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April 2, 2019

Shaka Smart

New York, New York

Texas 58, TCU 44

COACH SHAKA SMART: Played with great energy, continued to have a commitment to defense. I told the guys before the game, you know, with don't want to stop playing. We want to play one more after tonight, TCU, really gotten the better of us the last two times we played. Our guys were really motivated to beat them and it started on the defensive end. That was huge.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: I thought our guys did a good job. I told them before the game, just shake it out. Loosen up. First time playing in the Garden for a vast majority of those guys, and then coming out of halftime, we knew that TCU was going to make a run, make some shots.

They have a really good team,, and when we called time-out and I told the guys, you've got to change the look on your face. You've got to get back to being the aggressors, and they did. Again, started on the defensive end. Any time that you can hold a team to 17 points in a half is huge, and follow that up with a pretty good second half.

Q. What adjustments did you make?
COACH SHAKA SMART: Biggest adjustment mentally was just the aggressiveness, the mind-set we wanted to have.

In terms of basketball, the biggest adjustment for us was transition defense. The last game against them on March 9 -- got way too many points in transition and I thought for the most part our guys did a really good job of getting back and taking that away and making them play the halfcourt.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: Yeah, you know, he's played pretty well coming off the bench, and I thought tonight he played a really good, efficient game, other than the free throws. He gets so mad at himself -- other than that, he played very, very efficient. Got in the paint, was able to find some teammates and get the other team in a little bit of foul trouble and that's what we need from him, whether he's starting or coming off the bench. He's obviously our leading scorer and he's a guy that has a level of athleticism to get by his man and get the defense, and he did a good job tonight.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: It was actually the exact same coverage that we talked about coming into the last game. The guys executed it way better. It's amazing what happens when the guys just take the level of ownership and pride and doing exactly what they have to do with the patrol. Part of it was last time, Jaxson got a little confused, he's a little overwhelmed with the pick-and-roll, and tonight it was mostly Jericho and Dylan and those guys did a good job of giving as much help as they could but not allow as much -- creating baskets.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: Well, the biggest thing for Courtney is his competitive spirit and he really gives our team an unbelievable jolt with the way that he approaches the game and the fact that he's just about winning. You know, you wouldn't really be able to tell that he had not scored a basket the way that he was fighting and playing. He threw the ball -- something we've got to keep working to get better at but I thought he did do a really good job of bringing aggressiveness on the defensive end and really finding his teammates with open shots.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: We ran a lot of plays for him just because we could tell early on that he had a burst that he sometimes has to him, but we definitely wanted him to be aggressive. He was unusually, or unusually nervous last night and today. He kept hounding us in the gym to go and get extra shots, in addition to the shoot around that we had. I told him, just drive the ball, man, it's what you do well, and he did a good job of that tonight.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: Yeah, he's terrific. We played them last year, actually, at our place and they have all their guys back from that team. You know, there's a reason that they won 29 games. Casey has done a phenomenal job with the team but Mathews, he can really, really score the basketball. We're going to have to do a better job on him not letting him get open looks. They do a terrific job running offense and moving as a team, a lot of backdoors, a lot of movement, a lot of screen action off the ball.

So quick turnaround; guys need to get a lot of rest tonight, and then tomorrow we dive into that preparation.

Q. (No mic.)
COACH SHAKA SMART: Yeah, it was tough for our team when he went out. It was certainly tough for him. He was really, really down and disappointed in himself. But I told him, I said, you're going to get to play again, so it's all about how you respond when you get back out there on the floor.

I thought my first game in this tournament, and in our conference tournament games, he was a little bit sluggish. He wasn't all the way back to being himself but our last three games, he's been terrific and very, very aggressive and defended at a good level, which is what you want from a senior at the end OF the year.

But it's certainly not a given and you don't take it for granted, and it says a lot about how he responded after being out.

Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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