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March 21, 2021

Scott Drew

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Lucas Oil Stadium - Unity Court (South)

Baylor Bears

Postgame Media Conference

Baylor 76, Wisconsin 63

THE MODERATOR: Why don't we get started with your opening comments.

SCOTT DREW: Well, first and foremost, really impressed with our guys as far as their preparation and coming into the game knowing how hard it was going to be to beat Wisconsin. We saw how well they played against North Carolina. Such an older, mature senior-laden group. We knew they didn't want to go home. Really knew that our guys were locked in through the scouting, and I thought we'd play well.

Now, four turnovers and 15 assists, I didn't know we'd play that well, but that's a really good number against a really good team.

Q. When you look at the tournament, you saw what happened to VCU yesterday and the COVID pauses happening at different times, when you guys went on that late-season pause, did you have sort of a long-term thought that maybe -- to have it happen right then might benefit you in the long run? As you look back on it now, do you feel like you're building back toward where you were before that?

SCOTT DREW: You sound like me, an optimistic guy because when the pause hits your first instinct is, we're in trouble, and especially a 21-day one. But I was thinking the exact same thing you were, and that's if and when we could play long enough, it would help us from the standpoint when you're away from the game for three weeks, you're watching everyone else play, it makes you hungrier to be back together and to be playing.

I do think now that we're back where we were prior to the pause defensively. I think it is -- I mean, like in our team room and when we spend time with each other, it's a blessing. No one is on each other's nerves or anything because February can be a grind during the season, and we did have some time away and got to reflect and say, man, it's really fun to play rather than watch everyone else play.

At the same time, there is no book, there is no guarantee how you're going to come back, when you're going to come back and if you're going to be able to make it far enough to where it can pay off. Right now I think defensively the last two games we're a lot better than we were prior to them.

Q. To get a win against a good team but with such a drastic style difference than anything you guys have seen this season, does that relieve some nerves that you guys might have between games going into the Sweet 16?

SCOTT DREW: I don't think anything relieves nerves during March Madness. Nobody wants to stop playing. No one wants to go home. In a quick prep playing against an offense that you haven't seen and they run it so well, they don't beat themselves, a lot to be concerned about. But I think the preparation our guys put into the game is where the game was won for us, and hats off to -- we have a player-led team. Those guys buy in. They were locked in. And that gave us a chance to be good today.

Q. How special was this win to get back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in a while and the first time with really anybody who's on this roster now?

SCOTT DREW: Well, I can tell you, being back in the NCAA Tournament after last year and so many people not having a chance to experience it, but so many new guys, because I mean, a lot of times people that are playing a lot of minutes are upperclassmen, so they graduate. If they're younger, usually they turn pro. So a lot of first-year guys in the NCAA Tournament, so a lot of jitters, a lot of nerves in that first game. I thought this game we had settled down a lot more.

Everyone is really excited. You grow up living with college basketball, March Madness is what it's all about, and it's such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Q. You weren't at times playing your best basketball in the second half, but every time Wisconsin cut it to seven, you guys were able to answer. What does that say about this team?

SCOTT DREW: Well, first and foremost, when we had that lead at halftime, we went in the locker room and great teams don't go away, and Wisconsin we knew was going to make numerous runs. They weren't going away. But I thought our players, like you said, every time they had a big shot or we needed a big play, our guys came up with it.

At the end of the day, very similar to the end of the half, they hit that three and then Adam hits that three, and we did a great job answering today. And that was a big momentum play with Adam's three before the half. It was a great pass by Davion, too, to pitch ahead instead of just chucking it up like a lot of times people do.

Q. You mentioned before the last game you thought there were some nerves. Did you see more of a comfort level today, especially it seemed to really show during the second part of the first half where everything was really going well?

SCOTT DREW: Most definitely. I mean, with four turnovers, normally nerves lead to turning the ball over, and I thought our guys did a great job taking care of the basketball. Every coach in the country would take four turnovers and smile every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Q. John picks up his third foul in the first half. What did Matt Mayer's ability to switch screens defensively give you today?

SCOTT DREW: Well, Matt was huge with Jon in foul trouble, and again, you've got to have depth and you've got to have multiple scorers. We have a lot of people capable of getting us 20, and it's not your night every night. MaCio has been on a tear. Tonight he didn't shoot it as well and that's the great thing about having depth - different people to pick players up. We have guys that really do a good job creating for others, too. If they're not shooting, they can defend and they can help us in other ways.

Q. What do you see defensively that's so different today and in your first tournament game maybe compared to the end of the regular season?

SCOTT DREW: Well, when we first came back after that three-week pause, basically it was 14 days, we played six games. I think we were on the road nine of 14 days, traveled like 3,500 miles. So you're just prep, play, recover, prep, play, recover, and there's no practice time. So we never really had a chance, and if you look at it, let's say you shoot one time in three weeks, you're not going to be a good shooter. Well, same thing with defense. And defense is 5-on-5, so it's rotations. It's kind of like trying to run your offense or set plays with going one-on-O. Your timing is all off.

So defensively we had a lot of errors, a lot of breakdowns, and we really needed after that Oklahoma State loss in the Big 12 tournament, we really needed some practice days. Really attribute our success of coming back to our upperclassmen. It's a player-led team. They bought in. We need today practice well. We needed to practice hard. We needed to get better. A lot of times coaches can say we need to do something, but if players don't give 100 percent and they're not bought in, it doesn't work. They really got better, and our defensive rotations, our defensive errors are way down compared to where they were when we came back from the pause.

Q. If you look at the box score really even across the board, with the one exception of points off turnovers where you guys outscored them by 14 which turned out to be the difference, what was the key to your defense especially when they start off on that pretty hot 7-2 and at the end when they're trying to make one last push?

SCOTT DREW: Well, I think it starts with Davion up front and then we have guys that are all bought in to try to apply as much ball pressure as possible and make things as difficult as possible. Because of that, I think Wisconsin runs their offense so well, a lot of times with their movement they get just easy looks and easy buckets. Because of our guys' intensity, we tried to make it -- minimize those. You're never going to shut out a great team like Wisconsin, but you just want to make things as difficult as possible. Very similar to in football, if you've got a great quarterback, you'd better put a lot of pressure on them, otherwise they're going to be just running offense, and I thought our pressure really helped us.

Q. It looked like your guys were having fun out there today. How important is it for them to be able to stay loose and continue to enjoy themselves even as the stakes get higher and higher?

SCOTT DREW: Most definitely at the end of the day it is just a game and even though there's so much at stake, as coaches I think we miss it if we get them too tight that they can't enjoy this experience. We try to do our best to keep them loose, make sure they have fun along with being focused and into the moment. But that's where you have an upperclassman, when a coach is uptight they can say, hey Coach, we've got this, and I believe them because they've had it. Sometimes they keep us having fun.

But as a parent, as a coach, when you see your guys having fun, it's just like Christmastime. Kids open presents, they're happy, you're happy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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