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March 13, 2014

Alex Caruso

Jamal Jones

Bill Kennedy


Missouri – 91
Texas A&M – 83

THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH KENNEDY:  Hard fought game.  Really proud of these two guys right here.  They shot 53 free throws, I'm all for the new rules, but you got to be kidding me.  That's too many free throws.  Whether we did it or not, I just, I didn't see it from my side.
We have got to adjust to it and we didn't adjust to it.  But 53 free throws is just way too many to give up.
THE MODERATOR:  Take your questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Alex, when you saw Jabari Brown go out with fouls and then Jordan Clarkson a few minutes later.  What was going through your guys' huddle?
ALEX CARUSO:  I was personally happy because they're two of the better scorer's in our league.  As a team, I think that we mentally thought that we had the game, and that we were going to take it in the second over time.  Give them credit, they had some guys come in and play that don't usually play for them and did what they told them to do.  But that's on us to finish out a game when their two best players aren't in.
THE MODERATOR:  Before we excuse the players, Jamal, just any specific thoughts you might have on the game.
JAMAL JONES:  We just should have closed the game out.  We had the guys, we had the energy, we just fell a little short and didn't make enough tough plays.  And that's just been us all season.  Just falling a little short.  So we just got to be prepared to come back stronger next season.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  Thank you, we'll excuse you.  You can return to the locker room.  Take questions for coach.

Q.  Same question to you, when you saw Jordan and Jabari go out, what kind of thoughts were going through your huddle?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Well, I knew that Missouri has other good players.  The Williams kid had a heck of a game.  He really killed us on the glass.  That was the big play, the offensive rebound on the missed free throw that cost us.
Foul trouble for us was a big dilemma.  Kourtney Roberson in foul trouble, we had three or four guys foul out.  You got to give Missouri credit, they drove the ball and got to the free throw line and we ended up shooting some threes sometimes.
So they got good players.  Jabari and those guys are good, but those other guys can play, too.  They were playing, their backups were playing against our backups, and their backups were better, their young guys were better.

Q.  Texas A&M gave up a total of 48 rebounds.  That has to do with Roberson being in foul trouble early in the game.  Did his absence have an effect on the way they were being aggressive in the paint?
BILLY KENNEDY:  I would like to think so, because he's one of the only upperclassmen that we have for us.  But we just were too soft.  Our post guys were soft and we didn't block out and didn't make the plays.  Again Missouri made some great plays.  The Williams kid was too much for us to handle.  You got to give them credit.
But I really was disappointed.  We fouled out Dylan Johns, Jordan Green, Antwan Space.  They fouled out our whole front line because the guards get to the lane and they make it hard for you.  Post guys have to rotate and we put them on the line and then we gave them second shots.  You got to give Missouri a lot of credit, they played with great energy the whole game.

Q.  You guys saw Missouri almost a week ago now.  They kind of struggled against your slow pace.  That defense that you brought to Missouri, do you think they maybe had some time to maybe adjust to that?
BILLY KENNEDY:  I thought the game was very similar.  The difference was Jamal Jones.  I mean, he had an incredible game, got out of the hospital yesterday at noon in College Station, flew in last night, and played a heck of a game.
I thought they wore us down some.  Their physicality and their maturity was a big reason why I thought they won the game.  They were a little bit tougher than us.  But Missouri is a dangerous team because they can score.  We competed about as well as we could and gave ourselves a chance, but Missouri made more plays at the end and made more free throws, got to the line.

Q.  It seems like Missouri can make jump shots where a lot of teams can't.  How much of an edge is that for any team?
COACH KENNEDY:  Jabari Brown made a couple of really tough shots.  He has a midrange game.  He's a complete guard.  I think that was a big difference in the game to have a guy that you can clear out and he can go one dribble and pull up and shoot the ball.  He's a really good player.  That's why Missouri's a tough out.
They got three guys who can get you 20 any time.  Their post guys stepped up and did good things for them today.

Q.  Your guys seemed to give it their all.  They never gave up, even with a depleted roster, the foul trouble, some injuries, Blake McDonald's play at the end of the game.  Can you speak to the fact of them just playing and giving it their all?
COACH KENNEDY:  I'm proud of our guys.  For what we have been through this season, we had eight scholarship players playing today and Blake came in, a walk‑on, made a heck of a play.  We played our defense the right way and got an opportunity.
But we're not satisfied.  We don't want to be a program that's satisfied with losing in double overtime and playing close and playing hard.  We want to win.  We are here to win.  That's why I'm disappointed, because our guys played hard, but they got to learn how to win games and I got to do a better job of teaching them how to finish a game off and being tougher and win.

Q.  In the first half, Ernest Ross kind of killed you guys.  He had 17 first half points and then didn't score any in the second half or didn't have very many in the second.  So did you guys make a specific adjustment to him?
COACH KENNEDY:  Not really.  They're just so dangerous.  All three of their guys can score, so sometimes when you have to rotate over it leaves a guy open.  Ross took advantage of that in the first half.  The second half, it happened to be some other guys.  Clarkson and Brown made plays for them.
So we were up four, we should finish the game off.  Couldn't get a big stop.  Put them on the free throw line, which you can't do.
They're hard not to foul.  But I swear, if I'm going to foul somebody, I want to see it.  We have got to be a little more assertive and do a better job of finishing the game off on the defensive end.

Q.  Can you speak to that last play where I think it was Clarkson driving and somebody maybe got up under him and you were looking for a travel.
BILLY KENNEDY:  He walked.  I don't know what the call was.  I would have to go back and look at it.  From my angle I thought it was walking.  It should have been a no call, if anything.
But I mean you got to give them credit.  Again, they drove the ball and made the referees have to blow the whistle a lot of times.  So on my end, I don't like it.  You know, so that's just the bottom line.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you.
COACH KENNEDY:  Yeah.  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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