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March 21, 2008
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
THE MODERATOR: If we would, we'll start with you coach with some opening comments.
COACH STANSBURY: Well, first off, give Oregon a lot of credit. They've had a tremendous year. Ernie has done a great job with that team, in particular the first half. You know, they got the lead by making those 3s. I think they had seven 3-pointers at halftime. There wasn't no secrets at halftime. You look at the stat sheet. As I said, we were in this situation last week at halftime. We were 1 for 10 at halftime from the 3-point line. The other team was 8 for 15, we were down.
This time we were 0-10, down 10 and these guys to the right of me made their mind up we're going to go things that we've tried to do all year long, defend. I thought we took another step defensively. That was the whole key. The second half they were 2 for 21 from the 3-point line and Stew stepped up and knocked down four of them for us. Charles Rhodes was a monster in that second half on the backboards and finishing plays. Jamont got us going in transition, got some easy baskets, and got nine assists for us.
The victory was based on our abilities to defend and rebound and shut their 3-point shot down in the second half. That was the difference in the basketball game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Barry Stewart, Charles Rhodes, and Jamont Gordon, or all three.
Q. Barry, once you hit your first three, did you feel the pressure kind of go off you guys and you kind of feed from that off that the rest of the way?
BARRY STEWART: After the first three went down, I think it helped us a lot, gave us some momentum. Gave us a lot o f energy out there tonight.
Q. Charles, talk about yesterday you told me were you going to put this team on your shoulders today and went out and did it. Talk about doing that and this hang around long enough to finally get some help from the rest of your team.
CHARLES RHODES: What I see is just a team. When I'm down in the game and I'm not scoring a lot, these guys pick me up. That's why we're captains. These guys they were struggling a little bit, but I know they were going to get on, and I made sure that, you know, I was going to put the team on my shoulders. I know they'll get back on, and that's what we call a team, the captains.
Q. Charles, you went 10 of 12 tonight. Extremely hot from the field. Why do you think you shot so well against this team?
CHARLES RHODES: I shot 10 for 12 before. It ain't nothing I did new. The guards just gave me the ball and I finished.
Q. This is for Barry and Jamont. Coach said there were no secrets at halftime, but what were you guys doing in the first half or not doing in the first half defensively, and what did you do in the second half on their 3-point shots?
BARRY STEWART: The first half they shot a lot of deep shots. The first half a lot of shots went for them, some even banked in. Our post helped us on the ball screen. Therefore we had to defend the three.
JAMONT GORDON: He just was hot the first half. That's all I can say. They create for each other. They knocked down some big 3-pointers. Second half we locked down and defended and did what we do.
Q. Jamont, can you talk about running the team. I know a lot of times you like to score and feel you can beat people off the dribble. You kind of pulled it in the second half.
JAMONT GORDON: Yeah. The whole game I was getting good shots and everything, and they wasn't falling. I tried to get out in transition and create some baskets for the other people. I created some for Barry. He knocked down some big shots. I tried to create eight for Charles. He knocked down some big shots. That's what I try to do. Aside from my scoring, I try to do other things.
Q. Charles, you're the one guy on this team who has been here before who has had tournament experience. How much do you think that helped you in the early going when were you carrying things? Did you tell the guys anything before the game or halftime about what to expect or encourage them at halftime?
CHARLES RHODES: Helped me a lot. I was just telling these guys all throughout the game, you know, our guys were off a little bit in the first half. I let them know there's no tomorrow. I gave them encouragement because, you know, I've been here before. I didn't play a lot when I was here, but I know the feeling. I got the feel of it. I had to let all these guys know what the NCAA is all about.
Q. This is for Barry. Before you hit that first 3 in the second half, I think you were -- you were 6 of your last 26. Did you feel like were you in a slump, or had you lost any confidence, I guess, Barry?
BARRY STEWART: No. I didn't feel like I was in a slump. People may think that, but I don't feel like. You shoot -- if you're a shooter, you keep shooting. You don't lose confidence in your shot. I believe every great shooter believes in that and got to keep shooting. They fell tonight.
Q. You guys played the entire second half. Was fatigue ever an issue at all in the closing minutes?
JAMONT GORDON: You can't get tired. We're down 10 points. Ain't no way we going to get tired. Charles kept pumping us up in the huddle. We got our lead back.
Q. Coach, I'm curious if you know this, the basket in front of the Oregon bench was 2 for 30 from the 3-point line whereas the basket from you was 9 for 25. Have you ever heard of a stat like that? Does that concern you, knowing you have to play again on this floor Sunday?
COACH BARNES: We need to play on the one end where it goes in better. See if you can arrange that tomorrow. (Laughter).
Q. Ever heard of it?
COACH BARNES: After you asked that, I promise you I won't think about it again. Just happened. For whatever reason, who knows. They shot it well in the first half from our bench. We shot it well the second half. But I don't have the answer to it.
THE MODERATOR: If you would hold your questions for the players until they're dismissed. We'll get with coach.
Q. This is for the players. The way Oregon came out and started, were you like "Are these guys ever going to miss?" And "Boy, they're shooting them from way, way out, not by the 3-point line"?
CHARLES RHODES: I had a little joke. They were hitting so many 3s, I thought they were there five hours before we was. Our guards found a way to lock them down the second half, which helped us to get the victory.
Q. Jamont, you said that Charles was kind of pumping you guys up in the timeouts and such. What was he saying, and what kind of things did he say at halftime or maybe in the past couple days about the tournament?
COACH BARNES: I can answer that one for you. He won't repeat it.
Q. What can you repeat?
JAMONT GORDON: Just keep playing hard, and the game wasn't over. Put us on his back tonight. I'm very excited about it. He played hard tonight. He kept pumping us up. He helped us get a victory tonight.
