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March 21, 2019

Bill Self

K.J. Lawson

Dedric Lawson

Salt Lake City, Utah

Kansas - 87, Northeastern - 53

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Kansas representatives to the stage. Congratulate the Jayhawks' coach Bill Self, Dedric Lawson, and KJ Lawson. We will ask the coach for a brief opening statement and then turn it open to questions to the student-athletes.

BILL SELF: I thought we came into the game with a great mindset and performed pretty well for the most part 40 minutes, defensively especially. I thought our ball screening and switching was better and it eliminated them getting a lot of uncontested looks so they could shoot the ball. It is one game, and certainly, you know, sets up a game in which we have to be as athletic and as in tune as we've been all year playing Auburn.

Q. Dedric, at a point in the second half when they'd cut it to seven points, you guys proceeded to outscore them 32-6 over an 11-minute stretch. What did you do specifically defensively that you were able to neutralize their perimeter shooting and shut down their offense during that key stretch?
DEDRIC LAWSON: We came out second half kind of lackadaisical, kind of comfortable, and our coach got us in a huddle and once he did, the guys realized the game was not over and we just locked down and guarded it. We switched forwards and made it tough on those guys and we did the best we could to give them the one shot, so that helped out a lot.

Q. Dedric, could you comment on KJ's performance and if you knew he was going to have a big game. KJ, could you comment on your game today? Were you intent to be a leader and break out today?
DEDRIC LAWSON: You say if I knew he was going to have a good game? I expect everyone to have a good game when we go out there. It doesn't always go that way.

He definitely came out aggressive. He played defense. He got some rebounds early. There was one particular play where the guy didn't stepped up and he got a lay-up and he came back in and got another lay-up. So I guess easy baskets can get you going in a game like this. And he played great tonight and we need everyone to step up, and tonight it was his calling.

KJ LAWSON: I think I had a solid performance. As a team we did a great job on defense. We had a bounce attack on the offensive end and everybody was assertive going downhill and trying to make guys guard and we were settling for threes early in the game. And once we settled in everybody was in attack mode and everybody had a great solid performance today.

Q. I was wondering if both of you could answer this: You watched this last year, the tournament run that Kansas went on, you were there for a front row seat. What was this like being out there today, finally getting to be your turn in this thing?
KJ LAWSON: It was a great moment. Being in that moment and watching those great guys that came before us, like Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte' Graham, and you want to be on the court with those guys. Actually being in the situation where we can play, it's a great feeling my first tournament game playing.

DEDRIC LAWSON: I went to bed early last night so the morning could come faster, so we could get out there and be a part of such a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to it for a long time...

Q. What time?
DEDRIC LAWSON: I went to bed 10:30, 10:45.

Q. How do you think you did regarding the three and was that mentioned so much this week that that was a big emphasis?
KJ LAWSON: We knew those guys have great players, great three-point shooters and the emphasis is those guys average 26 threes a game and they make ten. And we just tried to get to the shooter as quick as possible on the ball screen defense.

They're a great team and I wish them the best of luck.

DEDRIC LAWSON: Next season though. (Laughter.)

KJ LAWSON: Come on, bro. (Laughter.)

DEDRIC LAWSON: They did a decent job. The guy slipped between me and Q, No. 20 hit a shot, other than that, that was the only mishap personally. But as a team, we were locking in defensively. And the same thing for Saturday, another team, they shoot threes. It was a good preparing game for us.

THE MODERATOR: Anything more for student-athletes? We will dismiss Dedric and KJ and return to questions for Coach Self in just a moment. Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, KJ had 23 minutes tonight, that was match-up based coming in, did you know you were going to use him more or was it performance based?
BILL SELF: I think it was both. The fact that we knew that we were probably going to play small the vast majority of the game and when you look at it, we only have, what do we have, five perimeter players total. So naturally it was, if we're going to play small, four out of five are in the game -- maybe we have six. So, yeah, I didn't anticipate, you know, spreading the minutes out like we did, but he was on a roll and we were better with him in the game so it was a natural thing to do.

Q. Bill, you had that line the other week about your team being a bit like the "50 First Dates," the Drew Barrymore thing. Do you feel you have a better sense of what you might be able to expect after today? How much did today seemed you reached them and they were locked into the scouting report?
BILL SELF: I thought our guys were as locked in as they have been in a long time. One thing about Northeastern, it's so important to take away shots off the catch and make them try to score off the bounce, which will be totally different with Saturday because you've got to take away shots off the catch and be able to contain the ball so you don't force help everywhere.

Our guys were locked in pretty well. We didn't play great early offensively at all. I don't know when the 21-21 or 21-19, something like that, but after that point, after about the ten-minute mark in the first half, I thought we executed on both ends really well.

Q. (Off microphone.)
BILL SELF: I understand better what maybe we can expect tomorrow. But after practice who knows what that will mean for Saturday. I do think that we're playing the right way, even when we got our butts beat against Iowa South, I thought we played the right way, we just didn't finish plays and certainly didn't score the ball.

But tonight, the margin's misleading because we shot it really well late and they had some open looks that they didn't make that they normally make. But, overall, I do think that maybe we're getting an understanding of how we have to play to be successful.

Q. Coach, it is one possession, but that first defensive possession of the game where you get the long two and he doesn't draw, was that a positive sign? Did that help the mental state of your guys?
BILL SELF: First possession is probably too early. I do think it did help. They come back and really, of our first five or six defensive possessions, I'd say four of them were really good. The other two they made threes on.

But I did think that defensively we were so much better and I didn't feel like there was a lot of uncontested looks. Even when they made shots, I felt like we had a hand in their face and we didn't put ourselves in a situation where we were playing catch-up throughout the entire possession.

Q. Bill, you are used to this kind of performance from Dedric. Was his match-up perfect on how he performed today?
BILL SELF: Would you repeat that in English, please? No, I'm joking. Go ahead.

Q. And how it all played out was perfect for how he plays?
BILL SELF: The match-up -- Dedric is a hard match-up for folks. If you play small like they did, you have a guard guarding him. And if you play big, he can play away from the basket some.

Basically, Northeastern, Bill, is going to play four guards primarily so we tried to make it a conscious effort to throw it inside to him. We didn't do it enough. When we did, it certainly helped our cause quite a bit.

Q. Coach, you limited Vasa Pusica to 2 of 13 from the floor. What was the strategy to containing him and how was that so effective for you?
BILL SELF: (A) he missed some shots that he normally makes, so that's not really defense. Our whole game plan -- we went under one ball screen on him and he made a three. Our game plan was to hard edge him, make him change direction and certainly go over every ball screen and every dribble handoff, and the switching helped us do that.

Q. It seemed like there were two time-outs at least during which the tone changed a bit after you guys came back out. I think you guys had not been going inside much, maybe the second timeout. So I wonder if that was a point of emphasis? Could you expand on Dedric's point about being lackadaisical the first two minutes.
BILL SELF: I thought Dedric had Q wide open on an uncontested lob the first possession of the half and he underthrew it by ten feet. Terrible. He is our best passer. Then we gave up a couple looks. It goes from 12 to 7 and Q, he made one basket, but he made the biggest basket of the game getting it back to ten and Dedric made a three after that. So we had been outplayed the first three minutes of the second half and we gained one point in the margin.

So I thought those were probably the two biggest offensive possessions. After that, we got on a good roll. We moved the ball well offensively second half.

Q. (Off microphone.)
BILL SELF: I thought we were jacking around. The half-time is long. And I still don't know the guys totally understand the importance of every minute and every possession in an NCAA tournament game. I felt like we allowed them to believe that they could certainly play with us and at that point in time, they definitely were.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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