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March 21, 2008

A.J. Abrams

D.J. Augustin

Rick Barnes

Dexter Pittman


THE MODERATOR: We have with us, Texas coach, Rick Barnes, Dexter Pittman, D.J. August and A.J. Abrams.
Coach Barnes will make a statement, then we'll have a questions for the players. And then they'll be dismissed, and Coach Barnes will answer other questions.
COACH BARNES: Again, I think you realize the way our players came out and started the game, the respect that they had for Austin Peay and the fact that their effort, the preparation coming in, because, again, we talked about this tournament this time of year, and when you see a team that's as well coached as they were that played hard, as a coaching staff, we appreciate the fact that our guys understood just what kind of effort it would take and -- but, again, I really thought that, again, Austin Peay coming in, we had great respect for them.
And today we started shooting the ball really well, but our effort early was really important, and we were able to do that, and a lot of that I think is out of respect for the fact that we knew that Austin Peay has had a great year, and we knew enough about this tournament that if you aren't ready to bring the effort, it won't last long.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.

Q. Question for A.J. A.J., you were particularly shot -- 10 of 16. Why do you think you were able to shoot so well particularly against this team?
A.J. ABRAMS: Just I kind of got in a good rhythm. My teammates did a good job of setting screens. D.J. was penetrating and kicking the ball out and giving me wide open looks. I have to give credit to my teammates for that.

Q. A.J., can you talk about what Dexter meant to you guys today and what he's meant in the Big 12 Tournament and this run he's been on in?
A.J. ABRAMS: Since the Big 12 Tournament, Dexter has definitely stepped it up. He's realized what his role is on the team. He was settling tonight and playing hard on the defensive end, which we need him to do, and he's rebounding the ball on the offensive end. He's a big weapon for us down low when he posts up.

Q. A.J., it's been three games out of that slump, and did you change anything you do in games, in practice, any kind of routine?
A.J. ABRAMS: No. I haven't changed anything. You know, I've been working through the preseason and the summer. Now is not the time to change anything. Coach gave me some confidence, I talked to him, and my teammates always been confident in me, telling me to keep shooting. That's what I'm going to do.

Q. A.J, at one point in the first half, you alone had outscored Austin Peay. How do you keep a focus and not kind of start to back off, and actually for the other two guys, too?
A.J. ABRAMS: Our coaching staff, they're not going to let us let down. We know what tournament we're in. You can't have a letdown because all the teams in the tournament are great teams. We have to keep playing hard every possession.

Q. Dexter, Austin Peay doesn't have a starter that's over six-foot five. Was this a game where you were kind of licking your chops to begin with?
DEXTER PITTMAN: Not really, because I knew I had to go out there and play defense on smaller guys, and I mean, it was a big challenge for me, but I'm starting to challenge my defense more than my offense. Because I know I work on my offensive game, but defense, coach preached to me about that every game, and that's what I need.
COACH BARNES: Dexter, has anyone ever asked you about licking your chops before?
COACH BARNES: He understands that terminology, believe me. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Other questions?

Q. Dexter, I don't believe you got in the games in Spokane last year. This was your first NCAA Tournament game? Did you figure this was kind of a breakout performance for you?
DEXTER PITTMAN: Not really. I just see it as like a challenge or like a dream. I mean, growing up I was watching the NCAA Tournament. I mean, just go out there and perform. That's all.

Q. D.J, can did the crowd reaction at the start inspire you guys any more at the beginning of that game?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Not really. We knew we had to do -- we were inspired already coming out, and we was excited to play and just ready to play. And we had to play hard because. It was a great team. We were already amped up for the game. We knew what we had to do.

Q. D.J, eight assists for you today, not double figures in points, but how would you rate your performance from kind of perspective of a floor general situation?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I try to control the game. We had a pretty good lead. That's easy to lose, especially in these kind of games against great teams. I just try to control the game and get everybody involved. My teammates did a great job stepping up tonight.

Q. This is for any of you guys. When you have a team that's as balanced as you guys are, how much easier does it make to it play, knowing that there's always going to be someone stepping up, and would you want to play another team like you guys?
A.J. ABRAMS: I think that's the great thing about our team. We know somebody is going to step up every game. We're not counting on one player to go out and score 30 a game. We have a balanced attack, and we have that chemistry with each other. But, you know, playing against ourselves or playing against somebody like it, it would be a good matchup, but it just come down to who would compete harder.
THE MODERATOR: Two more minutes for the players.

Q. D.J, talk about the luxury of having a guy like A.J. in a game where maybe you don't score as much. How easy does it make your job when he's making shots like he was tonight?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: It's very easy. He knocked down some tough shots. I know to look for him every chance I get because that's an assist for me. All the guys understand how good a shooter A.J. is. He's always confident. He always says he's going to make a shot, and we have a great team, great players.

