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March 21, 2019

Max Hazzard

Robert Cartwright

Jonathan Galloway

Evan Leonard

Tommy Rutherford

San Jose, California

MODERATOR: Joining us on the days now UC Irvine. Max Hazzard, Robert Cartwright, Jonathan Galloway, Evan Leonard and Tommy Rutherford.

Q. For Max and Robert, both teams seem to want to slow it down and play a more deliberate pace. When you're going against another team that likes to do that, are there challenges with that? Do you enjoy that, and how do you expect the game to go for you?
ROBERT CARTWRIGHT: I think that means that both teams are well prepared. I think we're going to have a game plan for each other, and we know it's going to be a hard-fought game, probably relatively low scoring, and the team that executes the best both offensively and defensively will probably come out on top.

I'm not going to say that either team prefers playing against a team like that, but we go against each other every day in practice, so we know how to execute and we're definitely excited to get out there and just try to make the plays necessary to get this win.

MAX HAZZARD: Yeah, I mean, we're both defensive teams for the most part kind of like Rob was alluding to, it has the potential to be a low-scoring defensive game, but we don't want to get too caught up in what we do. We just want to play our game because it's been working for us. And I know it's a higher stage and bigger stage, but we do what we do. I like our chances.

Q. Max, when you look at this K-State defense, it is among some of the best in the country, in the Top 5 defensive efficiency, defensive scoring. What does that do for you in terms of your mindset coming into this game, facing a defense that tough?
MAX HAZZARD: Well, as a team we know we have to do a really good job of taking care of the ball, and we can't give them live ball turnovers, because, I mean, they're a really good defensive team. They're athletic, and they have a lot of good guys. Turnovers and fast breaks are really hard to guard.

But for me personally, I'm just going to come and play my game and do what I always do. I don't want to get too caught up about who's guarding me or what they're doing exactly. I'm just going to come out here and have some fun.

Q. For all of you guys, obviously you didn't play them last season. It's been a while back. Does that help you guys at all, or is something like that, so far long ago and teams have changed a little bit, that that's kind of out of sight, out of mind?
JONATHAN GALLOWAY: I feel like that plays a factor. Pretty much the same team from last year, and we're pretty much the same team from last year. But both teams have gotten a lot better. So we don't want to say that's a huge part of it, but that definitely plays a role in getting to know our opponent. But we'll be ready.

Q. Jonathan, I'll ask you, how much do you guys take from that game that you played last year? How much have you looked at the film, and how relevant is that just in preparing for this one?
JONATHAN GALLOWAY: It's relevant. We've looked over film a little bit, yesterday, and I'm sure we will today, too. But, yeah, we know what happened last year. We weren't really ready and we weren't as good as we are now. And so we just want to take what happened last year and just learn from it and get better, and we're going to use today to prepare for tomorrow's game.

Q. For Jonathan or any of the players here, what can you tell us about the Anteater, and how do you think your mascot stacks up against the other 63 in the field?
EVAN LEONARD: I think we stack up well, you know. It's very unique. It's very different, but, you know, we usually like to take off the "Ant" and just say "Eaters." So I feel like Eater Nation, stuff like that, is pretty cool.

JONATHAN GALLOWAY: Yeah, we got a one-of-a-kind mascot. I don't know any other school in the country that's got an anteater. So we're special, unique, and we take pride in that. We take pride in that.

Q. Robert, this one is for you. How easy or difficult was it for you to fit in with this group, and what kind of a role have you played? Because this team went from 18 and 17 to 30 and 5. A lot of good things happened there.
ROBERT CARTWRIGHT: Well, when you have great guys like the guys around me and everyone in the locker room as well as the coaching staff, it's been a really seamless transition for me. And just for everybody that joined the team, Collin, you know, we do a really good job of ingratiating everybody, and I've been very fortunate to be a part of this group, and I know I made the right decision coming here.

And we care about each other. We have each other's back, and we know we can trust each other on the court and off the court, and we believe in each other. And I think that's really strong. And when you have guys that believe in each other the way that we believe in each other, you see the results on the court, and that's why we've had, I believe, the success that we will have and tomorrow and we've had all season. So great group of guys, and I'm very fortunate to be a part of it.

Q. I'd like to ask Max a question. I'm curious as to the Barry Brown matchup. You know a little bit about him; he knows a little bit about you. Just kind of your feeling about it going in?
MAX HAZZARD: Yeah, I know he's a really good player. But I'm not really trying to get too caught up in a matchup. I mean, if I don't score, if I don't play well and we win, I'll be just as happy as if I have a really good night. And I truly do mean that. I really came here to advance, and we plan to do so. And I know they have a team of great players, as do we. So it should be fun tomorrow.

Q. This is for all of you guys. It's very unlikely and even Bruce Weber termed it "doubtful" that Dean Wade is going to play. So what I'm curious about is, is it mixed emotions for you guys and knowing that without him it makes it more likely that you guys can probably pull the upset; but the flip side of that is you want to measure yourself against the best, and he's an All-Big 12 First Team forward two years in a row?
TOMMY RUTHERFORD: I mean, he's a great player, and it makes a difference when he's not on the court, but we don't really focus on the matchup ahead. We just focus on what we're doing and we're preparing. And we honestly hope he plays, and we would have loved to played him at the strongest, and it would be a good challenge for us. And we're just looking forward to it.

Q. Tommy, when these brackets were released, everybody immediately looked at this matchup and everybody picked you guys to be the upset, that 13 over the 4 seed. How have you guys handled that I guess bar of expectation and the fact that some people are already picking you to be the, quote/unquote, Cinderella?
TOMMY RUTHERFORD: We've been handling it pretty well. We don't really focus on what other people are picking, like I said and what my teammates have said. We really just focused on preparation for the week and really focusing on what we can do to get us right to play tomorrow. And, you know, it's flattering that people are saying that, but it's -- we have to go do it, and we'll be playing a good team tomorrow. So you can't just assume it.

Q. Max, I'll ask you, last year, you guys had made a big jump from where you were last season. What to you is the biggest difference from the team K-State saw last year to the team they're going to play tomorrow?
MAX HAZZARD: At least for us, we're a lot more experienced, obviously we've added Rob, Collin Welp, JC and some other freshmen, and they've made amazing contributions.

Me personally, I've gotten healthy. Evan has gotten so much better, Galloway has gotten so much better, Tommy for that matter. I grew a beard. (Laughs.) It should be a fun matchup tomorrow for sure.

Q. Jonathan, this one for you. I guess I'll ask you because three-time Big West Defensive Player of the Year, you guys kind of hang your hat on defense. Not to give anything away, but what are the things that you feel like you guys need to do defensively tomorrow to shut K-State down, because they really like to get to the rim and are very aggressive?
JONATHAN GALLOWAY: It'll be very hard to shut them down, you know, they're a really good team, got really players. So they're going to get theirs. But we just gotta make it hard on them, and the key to that is just playing together and having each other's back.

Coach Turner is always talking about playing with one another and just being there for each other. I think that's the biggest key for us is playing as a unit and having each other's back.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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