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March 13, 2019

Lon Kruger

Kristian Doolittle

Christian James

Kansas City, Missouri

West Virginia 72, Oklahoma 71

THE MODERATOR: We are ready to begin with the Oklahoma Sooners, Coach Lon Kruger and the two student-athletes, Christian James and Kristian Doolittle. Coach, we will turn to you first for an opening statement.

LON KRUGER: Obviously, a disappointing loss. I thought West Virginia really dictated on the boards. We had trouble keeping them from second shots, especially late in the ball game. That's always a big factor when you play West Virginia and I thought they, again, won that battle with us. Again, had some opportunities early in the second half there to widen it out and couldn't quite do that. Again, both teams battled, and we didn't make the play at the end. As many plays at the end as they did.

Q. Christian, obviously this game had a lot of similarities to the last time you played West Virginia with the Buddy Hield review, what was going through your head as you took the shot?
CHRISTIAN JAMES: Felt good. I tried to create space and get a good look. I didn't know my foot was on the line. It was a tough moment, just like my freshman year.

Q. That team in 2016 did go on a Final Four run. What do you have to do to get past this and prepare for a possible NCAA Tournament berth?
CHRISTIAN JAMES: Got to play together, play together more. West Virginia did a great job on the boards. We gotta clean it up a lot. We've got to play hard. We gotta play hard, play together and make plays. March is all about making plays down the stretch and that's something we have to do. My teammates have been working so hard to get to this point, and it's in God's hands whether we get a bid or not.

Q. Kristian, besides the rebounding where did you think you let it get away tonight?
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: I would say we were lacking emotion and fight from the beginning of the game, which is something that can't happen. We were playing catch-up. We knew going into this game that West Virginia was going to be crashing the glass and playing really hard. That's what they pride themselves on. We weren't ready to master energy and create our own energy. To hit them first was something we talked about at the beginning of the game. Something that we can't do. We've got to hold each other accountable, something that the coaches can't always do. They can't always bring all the energy and that's something we have to change before our next game.

Q. For both of you guys, Kristian mentioned most people have the NCAA Tournament, does this result not tonight bring any doubt into your mind? Are you worried about that? Do you think you're safely in?
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: It's not something I'm too worried about. I've never paid attention to the outside noise of if we're in or out. We've got to focus on the game at hand. We had it in our hands to fully seal it and not to leave doubt in anybody's mind, but now we have to wait for someone else to decide for us.

CHRISTIAN JAMES: I hope we're in. Like I said, we've worked so hard to get to this game and this game could have sealed the deal and my teammates have worked on hard and I just want to see them get a chance to see what it's like to go to the NCAA Tournament. It's going to be a stressful couple of days, a lot of praying and hope we get a bid and go far in the tournament. Make a run.

Q. Kristian, what was going through your mind when that shot went up and they were reviewing that final play?
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: Knowing that he got the shot off in time they were going to check to see if it was actually a three. That's why they have instant replays, to make sure they get the right call. It just didn't go our way this time.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, guys. Thank you. Questions for Coach Kruger?

Q. Lon, do you agree with Doo's assessment that they just didn't bring the fight tonight? If so, how do you explain that in the month of March?
LON KRUGER: He's referencing the thing we talked about a lot, fighting on the boards. We got whipped on the boards. Yeah, we didn't do what we had to do on the boards, and they beat us up pretty good. Seemed like every missed shot especially in the last four minutes they got those shots back. So that was a major topic of conversation throughout the preparation of the game and the game itself so we lacked the -- we didn't win that battle, I'll put it that way.

Q. Coach, what do you tell your team that they still may have more basketball left but having to endure this heart breaker?
LON KRUGER: We had a lot of opportunities and advantage plays in transition that we didn't finish. You've got to finish those. But, again, it came down to primarily winning the rebound battle, and we didn't do that.

That was the major thing coming out of it when you talk to them. Can't change that in this ball game, but we've got to learn from it going forward.

Q. Coach, you scheduled pretty aggressively in the nonconference to give yours a really strong strength of schedule. Do you think you've done enough to get into the NCAA Tournament because of that?
LON KRUGER: You know, based on what people say, again, the parameters are all 30 games count the same. It doesn't matter if it's conference or nonconference. So given that, you know, based on projections it appears so. But we won't know that for sure until Sunday. But, yeah, those are the rules going in and our guys won a lot of ball games. But like to have won a couple more.

Q. Lon, that Christian shot was right in front of you. Did you know before they went to the review his toe was on the line?
LON KRUGER: No, not at all. Even in the review it looked like the pump fake he was behind the line and when he did pump fake he moved it every so slightly to get on the line. No, I didn't know at the time.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, Coach, we'll get you go. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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