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March 13, 2008

Steve Alford

Dairese Gary

J.R. Giddens


THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you want to take a minute or so and talk about the game, then we'll go from there.
COACH ALFORD: I thought it was a hard-fought game. I thought both teams played with an awful lot of energy and urgency. They got one more stop than we did.
I thought the rebounds, we've out rebounded them I think twice. We got beat on the boards pretty good tonight. I thought that was the difference.
I thought all the guys that played in the game today gave incredible effort. We've been getting this kind of effort all year long and I appreciate that effort.
THE MODERATOR: Next couple minutes, questions directed to either of the student-athletes.

Q. JR, your last shot as a college basketball player, can you talk a little bit about that possession. It seemed like you tried to fingertip it in there instead of dunking the ball. Did you feel you didn't have enough time?
COACH ALFORD: It's not his last shot as a college basketball player.
You can answer the question, but it's not your last shot as a college basketball player.
JR GIDDENS: I didn't feel like I could get to the rim. We didn't have enough time. So I tried to put the ball in the basket to the best of my ability.

Q. JR, I know this isn't the way you wanted to close out the conference season. Considering what happened last year, where you finished tied for last, now you end up in third, what did it mean to you this year to accomplish what you guys did, not only as a player but also as a team?
JR GIDDENS: Well, I think we all went out there and worked hard. So we're going to be proud of our effort.
But I felt like we came up short. I felt like we had a chance to, you know, do better in this tournament, you know, possibly win the tournament if we played our style of basketball. We didn't do that today. Didn't put D stops together. So we didn't get the win. So I feel like we came up short.

Q. Dairese, you started the game well, scored 10 points in the first five minutes. Did you feel like you had a chance to get Utah down at that juncture in the first half? How did you feel about how the first half went?
DAIRESE GARY: Felt pretty good. You know, shots were falling. Just on the defensive end, we didn't really execute good. You know, the first four minutes, we came out and got some stops. After that, it went downhill from there.
So we were in it just trading baskets, but we needed to step up and play D. And we didn't do that, so...

Q. JR, before the tournament you didn't really want to talk about whether you were a bubble team in your NCAA hopes. Now that you are out of the Mountain West tournament, what are your thoughts about the NCAA tournament? Do you think you did enough during the regular season to get in?
JR GIDDENS: Honestly, I don't know. I don't pay enough attention to all the college basketball teams out there and the conferences, how many bids a league has.
We just focus on going out there and trying to beat the next team day after day. So I couldn't tell you.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we'll let you two go. Thank you.
Questions for Coach Alford.

Q. Do you think what you did in the regular season...
COACH ALFORD: I don't know. I know we're 24-8. We won 11 league games. We just got beat in the quarterfinals in overtime on a last-second play.
We've stayed away from losing streaks. This is our first game on a neutral floor. We're 0-1 on a neutral floor. We're 8-5 as a road team. We're 16-2 as a home team.
This is my first time in the Mountain West. This is my first time to go around it. 24-8 is a heck of a year. So there's a lot of basketball to be played yet this weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So I guess we just got to wait and see exactly what happens.
But as far as our body of work goes, there won't be a lot of teams 24-8. So hopefully that's going to be enough, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Q. Why do you think Nevill was so much more effective than from earlier games? Were you surprised that you weren't able to get him fouled out?
COACH ALFORD: Well, he's good. He's 7 foot 1. He's really talented. You know, same as JR Giddens. Those guys are hard to guard. We're trying to guard him with two 6 foot 9 guys.
We're not deep in that position. They really present a lot of problems because if you go trapping him, then it opens up their three ball. They're a very good shooting team that surrounds a guy that's 7 foot 1 that's got a lot of talent.
We just don't quite have enough beef to be able to throw a lot of bodies at him over the course of the game. I thought he made some good shots. That's the most shots he's taken in any of the three games we played. He made good use of those shots.

Q. With 10 seconds left, can you go through your thought process when Prentice was taking the ball? Maybe looking for Giddens instead?
COACH ALFORD: Sometimes players make tough decisions. DP has been great for us all year. One of the things we didn't want to do was to drive and try to make plays with our smaller guards on Nevill. That's one part of it. There were different things we were wanting to do to Nevill, but not that.
He's trying to make a play. I always like guys that are trying to make a play. A lot of times this year it's worked well for us. This happened to be a game where the last play didn't work well for us.

Q. Your team fought so hard to send the game into overtime. How did you feel when the game reached overtime about your team's chances?
COACH ALFORD: Well, a lot better than with five minutes to go. It's about three games in a row now with Utah we've been behind with five minutes to go.
We found a way to win. So that's what we talked about going into overtime. We just couldn't get a stop. I thought for about 30 minutes that wasn't really our defense. You got to give their offense a lot of credit. Then the last 10 minutes of regulation, we really guarded. We did some good things defensively.
But then in overtime, you give up 10 points in overtime, you're probably not going to win a lot of games. We just didn't get enough stops. We had the ball up one inside a minute, had a crucial turnover. That hurt us. Then Nevill gets two dunks, uncontested dunks, there in the last minute and a half that obviously didn't help.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach. Appreciate it.
COACH ALFORD: Thanks very much.

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