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March 22, 2007

Dane Bradshaw

Chris Lofton

Bruce Pearl


COACH PEARL: We played about as well the first half I think as we can play. These young men did a terrific job. We're a dangerous basketball team. Anybody that can make 16 threes and shoot over 60 percent is a tough match-up. That proved to be the case. We tied a school record. Two-point baskets were tough to come by, particularly in the second half. We only had four in the second half. And we just were not -- we didn't convert when we got the fouls.
We're terribly disappointed. We've proven that we can beat the best teams in the country. We've also proved that we can come close to beating the best teams in the country.

Q. Chris, was there a point in the second half where you felt it kind of slipping away?
CHRIS LOFTON: Not really. We knew they were going to make a run and our goal was to try to withstand it. They came out in the second half with great intensity and urgency. We didn't have our urgency on defense the second half.

Q. Most of the time when you play Ohio State if you get in foul trouble and get your 3's, you have a great chance to win, what happened in the second half?
DANE BRADSHAW: You're exactly right. It was part of the game plan to get him in foul trouble and Conley, as well. We still have Oden in foul trouble in the second half. But we just really didn't do a good job from the get-go. The starters played poorly at the beginning the second half. We never got
over-confident because we're all in the locker room at halftime. But defensively we didn't have that sense of urgency. And that's what makes it worse, because sometimes the ball doesn't go in for you. But things that you can control are your defensive intensity and ball pressure and things of that nature. We just didn't come through.

Q. Can you talk about what it was like to play in a game like that with just such great momentum swings, and it ends as a back and forth type of game?
DANE BRADSHAW: The energy was there before we even got on the court following such a great game beforehand. It was just a great experience. We know that the way we play and our fast pace style there's going to be runs back and forth from both teams. It's an exciting game to watch, but we weren't able to come through.

Q. In your mind was there a pivotal time where there were a couple two, three plays where you knew if you made them you were in great shape? What were the key moments in that stretch as far as you were concerned?
COACH PEARL: The kids had it right, in the first two rotations in the second half were not good. The starters didn't come out and defend with the kind of urgency we needed. We weren't making plays. We were playing defensive. Whereas the first half we had a game plan and had a purpose defensively. And I thought that was really key.
When Ryan Childress started making shots, it kind of felt like this is supposed to happen. And I felt pretty good about just JaJuan Smith, same thing, made a couple of good shots in transition, felt good about it.
We had a difficult time covering Conley after the flat screen. And they still got it.

Q. You guys played a tremendous game tonight, Xavier played a tremendous game against Ohio State, both had significant leads that they came back on. Talk about how good Ohio State has got to be to be able to come back on two teams that played exceptionally well, and most teams would have faded?
COACH PEARL: They are able to grind it out. And we talked about it yesterday. I think that Ron Lewis is a big play maker. I'm really happy for him to be able to come back to play at the Ohio State University. He's had some big time plays. Conley's ability to get to the foul line and drive into contact, it's interesting, Conley shoots 14 free throws, Chris Lofton doesn't shoot any. I think five on Tennessee's team is a pretty good player. Maybe Chris doesn't drive it into contact as much. Certainly shoots a lot more three balls. But for him to not go to the foul line one time, difficult for me to understand. He went to the foul line one time the first time we played him. We played Ohio State -- but Conley's ability to get to the foul line -- that helps you lay games. But they've obviously got a grit. They've got a resolve?

Q. Can you just walk over the last two possessions, the call on Conley's, and what you thought about your last look, and there was debate whether it would have been good or not.
COACH PEARL: Ohio, again, Conley does a great job of drawing fouls. I thought Ramar Smith got almost the same look in Columbus. And Greg -- we had something -- we had a play diagrammed if he made it, and we took it out. And we were going to try to set a ball screen for tomorrow, some place in the middle of the floor with Wayne Chism, who was going to be forced by Oden. I don't know that Chism ever -- I know he didn't, never stopped. I wanted him to stop at about the ten-second line, because maybe Oden would stop with him. Whether he set a screen or not, maybe he'd have to negotiate that screen. Wayne never stopped. And so Ramar went to the basket and he just followed him in. I thought Ramar had drawn contact underneath, and very similar play to Conley's, but Greg was there up top. It's a good look. You get the ball in your point guard's hand and you drive it in the line. And Ramar, he can make tough 2's, so I was pleased with the shot.
We had 14, two point baskets, Ramar had six of them. To get it in his hands and get there was good.

Q. Did you do anything to try to keep the ball out of Oden's hands? I know he had foul trouble, but he only took two shots?
COACH PEARL: In the first half? For the game in we fouled him. He got fouled several times. Post defense is a team game, ball pressure. I thought both Wayne Chism, Crews, did a good job of forcing him away from the basket, limiting his touches, and he got it close we fouled him some. Greg is really good and he's a -- he was obviously a focal point of our scout. He had 25 and 15 the last time we played. So we did a good job on him.

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