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March 10, 2006

JamesOn Curry

Byron Eaton

Sean Sutton


COACH SEAN SUTTON: I was really proud of our team's effort second half the way they fought back and got the lead and got us in position to have a chance to beat a very good team. I think Kansas right now is legitimate Sweet 16 type team, maybe further.
But the two areas that have been a continuing problem all season long showed up again tonight. We have been able to get our defense better down the stretch, improved offensively, but the two areas where we have continued to struggle turning the basketball over and scoring droughts, and both those showed up at key times tonight. It happened in the first half for about a 10-minute stretch, then it happened once we pulled back up by one point. You can't turn it over 22 times and shoot 38 percent and expect to beat a good basketball team.
Q. JamesOn, was that a war out there?
JAMESON CURRY: Yeah, it was a war, man, tough game. Real aggressive and I think both teams played real hard. We just came up on the short end of the scoreboard.
Q. What accounts for the scoring slumps during a ball games in your opinion?
JAMESON CURRY: Just taking care of the ball, getting a shot at it, you know. It's all right when you have a scoring drought when you are missing shots, but when you have a scoring drought you turn it over and you're wasting possessions, and Coach is real critical at that, don't waste possessions. At least you get a shot at it because if you shoot it, you get a shot at getting a rebound, loose ball, anything of that matter. But if you don't get a shot, you just turn the ball over, no shot at all.
Q. JamesOn, you guys still haven't learned how to win close games, but looks like you have really learned how to compete. Can you talk about your fighting attitude in the last three and four weeks?
JAMESON CURRY: Yeah. We got better as a whole team, became more unified and showed a lot of confidence and grit. And some of those games we couldn't pull out, but some of them we had pulled out at the end. It's just a learning process.
I think that we all agree it's been kind of a disappointing season, but we've matured a little later than, say, Kansas, which was a young team also, matured a little earlier than we did. But we matured a little later. I think if we was playing this way about three, four weeks ago, we would have been in NCAA tournament and we would be a dangerous team also
Q. How much do you have to credit Kansas's defense for you guys to score --
JAMESON CURRY: Kansas is a great defensive team. Great all-around rebounding, playing defense, offensive end, they forced some tough shots and have quick hands.
COACH SEAN SUTTON: In my opinion they are the best defensive team that we have played all year long. They gave us serious problems both times we played them.
Q. This is going to put you in the NIT in all likelihood. You said it's a disappointing season. Are you disappointed that you are going to be in the NIT and what do you feel you can accomplish there?
JAMESON CURRY: Ultimately little disappointed because beginning of the season we had goals set to get in the NCAA tournament. But there's something always positive out of it. You look at a team last year that won it, Memphis, and this year they are going to be a one or two seed team in the NCAA tournament.
So it's proving grounds for us as a team and going down there and getting better and better and preparing for next year because I think we're bringing back 95% of scoring, 99% of rebounding, some big number like that, so it's a great opportunity for our team to go down there and get better and start getting ready for next season.
Q. How big of an issue is it and how much do you guys talk about trying to get two more wins to get Eddie to number 800?
JAMESON CURRY: I think it is very important. Coach Sutton had a great coaching career, still has one, and that's a milestone that we would help like to be a part of and help him reach it, and it is real important.
BYRON EATON: I mean, just coming into the season that was one of our goals to get Coach Sutton his 19 that he needed to get into the Hall of Fame. Hopefully we still can get that goal this year if we make it to the NIT tournament, go in there just play like we have been playing these past few weeks and get the two wins for Coach and try to get the (indiscernible) to get into the NIT Championship.
Q. Did you enjoy the physical nature of the game? Did you think that gave you guys an advantage?
BYRON EATON: I say it was kind of -- it was like a -- we both had a lot of fans here, I mean, just can't really say it was the fans that made the game go like that.
Q. (No microphone).
BYRON EATON: No, I can't really say.
COACH SEAN SUTTON: I think that's the way it should be, when these two teams play. That's the way it's gone through the years, talking about two of the most successful programs the last 15 years in college basketball, there's been some great games through the years. And I said last night that the two games last year were two of the best games I have ever been a part of.
Q. How would you rank this game compared to those two last games?
COACH SEAN SUTTON: Well, I think in terms of effort and defense probably measured up. I don't think offensively either team played as well as the two games last year. I think the game in Allen Fieldhouse was 81 to 79 and the game in Kemper was 78 to 75. So probably wasn't as well played at the offensive end, but just as well defensively. Just as much in terms of grit and effort.
Q. It seems like it's really difficult to prepare for Kansas defensively, to prepare for as many long athletic bodies that they have. What makes them so good defensively?
COACH SEAN SUTTON: Well, really well drilled and well coached and -- but I think the biggest thing, until you see them in person it's just how fast they are and how active their hands are. First game they had 16 stills, tonight they had 12. And just I think their overall team speed at every position causes a lot of problems.
Q. The final play there, happened right in front of you guys on the bench. Your thoughts on whether or not you thought a foul should have been called, then the free throw discrepancy, 3 to 1 for KU?
COACH SEAN SUTTON: Well, you know, I can't answer on the last -- on the first question. I thought Jamel -- and I am not sure the other player was -- a good job of trying to prevent the ball from going inbounds and got themselves in position and probably a judgment call.
But in terms of free throws, they did a better job of getting the ball inside and we have said all season long to our guys, the team that shoots the most free throws is normally going to win. And they got there 30 times, we got there 10. We had opportunities when the ball got inside and we didn't really attack the basket like we should have. We settled for turnaround jump shots and Kansas does a good job with their post defense. They really wall up and get up right next to you and make you have to finish plays off over the top. And it was a major factor in the game.
Q. Obviously the NCAA is your ultimate goal. With the NIT forthcoming, is this the kind of team that can use an NIT to gel, is that would be one of the positives to that?
COACH SEAN SUTTON: Well, one of the things that we really hoped would happen with this year's team is that we would have a chance to go to the NCAA tournament for the 9th time in a row. I think we have the 6th longest streak in the country. To win 20 games for 9th straight year, I told them afterwards that I am disappointed that it's not going to happen for you but at the same time the NIT is an opportunity to play more basketball, it is a chance to compete for a Championship, if you can win three games you get to go to New York City and play in one of the great venues in all of sports and pointed out the fact that Memphis last year won the NIT and has come back this season probably going to be a number one seed.
So I think with this team we would love to have the chance to play in the NCAA. I just hoped that we get a chance to play in the NIT and keep playing and keep improving.
Q. JamesOn said that he thought maybe the Kansas -- you guys were both young, they matured quicker than you guys did. Is that true and can you talk about your maturity as the season has gone where you are at now?
COACH SEAN SUTTON: I agree with that. They struggled out the gate early and I think one time they were 3 and 4. And have won 20 of their last 24 games. I felt the Kentucky game really gave them a lot of confidence the way they beat them at Lawrence.
They seemed to really start coming together. The three freshman, Chalmers, Rush and Wright, have all made unbelievable improvement in my opinion and our guys were just a little bit slower to mature. But I think in the last month we have made really good progress and wish it would have happened earlier, but it didn't.

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