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March 22, 2013

Elijah Johnson

Travis Releford

Bill Self


Kansas – 64
Western Kentucky – 57

JOE DALFONSO:  We're joined by Kansas head coach Bill Self and student‑athletes.  We'll start with a statement on the game by Coach Self.
COACH SELF:  Well, obviously we're pleased we won, didn't play our best by any stretch.  But give Western credit.  I thought they were the most aggressive team.  I thought they controlled the game for the most part until the second half when we got the ball inside some.
We're happy to advance, but certainly not pleased on how we played.  Certainly we know we'll have to play a lot better on Sunday.
JOE DALFONSO:  Questions, please.

Q.  How do you feel you handled their defensive pressure?  When you got into your halfcourt game, how do you feel you handled their ability to close out on the ball?
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  Well, I think that we could have definitely handled the pressure that they attacked us with full court.  I think that falls back on me mostly.  That's our job to get the team organized and make sure we get the ball across halfcourt.
I do think they did a good job knowing where Jeff was at all times.  I think my wings, Travis and Ben, helped Jeff get open and suck the defense in.  We just got the ball moving.  Once we realized playing through Jeff was the best option, we went to that.
TRAVIS RELEFORD:  At first I don't think we handled the pressure real well.  We were a little sped up.  I think if we just calmed down, we could have made some changes.
We have to give credit to Western Kentucky for coming out and defending us real well and making us speed up our offense.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about your defense on the three‑point shot.
COACH SELF:  We also made one shot for the game outside of two feet.  One outside.  That was our seven‑foot center.  We didn't exactly light it up either.
Our defense was pretty good the second half.  I thought we were playing a lot better about seven minutes left.  We had 17 points for the half.  I think they had like 6.  I could be off a little bit because I think we went from down 1 to up 10 or something like that.  It was, I don't know, 47‑37, something like that.
I thought there were some good things that we did defensively.  We obviously didn't rebound the ball.  They got way too many extra possessions.  We did get to their shooters pretty well, did some good things, but not enough.

Q.  The Western Kentucky guys said they thought they got open shots in the second half and just didn't knock them down.  Did you think there were that many or do you think you were on them pretty good and that forced them to shoot 20%?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:  I could agree with that.  We definitely let them get a bunch of open looks in the second half.  Just wasn't falling for them.  It was just miscommunication out there on our end.  Wasn't really talking much.
I think that was the key later on of letting them get open looks.
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  I agree with Travis.  They got some open shots they definitely should have had at the wrong times, fouling jump shooters, letting them stop the clock.  I felt like we got the stops that we needed.

Q.  When you mentioned the poor shooting, could that have been because you were tight or there was some pressure?
COACH SELF:  Of course, I usually think this.  I don't know if we've been much looser at any point in time this year than this week.  We've had one of our best weeks of practice.  There was a little bit different feel in the locker room before the game.  I actually noticed it and everything.  But we were a little tight.
Sometimes playing at home I think puts more pressure on you in certain ways than maybe getting away, that kind of stuff.  So we didn't respond real well to the advantages we had.
Certainly, you know, not scoring much, allowing them to even have a two‑ or four‑point lead felt like the majority of the first half.  I think we got a little tighter as we went.  I don't know if we responded really well ever.
But I do think we played the way we had to play if we were going to be poor offensively, was to get the ball inside and get to the free throw the second half.

Q.  Their coach seemed at little surprised that Withey was guarding Fant.  What kind of matchup problems did their bigs pose?
COACH SELF:  That was our game plan because he's not very tall.  He's a good player, but really we thought he would struggle scoring over Jeff, and he did.  But he drove him a couple times, got to his right hand.  That was not good.
We made the switch the second half.
Also Kevin got a quick foul early.  If we were going to switch early, I was going to try to save him as long as possible without getting his second one.  20 is their pick and pop guy.  If 20 is their post feeder, therefore you got your best rim protector having to guard a three‑point shooter and isolating Kevin on the block.  That's not what we do best.
Second half we actually went to that and we guarded them better.  Withey, we thought all along that Jeff would be the guy that would guard him, at least to start the game.

Q.  Elijah, what about this group gives you confidence that 48 hours from now you'll play a lot better?
ELIJAH JOHNSON:  Well, I think personally it's just part of human nature to kind of not be as prepared for a smaller team.  But a North Carolina/Kansas game, I think everybody comes ready to play.
There's going to be so much juice in the building.  Roy is coming back.  There's going to be a lot of fans pumped up.  We'll be pumped up.  We got the first one out of the way, like coach said, so we're a little looser now.  I think it will be a different attitude in the locker room before the game.
JOE DALFONSO:  Gentlemen, thank you very much.  Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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