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March 13, 2019

Steve Pikiell


Nebraska - 68, Rutgers - 61.

COACH PIKIELL: Listen, you know, Nebraska played really well, and we picked a bad day. It was the most turnovers we've had, and I know it's the most fouls we've had in a game, which isn't a good combination. But I want to give Nebraska credit. They were awesome. We talked about it, we watched a lot of film how to stop them, and we certainly couldn't defend the free-throw line. Did they go 22 times there? So obviously we didn't do a good job with them. But I want to thank the Rutgers people that came out. This has been a season of tremendous strides, and I'm proud of that. We saw four freshmen on the floor. We only have one senior. I want to thank Shaq for being an awesome -- Shaq Doorson for an awesome captain, leader, kid for the last few years. He's a part of raising this program, and I really appreciate all his efforts for the last few. But Nebraska was better today, and congratulations to them.

Q. What do you think was the difference in that 15-0 run late in the game?
COACH PIKIELL: The whole game like we just couldn't get in the groove. Again, awful combination, and a little bit of everybody with turnovers. I can't explain. They don't do a lot of things to make you turn the ball over either. They don't blitz, they don't trap. But picked the wrong day to have 22. I think that's our season high, and I think 25 fouls is definitely our season high. So that's not a good combination when you're playing 40 minutes to keep your season going. I think those were the keys, obviously, in the game. Palmer has 30-something points, and that was a key for us hold him to his average, which is a terrific average. But if we could have done that it would have been a little different maybe.

Q. (Inaudible) the slow start?
COACH PIKIELL: I thought we were just grinding it. They weren't scoring either. So we just kind of grinded it. But we had a lot of turnovers. The turnovers really hurt us on the offensive end, it helped them get some easy baskets. Turnovers, and we've done a decent job especially recently of not turning the ball over. We were a turnover team early in the year. Today it was a little out of the ordinary. I'm very surprised at that number. But the turnovers never let us get into any kind of flow offensively, and everybody was in foul trouble. Constant substitutions.

Q. I know it's a little early, but as you reflect on the season, seven Big Ten wins, 10th place in the Big Ten. What do you take away from the season overall?
COACH PIKIELL: Well, I will tell you, I'm proud of this group. We had six players out of my 11 that had never played a minute in the Big Ten. This is the best year of the league, by far, from 1 to 14. You know, seven wins -- took us three years to get seven wins. We got it this year. We moved up. Everyone picked us last. We're tied for 10th. Won some great road games. Our fans are unbelievable. We sold the place out. We're building a new practice facility which will be done soon. A lot of good things. I'm really excited about players sitting out, Jacob Young, and Paul, I think he's the finest passer in the country, we're going to add him to the roster. We're going to miss Shaq Doorson, but everybody else is back. Great athletic director, the school is great, I love it. Better days ahead. This was just a step. When I took the job I knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's the best league. This year, certainly in my three years, by far the best league that I've played in, and it's been really good the previous two. So to make the strides that we've made, I feel good about that. Doesn't help me today, but when we look back on it, a lot of good things were accomplished. I'm proud of our guys, and our young guys grew up a lot. We got a lot of minutes for a lot of players: Caleb McConnell, and Myles Johnson tonight with the double-double, you know, Montez, Ron Harper with some unbelievable rookie of the week performances. And Geo is a sophomore, Peter Kiss is a sophomore. Those guys are young, you know. Geno Omoruyi gave us everything every night. Played on his knee. So we had a lot of good things happen. It's another step, and I'm really excited about next year.

Q. At the end of the week, did Ron say anything about playing on the court where his dad accomplished so much?
COACH PIKIELL: He didn't. I know he was excited to come here. I think all of our young guys were playing on this court. None of them have, you know, come here to Chicago, so I think they were all excited to play here. I really appreciate it, thank you, guys.

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