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March 9, 2023

Dana Altman

Keeshawn Barthelemy

Jermaine Couisnard

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Oregon Ducks

Postgame Press Conference

Oregon - 75, Washington State - 70

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions.

DANA ALTMAN: Well, it was a heck of a game. I had put on the board before the game it's going to be a 40-minute fight. Got a lot of respect for Washington State, really experienced guards that can all shoot it. Gueye is a handful inside.

So we knew it was going to be a tough game. We got the big lead in the first half and I made a mistake letting 'em get that 10-0 run. I should have taken a timeout during that period. That really changed the momentum of the game. It went from 17, 18 points to eight there at the half.

And then they came out and, again, their experience, their skill level is so good. I thought we got a little tentative. They made a move and I thought our offense got a little tentative. So we're fortunate to win. I thought Dante made two really big defensive plays down the stretch. I think it was tied 70-70 with 3:40 to go. We didn't give up any more buckets, but I thought Dante was instrumental in that.

Kee hit some big buckets, shoot almost 80 percent from the line. So we did what we had to do to advance. It could have been a little easier. We made some mistakes there and gave them a couple 3s there right before half that really got their momentum going.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Do you have any status on Dante yet and how he looks for tomorrow?

DANA ALTMAN: Well, I think he's moving okay. The trainers were working on him in the locker room just now. I think I understood him right when he said he was okay. Sometimes he's a little hard to understand.

Those were two really big defensive plays. He was worried about the turnover that he had, but the deflection and steal that he got and then the big block, I thought were really key for us.

But to answer your question, I think he'll be okay. He was moving okay and the trainers were looking at him there. So sure hope he's okay. He's a big, big part of our team.

Q. In any other setting imagining blowing a 19-point lead probably leads to quite a film study, but given the setting, talk about is survive and advance, what do you say to the team post-game in terms of when it's preparing for tomorrow and that challenge when that's part of it, but also in some of those huge moments for Kee down the stretch?

DANA ALTMAN: Well, I don't know -- we did make some mistakes, but this is a team that has hit 14 threes on six different occasions and leads the league in three-point shooting. No league's safe with them. We knew that. I kept reminding the guys, Fella's, two or three threes change this game really quick and it did. I know at one time in the start of the second half they went 6-9. A couple of 'em were really guarded, a couple of 'em they got us in transition.

So, yeah, we made some mistakes, but I think blowing a 19-point lead is a little strong when you have a team that leads the league in three-point shooting and is always a threat. They hit 11 on us tonight. Even when they didn't shoot it well the first half, they went 5-12, and then second half 6-11.

So again, they lead the league and they've got five guys who shoot it over 35 percent, two guys that shoot it over 40. No lead's ever safe with them, and they have proven that throughout the year.

Q. Keeshawn, there was a point mid-second half it started getting hard to come by and they were closing the gap and tensions were rising. You hit a couple baskets there over that stretch. Can you talk about just trying to find shots there and create some points for your team?

KEESHAWN BARTHELEMY: Yeah, I felt like I got away from my aggressiveness a little bit in the beginning of the second half, but my teammates were there for me and they allowed me to do what I do. At the end of the day we got stops because if Washington State can't score as many points as us, then they can't win. So that's what really matters down the stretch.

Q. The last three minutes of the game you held them without any points. You talked a lot about the season, 70 points or less for your defense. Just what did you make of your final three or four minutes of defense, giving you a chance to win.

DANA ALTMAN: Well, obviously, it was really important. We haven't won a ball game when we haven't held anybody, all 18 of our wins previous we held 'em under 70 points. So when they got the offense going in the second half, I was concerned because Will wasn't scoring well and Jermaine didn't shoot it well. They were doubling Dante, which took away a little of his effectiveness, although he made some pretty good passes out of there.

So, no, we know what we've got to do. We've got to out-rebound people and we've got to defend. We haven't been successful against UCLA twice because they out-rebounded us. They got us in the second half. We led both games at half and they just out-rebounded us the second half. So we're going to have to do a better job there and we're just going to have to have a much better second half.

You look at the numbers, we held 'em to 34 percent from the field the first half, and then they shot 54 or 56 the second half. So our defense in the second half's got to be better.

Q. Your bench outscored theirs 28-3. Keeshawn was such a big part of that, especially when Dante felt neutralized. Can you talk about Keeshawn's night, how much of a role it was and how your bench was able to outscore theirs by that much.

