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March 11, 2012

Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

Jared Sullinger


Michigan State テや 68
Ohio State テや 64

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll have an opening statement from Coach Matta, then go to questions for Aaron and Jared.テつ Coach?
COACH MATTA:テつ Well, this game came down it, as we thought it, would making big plays.テつ Like last Sunday, we made the plays, we made the shots.テつ Today they did.テつ And it was a back‑and‑forth battle.テつ The 10‑0 run they had on us when we got it up to 7 was a big key.
But we gotta pick ourselves up.テつ I told the guys, we gotta pick ourselves up; we gotta get back to playing our best basketball.テつ When we take the Court next time, we take it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Aaron, you had a‑‑ sat during in the two Michigan State games during the regular season.テつ How frustrating was it to have to go to the bench after picking up those two quick fouls in the second half?
AARON CRAFT:テつ Definitely frustrating.テつ You want to play in big games like this.テつ Just try to keep my head.テつ We have‑‑ Shannon's a very capable person to go in there and perform when we need him to do.テつ Just tried to stay as positive as possible with those guys.テつ Unfortunately enough, we didn't come finish it up.

Q.テつ Jared, you're disappointed now.テつ Do you feel like you played well this weekend, though, that you guys are clicking now that the games really count?
JARED SULLINGER:テつ Yeah, we are.テつ We just didn't execute this game and we didn't play to our best ability this game, but fortunately, we have another day of practice.テつ Now we're going into a tournament where it's just won and done.テつ You don't know what's going to happen the next day so you just gotta give it your all.

Q.テつ Jared, compared to the first two games against Michigan State, was this game more physical, as physical?テつ And did they let you guys play today more than they did the first two games?
JARED SULLINGER:テつ A little bit of both times.テつ There's times when they let us play, times when they didn't let us play, but I mean, that's the life of the Big Ten, like I always say, but we just gotta move forward and focus on the NCAA Tournament to find out where we're going.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Additional questions for student‑athletes?

Q.テつ Jared, it seemed like Michigan State did a good job playing physical.テつ Like you just mentioned, sometimes they'll let you play, sometimes they didn't.テつ You had yourself a pretty good game, scored 18 points.テつ It seemed like the rest of the guys maybe struggled more or less with that.テつ Could you talk about overall how team played through that physicality and whether that was something that was affecting the shots not going down.
JARED SULLINGER:テつ We knew it was going to come in and play physical, so it really wasn't no brain shocker.テつ So we just didn't execute, like I said, and now we just move forward and put this game in the past.
If we keep thinking about this game and move on, lose track of what's really the main goal is to win the national championship, so we just gotta focus on that and one game at a time.

Q.テつ Aaron, a little bit off of what Jared just said about putting this behind you quickly.テつ You've won one of these things last year, and now you've lost one in the final game.テつ Does it hurt as bad losing as it feels good winning?テつ Or if you lose this thing, you've still got the NCAA Tournament to look forward to?
AARON CRAFT:テつ We're all competitors, and you never like losing basketball games, especially when it comes down to the wire like that.テつ And I think we're going to go back and look and see that they were various things throughout the game that we could have done better to hopefully change the outcome.
But like Jared said, we still have to come back and find a way to get better and find a way to continue to be a better basketball team tomorrow.テつ And by the time we get to our next game, hopefully we are a better basketball team.
THE MODERATOR:テつ One more for these guys.

Q.テつ Either one of you guys, do you have a preference where you go in the NCAA Tournament?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I don't even know the possibilities, to be honest.テつ We've tried to focus as much as we can on one game at a time.テつ So after this, we'll see where it goes, and hopefully we can‑‑ once again, it's about us and not where we have to go.テつ It's about finding a way to make ourselves a better basketball team.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Fellas, thank you.テつ You may return to the locker room.テつ Good luck in the NCAA Tournament.
Questions for Coach Matta?

