had the ability to maybe stretch the lead. That really hurt us. We've been a really good free throw shooting team all year. And then we gave up some offensive rebounds. It was sort of the cumulative effect of all those things.

So Florida State moves on. And it was tough for our group, but a year ago it was tough for them. I'm proud of what our group's accomplished this year. I wish we could just keep going.

Q. Chris, I know a lot of the conversation you have with your guys, you like to keep in-house. Speaking in generalities, what was your message to the group after an experience like that?
CHRIS MACK: I told them I loved them. I love coaching them. I felt bad for them. Wish I could have done more, you know, to earn the right to keep playing.

My high school coach, the late Dick Berning, said, No matter how bad you feel, the sun's going to shine tomorrow. If this is the worst thing that happens to our group as individuals, we're going to live a pretty good life.

So I'm just sad I can't keep coaching them.

Q. Chris, Coach Hamilton said yesterday that Trevon, obviously, is a very good player, a big lynchpin to your team. Today, do you think that they did anything special on him defensively? Was he getting shots that he normally would have, in your opinion?
CHRIS MACK: Well, he didn't have his best game. I give a lot of credit to Florida State. They're an excellent defensive team. They pressure. They didn't lose him often.

Playing Kaiser at the four pushes Tre to the three a little bit and now he's guarded by a little bit more of a versatile athletic guy instead of their four.

You know, Naj couldn't play the amount of minutes that he's been playing normally here as of late. He played 12 minutes and he was hobbling through those 12 minutes. So, you know, it pushes Tre to a position that there's a little bit more athleticism, a little bit more quickness on him.

But, you know, that didn't win us or lose the game. We've won games this year where, you know, Tre didn't score 20 or 25. We've been so much more than a one-man team. That's a credit to him and our seniors for having that type of mentality.

So, again, credit Florida State. They're a little quicker, a little bit more aggressive. They didn't leave him.

Q. Paul, congratulations on a fine season. What would you like to take from this experience going forward?
PAUL SCRUGGS: Well, this was a wonderful experience, and I think all of the seniors, they taught me so much. They're a great group of leaders, and I just thank them.

Q. J.P., obviously, you couldn't be on the floor after you fouled out. If you could be in your teammates' ears as the game was kind of winding down, what would you have told them in those big moments?
J.P. MACURA: I mean, what I did tell them was to stay poised and take care of the ball, and make plays. Unfortunately, down at the end of the game, they made more plays than us, and they won.

Q. Chris, with 21.6 seconds left, I believe, they're up 73-70. You guys get the ball. Kerem takes the shot and it's an air ball. Is that the shot you wanted? I mean, it's a shot he's taken before and made. It didn't have a lot of muscle behind it.
CHRIS MACK: So we had two plays, in essence. Florida State does a really good job of denying. And so as Quentin brought the ball up, it was hard for Paul to necessarily get open to run the play that we wanted to, which would have resulted in the quick two.

We had made the decision with 21 seconds, if we could score in eight to ten seconds and cut it to one, had a timeout, we could implement a press, put a little pressure on them, maybe turn the ball over or at the very least foul and have them go to the free throw line. And if they made both free throws, we'd be in the same situation with a little less time.

And we had given them the second play, which was for a 3, knowing that their five-man was probably going to flat hedge on that middle ball screen. So we got a really clean look, and disappointed for Kerem.

If you followed our program, he's made so many of those plays all year. It's one shot. I think if you look at the stat sheet, we missed 26 shots. If we make some of the other ones, that one's not under the microscope as much.

So it was the best we could do in that circumstance, and we would run it again if we had that opportunity.

Q. Going back to the first half, you guys, I think, went nine minutes without a field goal. What was it about them that was keeping you on your heels? Was it their physicality?
CHRIS MACK: I think it's two-fold. Number one, my two best players, my two best scorers, two of my better playmakers had two fouls for the majority of the first half. I elected to still play them at times but certainly not all through the first half.

And, you know, it makes it tough. We got two shotmakers, two guys who have been in key moments, and not that they're the only guys that can score, but it alters what we're running.

Again, Naji was out as well, so it was tougher for us to score and you add the fact that we're playing a tremendous defensive team with length and athleticism and quickness.

So we survived scoreless droughts before. I mean, we did just fine. We got right back in the game, took the lead. It was the missed free throws, the offensive rebounds, and the turnovers down the stretch that prevented us from playing next Thursday.

Q. J.P., did you feel like tonight that the floor was wet? And I ask that because just watching games since Friday, it seems like players have slipped on it. Didn't know how you felt about it, if it bothered you tonight?
J.P. MACURA: No, it didn't bother me at all. It was just fine.

Q. Coach, with the seniors you guys are losing, is this the end of an era for Xavier basketball? How do you guys move forward?
CHRIS MACK: That's a bad question to ask me.

Q. (No microphone) Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura era, is that fair to say?
CHRIS MACK: Two really good players. I don't know how much you follow our program, Byron Larkin graduated, David West graduated, Trevon Bluiett is going to graduate, James Posey graduated. We've graduated 105 seniors. If you think our program is falling off a cliff, you haven't followed Xavier basketball very long.

Q. Will the expectations for next year be the same as they are this season?
CHRIS MACK: To ask me about next season, what my expectations are, that would be unfair to team 96, the group I'm coaching.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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