Q. Was there ever a point when you were -- during the game when you wondered when is somebody else going to make a shot?
CHARLES RHODES: Yes, I did get like that for a minute. (Laughter). I thought I would have to shoot in treys. My percentage ain't good. I wasn't going to do that to the team.
Q. This is for Jamont. Barring a huge massive upset, you guys are going to be playing Memphis in the next round. The proximity there, is that a little something extra playing those guys in the second round?
JAMONT GORDON: They're one of the top teams in the country. Give us a little more motivation, little more hype to play, but we're going to treat them like every other team. Try to get an upset and play solid defense, rebound the ball.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the players? Guys, thank you very much. Look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.
Questions now for Coach Stansbury.
Q. Rick, defensively was there anything different you guys did in the second half, or was it just they were executing better defensively?
COACH STANSBURY: I think I said this in my press conference, was it yesterday, told you after the game, it's going to be a will. They're small. If they win, 3-point shot they're going to win the game. If we can take advantage of them on the inside, we'll win the game.
The first 12 minutes of the game for sure they won the war playing small and shoot the 3-point shot.
After that, we kind of bounced out, but the second half for sure we won the war. We took advantage of them on the inside, and I think we shot 63 percent second half to their 25 percent and 2 for 21, which means the strength of their team, we took away, and we took advantage of it on the inside, and Charles was a guy that we had to go to because the way they were guarding him.
The first half we didn't get in it there. You got to make some shots. Second half he made some shots and did a couple little things different. He was able to get the ball in there better.
Q. Rick, talk about just how Jamont ran the team in the second half and how he stayed under control and got the ball to people and ran the break.
COACH STANSBURY: Did he score the second half? He was 2 for 9 at halftime. 2 for 9. He didn't score the second half. As I've said many times, he impacts the game in so many ways. Even though he didn't score, gets 11 rebounds, gets 9 assists.
When that game was on the line the last five, six minutes, when they were going to their money man, their go-to guy in Hairston, Jamont stepped up. I don't think he got scored on. He got scored on when the game wasn't on the line, but when it got tight, Jamont stepped up and took that challenge on defensively. When you look at the other things he brings to your team, he took their best offensive player and shut him down when the game was on the line. Eleven rebounds, got us going offensively. Got us some easy baskets in transition to Charles and got Stew going.
Q. Coach, in the second half when your team went on the run, the home crowd advantage, it kind of came to life here. Did you feel that? How big a difference did that make down the stretch?
COACH BARNES: Being under the good basket helped, too, and with the crowd. It was a good Mississippi State crowd. There was more than 550 tickets we were allowed. There were a lot more Bulldogs here. No question it made a difference once we got on that roll.
Q. Rick, down 10 at the half, with as poorly as your team shot the first half, did you still feel that was going to come around eventually and you felt okay?
COACH BARNES: We didn't panic as all. As we said at halftime, don't worry about the score. As long as we can go back out and do what we do. Again, all those who saw us play almost identical situation last Friday night, identical. We didn't shoot it well. They came back out the second half and gave up 20 points the second half. Gave up 31 tonight, but things you got to rely on is what you do. Eventually you're going to loosen up and make some shots.
Didn't know who it was going to be. We needed someone to do it. At the same time, you've got to get some stops, get out in transition, get a couple easy baskets. We got a couple of those to get us going, and once you start making some shots, that ball was much easier to get inside because we was able to skip it side to side some and made it easier to get the ball in there to Charles.
Q. Rick, ask you the same thing I asked Charles. Were you beginning to wonder if anybody else was going to make a shot?
COACH BARNES: You know, no, eventually I wasn't concerned -- I wasn't as concerned about the offense as I was our defense because that's the thing you can control. You can't always control that shot. But you'd be amazed how many times you quit worrying about your offense, change that total mindset and dig in, how it affects you offensively. Tonight another prime example as it was last Friday night.
Naturally when you don't make some shots, it affects your whole mental state, but if you can change that mental state and understand we're going to win this game doing what we've talked about doing all year long, defend, rebounding, and have that mindset, it frees you up mentally offensively. That's what we did the second half. Again, we shoot 63 percent the second half. Hold them to 25 percent. We knew this: They weren't going to shoot 7 for whatever it was again. If it was, we were going to have no chance. I didn't think that could happen.
They got about three of those early in that game, first seven, eight minutes in transition a little bit, too. I thought we got a little bit winded from the emotion of the game, winded maybe from being off another week again. I thought once we got our second wind, settled in, we played much better.
Q. Rick did you make the decision at the half you were going to go with your starters the entire 20 minutes?
COACH BARNES: No. I thought Brian Johnson came in and gave us some good minutes. Again, it's a little bit easier to play your starters, these timeouts in the NCAA are so long. Two, three minutes long. There's plenty of them. So, you know, probably as much as anytime, Greg, we got as much rest as we could. But I do think Brian Johnson came in and gave us some good minutes. Had a big basket, put back. I thought he was able to defend well, playing small in those three, four minutes he gave us, and it helped us there.
Q. Rick, assuming everything goes to form, can you talk about playing Memphis?
COACH BARNES: Well, I mean it's very obvious. They're one of the or maybe the best team in the country. It would be a huge, huge challenge for us. They don't have a lot of weaknesses. They play at a very high energy, and that's why they're 33-1, 34-1, whatever it is. Whatever it is, everybody is good. To have an opportunity to play them, you got to get by this first, and there's no question, our bunch of guys will be ready here Sunday afternoon. It will be a huge challenge for us.
THE MODERATOR: Got about a minute left. Any other questions?
COACH BARNES: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations on your 23rd win. We look forward to seeing you Sunday. Thank you, sir.
End of FastScripts