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March 29, 2013

Travis Releford

Bill Self

Jeff Withey


Michigan – 87 (OT)
Kansas - 85

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by Kansas head coach Bill Self and student‑athletes Travis Releford and Jeff Withey.
COACH SELF:  This will go down as one of the toughest games that obviously we've been a part of and certainly I've been a part of.  I'm proud of our guys.  We played very well offensively for the most part the entire game.
And give Michigan credit.  They basically had to have a lot of things go right late and they made all the plays and didn't seem like we made very many.  And of course their player of the year stepped up and was unbelievable late and made some tough plays.
But we're right there where we wanted the game, and of course the last three minutes we didn't do a lot of things right, which will be something we'll look back on and regret for a long, long time.  But props to Michigan for making all the plays late.

Q.  Travis, even as Michigan was cutting into the lead the last three minutes, did it ever feel like it was slipping away?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:  I really don't know.  We had a chance to seal the game, but we made some bonehead plays late.

Q.  Trey hit that long and deep three, what did you guys see defensively, just walk me through it?
JEFF WITHEY:  We were switching a five.  I don't know what happened.  I don't think we got to him on time and he hit just an unbelievable shot.

Q.  What was the last play where you had 8 seconds left?  Were you planning to go for a two or three?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:  The original plan was to go for a two, but it was take what the defense give us.  And we didn't get a good look at the end.

Q.  You said there would be a lot of plays you'll look back on.  Was one of the plays, they were down I believe five, they missed a three, the ball is on the floor, they get a layup out of it?
COACH SELF:  Well, all we had to do was follow the ball, the possession was ours.  We just didn't do it.  Seasons usually come down, if you've got a pretty good team, to one possession, at least it has with us, most every year.
This wasn't one possession, this was about five possessions we had that we had a chance to get a stop or create a jump ball or anything.  And Ben muffed it and reached for it and they were more aggressive.  They were the aggressive team then.  And that was a big play.  And we had a chance to ice it from the free throw line and we didn't do it.
I'm not putting it on one player or one play at all.  I could have done a much better job, obviously, from the bench in that particular situation, being up 12 late.  But we just didn't get it done, period.

Q.  Did you think about fouling Burke after Elijah missed the free throw and there was 12 seconds left?
A.No, no, because ‑‑ this was probably a bonehead play by me, because our guys know we're not going to foul with 12 left, nobody does.  But the whole thing is he'd have made the first one, he ‑‑ we would have called a timeout and talked about how we were going to guard it.  But obviously missed.
He shot the ball with I'd say about ten left.  What was there 8.6 on the clock, so the ball is in the air for two ‑‑ I can't remember ‑‑ how much time was left?  Four seconds left.  So he probably shot the ball, went into his shot with about 8 seconds left.
The whole deal was don't give up a three and we're going to switch four.  We switched and didn't switch up.  It was a hard shot.
But I'll look back on that one, what were we doing, not to switch up.  I wouldn't have fouled with eight seconds left.  Looking back now I wish we would have, obviously.  But that was not that difficult a switch, and don't give up a three, and we let him come off naked and shoot it.  It was from 27 to 30 feet, but still it was a great play by a big‑time player.

Q.  Were you, when Elijah drove at the end there, it looked like you had to step on him, were you surprised he didn't put it up?
A.I thought he could get to the rim.  We set a fake ball screen hoping they would think switch for a count and not switch.  He was able to get his shoulders past him.  But for whatever reason, he veered behind the backboard and really didn't give himself a shot, that's when he threw the ball back out to Naa.  Naa had a shot.  He would have had to shoot a 3.  But he pump faked and took one bounce and didn't get off a good look.
But, yeah, that was poor execution.  We talked about it in the huddle.  Let's just shoot a three.  But then we said, no, no, let's drive it.  Fortunately for us we got a free timeout because of going back and reviewing the clock.  Obviously we didn't do a very good job on the last possession.

Q.  Before the game you said Burke was the best player in the country.  What did you do that was so effective in the first half and how did they change things around in the second half in an overtime?
COACH SELF:  First half he was very patient.  I don't know what he was, was he 0 for 4 or 0 for 5 from the field.  We did a good job.  McGary had a great half and that was because of Burke.  It's a hard deal for Jeff, when they play four perimeter players and he can't trap it and do some things.  We thought we could keep them out of the paint.  It hurt Elijah not playing.  We've got a tired group out there guarding.
And the second half he took over.  We went under a couple of times and let him get confidence, and next thing you know it was his game.  It wasn't his game, it was his game offensively.  It was still our game.  Even with him playing as well as he was, and McGary getting his career high, we still, you know, up 12 with three and a half left.  And we just didn't make the plays down the stretch.  And they made a ton.

Q.  Can you just talk about Elijah's game, how tough it was with the flagrant and then coming back, he played more in the second half when he got back in?
COACH SELF:  I didn't see it, but obviously the official said he did it, so he did it.  The film doesn't lie.  That's not how we play.  And that was not smart at all.  And then he hits a bad second foul and a charge, when all he had to do was stop and shoot it.  The third foul he plays for 15 seconds and gets that one.
We played pretty good the first half considering our starting point guard didn't play at all.  The second half he did some good things making shots.  I know he wishes he had a couple of those possessions back.

Q.  You guys had a lot of things go well that hadn't been going well, Ben was shooting the ball.  You guys scored 60 percent in the first half.  A lot of elements there that would have seemed to say you guys were going to live.  Is it hard to believe that it didn't work out?
COACH SELF:  You score 76 points you should win the game, period.  Especially a team that leads the country in field goal percentage defense.  And we actually ‑‑ even though ‑‑ they got ‑‑ what was the score at halftime?  They got 34 at halftime, because we gave up a four‑point play off a scouting mistake.  We should have gone up ten at half, but this ‑‑ because who we are was not how we played.
We've been a team that's labored offensively and then been really good defensively.  And tonight we labored defensively and was better offensively.  If we could have been our personality and who we were, I think we would have been so much better off.
But still we were up 12.  But Trey and their players, they made great plays.  They've got a terrific team and well coached.  They didn't give up.  All we had to do was make one play and we just didn't do it.
But this team went 31‑6 and this was a rebuilding year.  This was a team that was supposed to struggle this year and they raised everybody's expectation level, because they can play to such a high level all year long.  We thought we were good.  And we were good.
So to lose a game this way, I know our guys are just crushed right now, and this will be a tough one to get over for a long time.

Q.  First half scored almost all of your points in the paint.  And second half not nearly as high percentage.  Was there a decision to go away from that and play more perimeter?
COACH SELF:  No, not at all.  No, we still threw the ball inside in the second half.  Guys, in a game against a good team you get 60 points in the paint, we threw the ball inside.
Mitch is really good at bodying Jeff up.  Jeff is light, and Mitch was good at bodying him up.  So Jeff was probably a little bit more effective the first half.  We got a couple of balls, Ben's layup, all it had to do was go in.  Jeff had a turnaround jumper, but I thought their defense was good at game point.  I thought they did a good job at guarding us at game point.

Q.  Was there any thought of leaving Tharpe in?
COACH SELF:  We did leave him in, he played 32 minutes.  He played 17 the first half.  Of the second half he played 15 out of the 25 possible.  So ‑‑ you know what, we played ‑‑ I think we played the guys the right amount of minutes.
When Ben got his fourth foul off of not knowing who he was guarding or us not communicating, you know, that put us in a situation we're forced to play two little guys at the same time.  We did a pretty good job for that.
For our team to only have 13 turnovers in 45 minutes, that's not awful.  Because we've been a team that's been kicking around quite a bit.
We had the right guys playing.  They just beat us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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