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March 28, 2013

Solomon Hill

Nick Johnson

Mark Lyons

Sean Miller


Ohio State – 73
Arizona – 70

THE MODERATOR:  Coach, if you could make an opening statement and then questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH MILLER:  Well, first of all, I would like to congratulate Ohio State.  They have an excellent team.  It's always difficult to get bounced from the NCAA Tournament.  There is such a difference in feeling between advancing and having the finality of it all ending.
From my perspective, just in terms of the game, the one thing that I really had my eye on was LaQuinton Ross.  I really believe if you look at Ohio State's winning streak, when he enters the game, it changes things in a very positive way for their team.
We had a game plan in place to switch, and it's easier said than done.  He's out there with some other really skilled and good players.  But his 17 points and the 22‑5 run after halftime really, in my mind, stand out in the difference of a great game, a really hard‑fought game.
I couldn't be prouder of our team.  This is my ninth team I've coached as a head coach.  I leave this season with no regrets.  These guys as a group, especially these three, they led their team.  Not that we're perfect, but we practiced hard.  We tried really hard.
This process started a long, long time ago, and for us to win 27 games and lose in the Sweet Sixteen to Ohio State, we leave here with our head held high.  Me as the coach, I leave here with my head held high because of these guys right here.  They did everything we wanted them to do.

Q.  Mark, after you had that hot start, I think you had ten points in the first nine minutes, they limited you pretty well for the rest of the first half and well into the second half without hardly any shots.  What did they change as far as guarding you?
MARK LYONS:  Honestly, you know, the other guys on my team got going.  It wasn't nothing they really actually.  It's just my teammates started going after the first half.  Nick and Solomon had big‑time shots; and in the second half I force the issue a little bit to get back on a hot start.  It didn't work in the beginning.

Q.  Because of the way that Ohio State's last game ended, also a tie game, shot at the end.  Did you guys expect Craft to be taking the shot?  How did you guys want to defend things?
SOLOMON HILL:  Oh, we played the same way that we tried to throughout the game.  We wanted to switch any ball screens, and he was a little wider out than we anticipated.  He set the screen, and LaQuinton Ross was kind of deep off of the three.  It was a great shot by him.
But I did anticipate Craft driving to the hole, and he faked the drive and kicked it out for a good shot.  He's always making plays at the end of the game for his team.

Q.  Solomon, what makes Ross such a tough cover?
SOLOMON HILL:  It's the same thing with Deshaun Thomas.  He's a mismatch nightmare.  He's playing against our four, our 6'10" forward that's not used to guarding guys on the wing.  Deshaun Thomas takes up space on the post and on the outside, and those guys feed off of their defender.
I think early on, especially in the second half, LaQuinton got to the free‑throw line by driving past our 6'10" bigs and our seven‑footers and got to the line.  When you start knocking down free throws, you get yourself going; and that's why he was in rhythm for the three.
When you play a guy like that, two guys like that at the 4 and 5, it's really hard to match up with their size.

Q.  Do you share Sean's sentiment that you leave the season with no regrets?
MARK LYONS:  Yeah, the only thing I regret is not getting past the Sweet Sixteen, because I've been here so many times and I just feel like I can't get over that hump.  But like he said, I've got no regrets.  I played a with a great bunch of guys this whole year who had a lot of faith in me, and I'm just happy they accepted me to come into their program and try to help them win.  So no regrets either.

Q.  After Craft came back in the game, I think there were about 6 minutes left in the first half with two fouls, the rest of the first half into the second half there was a 19‑point turnaround in the game.  From your vantage point, what was the reason for that?
NICK JOHNSON:  I mean, just in the second half they went on a run a little bit.  We really didn't get or we didn't hit our shots that we were hitting in the first half, and I mean, he just came out creating for his team, and they really got going in transition.

Q.  Mark, the handshake at the end, it looked like you might have said something to Ross and he smiled.  If you don't mind me asking what you guys said?
MARK LYONS:  Honestly, I knew him from camp this summer.  So he's like a friend of mine.  At the end of the game I just told him I can't stand you and just laughed at him.  He's a good guy.  He's a great player, and that's one of my friends.  So it was just a little joke that we had.

Q.  Solomon, I know it's very close to the moment, but can you just sum up what's going through your mind right now as your career comes to an end at Arizona?
SOLOMON HILL:  I don't know.  It really hasn't hit me yet that the season is over and I'm done at the University of Arizona.  But I'm just thinking back on the season we had, playing with the group of guys that I'm playing with.  You know, starting off in the summer when we got Mark on campus, and we were taking the trips to the Bahamas.  It was a close knit group.  Just for it to end like this, it's a little weird.
But I think we competed well.  I think we did better than some people thought we were supposed to.  We had some lapses in the year, but we picked it up when we were supposed to.
We played a great Ohio State team.  I give them all the credit.  They knocked down the free throws when they were supposed to.  I think Amir Williams was a much needed force for them.  He got some offensive rebounds and got them going; and everybody keyed in for them.
Deshaun Thomas really got going early on, got me into foul trouble.  But I think our team competed.  We gave up the run in the second half, but we put ourself in a situation to tie it up.  Mark had to lay‑up the and one and made the free throw, and we put ourselves in position to possibly try to win the game.  They just made more plays than we did.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Miller.

