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March 23, 2018

Vic Schaefer

Roshunda Johnson

Teaira McCowan

Morgan William

Kansas City, Missouri

Mississippi State - 71, NC State - 57

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Head Coach Vic Schaefer, his three student-athletes, Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson and Teaira McCowan. Coach your thoughts?

VIC SCHAEFER: This team and these kids continue to set records at Mississippi State. I'm just proud of them. Hats off to North Carolina State. Wes has done a tremendous job with that program. Those kids had our attention. They certainly had mine, but I thought our kids were special today. We were concerned about McCowan. She is a double-double machine and to hold her to 5 points on three rebounded, you have Victoria Vivians in here because she is not only a great athlete but she did a great job on her defensively, as well. I thought Mo controlled the whole game, 8 assists, 1 turnover, two blocks. She made sure I knew she had two blocks today and Ro coming in after dealing with what she has had to deal with last couple of days and playing solid for us and it was dominating, as she has been all year, 11 out of 11 from the field, 15 rebounds, and 1 steal. Proud of our kids. We will have our work can you tell on the for us on the winner of this next one. To be where they are and do it the way they've done it, again, I thought our pressure bothered them, I thought it wore 'em down. You look at the second half, 28 in the third and 38 in the 4th and that's typically what happens when we play people. We wear 'em down, our press bothers them. We may not get a steal off the press but we're making that point guard work extremely hard and, you know, for them, Ealey was 2 for 8 and 4 turnovers. We tried to wear her out. Proud of our kids, proud of our effort and it's on to the next one. The name of the student-athletes you want to answer?

Q. What is it about this time of year that brings out the best in you? Michelle pointed out 11 for 11 ties an NCAA record. Last season you really exploded, you just exploded again tonight. What's it about this time of year?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: This time of year you lose and you go home and you basically start over so my team and my seniors the four that I got I'm trying to make it the best it can be and go as far as possible.

Q. For all of you, seemed like the second half you were able to eliminate a lot of their second shots and be able to convert on the other end. In what ways do you feel like you stepped up your defensive game the second half and limited them to one shot on their possessions?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: Keeping them from getting the back doors and helping and making sure that my teammates didn't get beat on the backdoor was a main key for the second half. Then whatever she shot I boxed out and looked at my girl and made sure she wasn't going in and pursued the rebound.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I think we attacked on the defensive end just like we said on the offensive end and we let our defense roll over.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I agree with what they said, came out in the second half and tried to punch first and it starts on defense and then you take care of defense it helps the offense.

Q. Morgan, you guys got up 17-7, made a run, took a lead. What's the experience as the point guard? What was your mindset when they made their run?
MORGAN WILLIAM: Game is full of runs, we're going to make a run, they're going to make a run but they make a run we need to get stops, too. We made stops so that's good. It's basketball. It's going to be a game of runs.

Q. What was it like getting out there and get a chance to be with your teammates after what happened and where you were yesterday to get a chance to get on the floor and play for four quarters?
ROSHUNDA JOHNSON: It felt really good. I knew I had to come back here and be here for my team. I felt like I left it all on the floor either way and I feel like we completed the mission.

Q. Morgan, Coach said that you controlled the game. This is the second consecutive game in which he said you've done that. Is it similar to Teaira with you, that you're taking your game to another level?
MORGAN WILLIAM: I feel like it's March, do or die. I don't want to talk off court and thinking I didn't play hard enough and do this for my teammates and I didn't execute and take care of the ball. Going out there, giving it my all and see where it takes me. Doing good for my teammates, I'm proud of that.

Q. Teaira, NC State was saying they were trying to double you in the first half, front you in the second half. I know you've seen every possible defense. Talk about how you have evolved in taking whatever the defense gives you or sometimes take it when they don't give it to you?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: I knew I couldn't let them double me so whenever I felt the double team coming I had to hurry up and do my turn before they got there and got set in order to double team me and when they would double team I would find my shooters, and if they missed I would go in and get the rebound and when they front me. I would ask for it with my high hand and my teammates delivered me the ball in the right hand and I was just going up.

Q. Teaira, NC State was referencing your strength is something they might have seen on film but they really didn't realize it until they got out on the court and dealt with the it. Is there a point where you feel like, I can overpower them on pure strength and get to the basket at will?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: A lot of teams say I wear on them so at the beginning of the game teams are giddy and going and the end of the game is when I always get 'em, either way it's a lose/lose.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, congratulations. Questions for Coach?

Q. Vic, I know you mentioned you had heavy hearts about Ro and her situation with her grandfather. How have y'all tried to be there for her the last couple of days and what was it like getting a chance to see her get out there tonight and score 12 points and have a pretty good game?
VIC SCHAEFER: Sure, it's real life. Really gotta credit her mom. Her mom and I visited. I wanted to make sure that her family knew I was all for whatever they wanted her to do. That's bigger than basketball. So we wanted to support her if she wanted to be if he funeral, that's where she needed to be. But her mom was really good. I told her this is real world, real life. Your team needs you. If you want to be at the funeral then we're going to get you on airplane and get you to Kansas City. She came in late last night, film was over but she had a chance to hug her and let her know how much we care about her. That's tough, grandparents, that was the first person I really lost in my life and it about yanked my heart out at 15 years of age. This was someone that was very dear to her and we wanted to support her in whatever she wanted to do.

