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March 18, 2007

A.J. Abrams

Rick Barnes

Kevin Durant


THE MODERATOR: We have Texas players and coaches. First of all a few opening comments from Rick Barnes.
COACH RICK BARNES: Our basketball team did a lot of good things this year, but it's always disappointing when you end the season on the note that we ended it today.
But again, I'm not sure if you lose the first game, the second game, the third or fourth whatever it may be, it's always disappointing to end the season this way. But I think that Southern California played a great game. For whatever reason, you look at the stat sheets they got great balance, we have 50 points of 68 between two guys and you're not going to get it done this time of year with just two guys doing it. And I'm disappointed in that, that we had been a team this year that found away to work through some tough situations and today we weren't able to do it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Kevin, could you give us some insight into your emotions knowing that the season is over now.
KEVIN DURANT: Like coach said, I have a sour taste in my mouth from ending the season like this. I kind of regret not playing as hard as I could today and throughout the whole see some. Like he said we did some great things throughout the season this year but as always tough to lose like this.

Q. A.J., could you talk about USC's defense, both the way they sent some smaller guys at Kevin and the way they tried to choke off D.J.'s penetration, how it affected your game.
A.J. ABRAMS: Like coach said, they're a pretty good team. And they had a good game plan. Coming in the game. And them taking away D.J.'s penetration, it kind of hurts a little bit because when D.J. penetrates he gets our offense going and we all move for him. And just like he said they played a great game and for whatever reason we didn't give our best effort today.

Q. You guys have been so loose all season long, did you feel loose today or did you feel kind of like you did going into the New Mexico could state game?
A.J. ABRAMS: Me personally I felt like I was loose. I came out, with the mindset that I wanted to be aggressive player. But any game you're going to have pressure on you because in the NCAA tournament you know if you lose you go home. So that's always kind of on your mind. But when you're playing you can't really think about it.
KEVIN DURANT: I felt like I just had, we had to come out be aggressive as a team and for myself I had to be aggressive as well. But USC was better than us today. I give all the credit to them.

Q. A.J., what were you guys supposed to do to counter their defensive game plan and what went wrong there?
A.J. ABRAMS: We didn't have anything to counter for it. We always have the same game plan going into our game. We're going to push the ball and play tough defense. And know our matchups, but for whatever reason we didn't execute like we usually do, like we did in the Big-12 tournament or in previous games.

Q. Kevin, can you talk about your thought process and when, how you'll go about making the decision about whether to come back or not?
COACH RICK BARNES: I don't think that's an appropriate question right now. I'm just worried about this team and where we could be next year as a team. But I don't really think that's an appropriate question.

Q. Kevin, you came out in the second half and were very aggressive and were taking it to the hole and the whole idea of them putting a smaller player on you with help behind him, can you talk about counting that?
KEVIN DURANT: Like I said I just wanted to be aggressive going to the basket. I think we got some open looks going to the basket. But they did a great job of fronting me while I'm in the post and hoping on the back side. So I had to do something else. So I got the ball on the wing, tried to get to the basket, pulled up some shots in my mid range game and tried to get fouled.

Q. A.J., can you talk about you guys cut it to four right after half time, what was the mood coming out of half time and then what are you guys thinking at that point?
A.J. ABRAMS: We all came out of half time with the mindset that we had everybody had to pick it up. Pick up the intensity and we just had to be more aggressive. In the first couple minutes we came out with more aggression and for whatever reason it just faded away.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you Kevin, thank you A.J.. questions for coach.

Q. How difficult is it, generally you have a three scorers, you were looking for a fourth today, you only had two. How much tougher does that make it?
COACH RICK BARNES: You're not going to win this time of year. You can't have -- you look at the, their balance, you lack at ours, and we get 50 points between of the 68 between two guys and we knew coming in and we had told D.J. that he was going to have to shoot the ball. I said there's no doubt they, we thought they would switch ball screens when they went with this are they are small lineup we knew that was going to happen. We knew they would take away his penetration and we said to him he was going to have to shoot the ball, and he was reluctant to do that early. And when that started happening he over penetrated, turned the ball over some.
And we just, you are not going to get it done right now this time of year without, with just two guys that are being aggressive for you. It's going to be all not only the five you start but guys that come off the bench. But even when we got back into the game and started the second half it was changed on the offensive boards. Through that time right there, Taj Gibson had his way inside. We got some stops, but they were able to convert those stick backs and even in the first half we gave them three run outs where we again told our team that we didn't think they would guard Damion and Connor and they would be looking to run through passing lanes. They did that and they were able to get six points off that in the first half. And you take that away and the offensive rebounds, it could have even with as poorly as we played on offense, it could have been a different game.

