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March 17, 2011

Curtis Kelly

Frank Martin

Jacob Pullen


Kansas State – 73
Utah State - 68

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you can make some opening remarks and then we'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.
COACH MARTIN: Just obviously happy with the win. But fortunate to have gotten one. Real proud how we played the first half. After all our -- after our season and all our growth and all that, little disappointing that we reverted in the second half to mistakes that we made early in the year. But this time of year you win, you get a chance to play again. So hopefully we can refocus and maybe play two halves like we did the first half today.
Hat's off to Utah State. They're grown men. They play like it. They're a heck of a basketball team.

Q. This question is for Jacob. We know you weren't feeling well, at least not 100 percent. But you were really the floor general tonight. You really controlled the tempo. How much did you have to dig down to really pull this performance out?
JACOB PULLEN: When it comes to basketball, you know, I put the way I feel aside. You know, it's about winning games and continuing to be able to have a season right now. And for us it was really just trying to find who was hot at what moment. One moment it was Will, then Curt had a mismatch. We just wanted to continue to somehow find a way to keep the lead and finish out the game.

Q. Curtis, talk about the play of Wesley. I mean, first half he goes out with three fouls and then the second half he was a pretty dominant force inside. How was it trying to contain him?
CURTIS KELLY: It was pretty tough. He is a strong body. He has a big body. He throws it around pretty well. So it was tough. But I tried to play the best I could. Tried not to give him angles. But, unfortunately, he played better in the second half than he did the first half.

Q. Jacob, can you talk about the performance of the foul line, that's an area you struggled in earlier this year but I think you were 24 of 28 tonight.
JACOB PULLEN: Just understanding that our last game of the season can come if we don't shoot the ball well from the free-throw line and make emphasis of it in practice. You know, just really it's about focusing. As a team, I think we did a good job of understanding that and getting to the line today and focusing in and making free-throws.

Q. Jake, Wisconsin, you played them your freshman year, seemed like a turning point in your career. Talk about being able to play them again.
JACOB PULLEN: It's a great opportunity. They're a good team. They're a really sound team. They don't make mistakes. They really do a good job executing and getting the shots they want and they got a good guard in Jordan Taylor. One of the best guards in the country, I think.
For us it's about trying to speed them up and getting them to play our style of basketball and containing him off the dribble and really just imposing our will and try to make them have to guard us and our pinch post action.

Q. Jacob, can you clarify what was wrong with you exactly? Was it the flu, a cheeseburger? I mean, what was the situation?
JACOB PULLEN: I don't know where you guys got food poisoning from. I think Jordan told you that. I think I had a fever. My temperature was up above 100. And the trainer just told me he didn't want me to do anything that day.
You know, the next day, today I came in the gym with the team and I got shots and went through the full shoot- around like everybody else and I just came out to try to do what I could to try to help my team win.
COACH MARTIN: If he had a fever he wouldn't have been cleared.

Q. Jacob, to elaborate on the previous question with the Wisconsin match-up. I know it's hard to jump ahead that quickly after such a great game you just played, but what do you see in that individual match-up with you and Jordan Taylor?
JACOB PULLEN: For me it's about, actually I got to guard, you know, I'm not sure if I did a great job today guarding. But this game coming up is going to be real vital to contain him and really try to turn him over and get him to speed up and play our style of basketball, which is up and down pace.
You know, at the end of the day it's not going to just be me, it's going be the team that's got to help contain him. Also get us in transition where we think we can excel at.

Q. Jake, from your point of view, what was the difference first half, second half, talking specifically defensively as a team? You guys really locked them down in the first half. Not so much in the second.
JACOB PULLEN: Just lackadaisical errors. Just really not talking, not communicating, giving up open shots. And, at the same time, just jogging and not doing things that we were supposed to do, things that got us the lead to the point where we got too comfortable.
You know, with a young team you don't expect that to happen, but when it happens we have to step up and make sure they understand that you can't have those moments. Because, you know, other teams or anybody else, even Utah State, they could have made some shots and made that game closer than it was.

Q. Jake, it seemed like you were pretty relieved at the end with everything that went on with you being sick yesterday and the poor second half. Just how relieving was it to know you are going to win?
JACOB PULLEN: Like Frank said, when you get to this part of the season, the things that go bad and things that go good, it doesn't really matter. You just got to find a way to have one more point than the other team and that continues your season.
For me and Curtis, we're seniors, so it's the last trip around. When you are looking at the clock and scoreboard and are down a few points and are thinking about your last time touching the ball in a college jersey. So you never want to have that feeling. But, at the same time, you got to be prepared for it and try not to let that happen.

Q. Curtis, it seemed like you were really ready every time they doubled you and were really active when you needed to be. Can you just talk about your game and what you thought was working?
CURTIS KELLY: In the first half they seemed to double. So I seen the double and passed the ball. I think I did a good job passing the ball in the first half. In the second half I tried to be more aggressive and score the ball more.
Jake and coach ran a lot of good plays and gave me the ball. So I tried to execute and continue playing. But I think I did a good job passing the ball. Hopefully I didn't have too many turnovers.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much.
We'll take questions for Coach Martin.