Q. What are the chances that you would be 35-1 and going into the Elite Eight if Teaira had developed into an All-American this season?
VIC SCHAEFER: Come on. First of all, great post in the paper today.

Q. Appreciate it.
VIC SCHAEFER: I saw that. Yeah, T is, again, I said this the other day multiple times you saw the value of Teaira McCowan when we lost her in the tournament championship game. She cleans up a lot of your mess, she cleans up your missed shots, your dribble penetration that you give up, blocked shots, altered shots, turn around and get out of there, you know, so her value to our basketball team is -- you can't put a price tag on it. Tonight I loved the look in her eye tonight. There was some times where she wasn't going to be denied.

She does wear on people. I've heard that many times before. I've heard 'em say, you know, Coach, we just couldn't move her. We've worked hard with our guards to give her the ball in places where she needs it. We've missed her a ton this year. We've got to do a better job. We've worked on that. And Mo and our guard play have done a much better job of that.

Q. Coach, you kind of alluded to at Stark Vegas the other day talked about basketball and you expected to see maroon tonight. What do you think of the atmosphere?
VIC SCHAEFER: Love our crowd, our people, our Bulldog fans are the best. I'm just telling you. They love this team, they travel, they plan to travel. It's fashionable, you know, whether it's vacation or just what they want to do on the weekend, but they're just the best. I just can't say enough about 'em, how much we appreciate them. I guess they wouldn't let us visit with them after the game because I noticed my team wasn't around to do what they normally do. Again, maybe we will talk to the NCAA about that. They're always wanting us to build our fan base, well, this is what we've done. We shouldn't have different rules different times of the year. If we're going to build our fan base and this is how we did it at Stark Vegas at Mississippi State, why should we have to change now at the NCAA tournament, especially when you've got all those people. They are not five dollar tickets or ten dollar tickets. They're spending money to come here, buying hotels, bought food locally and bought a pretty expensive ticket to come to the game. So me and you, we'll get that together.

Q. Coach, earlier this season you criticized your team's maturity and mental toughness coming off a 20 point win over Ole Miss going into a road game at Missouri. You said your personal agenda can't be more important than winning. In what ways during this tournament are you seeing that personal agenda aside and these girls really coming together?
VIC SCHAEFER: First of all, great job doing your homework. I wasn't really happy that day! Obviously we had some things going on. We've addressed it. I think our kids have played much better since that day and we have had much better chemistry. In this tournament, like Mo said, you can't afford to have a bad day, you can't miss a hedge on a ball screen, go under on a shooter. You can't miss a block out. These are all things that as you move along are important to victory. I think our kids are dialed in. They have been all year. As much as I want to worry about 'em and worry about whether we're ready or not, they have not let me down one time. We got outplayed one night and got beat. That's what's going to happen in our league. I think they've grown from that day and gotten better from it. I'm certainly pleased at our improvement from that day. Good question.

Q. Having such strong senior leadership on this team and knowing that any game, any loss is the end of the season for those girls, what motivation, what special motivation does that give your team going forward as they continue this run?
VIC SCHAEFER: Well, it's good to have four seniors and it's bad to have four seniors because you're going to hate to -- whenever the last one is you're going to miss those kids and these four are unbelievably special. Won their 124th game today in their career. They've been off the chart. Those types of recruiting classes you hope come around all the time, but, unfortunately, you know, they don't.

So for them, I like where they're at. I like their leadership. I like their focus. I don't have to get them dialed in in practice or in film, they get it. They know their days are coming down to a close at Mississippi State, but I don't think any of 'em are ready for it to end just yet and I don't have to remind 'em. They understand it.

Q. I couldn't help but notice when you were reading Teaira's stat line it was almost like a nonchalant nature of someone who went 11 for 11. Do you remember the last time you watched someone do that along with the performance on the glass and the complete game in general?
VIC SCHAEFER: I don't know that I've seen anybody go 11 for 11. Teaira went 11 for 12 against Florida her sophomore year but to do it in the NCAA Tournament game, 24 and 15 but, look, it's old hat. I said it the other day, whoever is on the committee, whoever is voting, if she's not a First Team All-American, then they need to get rid of the daggum award. She has done it against the best competition in the country, all year long!

I think that was her 26th double-double. It's off the chart! She does it with two and three people hanging on her. Let's just forget, okay, she is getting the rebounds and the points, she alters the points and a lot of times she goes into the lane and the guards back up. Just the impact that kid has in a ball game is incredible. Again, her and Tori, if there's two better at their position. Let's go two on two, because I promise you they're not losing to anybody.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

VIC SCHAEFER: Praise the Lord and go Dogs!

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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