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April 3, 2004

Joey Graham

John Lucas

Sean Sutton


JOHN GERDES: We'll ask that the head coach make an opening statement, then the first questions will be taken for the student athletes.

COACH SUTTON: My congratulations to Georgia Tech. I thought the game from our standpoint was lost in the first 20 minutes. Seemed like we were playing catch-up after that. When it was 22-22, I think they ran -- outscored us 10-2. But at halftime, I thought we would come back - our defense had been so poor in the first half - and it did. Our defense was much better after the first two possessions of the second half, I thought our defense was very good. But offensively, it was better, as well, but we just never could get over the hump. But they're a very good basketball team.

JOHN GERDES: Questions first for Joey Graham or John Lucas.

Q. John, can you talk about the gamut of motions in the last 20 seconds, hitting the big shot, then not getting the stop on the other end?

JOHN LUCAS: You know, I'm just hurt right now. I just put all the blame on me. I was supposed to lock up, and I didn't. That's basically all you can say. Doesn't matter if I hit the shot, I didn't do my part on the other end.

Q. Either player, anything surprise you about Georgia Tech, some of the things they did? Luke Schenscher seemed to have a big game against you. Were you surprised?

JOEY GRAHAM: I think they shot the ball very well from the beginning of the game. Like coach said, I thought we were playing catch-up the rest of the way. You know, Schenscher, however you pronounce his name, he did a great job in the posts. He was able to catch the ball in the middle and just turn the shot, a lot of easy buckets for them.

Q. Joey, it seemed like it took you a long time to prevent him from getting the ball. Was that an emphasis that you had early on or was it not something you concentrated on till later?

JOEY GRAHAM: That was one of the things we had in the scouting report, was to prevent him from catching the ball in the low post. We didn't do a very good job of that. He converted those bad possessions we had into buckets.

Q. We know what went on in the Georgia Tech huddle that last time-out. How about your huddle, what was discussed? Are you surprised that Bynum ended up being the guy with the last shot?

JOHN LUCAS: Coach was just saying, "We need this possession. Lock up." If we go into overtime, we go into overtime. We just needed to stop it. It just didn't happen like that.

Q. Can you talk about how long this is going to stick in your minds? Can you talk about next season, what this experience will do for you guys coming back?

JOHN LUCAS: It's going to be in my mind all summer. You know, just show me how much I need to work on. For next year, it's going to be a lesson learned, that we got to come out and attack from the get-go. We don't need to be playing catch-up, we need to go ahead and take the lead and keep the lead.

Q. Joey, could you describe in detail what makes Schenscher so tough when he does get the ball and how he gets the ball?

JOEY GRAHAM: Well, he's a pretty long player. He's seven foot, got long arms, long wingspan. When he posts up, he just shoots right over the top of our defense. Our lack of height, lack of size on the posts, it's a disadvantage sometimes when we're against a lot of taller players. He did a great job for the Georgia Tech team.

Q. Is there a feeling that maybe Georgia Tech beat you at your own game with their great lock-down defense, Tony Allen getting only five shots, which is very rare for y'all?

JOHN LUCAS: They played good defense. The first half, we just didn't execute our plays. Like coach said, we was playing catch-up the whole time. The second half we was better at executing the plays, but we had to catch up. We never had the lead. For Tony to only get five shots, that is weird.

JOEY GRAHAM: They did a great job on defense. I think they start off the game pretty hot. Our defense was lacking. We came down, we didn't execute as well the first half, like John said. The second half we came out executing a little better our plays. But our defense, we just had to play catch-up the rest of the game, and we couldn't do that.

JOHN GERDES: Thank you for joining us. We'll get you back to your locker room. We'll now take questions for Coach Sutton.

