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March 20, 2019

Scott Drew

Makai Mason

King McClure

Salt Lake City, Utah

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our Baylor student-athletes.

Q. For both, Makai and then King. You two guys have had experience in the NCAA tournament, most of the team does not. How do you share that experience and what this is like with the younger guys?
MAKAI MASON: First, just appreciating it. It's not every year you are able to get to this level, it's really hard, something that is really hard to do. And then from there, just not letting the moment get too big, I think. Just focusing on each possession, not thinking about the crowd or the next game, just focus on each possession and doing everything you can to get the win.


KING MCCLURE: I'm just happy to be here. Last year we were in NIT, it is not a good experience. So the fact we are here is a huge blessing. So I tell all the younger guys: Enjoy the moment and be happy. Play with joy. When you go out there, don't worry about the crowd. Do everything you did coming in here to win.

So at the end of the day, we have to win because now that we're here, we're not satisfied with that, we need to progress and win games. That is the biggest thing I could tell them.

Q. Beginning of the season you guys were picked to finish ninth in the Big 12, Tristan goes down, both you guys have injuries, you suffer a lot of tough losses. But overcoming all that adversity, what does that show you about your team and where you guys are at now?
MAKAI MASON: It is funny. The season is like a microcosm of me and King's career. We are down, we have got injuries, people are doubting us, and we are coming together and able to make it happen. I think it really shows the fight of this team. That's the biggest thing. Our heart, you can't really measure heart.

We were picked ninth. If we play together, if we play as hard as we do, you can overcome expectations.

Q. Syracuse announced Frank Howard won't be playing tomorrow. Does that change your guys' preparation, or does having a last- second change like that make much of a difference?
MAKAI MASON: I don't think so. They have got some really talented guards off the bench that will step up. He is a great player. They have some great players on the bench so it won't change much for us. They will play their same zone. That is the main thing we have to figure out.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Scott Drew.

Q. Scott, Freddie Gillespie has come a long way since he shot up from a wildcard in a Division III school. What has his growth been like since he's shot up on campus till now?
SCOTT DREW: Night and day. He deserves a lot of credit. Sometimes bigs don't like to spend a lot of time in the gym, and Freddie was, in that year out, he spent more time in the gym than any other player we had. And happy for his success and development because he's put in the work and earned it.

Q. Frank Howard is not going to play because of suspension. Does that change how you guys approach the line-up that Syracuse will put out there?
SCOTT DREW: All year long in the Big 12 there's been so many teams that have had injuries, people suspended. We have been the same way. And a lot of times that rallies teams to play better. So, it doesn't affect -- they are still going to play zone, they are still going to be long, and they have still got a lot of talented players.

Q. Coach, what recollections do you have, if any, of your first game as a head coach, Valpo at Syracuse?
SCOTT DREW: The irony was we played well and we were either up or it was close with, like, five minutes to go and I was thinking, Is this head coaching stuff really that hard? The last five minutes told me why the profession is so difficult.

The good thing is Syracuse won the National Championship that year and we got to cheer for them the rest of the year. Obviously, I love watching them play.

Q. Beginning of the season, you guys were picked ninth in the Big 12, nobody pegged you to come here, Tristan gets injured, Makai. Can you talk about the adversity and what this team has been able to do up to this point?
SCOTT DREW: The great thing is all year long the team has sacrificed for each other. They've had great chemistry. No matter who was playing and no matter who was out, they always accepted their roles and really competed. And as a coach, that's all you can ask for, is a team that's going to love one another and compete to the best of their ability.

You are not always going to make shots or play perfect, but most nights with this team, we know we can go to bed knowing they really played hard. And that's something that starts with the upperclassmen, starts with the selflessness of King McClure, even though Jake's not playing, his leadership. You don't always have seniors that care about a university as much as they do.

Q. You would have gone anywhere to play. Is it special to come to Salt Lake City with all the Baylor connections here?
SCOTT DREW: Absolutely. This is a place we have scrimmaged Gonzaga up here in the past. Obviously, with the Lindsey family, Ekpe, Royce, and Jake talks about Salt Lake every day. So we feel this is our second or third home.

Q. Scott, this is your eighth NCAA tournament appearance in 12 years, Coach Boeheim has had 30-something. How much has that helped drawing on that, even though a lot of these guys haven't played in the NCAA tournament?
SCOTT DREW: Normally, it's a bigger advantage but because we only have three returning lettermen, we don't have as many people with that post-season experience to tell them how things are. And normally if you lose a close game or you don't play well, everybody comes back motivated to get back and do well. And because we have so many new guys, it's really going to be something that, something that the Big 12 tournament benefited us more than anything else, playing in the same type of arena and running it like the NCAA format. The first time you got the police escort, everybody isn't looking around like, What's going on?

Q. How much does it help playing Kansas State, Iowa State, a brutal Big 12 schedule, week in, week out, help you prepare for the NCAA tournament here?
SCOTT DREW: You look at college basketball and the parity nowadays, there's so many talented teams. The great thing is there's a bunch of different styles in the Big 12 so that prepares you for a lot of different teams you might face.

The great thing about playing Syracuse, you don't have to motivate your team at all. Everybody knows about the great history and tradition they have and everyone is excited to play anybody besides a Big 12, number one; and number two, everybody is happy to play a quality opponent such as Syracuse.

Q. Jared Butler's transfer story is different than most in that he was already at Alabama as a freshman, he came here, it happened fast. What does it say about his mental acuity, the way he understands the game that he's been able to contribute so quickly as a freshman?
SCOTT DREW: Jared had an advantage coming in from a high school program and a coach that pushed him and helped him develop. From that standpoint, he acts like a sophomore, junior, the way he is coachable and the way he carries himself and his work ethic.

Throughout the year, Makai, Jake, King, the other guards, especially with experience, he's done a good job of listening to them and he's probably progressed quicker, too.

Q. Coach, you guys run a zone, and you are playing Syracuse that run a zone. How much does it benefit you guys that you have played and practised so much in a zone to be going up against a Syracuse zone that runs a zone only?
SCOTT DREW: Playing zone is similar like to playing man-to-man, there's a bunch of different varieties. Some are the pack line where you pack it in, some are really aggressive where you have hands and shoulders in the passing lane. Our zones are different. So, it's not a complete thing that you are used to.

At the same time, zones have similar weak spots and we know where they are and they know where they are and probably both teams are more comfortable playing against a zone. But their zone is different than ours and their length is different than ours. So, I remember we've had teams that have been a lot longer in the past and that's really tough for teams that see that length for the first time. And that's why Syracuse has got a top 25 defense in the country.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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