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November 22, 2011

Elijah Johnson

Thomas Robinson

Bill Self

Tyshawn Taylor


Kansas – 72
UCLA – 56

THE MODERATOR:  Coach, some opening remarks?
COACH SELF:  Anytime you get a chance to play a program with a history and tradition like UCLA, you certainly should be very excited every time you get a win.
And we are excited.  I don't think it was the best‑played game, certainly for a stretch there for us.  But we did do some good things throughout the game.  And fortunately we finished the game right, which obviously was the outcome.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Elijah, can you just talk about your game today and how much better your shot felt than maybe some other nights?
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  The game was slower for me today.  I felt like I had to help Tyshawn and T‑Rob out as far as taking pressure off them, making them have to make every play and standing out to get our team going.
So I just wanted to control the team today.  Ty had to sit out at a point where he couldn't come into the game due to fouls and everything.  I just wanted to help T‑Rob out and keep my team under control and let them know that there were still some leaders out on the floor.

Q.  Tyshawn, how does it change things for you guys?  What kind of a lift does it give you when Elijah plays the way he did tonight?
TYSHAWN TAYLOR:  Elijah can do a lot of things.  He can shoot it.  He can get to the rim.  He's a great passer.  He's definitely a threat on the court.
When he plays like that, it makes it harder to guard because he can stretch the floor and create for others and also create his own shot like it was a big play when he came down and we went one‑fourth flat and he rose up, shot a pull‑up that was a big shot for us.
I think when he's playing like that, it makes us a better team.

Q.  Coach, could you elaborate on your comments after the game about you came here to play Duke?
COACH SELF:  Yeah, I think anybody that‑‑ pretty common knowledge that they've never lost a game in Maui.  If they have, it certainly wasn't in this tournament.  And they were on the other side.
And we felt like that if we could get to the Finals that's who we would be playing.  So I don't think that's a bad or a cocky statement at all.
If you're going to win the tournament, you're probably going to have to beat Duke.  History shows that.  So we're excited to have the opportunity to play them.  Obviously they're a terrific team and they've got a lot of things going for them and a class program, which I think we are, too, and we don't get a chance to play them very often.
And so this would be big for us.  And I'm sure it's big for their guys, too, to get a chance to play Kansas.  I'm excited about it.  I think our players will be excited about it.  I know if we guard like we did tonight for five straight possessions we could be down 15‑0, so we have to do a better job of being focused and disciplined.  But we'll look forward to the opportunity.

Q.  How surprised were you that Josh Smith was not a factor, and did you think your guys took him out or did he just have a poor game?
COACH SELF:  I think that it helps when you play out of foul trouble.  And certainly he played out of foul trouble all night long.  And Josh is obviously a load.  He kicked our tail last year at Lawrence, and I think that may have helped our guys a little bit.
But I will say this:  I thought Jeff Withey did a really good job on him early in the game.  Did a good job.  Trapped down on him a few times.  I don't know how effective it was, but it certainly didn't allow him to turn and basically kind of power his way to the goal.
So we did some good things with Josh.  But we also were fortunate that he had foul problems.

Q.  Thomas, can you address just how much you're looking forward to playing Duke tomorrow?  You've never got a chance to play them.  Is it something you've always wanted a chance to do?
THOMAS ROBINSON:  Definitely.  Like Coach said, we knew coming into the tournament if we wanted to win we had to go through Duke.  And for me to be a part of this game Kansas versus Duke is big.  I don't know any team that wouldn't be excited to play tomorrow, two storied programs, and it should be a good one.

Q.  Elijah, how much of a confidence boost have these two games been for you after struggling maybe a little bit early on in the season?
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  I felt like I needed some reps at a lot of minutes on the floor.  I've never played over 30 minutes like this and had to stay in the game regardless of what's going on through fouls or not.
So I felt like I'm just getting in the comfort zone of figuring it out, finding out what Coach want us to do and trying to keep the team under control and being able to stay on the court when everybody else has got to come off.
It's definitely giving me more confidence and making me more comfortable on the floor.  And once I get comfortable, my game comes along with it.

Q.  Tyshawn, when they cut it to 5, how did you guys keep it under control, and what's your take on what you guys did when they cut it to 5?
TYSHAWN TAYLOR:  We knew we had to keep our composure.  We knew they weren't going to go away and lay down.  We had a big lead.  We knew we had to can continue to come out and play.  They made some shots.  They got some good plays and we made some dumb plays and kind of helped them out a little bit.
But we just had to keep battling.  I think Coach always says:  Basketball is a game of runs, and they went on a 12‑0 run four minutes in.  We just had to sustain it and just keep grinding.
That's what we did.  Elijah made some big plays, Travis did.  Justin came in and helped us out.  We got some rebounds.
So it was a definite team effort.  I think if we keep competing like that, we could be really, really good.  So I think we played really well.

Q.  Elijah, how much different did you say, look, with Jerime Anderson running the point versus Jones, it looks like they made most of their runs with Jerime with that run, him running the point?
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  I felt like he had a chip on his shoulder, he felt like he had to do something for the team.  He stepped up.  For some reason Jones stepped out of the game for a while.  And he tried to put the team on his back.  He had his bigs in fouls and not really making too many shots at one point, so he felt like he had to do something, so he struck.
And when he struck, he had a couple plays where he did some big things, a momentum boost for the program.  And he tried to get them rolling, but that was something that we had to put an end to real quick.  The game would have got real intense.
We don't want that, so we had to shut it down.

Q.  Coach and any of the players, clearly your fans are through the roof.  Duke is the same way.  I don't know if you've had a chance to watch them.  But how rocking is this house going to be tomorrow night?
COACH SELF:  I don't know.  But it was kind of rocking out there after the game with us.  My family was having a good time in the stands.  And they weren't even drinking.
But I haven't been here but three times.  And I will bet tomorrow night's atmosphere for the final game will be as good an atmosphere that this building's ever seen for this tournament.  I could be wrong, but there will be‑‑ you're not going to be able to get all your fans in.  People are going to be trying to scalp, or do whatever, tickets.
I think we brought‑‑ I could be wrong, but I think we brought well over a thousand.  Seems like to me Duke brought a ton.  I think it's going to be a great atmosphere.
And there's something‑‑ this atmosphere may be as good a neutral court atmosphere that you could play in.  It's better than NCAA tournament atmosphere because you can feel the crowd.  They're actually a part of it.
I think it will be a fun, fun, fun game tomorrow night.  Hopefully we'll play really well, because we'll have to to have a chance to win.
But atmosphere will be second to none, I would think, in the history of the tournament.  Of course, I'm speaking out of turn, but I can't imagine it being much better than what it will be.
TYSHAWN TAYLOR:  I think this is one of the games when you come to Kansas you sign up for this.  This is one of the big games that we're probably going to always remember coming to Maui playing Duke in the championship.
So I'm definitely excited for this, and I think they're going to have some great fans here.  And our fans are great, too.  I think, like Coach said, it's going to be real juiced in here.  We've got to embrace it and enjoy this time.
I'm really looking forward to this.  This is something I've been looking forward to since I knew we were coming to Maui last year when I found out who the teams were going to be.
I think it's going to be a great atmosphere, and I'm excited about tomorrow.
THOMAS ROBINSON:  I go with pretty much what Coach and Ty said.  The stage doesn't get any bigger than this, at least in the preseason, Duke versus Kansas in the championship for Maui.
So, I mean, it's definitely a big stage.  And like Coach said, we come and play well tomorrow, then the game might go down in history.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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