DANA ALTMAN: Well, Keeshawn, first of all, you know, for a guy to accept, to come off the bench and be a spark plug, I mean, he played starters minutes, he played 30 minutes, but for him to take a role and accept it and he hasn't complained about it one time. He's all about the team. And he's had some big offensive games and he's had some games where he hasn't shot it quite as well, and that's on nights that we need him to defend and use his quickness because he is our quickest player.

But his offensive aggressiveness down the stretch, they went to a zone, we were down three and we ran a little pick play for him and he popped up there and knocked it down and got to the rim a couple times. So no, his aggressiveness was really good. He could have hit that free throw and given us a four-point lead instead of keeping it at three, but other than that he did a pretty good job.

He's improved his defense, but I think there's a lot more there. He's got a gear that a lot of guys don't have and I hope he gets a little stronger and really uses that gear defensively. But offensively tonight we were stagnant at times and he really popped up and made some plays.

Q. As up and down as the season's been you've got a big opportunity tomorrow. How will you approach the next 24 hours with your guys?

DANA ALTMAN: Well, it's the next game. We really got to focus. UCLA's really well coached. They're really talented. They have got a couple freshmen that are really good and they got a couple three vets that are really, really good. So we know we got our work cut out for us. I don't think we'll approach it any differently than we have. We'll look at the last two times we've played 'em, what we can improve upon, what adjustments we can make, and try to come up with a better plan and then try to execute it a little better.

But they're a good basketball team. Mick does a great job. I've known him for more years than either one of us want to admit, and they're just, they're well coached, they guard, they rebound, they know what they want offensively, and they got the most valuable player in the league. When they got in trouble at our place, he just took the game over.

So we're going to have to come up with a better plan and try to slow him down and slow the whole team down. But it's a big challenge, but I think our guys are looking forward to it. And it has been an up-and-down year. You see tonight these guys, what did you miss, 14, 15 games? And you missed 12. You know, where would we have been without 'em tonight. So it's good to have most of our team back. Brennan broke his finger and is out and Ethan is redshirting, but we've got 10 scholarship athletes, which is the most we've had all year.

I thought Lok Wur gave us some good minutes. Kel'el stepped up. He's had a couple really good ball games here where he was, he went through a stretch there he just, no physicality. But I thought he did a great job tonight, was physical and played well.

Q. What is the poise, what's going through your mind on some of those free throws? And then tomorrow probably drawing Bailey on the matchup quite a bit. He had a career day today, the matchup with Bailey tomorrow.

JERMAINE COUISNARD: My whole thought process was I knew I wasn't making outside shots, so just get myself going, be aggressive at the rim. I know they didn't have a shot blocker, so I just kept trying to be aggressive and get to the rim. Just ready for the challenge.

DANA ALTMAN: He did play good today. We were watching the game and he was awfully explosive.

Q. Wondered if you can look nationally for a minute and why do you think that this season, kind of heading into the tournament, it just seems like it's so wide open and there doesn't seem to be any clear favorite. Some very good teams have questions and it seems like it's more so than in past years and just wondering what you, if you see any underlying reasons why that might be.

DANA ALTMAN: Well, I'm not sure if this is a big factor or not, but there's just so many more older teams that I think it kind of balances things out. Just like these two guys, both -- I'm doing a little recruiting here, they both have a year left, a couple years in Keeshawn's case, and you know, but that's, that experience, having them back would be, but there's a lot of those teams, you know, guys that are 22, 23 years old.

So I think that balances the power out a little bit. You take UCLA, and it seems like Tyger Campbell has been there forever. So I just think there's a lot of old teams, which balances things out a little bit. And we went through injuries, we played a real tough non-conference schedule, and so we didn't get off to the start we wanted. These guys missed time. We got down to six, seven guys for awhile.

I think there's some other teams now, UCLA had Clark go down, which is really sad. I mean, I want to win the game and everything, but man, what a defensive presence. I love the way he plays. This is a good dog. I mean, he is a dog defensively. And I feel bad for him because I know what injuries do to a team.

So to answer your question, I think there's a lot of old teams. I think that balances it out. I think there's more parity. I agree with you, I think it's wide open, a lot of teams have a chance. I don't think there's a dominant team. I think our league's underrepresented just because we don't get to see it. I think Arizona State's really good. I think USC is better than people give credit for. I think we're better than people give us credit for.

Washington State definitely, you saw what they did the last seven in a row, winning seven games in a row, and see how skilled they are. So we didn't get off to a great start as a conference because of injuries, because of some things, but I think we've got some teams playing really well now and I hope UCLA can make some noise. They're going to get in. Arizona is going to make some noise. USC is in. Us and Arizona State working hard to try to get in. So hopefully our league will make some noise.

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