Q. Coach, Curtis mentioned it in his opening comments about the big body of Wesley. Wisconsin is a team that can throw many more big bodies and they're team that really plays from the inside out. What are you going to have to do with the guys to prepare for this?
COACH MARTIN: Well, obviously Wesley's big body didn't bother us in the first half. You know, we played Kansas twice. We played Nebraska twice. You know, we played folks that got big bodies. We just weren't very good defensively in the second half.
Wesley's a good player. If you are not solid with your responsibilities as a team, not individually, you left Curtis on an island in the second half, um, you are going to pay the price. You know, we got to be solid with our responsibilities and our disciplines. And when we do that, we're a pretty good basketball team. When we don't, like we didn't in the second half, then we're very vulnerable.
We fouled too much in the second half. Just got lazy and fouled. And you can't do that.

Q. Now talk about the fact that this was the only first-round match-up of two top 25 teams. Do you think that prepares you well for Wisconsin and how is it playing against Utah State?
COACH MARTIN: As soon as I saw the pairings on Sunday I was somewhat concerned. As excited as I am with my team, I was concerned because Utah State has grown men playing. You know, we -- everyone talks about all the returning players we got, we do, but as far as games played, we're the second-youngest team in the Big 12 this year. A lot of these guys are playing in an NCAA tournament game, as far as getting on the floor, for the first time in their careers.
So, you know, when you do that against a team that's been in it three straight careers led by 23-, 24-year-old seniors, there's going be some uncomfortable moments. But we responded well in the first half. I was extremely pleased at half-time. I thought we guarded. I thought we were strong. I thought we rebounded. I thought offensively we played real good. That's why we got them in foul trouble.
We just didn't make shots in the first half. Then unfortunately, you know, we did that in the second half. We got no chance against Wisconsin if we can't play two halves better on Saturday.
But, listen, in this tournament there's not an easy game. You got to gear up and go every single one.

Q. How much do you think Jacob Pullen's illness affected him, if at all, in tonight's game?
COACH MARTIN: He didn't have energy. He tried. That's where I was disappointed. Because he gave us good energy in the first half. But that's where I was disappointed in the rest of our team. In the second half he just didn't have that energy to sit down and guard and his teammates didn't help him. And that's what aggravated me.
You know, he's bailed us out defensively of many jams all year. I mean, he is the only unanimous all-defensive player in the Big 12. So he is good there. But he just didn't have that gear today. Brockeith Pane is fast and strong. He just didn't have that gear to keep up with him and our guys didn't do a good job helping him. You can't have that.
But he's had better days defensively. Not because of desire. He wanted to. He just didn't have it. Hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow and defend better on Saturday. But we got to help him.

Q. How did you think that Curtis played? Do you think he gave you a big lift when you needed one?
COACH MARTIN: He had a great first half and had a great last, I don't know, 5, 6 minutes of the game. Whatever time was when they cut it to six, you know. But sometime early in that second half he kind of zoned out, which has been my challenge of Curt. To keep him in the moment. You know, let mistakes go. Don't -- you know, and he's gotten so much better at that.
We can't win today without him. He guarded. He scored. He passed. He screened. You know, we put him in that high post to run that offense. He's got to screen. He screens every single play. So we can't win without him today.
You know, he had that segment in the second half there where, you know, he can't do that. But he was good.

Q. Frank, how difficult is it to recharge Jake's batteries over only 48 hours when he's obviously been zapped to this point?
COACH MARTIN: If he was a freshman, I'd be worried. But he is a big boy now. He is still young by age, but he is a big boy. One thing about Jake is when that bell sounds, he is going to be there. You know, and he's also one of those kids that doesn't forget stuff. I guarantee you deep down inside he remembers that Wisconsin ended his freshman year. Does that mean that extra motivational? I don't know, you got to be disciplined and play well to have a chance to compete with Wisconsin. But he'll be good. He'll be ready. He'll be a lot better Saturday. I'll be surprised if he's not.

Q. Obviously, Frank, a little closer than you wanted it at the end. But is there anything you can take away from playing and finding a way to win a close and hard game in the first round of a tournament?
COACH MARTIN: You know, our lack of discipline made it an interesting end to the game. You know, that is -- I don't think you learn anything from lack of discipline. That's why you play the season, so you learn those moments so when you get to this moment, when you get inside those last three minutes, you have to be very disciplined and attention to detail and you got to understand what you are doing. We didn't do that today.
And that is, you know, as a coach it's frustrating because that is why you coach for six months and you practice for six months and you play all the games is to prepare for this time of year. And we've grown so much as a team it was frustrating to see us kind of take a step back there.
But with all that said, like I said at the beginning, you know, that's water under the bridge now. We got to prepare. Our kids fight, they compete, that is why we're still playing. That is why we're one of 32 playing. We got to prepare tomorrow, be positive, understand that we got another great opportunity and be at our best on Saturday.

Q. Could you comment on the play of Shane Southwell who had a career high ten tonight?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah, Shane had not played well since the Texas game. Had not practiced well, had not played well. And his teammates, myself, we really were on him this week in practice. And he responded with a very good effort. Not only did he make free throws and make a couple baskets but made some great passes within our offense that got us shots at crucial moments. And defensively he was good.
But then I get back to the same thing, you know, Jake doesn't have that energy there towards the end, we need Shane now to kind of zone in and really buckle up and go. And instead he's comfortable because we got a lead and we don't guard.
We made two huge mistakes when we had, I think it was a 13-point lead. Two back-to-back huge defensive mistakes and he was right in the middle of both of them. You know, you can't have that. That's where I am saying we didn't help Jake. Guys have to be disciplined. But he was good. I'm proud. Because he responded to the challenge of this week in practice. Some guys run and hide, he didn't. He came out and helped us.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, coach, thank you very much. We will see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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