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March 2, 2012

Kenneth Harris

Denver Holmes

Colt Ryan

Marty Simmons


Evansville 72
Missouri State 64

MARTY SIMMONS:  Well, we knew it would be tough.  Missouri State is a very good basketball team.  They make it very difficult to run offense against.  They've got very good offensive players, and it was a physical‑‑ just a grind‑it‑out kind of game.  I thought we got off to a good start, and then I guess in the middle of the second half there, they really did a great job defensively, and we had a hard time finding buckets.  But at that time period, we were getting stops ourselves.  I thought that was a big point in the game, and we just had guys step up at the end and make plays.  Really proud of our team.

Q.  This question is for Denver:  You and Kenny both did a good job shooting free throws tonight.  I noticed you had a little trouble shooting from the field tonight.  Coming into the next game and coming out of this game what's your focus and what are you telling yourself to get ready for tomorrow, to improve on that?
DENVER HOLMES: Just relax and take my time at the line.  I know I missed two tonight, and when we get to shoot‑around tomorrow just really concentrate on that aspect and just get as many shots up as possible during our walk‑through tomorrow.

Q.  Kenny, coming back here, does it ever get old playing in front of the St.Louis people?
KENNY HARRIS: No, you love to play in front of your family and friends, just to come‑‑ just to let them come see you play.  It feels good to come home and play?

Q.  And play as well as you did tonight?
KENNY HARRIS: Yeah (laughing).

Q.  I'm sure it did feel good to play here, Kenny, but tomorrow you get a chance to play against a tough opponent.  You're going to get to play a little bit against Doug McDermott.  What are your thoughts getting ready to play against players of that caliber?
KENNY HARRIS: I'm going to look at them just like wins, try not to let them touch the ball, catch the ball, hit a great player, limit his touches.

Q.  Denver, can you talk about the rebounding tonight?
DENVER HOLMES: Yeah, that was a huge part of our pregame, and we've been talking about it all week.  They waxed us last Saturday on the boards at our place, and we knew that was going to be a huge factor in this game.  We just got in their and boxed out and got it done, and it's going to take the same thing tomorrow night.  It's just execution and effort and going and getting the ball.  It's a huge part of the game down here in St.Louis.

Q.  Colt, last time you played Creighton you had over 40 points.  Are you excited to see what they do against you tomorrow? 
       COLT RYAN: I'm excited to play them again.  Points to me don't really matter except for team points.  I'm looking to score as the team, score more points than Creighton.  That's the only thing I'm focused on.

Q.  Colt, you guys ripped their hearts out the last two times you played them.  Did you see anything different out of them today?  Do you guys think you had a little psychological advantage over them?
COLT RYAN: I think they came out and they started the game pretty well, but we shot it extremely well to start the game off.  I mean, they competed hard, and I mean, I thought that a big thing was on the defensive end, we were able to get some stops at some crucial times and some key buckets at some crucial times, also.

Q.  At one point tonight it seemed like it was getting real physical.  I know Taylor was bleeding at one point.  Did that cause you guys to get angry or frustrated or take you off your game or did that bond you together and motivate you guys to push further?
COLT RYAN: No, definitely not.  I mean, we knew it was going to be a physical game coming into it.  It had been‑‑ the past two match ups had been real physical, and we expected it.  The whole thing with Troy, I think‑‑ salvo actually got him.  It wasn't them, it was an unfortunate elbow.  But we knew it was going to be physical.
DENVER HOLMES: Just like Colt said, we prepared for a physical match up against them the last two times.  They tried to beat us to screens and write us off screens, and all week we executed taking our man deeper than the screen and just making our cuts really sharp and being sharp on the offensive end, and then we wanted to be the most physical team on the defensive end, rebounding, and got to done tonight.

Q.  Colt and Denver, obviously you split with Creighton during the season.  Could you talk about getting another shot at them with what's at stake tomorrow?
COLT RYAN: I mean, there's a lot at stake.  I mean, it's win or go home.  We're playing for a bid for the NCAA Tournament, just like they are.  We're going to come out and give it our all, get fluids in us tonight, get hydrated, get some food and get some sleep and give it our best shot tomorrow.
DENVER HOLMES: Exactly what Colt said.  Definitely hydrate tonight and getting some rest and waking up in the morning with a clear mind and ready to get the game plan down and go out and execute tomorrow against them.

Q.  Coach, if I'm correct I don't believe you trailed tonight but it seemed like Missouri State wouldn't go away.  Talk about how tough of a win it was despite that fact.
MARTY SIMMONS:  That's exactly what it was.  I've got a ton of respect for Paul and their program, and Kyle Weems is a champion.  He's a great player.  He's a great leader.  They've got tons of guys, Pickens.  You got Patterson, he plays so hard, very competitive.  Their team is full of guys like that.  That's the way all three games have been.  We prepared that way, and that's exactly the way it was.  Like Colt said earlier, I think the way we started the game probably really helped us as much as anything.  We just seemed to be really sharp and made some shots, and I think that gave us confidence, and then as the game got deeper, we just grinded it out.  We were able to find ways to get stops and get rebounds, and it was a very tough, hard‑fought win, and that's the way it is any time you play not only Missouri State but really anybody in this league.  It's a very difficult league to play.

Q.  Your ability to contain Gulley and do you think tonight, how big a key was that tonight?
MARTY SIMMONS:  I don't know if we really stopped them.  Those guys are great players.  I know Gulley got us in the foul trouble.  Gulley did at least.  That probably helped as much as anything.  But nothing special, just challenging guys to try to keep the ball in front, play individual characteristics, and make their looks not great looks.  But I mean, they're great players.  I'm sure they missed some shots that they normally hit.  I guess that's probably as good an answer as I can give you.

Q.  Going into half you were leading 43 to 34.  What did you tell your guys going into halftime having that lead over Missouri State?
MARTY SIMMONS:  Well, we knew they weren't going to quit.  We knew they'd come back and they certainly did.  But we challenged them to win the first four minutes of the second half and I'm not sure we did.  But really just a sustained effort.  We let Weems get two threes in transition there, which we absolutely did not want to do.  If we've got to pick him up at the half line we didn't want to get him, he's so dangerous in transition.  Patterson got a pick and pop three, just tried to review points in our game plan that we felt like we didn't execute so we'd execute better in the second half.  But more than anything just maintain the aggressiveness that we felt like we played with in the first half.

Q.  Talking with some of the Creighton players after their game, I asked Antoine how he felt about another close game and he said he was really tired of close games, they were going to do their best to make sure whoever they played next they were going to blow out.  What do you think about that and do you have anything to say in response?
MARTY SIMMONS:  I think they're a great team, and I'm going to focus on my team, getting my team prepared.  They're a very difficult team to match up with.  They've got one of the best players in the country in Doug McDermott.  Echnique is a great inside player and Young in my opinion one of the best point guards in the country.  The guy knows how to make plays, confident group ton of games top 25 for a long, long time.  I just look at it from our standpoint as a really good opportunity for our program to play one of the better programs in the country on a stage where you feel like you have the opportunity to play for an NCAA bid.

Q.  You guys both had pretty good crowds tonight, you and Creighton.  Do you think the crowds will have a factor in tomorrow's game?
MARTY SIMMONS:  I'm not sure on that.  I think probably limiting Doug's touches and blocking him out and trying to keep Antoine in front of us and not letting Echnique catch the ball is probably important.  I don't really think‑‑ I think that's a non‑factor.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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