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March 22, 2007

Mike Conley, Jr.

Ron Lewis

Thad Matta


COACH MATTA: Well, I don't know if I've seen too many like that in an NCAA tournament, Tennessee, they blitzed us in the first half. 9 for 15 and I think Chism was 0 for 3. I don't know if Lofton hit the rim today when he made them. And we went in wounded and I didn't like our body language. We were down and talked at halftime about what we had to do to chip away. I think it all started -- the run started for us with our defense, we were able to get some stops and they missed some shots. Great, we'll get a couple of easy baskets. And when we got it down to about six we knew we had ourselves a ballgame. Came down to the last minute, could have gone either way.
I'm proud at our guys, half pissed off at them how we started. But we came back the second half and were able to make the plays down the stretch to win the basketball game in advance.

Q. Talk about chipping away at that lead. Was there just a constant effort to try to penetrate as much as possible?
RON LEWIS: We seen their body language coming out the second half and we knew we had to attack. Our main focus was get to the basket, get free throws so we could stop the clock and knock down shots and that's what we did.

Q. Ron, you said you saw their body language. What was their body language. Mike, do you find yourself asking yourself why don't you play like you played in the second half to start with?
RON LEWIS: Their body language was like they already had the game won. We just had to come out with aggressiveness like they were the first half. So that was our main focus.
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Well, yeah, it's hard to think why we don't come out in the first 20 minutes playing like we did the last 20. You think that your guys are ready to go and then a team goes on a run like that and we just never recovered. And I'm hoping that we can learn a lot from this and start off the first four minutes like we ended the game. That would definitely get us out of the situation that we were in tonight.

Q. Can you talk about when you and Greg were on the bench with foul trouble in the first half and Tennessee seemed to be making everything. What were you thinking about there? Are you feeling like this thing might be over?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: I'm trying to get the people -- give the people on the court confidence. Ron and Jamar are still out there, so I know they have a lot of confidence in their game. I was trying to get them in the game and trying to get some stops. I knew we couldn't do much from the bench, but try to give encouragement. Trying to do whatever I could to keep my team in the game.

Q. Take us through the last offensive possession, when you got fouled at the free throw, what were you reading there, what was the intent?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: There was a three second difference, so we knew we could run the clock down a little bit. We were coach called a flash screen out and it was trying to create something and it worked out and we got the foul.

Q. Can you try to compare this come back to the Xavier come back, how do you feel now, how do you feel about what was going on?
RON LEWIS: I think this come back was much more our pace and in our hands from the second half. When Xavier won we had to chip away at the last four or five minutes of the game. This time we had to do it in the second half. I just feel that we just need to have a constant effort throughout the whole game.

Q. Mike, with these two comebacks now, can you talk about what coach said in the locker room and what's the secret to motivate you guys?
MIKE CONLEY JR.: It's part him telling us we didn't come out to play the first 20 minutes, we were soft. We didn't show a lot of aggressiveness, offensively, defensively. But as a team we came together and talked to each other and picked each other up. A lot of guys were down, they had turned the ball over two or three times. And people's heads were down. I think as a team we all got together and tried to stick together in that kind of a situation. If you fall apart there's going to be no good from that.

Q. How big were the first like four minutes of the second half? You went from 17 down I think the first TV time out was already 7, just talk about the first stretch of the second half.
RON LEWIS: It was real important for us to come out aggressive. That was going to set the tone for the second half. With us made it a constant effort the second half.

Q. Was there a moment, a shot or a point in the second half where you felt like this is it, this is ours now?
MIKE CONLEY JR.: I really say from the beginning, the first two points we hit in the second half. We came out and saw their body language. We knew as a team that we had to be aggressive and attack. We felt like if we made our shots and played our system we'd be fine, because there's a lot of time left on the clock and a lot of things can be done in that amount of time. We felt just from the beginning of the second half we had kind of an advantage on them.

Q. Either of you guys know anything about Memphis?
RON LEWIS: Not yet.
MIKE CONLEY JR.: Watched a little bit of the game before, but we've still got a lot of scouting to do.

