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March 9, 2012

Steve Alford

Drew Gordon

Tony Snell


New Mexico – 72
UNLV – 67

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by New Mexico.
Coach, some thoughts on tonight's game.
COACH ALFORD:  Just very proud of our team.  We've been an outstanding road team all year long, whether we've been on neutral floor or a road floor.  To win the way we did tonight, getting down 17‑4, I think it was our largest comeback of the season.  To do it against a team like this speaks volumes of just how well we're playing.
We took a great punch in the mouth to start the game and our guys just stayed poised and kept fighting.  I'm very, very proud of how they hung in there.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Drew, what does it say that you faced that deficit and came back?
DREW GORDON:  You know, like I said basically this whole season, we got a chip on our shoulders.  You know, when that happens, plus the chemistry we have together of us being basically brothers, it works.  We know where we're supposed to be at on the floor.  We know we can get each other's timing down of where we will be.
I think we have an edge up on some teams when it comes to that.

Q.  Tony, how much did you feed off the crowd?  Were you surprised it was so loud?
TONY SNELL:  We wasn't surprised.  We know our fans always have our back.  They always cheer for us at the Pit.  It's a new atmosphere.  It's nothing new for us, we're used to it.

Q.  Even on the road?
TONY SNELL:  Even on the road, yeah.

Q.  Any added motivation playing against Mike Moser and UNLV?
DREW GORDON:  I mean, yeah, it's a rival game, I'd say.  They beat us pretty bad at our house and we beat them pretty bad at theirs.  It's a grudge match like that.
I think Moser is right where I am basically, thinking that he might have deserved a few more votes for the MVP, so I know he was as upset as I was.  So we were both going at it.

Q.  Drew, you didn't have a field goal the last six and a half minutes, but you hit all 11 free throws.  Talk a little bit about that.
DREW GORDON:  Yeah, you know, when we concentrate, we're actually a good free‑throw shooting team.  Demetrius and Kendall hit some really clutch free throws that boosted our confidence a little bit, got our confidence up on the defensive end of just getting one more stop.
Like I said, when our offense isn't clicking really we have to dig our heels in and play defense.  That's what we were able to do.

Q.  Drew, you talk about the MVP, having an extra chip on your shoulder.  Do you think that might be even more the case tomorrow against SanDiego State?
DREW GORDON:  Well, at this point, I think our chip is trying to win a championship.  Like I say, he got the honors, hat goes off to him.  Tomorrow it's championship time.  It's trying to boost our seeding, hopefully boost our rating as a team.

Q.  Tony, UNLV has an aggressive defense, they go for the turnover.  What did you do defensively to combat that?
TONY SNELL:  Well, we figured that they gonna drive us, so we had to play good defense, help be in gaps.  Offensively we have to push it because we're both good transition teams.  It's all about transition defense.

Q.  Tony, your bench outscores their bench.  In a three‑day tournament like that, is that particularly important as far as starters getting rest?
TONY SNELL:  Yeah, it's very important 'cause the bench got to keep the flow going.  We can't just have the starters playing good and bench not playing good.  They keep the flow going, keep our confidence up.
THE MODERATOR:  At this time we'll dismiss our student‑athletes and continue with questions for Coach Alford.

Q.  How would you describe the emotion inside that locker room right now?
COACH ALFORD:  Just like it is when we win.  This is an exciting group.  They love to win.  I think they had a lot of fun today.  It was a fun game to coach, it was a fun game to play.  A lot of enthusiasm in the building.  I thought both teams played really hard.  Both teams wanted to win.
That's why you compete.  That's what you play for.  Then obviously trying to get to that championship game.  It's been a phenomenal year.  This has been a great group, a group that was a little young and immature last year, rightly so, going through it for the first time.  I think the experiences they got last year have really helped them this year.
Through what we've gone through to get to 26‑6, to get the chance to win a championship one week after we won a championship speaks volumes to what these young men have done.