Q.  Coming out of the first half, you guys gave up a run at the end that was kind of surprising to see them come back with another run at the start of the second half.  What did they do differently in the second half that led to that 10‑0 run?
COACH MILLER:  Yeah, the end of the first half, first of all, we're not that much better than them, maybe vice versa.  So there are going to be runs and there are going to be a run by us and a run by them.  I felt we played a good first half, a lot of good things.  That's why we went into halftime as the leader.  We really were on our heels through, I would guess, maybe the first ten minutes of the second half, maybe the first eight minutes.  The fact that I called as many timeouts as I did, I felt like our team was reeling.
But to our team's credit, if you followed us, we've had a way of doing it.  We hung in there, fought back, and at the end of the game it's 70‑70 on the last possession.  How you get there in this tournament, it can happen a number of ways.  Once in a while one team makes a huge comeback, sometimes it's a single possession game all the way to the end.
But the bottom line is we were on defense 70‑all, and they did a great job.  Like I said, LaQuinton Ross is a big part of Ohio State's success.  When you start watching games when they insert him in with Deshaun Thomas and him as the front court, it's really difficult.  They negated our size.
I look at the stat sheet, they outrebounded us 32‑30, 11 offensive rebounds to 9.  One of the reasons is that we had to play smaller.  It's so difficult to deal with them, and big guys in particular, someone like Kaleb, for example, especially as a freshman.
It was a difficult game for us to utilize him.  When you go smaller, shots around the basket and rebounding starts to go in another direction.  That is the thing that Ohio State does.  They put you in that predicament.  You try to match‑up with them, and as you do it, they end up sometimes getting the advantage.
The last shot of the game, we switched probably 400 handoffs and ball screens in the game.  We didn't switch the last one.  That's the other part.  Players make big plays.  Teams make big plays.  The pressure of the moment, the Sweet Sixteen, going to the Elite Eight, two guys go on one.
Whether he made the shot or not, I think we all live with it when it's challenged and we do what we're supposed to do.  But part of the reason he had such a great look at the end there was two guys went with the ball, when, in reality, we've switched every single handoff and ball screen from the opening tip to that one right there.

Q.  I was just going to piggyback off his question.  When you called all those timeouts to start the second half, what was your message to the team?  Were you upset that they were taking quick shots, or what were you telling them?
COACH MILLER:  No, sometimes in a game like, for example, the first six minutes, one of the reasons we built the lead is we knocked down some perimeter threes.  One of the reasons that they made the run on us at the beginning of the second half is we missed similar threes.  We had a couple of open looks at the beginning of the second half that didn't go in, and all of a sudden, you miss your first four shots of the second half, it gives you an eerie feeling.
But the game changed dramatically for us on defense.  We had a hard time guarding dribble drives.  We went small; and as we went smaller, they got some pivotal second shots.  They're a good team.  I mean, they're difficult to deal with, and there is a reason they've now won 11 games in a row.
I felt we played well enough to win the game.  It would have been interesting to see if it would have gone into overtime.  But the last time I coached against Ohio State, very similar.  A three that went in at the end, and this time it won the game.  The last time it went into overtime.  But I'm proud of our guys' effort.  We tried hard.
Losing in this tournament, when you play all the way to the end, hurts more at the beginning.  But I think you leave with a lot of pride knowing that you played your heart out, and we really did that.

Q.  The question I asked Mark about scoring all those points in the first ten minutes and after that he found it hard to get a look.  Anything you saw that they did to limit his ability to get to the basket and get open?
COACH MILLER:  No, I mean, Mark had 23.  That's a lot of points.  He may have gotten them in bunches, but you're not going to score 40 on Ohio State or Aaron Craft.  To me, one of the reasons that it was tied up at 70‑all is he hit 23 of our 70.

Q.  Your program's obviously very well established.  But you also know that this league has been fighting to get back respect again this year.  How well do you think the league has acquitted itself through this tournament?
COACH MILLER:  My complete and 100% focus is on Arizona.  We have the greatest fans in the world.  We have a tradition that's spectacular.  Every day that I think we walk into practice or play a game, it's about representing who we are.  Getting to the Sweet Sixteen and winning 27 games, I wish we had a Pac‑12 regular season championship.  We missed it by one game.  And I wish we had a conference tournament championship; we fought hard, lost a great battle.  Very similar to this, to UCLA.  I wish we were moving to the Elite Eight, but we lost in the Sweet Sixteen.
But we won 27 games, and to me, our team did a lot of remarkable things.  My focus is on being back here next year and trying to breakthrough.  Sometimes you have to knock at that door a few times to break it in, and I like the group that we have coming in.  I like some of the opportunities that we have to add to the guys that we have.  Hopefully we'll be a main stay in this tournament like Arizona has been for 25 years.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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