Q. D.J, how does it change the game when Dex comes in there and you have that big target inside that the other team has to be aware of?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Yeah. Dex is a big target. He's so big, he can post up in the lane and I don't think anybody can really stop him down low, and he does a great job of getting, you know, position down there and just going up strong with it. That's what we need from him, and that's what he's been giving us lately.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we'll excuse y'all. Congratulations. Looking forward to seeing you again on Sunday. Thank you.
Questions for Coach Barnes.

Q. Coach Rick, your feelings on the crowd as you guys came out. Is that something you expected or just --
COACH BARNES: I'm not sure if I thought a lot about expecting anything, really, and -- but again I've said before, I think this time of year when you're a higher seeded team that you can expect somewhat to know that the house is going to go against you. I think that's pretty much a history with this tournament. And so we talked about that with our team, obviously, of being able in the first round, focusing in on what we can do and hope that we can handle the things that we can handle.
But, you know, all year long we've been in very tough arenas and environments, and you would hope by this time that we would be able to handle those type situations.

Q. Just wanted to ask you what do you think it's going to be like going up against Frank Haith in an elimination game?
COACH BARNES: Really hard because of the respect that I have for Frank and Frank has -- he means a lot to me. I've known him a long time, obviously, and the fact that we spent a lot of time together as coaches, being on the road recruiting.
You know, I've got great respect for the job he's done at Miami, but I told him the overnight when we left Kansas City, I said, "You know, not looking forward to playing you," but I hope we get a chance because certainly he's part of what we've done at Texas and I wanted him to win his first round game, and certainly we wanted to win ours.
But am I looking forward to it? No. It's hard because he knows us. If you sit close enough to the court today, you could have heard same calls, same plays, same actions. I think they obviously do -- have their own little wrinkles, but we all are happy for him. It's not just him, but a couple other guys that -- we know their staff. We've gotten to know them obviously through the time that we've -- he's left and has gone to Miami.
It's something you don't look forward to.

Q. Rick, what were some of the things that maybe you can pick out of a game like this? I know you're always going to go back and look at the film, things you saw, points of emphasis, things you need to improve on before you face Miami.
COACH BARNES: Definitely rebounding. There's no question. Miami is an excellent rebounding team. I think they do a great job of going to get second-chance opportunities.
I think you look at today, you know, we had a size advantage, but they got 18 offensive rebounds, and I think that goes back to what I was trying to speak to earlier about their effort. They play hard. And I'm not saying we didn't do the job, but the fact is offensive rebound is effort, and they made the effort to go get it.
And we'll look at that, and some were long rebounds, and they had a few possessions where they got two, three opportunities. But that will be a huge concern going into the next game, and -- but I thought our effort was really, really good. And it's a little bit different now this time of year because of the long timeouts, the longer halftime, and you have to be able to adjust to it. And when you sometimes maybe get a run going, because of long timeouts, things settle down. You've got to have great mental concentration coming out of timeouts and halftime because of the length of those timeouts and half times. We'll look at it.
I'm sure there's always something we can look at. Obviously the turnovers, Dexter had four turnovers. He did a lot of good things. I don't know we've been in many games this year where we've turned the ball over than our opponent, but they did a great job of taking care of the ball.
There will be some of those things we'll look at, but every game we're going to go back and look at what we need to do to improve ourselves.

Q. Coach, can you talk about A.J.'s play tonight and his ability to take over a game in which D.J. maybe wasn't scoring as much?
COACH BARNES: D.J. mentioned the way he orchestrates the game and -- but he realized when A.J. starts shooting the ball like that -- and I think not only D.J. and -- what you get lost in all this were those two guys because of what they've done for us all year, you look at the line that Justin Mason put out there tonight. Nine rebounds, 9.7 assists.
All those guys I think have a feel for our team. And when a guy gets going like that, they do make a conscientious effort to try to get them the ball. And A.J, again, with him shooting the ball, it's obvious that stands out there, but where he's improved so much is on the defensive end. When he's playing his best basketball is when he gets locked in on the defensive end.

Q. You saw A.J. do a lot of good things during the year. When he has a game like he did tonight, what goes through your mind as you're watching it?
COACH BARNES: I would like to bottle it and do it every night. I mean, we all know that shooting makes up for a multitude of sins. We know that. When you start making shots -- and some nights maybe you don't play so well, but you start making shots, people think, wow, it looks really, really good. And it does because we know that's the name of the game, but where we really judge him is what he does when he doesn't have the ball, his defense, all the other things and -- when you're shooting the ball like that, believe me, you want to bottle it and wish you could have it every night. It's something that you never, ever know what you're going to get from it.
He said it, he meant what he said, he got some looks at the basket tonight because he's got some people looking to get him the ball, but he also had some screeners out there looking to try to get him a little look. He doesn't need much, but it all comes together, and it has to be a team effort.
THE MODERATOR: Time for one more question. Anyone else? Coach, we're flattered you're here. Congratulations.
COACH BARNES: Thank you.

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