March 12, 2005
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student athletes.
Q. Was that a little bit of payback for what they did to you all in Lubbock?
RONALD ROSS: It was definitely a good feeling to come back and get this win tonight against them because we knew they are a good team. If we played we knew we could compete and have an advantage to win. We just came and played for 40 minutes tonight and we won. It definitely is a good feeling.
JARRIUS JACKSON: We knew it was going to be an exciting game. We beat them up there and they beat us at home. This is kind of like the tiebreaker. We knew everybody was going to come out and be ready to play.
Q. What was the difference in this game than a week ago?
RONALD ROSS: We just kind of stuck with our game plan. Last week, I mean, they went off, they started shooting threes, making shots. We just started taking quick shots. We were just really just giving the game away. So we just kept things under control. We made the shots and shot the shots that we were capable of shooting. It really turned out good for us.
Q. What is the key in defending their guards?
RONALD ROSS: The key is like you want to make sure you get into them really because they are really good shooters. So I mean, if you don't get into them and you give them any room they are going to be knock it down and make you pay for it.
Q. What was the biggest point of emphasis at half-time? Was it them crashing the boards and getting 10 offensive rebounds or what did you talk about mainly at half-time?
RONALD ROSS: Yeah, I think rebounds played a big part of it. It was a matter of us like the guards not getting driven over the top into the middle, just not opening up things for them. We came out the second half and tried to eliminate some of the mistakes that we made in the first half.
Q. How big was the contribution by Damir today especially with Darrel getting in foul trouble?
JARRIUS JACKSON: I think Damir played, came up big this game. He had to play their toughest guy in the post. I think he came up big.
Q. You barely took a shot in the first ten minutes of the game. Were you having trouble getting into the flow or were they defending you well; what changed that?
RONALD ROSS: I just -- I realized I needed to get more involved, just cutting and moving, trying to set scenes, not being like standing around and watching the action. It's stuff that coach always tells me that I need to move and screen. I really wanted to be active and I think it really helped me in the second half.
Q. Everett ended up with some pretty good numbers. It seemed like you made him work for his points. What was the approach going into the game against him?
RONALD ROSS: Well, I knew I was going to be guarding him so I wanted to just play really intense D on him because he's a really good player he can make a lot of things happen. So I mean we didn't let him get off and score like a spree of points like back to back to back, if he scores like every now and then, so it was really just trying to contain him and make him give it up.
Q. It's been a while for you guys, nice to win back-to-back games?
JARRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, it feels kind of good right now to be in the Championship game tomorrow. We're going to come out ready to play. Be excited for it.
RONALD ROSS: Yeah, it is a great feeling to win back-to-back. If you keep winning, winning is a great feeling, I hope we can just keep it going.
Q. You guys were picked 7th or worse in the conference here, you are in the finals. Why do you think the people including the writers tend to underrate you?
RONALD ROSS: With the loss of Andre he scored a lot for us, he's a big part of Texas Tech over the years, so I mean with him leaving people probably didn't know what we could do. We came out and listened to coach, played as a team. It really doesn't change as long as you have got players that are able to be coached and execute the things that everybody wants to be done. I think that has helped us during the whole year.
Q. Considering you guys don't play a lot of people, will you have enough energy for a third game tomorrow?
RONALD ROSS: We have got to have energy for a third game. That's what we came here for, to play here on Sunday and be in that title game. It's just a great opportunity for us so hopefully we will take advantage of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Knight.
COACH BOB KNIGHT: I think as I mentioned after the game yesterday one of the things we discussed at the half was although yesterday we had 12 turnovers and today we had 7 in the first half, we talked about how much we improved our play in the second half yesterday by cutting down on our turnovers. We ended up in the second half today with just one turnover. That gave us a real opportunity to score with possessions. One of the things, and I think I mentioned this also yesterday, that has been difficult for us is just plain getting the ball in the basket. We get it around the bucket a lot and we don't get it in and I know when -- with about minute to play or whatever when Jackson missed a lay-up and it got back -- got back to him, and I kind of said thanks to the superior being looking over basketball, and when he missed the second one I think the superior being of basketball looked over at me and gave me the finger. When he missed the second one, I thought, boy, we got the break there. We ended up with two after missing. We still didn't get it. So anyhow, that would be the negative part of our play. I just wished that we could when we had the chance to get it in around the bucket, get it in. I think that again it was a game just like yesterday's game where I think both teams played very hard defensively. Points did not come easy with one or two exceptions. Both teams had to really work for them. I thought the biggest basket of the game was when we were up 7 and Everett hit that 3 because now if we can get the ball back with a 7-point lead and a chance to go up 9 then we have got a chance to end the game and boy -- and he actually, I thought, had to go up off balance. We had a lot of pressure on him. It was a heck of a shot that he made, and then that put it back into a situation where we have got to make some plays to be able to win. And we did. Part of our not losing the ball ended up in our having a chance, each of our last several possessions to shoot two free throws. And probably we ended up during that period of time making like out of two we probably made one and a half or 1.6 or 7, something like that. So that was a real key for us at the end. When we played a week ago today, they just blitzed us to start the second half. And made it very tough for us. In fact, didn't allow us at any point in the second half to get back in the ballgame. We were one down last week and we were 3 down at the half today and we really discussed about trying to just stay with it until we can get to the end and have a chance to win. So I am really pleased for these kids and they have done a lot of things, I think, this year. Certainly getting into the Championship game tomorrow is among them. Even with that, I was talking a little bit before the game and there's no greater opponent of post-season conference tournaments than I am or will there ever be. But it's here and we played right from the very beginning. When the brackets were set up we talked to our team about playing on Sunday. We said you have got a chance to play on Sunday if you play well. You are going to have to play well. You are going to be playing two good teams. You have got to play well and yet our goal is to play on Sunday. So as much as I hate these tournaments, I am glad that we got a chance to play on Sunday.
Q. You guys seemed to play a lot faster, pushed the ball up more in transition the second half. Was that by design or is that just something your guards felt?
COACH BOB KNIGHT: I think that they did a little bit more full court pick-up in the second half than they did in the first half. We wanted to get down right from the beginning and we didn't do a very good job of it in the first half. We wanted to play quick with patience. In the second half I think we were probably afforded more opportunities to play quickly than we were in the first half because of their full court pick-up and particularly in the last eight or nine minutes of the game. I think that again, playing against the kind of pressure that they can exert handling the ball the way that we did, was a really, really positive thing for us.
Q. Oklahoma had 10 offensive boards the first half and only two in the second. Was rebounding a real point of emphasis at half-time?
COACH BOB KNIGHT: Yeah, I mentioned, I think, rather subtly, that if anybody gave up an offensive rebound in the second half they'd be shot. (Laughter) message seemed to get through and don't have to shoot anybody.
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