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March 11, 2011

Steve Alford

Drew Gordon

Kendall Williams


BYU – 87
New Mexico - 76

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the University of New Mexico. Coach, we'll start with some comments from you on tonight's game.
COACH ALFORD: Well, very proud of our team. I thought our team really battled. It was a wild first half. Obviously Fredette had one of those career nights. Very, very special talent. He put on an incredible performance.
Then I thought our guys really battled. We were matching 'em possession for possession. Tough break obviously with Dairese going down early in the second half. But I thought our guys really responded and continued to play extremely hard. Made a lot of good plays. Just ran out there at the end.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Drew, could you talk about how much you might have missed Gary down the stretch.
DREW GORDON: We missed him a lot, obviously. He's our leader. He's our senior. He's been able to kind of put us on his back throughout the hard times through the season.
Having him go down and seeing him in a wrap really kind of hurt the team. But it's the middle of the game, so you need to keep focusing on the task at hand.

Q. Kendall, what was Fredette doing differently this time besides making shots than the first two games? How tough was it to try to defend him?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: I mean, it's always tough guarding a scorer like that. He's going to keep shooting. We did a decent job on him the first two games. He still finished with 30 points both times. He's a scorer, a great scorer at that. I wish I could pinpoint it. He hit a few more shots than he did the first game. It piled on. It was a great game. He's a great player.

Q. What is it specifically physically about him that makes him as good as he is?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: I just think it's his footwork more than anything. He has a great court awareness. Coupled with his footwork, it just turns into a really smart player. He makes intelligent plays, smart plays. Like I said, tonight he was on point with his shots. With the footwork at hand, it just worked out for a good night for him.

Q. You and Jamal were responsible for running the offense in the second half with Dairese out.
KENDALL WILLIAMS: It was tough obviously. Dairese usually averages about 40 minutes a game. So him going down, Jamal and I had to step up right away. With the lights on, I think we did a decent job. Without our leader, it's some added pressure.
I think we did a decent job, but it's tough without Rese.

Q. Drew, talk about the energy both sides. Describe when Dairese went down, kind of zapped everybody at once.
DREW GORDON: You know, it's tournament time. Each team wants it just as bad as the next. BYU is looking for a win, and we're looking to keep all three wins to ourself.
It was a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of emotion on the floor.
When Rese went down, it will zap the energy out of anybody for a short period of time, seeing one of your brothers fall. It hurt us. But there's nothing you can do. He went down and the game's going to continue. We had to find energy from somewhere and try to capitalize on it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes at this time and continue with questions for Coach Alford.

Q. What is the injury? Do you know? Will he be able to play?
COACH ALFORD: We're not for sure. Obviously it's knee. Don't know if it's ACL or exactly what is wrong. I was told he could not play. I know he's in a lot of pain.
But you know what, I'm looking here at the stats. He went down, and yet I thought our guys really responded and played really well. Where it really affected us was in the last five minutes. I thought from the time he went down until five minutes to go in the game, our guys had really battled.
But when you're young and inexperienced, you lose a guy like that, you don't have him with five minutes to go. He had seven assists, nine points in 20 minutes of work with only one turnover. Another body that we don't have out there. We could have had maybe 15 more bodies and it wouldn't have mattered on Fredette tonight. It would have at least helped us.
That's a tough break. But that's part of it. We understand that. I really am proud of what our guys did leading up until the last five minutes of the game.

Q. How heartbreaking was it for you on a personal level to see him down there?
COACH ALFORD: Well, he's been our bus. He's been our little bus. He's been the guy, the last four years, he's had an awful lot to do with the 97 wins. He did his dangdest to try to get one from the sideline. That's about the only way he hasn't won a game for us, is sitting on the sideline.
He was doing everything he could to help his team from the sideline. The guys feel for him. You never like having any of your players get hurt. It's even harder I think when you're a senior.
If it is a knee, and season-ending, it's a shame he's got to go out that way.

Q. You were a great scorer. You played with great scorers. What was going through your mind first half, second half when Jimmer was going off?
COACH ALFORD: He's very special. Everyone knows that. The country knows that. Special players can have special evenings like this, especially in March. He had one of 'em. He took great shots. He got into rhythm.
I think the tough part was right at the start of the game when we give BYU three offensive rebounds and a scorer like that gets a layup to get in rhythm. He just kind of went from that layup, kept moving out just a little bit further on each shot from there.
But he had a special night. He did it - I'm looking here - with one free throw attempt. That's really unusual. I think we've done a good job of keeping him off the free-throw line all three games. That's one of the things we try to do, keep him off the free-throw line.
But to get 52 and to do it without getting to the free-throw line, just one time, speaks volumes to how talented he was. I think we had five different guys guard him. We tried running some people at him. I think we've won the other two because we haven't let the role players and a couple other players hurt us.
We were going to stay with that had Dairese been okay, our adjustment in the second half was to stay with that. We thought even if he got to 50, we hope he didn't get to 50, but if he got to 50, we'd still have the game probably in the 70s and we were scoring well.
We weren't going to make too many adjustments on him. I thought that worked. It's worked before. But he had a pretty special night. He was very, very difficult to guard. From a fan standpoint, that's a pretty special evening to be a part of.

Q. I've heard people say his footwork, a million different things. Do you see anything unique about his ability that you haven't seen in other players?
COACH ALFORD: I think a lot of people talk about hands when you talk about a basketball player. With Jimmer, he has incredible footwork. He really, really has a unique ability to catch and pivot. He's got a great step-through move. He's got a great shot fake. When you can make shots and you understand the shot fake, you really become dangerous. He really utilizes the shot fake well.
He's got the ball in his hands as lot, so he's very good with his ball skills. When you shoot it like he does, the better ball handling and footwork you have, he's always had that ability to create space.
You look at him tonight, we put Dairese on him, Dairese is all defensive team, one of the best defenders we've had in four years because of his strength, so you put strength on him, he can put away from that. You put length on him like Tony Snell, he can get away. We put quickness on him like Kendall, he can get away from that.
That's a special talent no matter how strong, athletic, big, small, you throw at him, he still has that unique ability to create space to get his shot. I think that has to do with footwork.

Q. Without Rese, your team had difficulty penetrating inside.
COACH ALFORD: It's something we haven't had to do. That's a hard thing for our young guys to do. We got Jamal as a sophomore, Kendall is a freshman, Tony still hampered with his foot injury. We're down in numbers when Dairese goes down because Dairese has been our horse. I thought Jamal and Kendall did a lot of good things. They worked hard. We turned the ball over some in the second half.
I can't fault their effort. They were thrown into a position they have never seen this year. To have to do that on this kind of stage, playing the team we were playing, I thought they really did a lot of good things.

Q. You're going to have to take some time to think about everything, but as far as post-season now, how do you look at probably going to the NIT?
COACH ALFORD: Well, we just wait. We'll wait till Sunday to see what our fate is. Probably in the next 48 hours, our concern is with Dairese. He's meant so much, done so much for our program. Our thoughts are, our prayers, everything is going to him over the next 48 hours. We got to get home, get him evaluated. That's probably really what's on our mind right now more than anything else.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH ALFORD: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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