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March 13, 2019

Cuonzo Martin

Xavier Pinson

Jordan Geist

St. Louis, Missouri

Missouri-71, Georgia-61

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Missouri. We'll ask Coach Martin for some general comments on the game.

CUONZO MARTIN: I thought our guys got off to a slow start. I thought they were very aggressive when Claxton got going. They started making plays, driving the basketball, getting to the free-throw line. We were a step slow defensively, especially on the perimeter defending those guys.

We just settled in in the second half. X got in foul trouble. Jeremiah got in foul trouble the first half. Made it tough for us to get a real offensive flow. In the second half we settled in, made plays, got stops, the game kind of changed for us.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Xavier, three fouls in the first half. You came out and still found a way to pull through, score 15 points. What went through your mind? How did you play with three fouls in the second half?
XAVIER PINSON: Everything was on my teammates. I just trusted in them to clear a path for me to do what I can do in order for us to get the win. But for the most part I just trusted my team to get the win.

Q. Jordan, you seem to have perfected the drive into traffic and banking it in. What is the degree of difficulty on some of those?
JORDAN GEIST: Sometimes I go in there, it might look like I just throw it up. At least coach thinks that (laughter). Sometimes you just in the gym by yourself, you just work on shots like that in case you get put in situations like that. But, yeah, they're pretty difficult every once in a while, especially when someone like Claxton tries to come over and block your shot.

Q. Jordan, being a senior, how important was it to come out and try to help this team get a win tonight?
JORDAN GEIST: It was very, very important. We're trying to lay some foundation right now for the young guys. Just coming out here, getting a win, showing the young guys what it feels like to get wins here, how difficult it is to get wins, but how grateful you have to be when you get one.

When you come here, you're just trying to lay the foundation for them.

Q. First half, when Claxton kind of got going, y'all got into a little bit of foul trouble, was there anything you said to the guys to settle them down?
JORDAN GEIST: I don't think I really had to say much to them. We've been in some tough situations this year. Our young guys have really matured, just kept fighting no matter what. I think that's the biggest thing with them, is they just keep fighting. There's no give up on them.

Q. The last time you played Auburn, I think you lost by 34. What do you remember about that? How are you a different team?
JORDAN GEIST: I think there we just matured a lot. We've learned, been through some hard times. I think we just got to come out and focus on playing our game, stick to our principles on defense, get the kind of shots we want. We'll put ourselves in a position to hopefully win the game.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes and continue with questions for Coach Martin.

Q. Do you feel Jordan willed you to victory today?
CUONZO MARTIN: I thought he scored the ball, but I think we did a good job as a team. I wouldn't do that to him or our team. I thought he did a good job of scoring 30 points. He was sound defensively, wasn't great, but he did a good job of making plays. Those opportunities, watching film, same with X, when you see both of those guys score, watching film, the opportunity to score the ball from that position, everything worked out the way it worked out. That's why you got 45 points from that position.

Q. For Xavier to be in foul trouble early, what did he show being able to recover?
CUONZO MARTIN: When you watch him, X has composure to him. Sometimes look like he's sleepwalking. But he has a demeanor to him where he's locked into the game, not fazed by the atmosphere, stage or situation. That's something I had to learn in being with him.

But, no, he can score the ball. He wants the pass, but he can score it. He reads the defense, he makes plays. He's really growing as a point guard. Really been a vocal leader. He was a guy that didn't talk a lot on the floor, but he's grown in a lot of areas. It's fun for me and it's exciting for me to see him grow as a young guy in that position.

Just the fouls, he understands where the fouls are coming from. He knows what he does in getting fouls. He has to continue to grow in that area. He's ready for the stage.

Q. What did you think of Claxton's performance?
CUONZO MARTIN: He had six blocks. He's long, athletic. As talented as he is, I think when it's all said and done, whenever he decides to leave college, he's a guy that plays at the NBA level. But I'm not sure he's a guy that comes down and scores 30 points a night. I don't think he impacts the game that way. He's long, athletic, gets to the free-throw line, makes shots, passes the ball. As he continues to get stronger, he'll be a dominant player in this league.

He's similar, he doesn't shoot it like him, but a Jontay Porter. Impact in the game is not necessarily points, it's everything he brings to the table.

Q. Torrence, Jeremiah, and Javon were a combined 1 for 17. What did you think of their performances? What held them back tonight?
CUONZO MARTIN: I don't think anything held them back. You have to give credit to Georgia. If Georgia wasn't on the floor, they probably would have made those shots.

I think Javon just getting a rough start with him. I think Torrence, he had looks, but he was locked in. Jeremiah, I thought he settled some in the post. It's a physical game down there. I thought the officials did a good job of officiating. I thought Jeremiah settled in the post a bit.

Q. What do you take away from the last game you had against Auburn, if anything?
CUONZO MARTIN: We didn't play well the second half. Simply that. We'll go back and watch film, prepare for the game. I'm excited about the opportunity to play them. Our guys understand we didn't play well.

At the same time, Torrence Watson, X Pinson, those guys were really growing into those roles that they're in now. It will certainly be a different game. They play well at home.

Q. Obviously with Tilmon in foul trouble, you had to lean on Mitchell Smith and Reed. What kind of help did you get from them offensively?
CUONZO MARTIN: In the second half -- first half Mitch didn't play well at all. Second half he came out and played better. When they went to zone, Mitch is probably the best guy when you're talking flashing through the zone, he does a great job with that. That's his shot. The second one he made, Kevin made it, because we spent a lot of time flashing that zone and making that play. They did a great job of reading and making plays. They changed the game, went away from the zone. That was pretty much it.

He was better in the second half defending Claxton, taking charge, being more assertive. I thought he was very passive in the first half.

Q. What has been working for your team over the last three, four games? Maybe turned a little bit of a corner somehow.
CUONZO MARTIN: Just time. Sometimes people say, If you had X Pinson and Torrence playing earlier in the season... For me, that wasn't a plan. It's not God's plan. They have to grow when they grow. That's what it is. I'll take it.

Losing is painful. It brings me to my knees. But they'll learn and we'll grow from it. It's part of the game. I'm happy they are where they are. I'm happy whatever did happen earlier in the season didn't happen. Because it allows me and taught me how to learn, grow, and to become better. Sometimes in losing, though it's painful, it forces you to grow.

Q. How competitive is Jordan? How much is that a part of his game?
CUONZO MARTIN: I think he has a competitive spirit. I wouldn't say no more than X Pinson and Torrence Watson. Because he didn't get the credit, you look at his stats, you assume this guy can play. He's a decent athlete. He's not a stiff. But because you probably look at him, you think some guy can jump 40 inches, supposed be a great athlete. He's as tough as anybody.

I don't really gauge a guy on his talent level as far as how high he can jump. He's battle tested, he competes, and he'll fight anybody.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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