Q. First off, how is your heart doing? Secondly, what happened the first half?
COACH MATTA: I think the first play of the game kind of typified, with the tip, them getting a wide open three, you know, when a team comes out and makes shots like that, I told them the first time out they did the exact same thing to Virginia and they cooled down, about five minutes left of the first half the guys said I thought you were going to cool down. And they were rolling. Tennessee -- we've got the utmost respect for them. I think they are a great basketball team. The method to what they do is incredible. When they're making shots like that, I had the thought in my mind at one point during the first half, a little bit like Georgetown last year, if they play like this they're going to win it all.
The foul trouble, we were disheveled. We never got into a rhythm or flow. And quite honestly they punched us so hard, we were at the nine count. David's play at the end of the half was a little bit of a momentum boost for us. It cut it to 17. Boy, we were really jacked up going into that halftime (laughter).

Q. I realize Greg had a lot of foul trouble, is that something they did or were you all not able to get him the ball?
COACH MATTA: The six free throws that he got were -- attempted touches and that sort of thing. When we got it down, I don't know what he played in the first half, it wasn't a lot of minutes in the first half, when we got down they were really, really physical, banging him. And I think he did a pretty good job considering the circumstances of in, out, in, out, with the foul trouble.

Q. You mentioned David Lighty, seemed like you got a lot out of your bench, especially with Greg on foul trouble, in the foul trouble he was. Can you talk about what those guys did for you tonight?
COACH MATTA: You think about it with Matt Terwilliger, the job he does. The job David did defensively, knocked down a huge 3 in the corner, the big play at the end of the first half. He finished and got some rebounds. I think those guys were tremendous. They kept it going for us and then even in the second half I thought they did a great job coming in and finishing what we needed with the match-ups what we were trying to do and with Ivan going down, had to come out of the game. Those guys stepped up and did a great job for us.

Q. Could you talk about living dangerously like you have the last two games and what that's been like for you and maybe some things, obviously some things you have to do Saturday, some things you have to do to turn it around.
COACH MATTA: I think if you look up in the dictionary living dangerously would be the thesaurus to describe it, and my picture would be plastered right next to it.
I think it's funny in this tournament the two most important words are survive and advance. And we've been very, very fortunate the last couple games to do those two things. What's hard is you'd love to go back to Columbus and practice for a week. Unfortunately we can't do that. The one thing that I've said all year long with this team is consistency. We've shown we can play some great basketball, but we've got to get that consistency for 40 minutes and tonight it was obviously 20 minutes of great come-from-behind basketball against a great basketball team.

Q. How many games do you think you can continue to win with Oden playing like 18 minutes? Is there a way that he can, with his energy, I guess, stay out of foul trouble?
COACH MATTA: Yeah. He's only fouled out of one game this year and that was actually last Saturday. I think obviously Greg is such an important part of what we do, both offensively and defensively. We would not have won 20 straight games and be sitting at 33-3 without him. The job that he's done for us along the way, and I think on Saturday, and I always say this about our team, I don't know who's going to lead us in scoring on Saturday. It could be Greg. You never know exactly how the game is going to play out and what needs to be done.

Q. In what ways is he a freshman and in what ways does he seem much older? Is it night to night with him sometimes?
COACH MATTA: The one thing I love about Greg Oden, if you ask me one word to describe him I'd say "winner." And I think that he will do whatever he has to do to help the team win. And there are times, I think all of our guys show some inexperience. But I wouldn't trade them for anybody and the job that they've done for us. I think that's the thing, you look at Tennessee's program. I'm not looking forward to go to Knoxville next year. What a great job they've done and Coach Pearl has done. There were some plays made out there by some really, really young players.

Q. Can you talk about how Lewis has taken you guys on his back. He had 17 or 18 on the second half tonight.
COACH MATTA: I think Ron is playing tremendous basketball for us right now. As a 5th year senior, this is kind of what we had -- I think he had in mind and I had in mind for him. He took the one bad one, if my arms would have been longer I would have grabbed him. We were rolling and he was feeling it. As soon as he let it go, he said it's my fault, it's a bad shot. He's playing within himself. His defense has gotten so much better and throughout the course of the Big Ten some guys that he had to guard, he's just really become a well rounded player.

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