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March 25, 2011

Jon Diebler

David Lighty

Thad Matta


Kentucky - 62
Ohio State - 60

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're now joined by Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta and Jon Diebler and David Lighty.
COACH THAD MATTA: Well, one of those games where we had a hard time putting the ball in the basket. And I think Kentucky obviously defensively did a tremendous job challenging our shots. You know, it came down to a couple of plays. Jon hit a huge shot. You know, they come down hit a big shot. I thought we had a great look there at the end, but an incredible season, an incredible run for these guys. I told them I never had a team like this and, you know, these two guys as seniors were incredible.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes. Questions for Jon or David, please.

Q. For either one of you, was it defensively what Kentucky was doing, was it one of the games where the ball wasn't falling? Just your read on, as Coach was saying, having trouble getting the ball in the basket.
JON DIEBLER: I think honestly, you know, some of the shots we missed are shots we have been making all year. It is one of those games you have to give them credit. I thought they did a good job of challenging shots obviously with their length. Again, we are going against length all year and those are shots that we make, and tonight they weren't going in.
DAVID LIGHTY: Yeah, like he said, you have to give them credit. I mean, we had open looks and when you get them open, you know you don't get that many and you have got to knock them down. And tonight we didn't. And I mean, you have to commend them, they made plays when they needed it.

Q. For both Jon and David: Was it a little bit difficult playing against this Kentucky team because they are so young and there's no sort of "they are not supposed to be here" type of thing with them?
JON DIEBLER: I think honestly at this point in the season they've got a lot of games under their belt. They're a very good basketball team. Very talented. Kind of like we say about our freshmen, they are not freshmen anymore when you get to this point. I think they hit some big shots and again, you have to give them a lot of credit. They challenged a lot of our shots and we just didn't get them to go tonight.
COACH THAD MATTA: Can I ask you a question, how the hell are they not supposed to be here ?

Q. It is a youth factor.
COACH THAD MATTA: They just won the SEC Tournament. It is a hell of a basketball team there, man.

Q. Jon, how disappointing is it to finish like this?
JON DIEBLER: It hurts, just because we felt we could, we could make a run at the championship. You know by no means were we overlooking this team. Like Coach said, they are a very good basketball team, very talented. To win the games that they won in the SEC, you have to tip your hat to them. Obviously every team wants to finish in Houston. You know, you can't take away with what we did this season in the regular season. I mean we had a great run, but it does hurt to kind of end like this, especially this is where we ended last year.

Q. You guys have been shooting so well in the Tournament, and tonight it wasn't there. How much of that should we attribute to their defense? And what did they do?
JON DIEBLER: I mean, again like we said, you have to give them credit on defense. They played hard and they just challenged shots. I mean, with their size and length, you know obviously we knew that they were shot-blockers and they got some shots blocked. And we kept going at them though. But, you know, we had games where we haven't shot well, but tonight, you know, Dave was saying it all game, we have to get a stop. And we couldn't get consecutive stops and that's kind of what killed us.
DAVID LIGHTY: Yeah, it was pretty much the same thing. You know, there have been games like this where we haven't made shots, but you have to find other ways to win the game. If they are not scoring and we are not scoring, it kind of balances out.
But like I said they flew at shooters. I mean they crowded the paint. They did a good job of that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, guys.
COACH THAD MATTA: I apologize, I'm sorry. That's the best team we played this year.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Matta.

Q. Coach, would you elaborate a little on why Kentucky is the best team you faced. What separates them from all the good teams you've played?
COACH THAD MATTA: I just think that, you know, number one, their defense. Nobody talks about their defense. And, you know, obviously they're very effective defensively. I thought we had open looks. I mean, we missed lay-ups in transition, missed inbounds and got the ball where we wanted it and just couldn't put the ball in the basket. And I think offensively they -- you know we said this, I think Harrellson is probably the most underrated player in college basketball. He's a tremendous player and knows his role and does it well.

Q. You lose Evan Turner from last year, you find these guys to replace them and you really embraced this group. How disappointed are you it ended in the Sweet 16?
COACH THAD MATTA: It is hard, because as I said earlier, I never had a team like this that united and bonded, you know, just their togetherness. And you think about starting on October 15th and it's March 26th, you hit three bumps in the road. All three teams we lost to this year were at some point ranked in the Top 10 in the country. When you have a group of guys that take care of their business the way they are supposed to, you know, they are not problems off the court, they are a joy to be around in practice, it's hard. It's hard. I mean, I have to be honest with you, as I told them, I don't know what to say after the game.

Q. Thad, you might have addressed this regarding their defense. But I think you went a span of about four minutes where you only had a couple of free throws by Craft. I think William looked like he pulled the trigger quick on a couple of jump shots, and you guys might have settled, it looked like a few times, instead of going to the hoop. Is that their defense or not executing as well as you usually do?
COACH THAD MATTA: You know, I will be honest, I think the accumulation of some of the open ones we missed got to us and we may have pressed a little bit, but Will made those exact same shots throughout the course of the season. You know, we were trying to get the ball down low obviously, and they did a good job of kind of faking, staying at home, and getting back and challenging the shots. You know, on the drives, we got it on the glass a couple of times, they just didn't go in for us. I thought we executed pretty well, but we just didn't finish the shots.

Q. Coach, I wondered about the defense that Aaron played on Knight on the game-winner. It looked like he prevented Knight to get to the basket, which I was expecting Knight to do.
COACH THAD MATTA: Yeah, he made a heck of a shot. Aaron, you know he is a tremendous defender. He had his hand in his face and he just rose up and made a great shot. And, you know, those are the type of shots that we said we wanted them to make were challenged twos. To his credit he made a big-time play.

Q. Thad, I know you touched on it just a little bit, can you talk about the end of the game, and it looked like after the three you were trying to get a time-out, didn't get it?
COACH THAD MATTA: Yeah. Yeah, there was a couple that I didn't get. But no, we were trying to get a time-out there. You know, I wanted to try to get our defense set and, you know, alert our guy what is we thought could happen.

Q. After Knight's basket were you just looking, let's push and get it? Because you ended up getting a decent look.
COACH THAD MATTA: Yeah, I was watching the clock. It was like 5.4 when it went in and it was in Aaron's hands and I saw those eyes. He was reading it. And I thought he made a great choice. We'll get a great look off and we had enough time to make a play on it if it didn't go in. I don't know who it was that tipped it away from us. But I loved the shot that he got.

Q. Hey Coach, what do you think this run says about Coach Cal? I know you lost Evan Turner but he lost five guys last year to the NBA draft that were first-round picks. What does that say about him?
COACH THAD MATTA: He is obviously getting it done. You look at his track record of what he accomplished over the coaching career, rebuilding UMass and Memphis and doing a great job there as well.

Q. Thad, how did you think Jared played? And in particular, when you guys were down by one, right with about a minute to go, you went to him in the post and he put it off the side of the backboard. Just wondered what you saw on that one.
COACH THAD MATTA: He got in pretty good position. And you know there was -- we have seen him score well down there on that block. And the guy did a great job bodying him up and preventing him from getting the ball to the follow-through.

Q. Were you surprised with given the amount of fouls that they racked up in the first half that you guys weren't able to knock one of those or two of those guys out of the game?
COACH THAD MATTA: Yeah. You know, the tide turned in the second half, and you know we were looking at it, but they were doing a pretty good job of switching their match-ups and getting guys in and out of the game that were in foul trouble. But things didn't go that well for us in the second half in that regard.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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