Q.テつ Coach, Brandon Wood comes out of the horizon and does what he does today on the big stage.テつ Can you talk about how important he was in this game today?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah.テつ Very similar to the kid, young man we had, Ron Lewis who came out of Bowling Green.テつ He was on it today, making shots, and that's what he's known for.テつ Happy for him that he has an opportunity to play in this game.テつ And he was feeling it from behind the line there and hit some difficult shots.テつ We didn't get matched up quite as quickly as we needed to.

Q.テつ Thad, you mentioned about this game was another case of which team made plays, and Jared mentioned that you guys didn't execute.テつ What did Michigan State maybe do to take you out of what you wanted to do compared to last Sunday?
COACH MATTA:テつ You know, to be honest, it almost goes back to Game 1.テつ Down the stretch there, we had some what appeared to be good looks, and you needed to make those where you look Draymond Green hit that big 3.テつ Deshaun was right there on the challenge and it goes in.テつ He made an incredible pass on the end of the shot clock.テつ The one time, it was like a spectacular play where they shoot it over the head and it goes in.
That was kind of the plays‑‑ we had the ball on the rim a couple times.テつ You thought they were going down, and we missed a couple free‑throws where it could have shifted the momentum for us, and we just we didn't get it done.

Q.テつ Coach, this game, the atmosphere kind of felt almost like a regional final at times, an NCAA Tournament.テつ How do you go about making sure that the team is able to put this behind them quickly and it doesn't detract from the progress that they've made over the past couple weeks?
COACH MATTA:テつ We talked a little bit about that, and I think that being in this game the last four years, in six of the eight years wave been at Ohio State, you have to take and you have to learn.
We lost this game three years ago, Will's freshman year.テつ In the NCAA Tournament, we got beat in double overtime in the first round in the eight‑nine game.
So looking and saying, okay, let's put this behind us, you know, these guys have to clearly understand from this point on what's at stake.テつ One bad half, we learned that last year against Kentucky.
So getting them prepared and, more importantly, understanding the focus we have to have every time we take the court, be it practice, walk‑through, film session, whatever game, we have to have the mentality of we have to play our best basketball.テつ There's no excuses.

Q.テつ Coach, can you just talk about how Jared played this weekend.テつ Had a lot of energy, played pretty well, got tired today.テつ But you think you have the right Jared at the right time?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, absolutely.テつ I think that leading into this, Jared probably had his three best practices of the year.テつ And that was‑‑ I knew he was going to play well.
So we've got to continue to get him rested, get his body taken care of, and that's the hard part when you play three games in three days here and thinking you could be playing in, what, three days or four days or whatever it is again.

Q.テつ We've made light of Deshaun's defense, but I would think you'd be pretty impressed with how he played today with Green.
COACH MATTA:テつ You know, I thought Deshaun did a good job.テつ You look at all the times they went to him and it was kind of exclusive from the standpoint of every time down, they were kind of making sure he got a touch or something ran through him.
But there was a couple times we didn't rotate the way we were supposed to, he had his feet where they needed to be, but we didn't give the help.テつ Aaron did a really good job in the first half, and we probably locked on our guys a little bit too much.テつ But honestly, that's what a great player does.テつ He scares you because he can not only score, but he can pass it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Last one right here.

Q.テつ Back to the missed chances, Jared and Deshaun were so dominant inside in your first two wins here.テつ They had more trouble, it seemed like there were a lot more bodies between them and the basket today when they were in close.テつ Is that just indicative of how Michigan State plays defense?
COACH MATTA:テつ You know, it is, yeah.テつ And the physicality of what was going on down there, quite honestly, we didn't see that in the first two games.
And there was banging, there was walking through on the shots.テつ It's been that way the whole season, so there was no surprises there as Jared alluded to.
But their size, and Payne was‑‑ blocked a couple shots and really, really did a nice job there.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach, thank you.テつ Good luck.
COACH MATTA:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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