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March 7, 2012

Bill Kennedy

Khris Middleton

Elston Turner


Texas A&M – 62
Oklahoma – 53

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by coach Billy Kennedy of the Texas A&M Aggies and his two student‑athletes, Khris Middleton and Elston Turner.
Coach, an opening statement.
COACH KENNEDY:  I thought it was a great team win.  Our guys bought into our defensive game plan and trying to limit them in the post.  And this is the first game I think we had four guys in double figures.  We really shared the ball and made big shots when we needed to.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  Elston, Dash's huge shot.  You hadn't made a shot from outside in the second half.  I think they have pulled within two, and that kind of keyed you guys on a 10‑2 run.  How huge was that 3‑pointer?
ELSTON TURNER:  It was one of the biggest shots in the game.  And, like you said, we weren't really hitting in the second half.  And Dash, throughout his career he's hit big shots.
So it didn't surprise any of us one bit.

Q.  Khris, how big were David and Ray?  They combined for 21points inside.  Just talk about their second half, combining for 21 in the second half.
KHRIS MIDDLETON:  They're huge, especially on the offensive boards for us, just Dave attacking the paint with his dribble and going through contact and trying to finish.  They really helped us on the defensive end, too, by containing their two bigs.

Q.  Khris, your thoughts on getting another shot at Kansas tomorrow?
KHRIS MIDDLETON:  It's always a good game at Kansas.  They compete real hard.  We just have to master our attention and go over that too and just go out there, execute the game plan we get tonight and just fight tomorrow and compete.

Q.  Khris, they got you at that 3, kept an 8‑to‑2 run, and from there you guys kind of seized it.  Could you talk about how big that was and was it deflating to them, do you think?
KHRIS MIDDLETON:  I honestly don't know.  We just wanted to take that shot, use that as momentum, just get stops.  That was the main thing down the stretch, was just keep getting stops.

Q.  Khris, could you talk about just what was different down the stretch, talk about stops, but you've had games where things have gone away at the end, a lot of close games.  What do you feel was different about this game?
KHRIS MIDDLETON:  I think it was mainly the same.  Every game we compete hard, but I think we just got a couple of balls to bounce our way this time.  Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't.  But sometimes you just have to go out there keep competing.

Q.  Elston, how does it feel to play a team back to back?  Does it make it easier or tougher to prepare for this game?
ELSTON TURNER:  I mean, we said in the locker room earlier everybody's used to it because you played AU and sometimes we have to play three or four games in a day.  So we're pretty used to it.
Just gotta rest our legs and just be ready for tomorrow.

Q.  Coach, your players played a lot of minutes.  How are you going to rest them up tonight for a quick turnaround tomorrow?
COACH KENNEDY:  We're just excited to keep playing.  You build momentum in tournament play.  The first game is‑‑ if you don't win the first game, you feel like you haven't even been in the tournament.
So we're going to rest up, get some cold tubs, get these guys in the cold tubs and do the best we can to be as ready as possible.

Q.  Khris and Elston, you guys have come in with five‑game losing streak.  You broke that tonight.  What does that do for a confidence factor going forward?
KHRIS MIDDLETON:  I mean, my confidence was still high during that losing streak.  We were playing hard.  We just couldn't come out with it.  But each game you've got to put each last game behind you and keep moving forward.  I think we did that.
ELSTON TURNER:  Just, you know, kind of like what Khris said, we just gotta put it behind us and fortunately we came out with the win.  We feel even more confident with tomorrow's game because we have played Kansas close for both games.  And we feel like we can beat them.
So tomorrow's going to be tough, but I feel like with the way everything's going we can get the win.

