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November 23, 2011

Thomas Robinson

Bill Self

Jeff Withey


Duke – 68
Kansas – 61

THE MODERATOR:  Coach, some opening remarks?
COACH SELF:  We're obviously disappointed because we didn't win the basketball game.  But I don't know how you felt, but that was one great basketball game.  Two good teams playing, and it came down to one possession.  That's the way most great games do.  We're extremely disappointed not winning the game.
Give Duke credit.  They made three threes in the last two or three minutes that were remarkable.  But we came to the islands, and I do think our team got better, so I'm proud of our guys.  I thought we fought hard.

Q.  Coach, did that crowd live up to what you expected or what you talked about last night?
COACH SELF:  I thought the crowd was unbelievable.  But you guys are here every year, I'm not.  I can't imagine there being a lot better atmosphere than that game against two historic programs, packed out in the history of the tournament.  There may have been some games that matched.
But I can't believe there would be anything better.  I know our guys had a blast playing in it.  I had a blast coaching in it.  It was a terrific atmosphere.

Q.  Coach, what was the call on that play where Tyshawn turned it over on the side?
COACH SELF:  What do you mean the call?

Q.  What were you trying to go with on that one?
COACH SELF:  Well, we were‑‑ they'd been doing a good job of hedging ball screens, so we spread Thomas out there, and he didn't ball screen.  He faked it.  Usually nine out of ten times when you fake the ball screen, the defender will go with him, and most defenders that are guarding the ball are taught to force it into the ball screen.
So we thought maybe Ty could turn the corner, because we were trying to go two for one.  Even though we were only down two and there was a minute something left, we were trying to score the basket as opposed to one and then have to foul because they're such a good free throw shooting team.
Kelly I believe made the play of the game, even a bigger play than Thornton's three, probably.  He made the play of the game.  And Ty put it off his foot.  At least that's what it looked like from my standpoint.

Q.  Could you talk about the intensity of that game even though we're only in November?  In second place seven or eight years.  Did you sense how big of a game this was even though we were really only preseason?
THOMAS ROBINSON:  Like we said yesterday, this is what we came to Kansas before for games like this.  I do believe‑‑ I haven't been around that long.  I'm still a young player.  But I do believe that game will go down as one of the top games of the tournament.  It's too bad we got the short end of the stick, but I feel that my team got better.
We did accomplish something when we came to the islands, and we'll go back to Kansas a better team.  So I'm happy, but at the same time, I wanted to have the trophy.
JEFF WITHEY:  Yeah, well, like Thomas said, we come to Kansas to play big games like this.  It was a rough game.  We were going at it the entire game.  It's unfortunate that we lost, but like Thomas said, we got a lot better over this tournament.
We've got to take good thoughts and bring it back home and try building off of it.  You know, it sucks that we lost, but we're going to go uphill from here and we're going to learn a lot from this game.

Q.  Coach, could you talk about the way Jeff played tonight and in this tournament?  And Jeff, could you address how you feel like you played and how much you progressed this week?
COACH SELF:  I thought Jeff was outstanding.  I thought he was a presence.  I also thought yesterday he got some big‑boy rebounds in the first half when he's really challenged.  In the Georgetown game I don't believe you were as big a factor because of fouls, but I thought he played terrific.
That is one thing about our team.  I think there is a lot of room for improvement because Travis making key plays for us over here, and Jeff and Elijah.  These are guys, in Conner and Jeff, these are guys that have never really been in the game except as a complimentary role when it's not on the line.
So I thought we got better, and I certainly thought Jeff played really big.
JEFF WITHEY:  Yeah, thanks, Coach.  But I came to the islands, you know, we came over here to win.  I think I got a lot better over the time that we've been here.  Confidence grew as time went on.  I think playing both halves, first and second half is something I needed to get more in tune with.
I think previously I've been playing just one half really well, and another half not so well.  So it's just the consistency that I'm trying to build on.
I think that I'm going to learn a lot more.  This is only really my sixth real game I've played in, so I'm just trying to build off this and trying to get better every day.

Q.  In a tight game like that, basically a one‑possession game most of the way, do you look at it and say we just had a couple of those turnovers and it would be a different game?
COACH SELF:  Yeah, you could look at it that way.  But that's one thing that we have to do a better job.  We have empty possessions where we wasted them.  There was a bonus, if you guys can believe this.  We had eight turnovers in the first half and they had zero steals.
So our turnovers didn't go out of bounds.  They didn't get run out on us.  So we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.  You look at our turnovers and I think the majority of them are focus, concentration.  It's fixable.  Carelessness.
In Tyshawn, you know, Tyshawn had an unbelievable first half.  That's my fault, probably, as much as anything because in a game like that, you have to rest your guys and I wanted him out there.  So even though he got careless there late, it may have been because he was a little fatigued and lost focus.  So I've got to do a better job with that.

Q.  On Thornton's threes, is that just a kid making great plays, or what do you think about the defense?
COACH SELF:  I thought we were guarding him pretty good.  The last possession, we couldn't have guarded him any better.  That was unbelievable.  The possession before, if we're going to play anybody that's a driver on their team without Austin in the game, it would be Thornton.
And Ty didn't play off of him.  He maybe relaxed for just a count.  But we didn't expect him to jump up and shoot a ball like that in the tournament.  That was just a great play by an individual.  Then the one late, I've been forced in a lot of times, and that was an unlucky break for us.
But give him credit.  I don't even know if he saw the rim when he shot it, but it was a heck of a shot.  It was a great shot.  It was the ballgame.  I mean, that was game.  That was game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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