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March 11, 2011

Jordin Mayes

Sean Miller

Derrick Williams



USC – 62

THE MODERATOR: An opening statement from Coach Miller.
COACH MILLER: Well, I told the guys in the locker room after the game I thought this was our best win of the season. The reason is we respect USC a great deal. That senior class, and we've gone through some change at Arizona, but you really have to appreciate those kids' effort, not only tonight, but the whole season. Donte Smith, you watch how hard they play, Alex Stepheson, and Simmons is just a remarkable defensive player.
Hopefully everybody reflects on their entire season without Jio Fontan for the first ten games and that they have an opportunity to be in the tournament that they deserve to be in, and that is the NCAA Tournament.
We beat an excellent team tonight. We weren't favored and there was a reason. On our end, very proud of our guys' effort. Ironically we've got two L.A. guys here, and I think in each of their own right they played an excellent game and helped us win.

Q. Tonight's game had a very similar feel especially in the last ten minutes to the loss at Galen Center two weeks ago. Can you or even the players point to some particulars why the result came out differently tonight?
COACH MILLER: We played better tonight, and you're right. USC's a team that doesn't go down easily, and they didn't tonight. I think one of the things we talked about in that last huddle before coming out of the last media is that we were in the same situation that we found ourselves in two weeks ago, and we handled it better. I thought Jamelle Horne's shot from the right corner was a huge shot. Obviously, Derrick -- great players close out games, and he closed out our win tonight.
The young guy to my right, Jordin, has been just a really important part of our team from day one. He has a big role, and not only did he play well tonight, but he ran his team, and that group really executed on offense. That group, that second group was responsible for taking the lead of four or five points and making it double digits. He was terrific during that segment.

Q. Can you talk about guarding the big guys and especially it looked like Solomon was really dropping down, and maybe that's why Simmons got so many points?
COACH MILLER: To Marcus Simmons' credit, I know he hasn't made a lot of threes, but I think he equaled his season total against us. That's what seniors do. You could tell he was playing with a lot at stake. He answered the bell on a couple of open threes.
We wanted to take his defender and really try the best we could at providing extra help, and if we had to do it all over again, I think we'd try to do the same thing. I also think Derrick deserves a lot of credit because to me his individual effort was better, and he did a really good job working hard as did our entire front court.
But those two big guys didn't have as much of an a impact in this game as they did in our second game.

Q. It's probably hard to quantify exactly what difference it made to not have Kevin O'Neill on the opposite bench. But did you notice any difference in the game with the way USC played or the calls they made or anything like that?
COACH MILLER: No, I thought that their coaching staff did an excellent job. They had an opportunity to win a very hard-fought game.

Q. What does it mean this early in your tenure to be playing for the Pac-10 Championship tomorrow?
COACH MILLER: Means a lot. We came here trying to separate our regular season championship and pursue a quest for the conference tournament championship. You have that postseason now, and these guys understand that from this point forward after a lot of hard work and a great regular season, that when you lose, you go home. We talked a lot about trying to be at our best.
Derrick and Jordin can answer this better maybe, but I thought our last experience when we came to Los Angeles losing to both USC and UCLA, good teams. But the way we played, I thought part of what's helped us here this weekend is we came here trying to be better than we were a couple weeks ago, and our team's more together, has a really great mindset.
Like I said, if there was a total team win we had this season, tonight was the night.

Q. Derrick, can you talk about as a starter what it means to have guys like Jordin and all the reserves come in and pick you guys up? Jordin, if you can touch on as a true freshman still kind of working yourself into the Arizona way, how you prepare on the bench to come in and just kind of your mentality as you watch the start of the game then knowing that you're about to go in and take over?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: That second group that comes in, they're the reason why we won a lot of our games this season, Jordin's individual effort. He had eight quick points and a couple threes and that broke open the game, especially tonight that second group, they're the reason why we won tonight. I give Jordin a lot of credit for that.
JORDIN MAYES: Well, one of our strengths is we can play the ten deep. The first group knows that they have to trust in us to come in. Keep a steady pace. As for us coming in, Coach always stresses since we're fresh off the bench, to come in with a lot of energy. So that's what we bring to the game is a lot of energy.

Q. Were you especially motivated after struggling a little bit last time against USC?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Yeah, of course. Whenever I have a bad game, I always want to go in the gym and get extra shots. Just practice a little bit harder than I normally do just to get that game out of my mind. This weekend so far it's been pretty good.
Doesn't matter about the points or rebounds or assists. As long as we get the win, I'm happy.

Q. Did it matter to you at all doing it here, I don't know being from here had you watched games here from Staples before? How did it feel for you?
JORDIN MAYES: It feels good to be at home and play in front of my parents and family and whatnot. I just wanted to come in and play hard, help out the team the best way I can.
COACH MILLER: The thing about Jordin is he comes from such a great winning background. There is a guy that's coming off a back-to-back California State Championships, played hard, practiced hard, and played hard. In his first year at Arizona he's won a Pac-10 Championship, and so far 27 games. Part of what he brings to our team is the intangibles of knowing how to win because of where he's from. What high school he went to, who his high school coach was and just that pedigree. You can tell he believes in himself and he's very, very unselfish.

Q. Can you talk about specifically what did you try to do against Nikola? Did you feel any frustration in him?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's what coach told me to do, and the coaching staff, just try to front him. Limit his catches. If he has 20 catches or he had 30 catches last time, and he had about 25 points. If I could limit his catches, I'm going to limit his points. So that's what I try to do tonight.
I felt he had a little -- he was frustrated and stuff like that, so I just tried to get in his head a little bit and just try to stop him from scoring.
He still had a double-double tonight. Great players are going to score and rebound, especially at his size. So I just had to limit his points and rebounds, and that's what I did tonight?

Q. Could you address was there any residual thinking about the Kevin O'Neill incident last night and if it was in your mind at all?
COACH MILLER: No. No, I think you have to really credit USC as a basketball team. They've had a very good season, and you look at how they've played over the last month. We were focused on beating that team. All of our players came to the arena today to try to execute our game plan and be the best that we can be.

Q. Has Kyle's status changed at all? Has he improved at all today?
COACH MILLER: No, Kyle has a quad strain, and that's another thing that we're going through as a team. That's why he's not starting. That's why he's not playing as much, but he still contributed. He was part of that second group. He gave us ten minutes yesterday, 12 today.
We tried to see if he was worse today, if he was, we weren't going to play him. But he got a little bit better from yesterday. We're anticipating that his progress will be just that, every day getting a little better. He was injured in the Oregon game in McKale on a hard fall and he's progressed quite a bit since Saturday.
Just, unfortunately for him, playing three games in three days this quickly doesn't allow him to be at 100%. But you can see him when he's out there. He's not completely 100%, but as we play him we're well aware he's getting better and we're not further harming him.

Q. With about 6:30 to go, SC had cut it to four, Jesse Perry comes up with the offensive rebound on the missed free throw. Can you talk about that sequence and sort of stabilizing things for you guys?
COACH MILLER: That was the big play. Jesse looking at the stat sheet he scored 11 points. He was that other player in double figures. Sometimes when you play against USC, their size at both positions can overwhelm you. One of the advantages we have is a skill level and quickness level with our four man.
Jamelle and Jesse together did a nice job on offense, maybe negating some of their height. We didn't have that same thing the last time that we played them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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