Q.  Elston, could you just talk about that 10‑point little run you had at the end of the first half from a personal standpoint?  You hit a couple of 3s, most of your scoring there, and that seemed to provide you guys with a lift.  You've kind of been a streaky scorer this season.  Were you just feeling it at that point?
ELSTON TURNER:  Yeah, I guess you could say that.  I was really just trying to get us jump started.  It was a back‑and‑forth game:  They would take the lead; we would take the lead; it would be tied up.
We just needed a lift before the end of the first half, and I just tried to fulfill that role and get our team to pretty much get a lead.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on the victory.
Questions for Coach.

Q.  You hit three shots outside of the paint in the entire second half, but they all came in that flurry about a minute apart.  Just kind of talk about that stretch there.
COACH KENNEDY:  Well, it was from three of our upperclassmen.  I thought Dash was open, and after we had moved the ball from side to side a little bit and it was under ten seconds, and he hit a big shot.
And fortunately the next opportunity David got what we called a second cut at the elbow and was confident enough to shoot it.  Dash made a great play on the baseline drive, and Khris had some good looks.  And I knew he was due to make one.
What I like about Khris is it doesn't shake his confidence, and he stepped up and made a big 3 when he wasn't shooting the ball as well as he's capable of.

Q.  You were able to play Kansas very close at home, two low‑scoring games, what do you credit it to and will that be a similar challenge tomorrow in this similar environment in KC?
COACH KENNEDY:  We're excited to be playing.  And hopefully we attribute it a little bit to our defense.  We tried to limit Thomas Robinson both times and make other guys beat us.  Kansas is so good, other guys are capable of beating you.  Elijah Johnson had 18points the first half against us to build a good 10‑point lead.
And we were playing from behind from then on, and we have to hope they miss from the 3‑point line, because they're so good in the post and build up such a great job of getting those guys in position, and Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey together is probably one of the best post tandems in the country.  So we gotta be inside out and hope they miss perimeter jump shots and we give them one shot.

Q.  Could you talk about David's two big offensive rebounds for you in the last few minutes and his hustle in that time?
COACH KENNEDY:  We told our guys throughout the game to continue to go to the offensive glass.  Defensively they switch a lot.  And we had some mismatches on the offensive glass I thought a little bit if we aggressively went after it.  Fortunately we were able to get the right bounces and guys went after the glass.  I thought Ray Turner and David both did a good job, and Khris rebounded the ball well for us also.

Q.  You talked a little bit about how you were able to slow Thomas Robinson particularly at your place.  What did you feel you were able to do to slow him down?  He was noticeably frustrated during that game.
COACH KENNEDY:  We swarmed him with about three guys.  We really just tried to attack him and make him kick it out.  And he's such a good player over the course of the game he wears you down.
Again, we were fortunate and were able to get him‑‑ I think he had two fouls the first time we played them in the first half, and the second time we swarmed him and he kicked it out and Elijah made some big shots.

Q.  Daniel Alexander hasn't been playing well or hasn't even been playing a lot lately.  In the first half he came out had five big rebounds.  What was the key to getting him going in the first half?
COACH KENNEDY:  I just thought Ray picked up two fouls and Daniel's been practicing better the last couple of weeks.  Our team, we've had our whole group except Kourtney obviously the last two or three weeks and you get better in practice.  And we've gotten better in practice since the Oklahoma State game.  And guys have really made more of an effort in practice to get better and start‑‑ Daniel was one reason‑‑ Daniel did a good job in practice.  I think he prepared himself better than he has in the past.

Q.  Could you go back, you opened about the defense against their post.  Could you elaborate just what was working and what you set out to do.
COACH KENNEDY:  Are you talking about the Oklahoma game?

Q.  This game, you said you saw him switch your defense, able to stop them in the post.
COACH KENNEDY:  The Oklahoma game?  We really doubled off on the perimeter.  And we really tried to attack and double teams.  I thought Naji Hibbert, when he played, did a great job trapping.  Dash Harris, and we forced him to shoot 3s, and in the first half they missed shots and they started to drive us the second half.  Instead of shooting 3s, they really just tried to drive the ball and get to the free‑throw line, which they did a pretty good job of.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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