Q. You only got to the line 16 times tonight and they went there 38 times, can you talk about the difference that made?
COACH RICK BARNES: Well, them getting there that much was obviously because we were behind and we had to start fouling. It has a lot to do with that. But again, we got tentative. Where they were backing over they were forcing guys to shoot jumpers. It's easy to play sometimes when you only guard a couple guys. And they were going to let D.J. Augustin and Kevin, and, I mean D.J. Augustin and Justin Mason and Damion James have all they wanted. They were going to let them shoot it all they wanted. So they were backing in there on those guys and any ball screen action they switched it. But you got to loosen that up by taking some shots.
And you look at it, we didn't do that early. About you still work it, but we just have to shoot the ball and those guys have proven this year that they can shoot it but for whatever reason today they were reluctant to do it and they were hesitant to do it.

Q. Right after you closed it four points it seemed like their transition game they went on a 19-3 run. They beat you back pretty easy several times on those, can you answer?
COACH RICK BARNES: Poor offense. Poor offense. For that reason we didn't have good, we were again we wanted to get the ball going from side to side to try to move their defense a little bit as I mentioned they were being pretty much contained oriented to where they were going to let us shoot the quick shot and we settled for that. And a couple long rebounds and they ran out on us. Out of bounds play again we shot it quick coming off, which is a shot, but we didn't get back to get the court balanced and those plays were huge plays. And again, when we were able to make a little move there, we made it too easy for them by giving them those run outs and offensive rebounds.

Q. Can you talk about the process that you and Kevin and his family will make about whether he's going to come back or not?
COACH RICK BARNES: Well I think what will happen again I think right now everybody will just step back and there's plenty of time. There's plenty of time to make that decision. I think you step back and let the emotional season and what he's gone through settle in. Obviously he's had a great year and but he's disappointed. If you know him, I mean, he's all about wanting to win. And to lose again like I said, this time of year, you lose, it's it leaves a tough taste in your mouth. But we'll step away from it for a little bit and then in a couple weeks we'll all get together or and again it won't be any time soon, again he's got plenty of time to weigh all of his options and that's what we'll do. And he said right now it's not important right now. He's got plenty of time to do that. I said all along that he and his family will we'll gather the information that they need and when it comes time to make a decision they will make the right decision.
THE MODERATOR: No further questions? One here.

Q. We talked a lot about their defense, but what about their offense? They had all five of their starters in double figures.
COACH RICK BARNES: They do a great job of getting isolation. Our concern coming in it is that they were bigger, a taller team and probably more athletic than people think. But they do a nice job of getting isolations and the fact they can shoot the ball, they can spread you out that way, and then they have got a guy in Taj Gibson that can really cause problems inside. But their approach is pretty simple in terms of theirs isolations, they will take turns on who it is they want to go after and they do a good job with it. But again, they're playing good basketball. They have played good basketball over the last couple weeks and they have got as good a chance as anybody right now.

Q. I apologize if you've been asked this already, having USC and Oregon come out of this, what does that say about the Pac-10 and the strength of that conference?
COACH RICK BARNES: I think early in the year everybody realized the Pac-10 was probably a little bit underrated and again, what I like about the Southern California team is they have gotten better, they have continued to improve. Certainly Oregon has had a great year coming through winning that league. There's so many teams now that can play and this tournament is so much about matchup, who do you get matched up with and both teams play good basketball. Obviously Oregon had a tough one the other day, but came back today against a good team and got it done. And again southern California's playing good basketball right now. They're playing really good basketball. So but I would say that the Pac-10 should feel pretty good about the year they have had.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks Coach Barnes.

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