Q.  The difference in the paint was huge.  Was that something you focused on?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, we got Drew Gordon.  I think the coaches would tell you, you got somebody like that, he's a handful.  He's 19‑13 again today, played 38 minutes, fouled‑‑ I think Massamba fouled out.  His man goes for 6‑9.  Game in, game out, that's what Drew does.  We have a horse there.  We just fed that horse today.

Q.  Talk a little bit about tomorrow night, what you need to do?
COACH ALFORD:  It's a great game, great matchup.  They beat us at our place, we beat them at their place.  Now we get a neutral floor setting for the rubber match.
Coach Fisher has done a tremendous job with this team.  To lose four starters and have this team do the things that they've done is a credit to him and a credit to his staff.  They got some special players, starting with Jamaal Franklin, but not ending with that.  They've got a lot of talent on this team, they're deep as well.  They're going to be a little bit more rested.  We got to get our guys out of here, get them down as quickly as they can.  The staff will work through the night to get a good game plan.
Got the makings of a good matchup.  We're proud of our women, too.  Unique.  You have SanDiego State and New Mexico on both sides, the men and women tomorrow.  That makes it a lot of fun for those two schools.

Q.  When you're down 12‑0, do you say anything in particular?  Do you change anything?
COACH ALFORD:  Yeah, I think there's times that we would be upset, jump into our guys if we felt like we were flat or if we weren't working hard.  I didn't sense that.  I didn't think we weren't working hard or that we came out flat.
We got out of rhythm a little bit.  Kendall got two fouls in a minute and a half.  That hadn't happened all year long.  We had to sub quicker than we wanted to.  They're making everything.  One of our better players is on the bench.
It's more a matter of calling timeout.  We talked about poise.  If we had one word the entire game, it was 'poise.'  I put it on the board 15 times and said it another 15 times.  Can't get too excited, can't get too down.
The coaches wanted to show the players how much we trust them.  Don't panic.  They gave you a good punch in the face right here to start the game, but there's a lot of game left.  There's about 17 minutes to go.  They scored 17 points in the first three minutes of the half, then only scored 17 points the last 17 minutes of the half.  After that initial barrage of points, we settled down and played extremely good defense.  So I was very proud of how we responded to that.

Q.  Demetrius did a great job of drawing contact.  Talk about that.
COACH ALFORD:  I think Demetrius is playing at a very high level.  We've seen it coming.  He's very healthy right now, other than the busted lip he got tonight.  He's extremely healthy.  He's doing a lot of good things, not just at the offensive end.  I think his trials that he went through early in the season with the defensive end, now that he understands if you're going to play at New Mexico, you have to play at that end, too, he gets more minutes.  He's learned to play at both ends now.
He's a very good defender for us.  He's a good rebounder.  He's physical, strong and athletic.  He's really scoring the ball well.
I thought Cam's minutes were really good.  Cam did a great job defensively on their bigs.  Made a huge shot for us, got several good rebounds.  Then Jamal Fenton, I couldn't get him in the flow as much because we went with the bigger guard with Hugh for defensive purposes.  I thought the minutes he got were very productive.

Q.  Talk a little bit about the crowd tonight.  What did you think of it tonight?
COACH ALFORD:  Our fans have been tremendous all year.  Tony mentioned it.  They've traveled well for us.  We've been a lot of places this year and they've traveled well.  But obviously with this being a league tournament, they get access to more tickets.  It was phenomenal.
I caught a little bit of the women's game this afternoon on TV when I was having some rest.  Getting to watch them a little bit.  I saw how many Lobo fans were at that game.  It was terrific.  We had them at all corners of the building.  Makes it for a fun week.  They get to stay here the whole week, support both programs.  You have Lobo fans in the building from about noon to 6 tomorrow, there will be a lot of Lobo fans in here, which will be a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, coach.
COACH ALFORD:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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