Q. Defending Lewis in the first half, what was the difficulty there? Was it just not getting off screens?

COACH SUTTON: Well, you know, he is a great shooter. I think he was second in the ACC percentage-wise as a 3-point shooter. We debated before the game how we would cover people. We thought that Jack, it was so important to contain him. We thought maybe either with Tony or with Daniel, it would be the way to go. John has really been doing a good job on stand-still shooters against the teams we played in the NCAA, some of the teams we played in our conference. But he was just so slow getting to Lewis, and so finally we had to take him off of Lewis. John had a hard time all day as far as defending. I'm not sure I've seen him play defense as poorly as he did today, because when we put him on a penetrator, then he couldn't contain him. I know how John feels. It was just a real tough afternoon for him. I thought the other thing that somebody asked a question about Schenscher. One reason he can catch the ball against us, we were giving away so much size. I mean, it's hard for McFarlin or Crawford or Joey to cover a guy that big if you let him get that deep. And that was one of the keys in the ballgame, was to try to push him off the low post, because he's not very effective if you can get him six feet away from the basket. But we just did a very poor job of fronting him and denying him the basketball. From talking to different people, evidently he's really improved the last third of the season. But I thought that was a major key. I thought our inability to hit free-throws in the second half really hurt us. Did a great job in preventing the number of second opportunities for them. I thought rebounding would really be a key in the ballgame. As it turned out, you know, we out-rebounded them and limited them to seven offensive rebounds. But I thought our inability to contain dribblers, to get off to the start where we let Lewis have all those points. Second half we shut him out. He got in foul trouble,, but still he got no points. Then I thought their defense was good. I thought they did a nice job on John and on Tony, the two guys that have led us in scoring this season.

Q. To follow-up on containing a penetrator, Lucas is very harsh on himself about that last game-winning play. Could you add to it from an X and O standpoint, how you think the play happened.

COACH SUTTON: Well, all he did was really -- and I think Paul was probably correct, in just allowing one of their good guards, whether it's Jack, Bynum, whoever they wanted to, because we hadn't been doing a good job in containing penetration. What we tell our players is to just keep the guy in front of you. I mean, John didn't do a very good job, but he didn't get any help either. Somebody on the help-side of the floor should have come over and helped him a little bit there at the end. But Bynum, he hit a good shot. We just didn't execute our defense like they're taught.

Q. We were hearing earlier that Bynum almost transferred to Oklahoma State. How close was that? What was that situation?

COACH SUTTON: I think it came down once he made the decision to leave the University of Arizona, it came down between Georgia Tech and us. There was an indication one time he was going to come, and then I think he indicated to them, so he was up in the air. Had he come to Oklahoma State, though, we probably wouldn't have gotten Lucas. Because I think Bynum wanted to be a point guard, and I'm not sure at Arizona he could see he would be. So, you know, he made a good decision. Georgia Tech's a good program. He's been very instrumental in their success this year.

Q. Can you just talk about what they were doing to get Tony out of his game, how much that hurt you in the first half, him playing only 11 minutes?

COACH SUTTON: Tony committed a couple of dumb fouls. I mean, I thought that was the other thing. We didn't play as smart as we normally do. But I thought they really did a good job just in denying him the basketball. He got in foul trouble. That always takes away a little bit of your initiative, when you get three fouls. But he just didn't have a good day. But you have to give him a lot of credit. He only hit five shots. That means they're keeping the ball away from him.

Q. Can you describe your personal disappointment from your standpoint? Is this your last game at Oklahoma State?

COACH SUTTON: No, it's not my last game. But I am disappointed because I think we're a little bit better. I always judge teams -- If you play a series, I think we're a little bit better than Georgia Tech, if we played a series, but we weren't in the game that counted. If we played Duke or Connecticut, I think they would beat us in a series, I think they're better than we are. I'm disappointed now. About a month from now when I look back on the season we had, it was a marvelous year, when you win the round-robin, the tournament, the Big-12, you sweep Oklahoma twice, you beat Texas three times, you beat Arkansas, our neighbor. These kids, with 31-4, that's a tremendous season. Yes, when you get here, I thought we could get to the championship game. I knew if we got to the championship game, we would have to play maybe the best game of the year, because I think both Connecticut and Duke are a little bit better than we are.

Q. With the way John was struggling defensively tonight, was there any consideration to putting Spoon in?

COACH SUTTON: We started to put Spoon in, we sure did. You can always second guess yourself because Spoon is a better defender than John. If we had to do it over again, I'd probably put Spoon in.

JOHN GERDES: Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations on a tremendous season.

COACH SUTTON: Thank you.

End of FastScriptsÂ….

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