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March 13, 2014

Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

LaQuinton Ross


Ohio State テや 63
Purdue ‑ 61

COACH MATTA:テつ Well, as I told these guys walking out, it's good to see us win one of these ugly games.テつ We've been in this position, couldn't finish them out.テつ We didn't play as well as we wanted to today and I give Purdue all the credit for that.テつ I thought they played hard, and especially the second half.テつ For about the first, I don't know, 15 minutes, they beat us up a little bit in terms of loose balls, that sort of thing.
But guys made some big plays down the stretch, and were able to get out of here with a win and play again tomorrow.

Q.テつ Aaron, you've played in an awful lot of these grinder‑type of games, but they say it's difficult to beat the same team, especially from the same conference, three times in one year.テつ I won't use the word ‑‑ were you kind of leery of that or fearful of that, but did you figure Purdue would give you a difficult battle because it is tough to beat somebody three times?
AARON CRAFT:テつ You know, that's just how we play Purdue, like every time we play them.テつ We know they're going to come out and play hard and play physical.テつ And if you've got a guy like A.J. inside, that always makes it tough on us.テつ We don't play against guys that want to sit in the post as much as he does.テつ Like Coach said, it was good to find a way, whatever it may have been, even dodged a bullet at the end with that shot he took.
It feels good, and hopefully ‑‑ we obviously have to play better tomorrow, but we have to rejuvenate ourselves and try to find a way to get better.

Q.テつ LaQuinton, you've obviously been taking your offense a lot closer to the basket.テつ Are you doing that consciously?テつ I noticed today there were a couple times when it looked like you had a three and you still took it in and shot it.
LAQUINTON ROSS:テつ I think it's all about match‑ups.テつ Most of the guys that have been guarding me lately have been pretty small, and I've been able to take advantage of my size.テつ I think it's all about match‑ups, depending on who's guarding me at the time.

Q.テつ Aaron, Thad mentioned how this isn't the first type of‑‑ this type of game that you guys have been in, and I'm wondering, earlier in the season maybe, were you guys more nervous when it came down to the end like it has so many times, and now are you just comfortable with it and just go with it?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I wouldn't say too nervous.テつ I think there definitely were times we've played a little tentative down the stretch.テつ We've been in a couple of games like this where you turn the ball over a little bit more than you think you should, and everyone is kind of just doing what they want.
It's finding a way, and, hopefully, those games we played earlier in the year have helped us to this point, especially if we get another game like that.テつ It doesn't matter how ugly the game is at this point, it's all about trying to find a way to keep playing, and luckily we're able to do that again.

Q.テつ LaQuinton, you've had some pretty good games against Purdue, 19 points, 15 rebounds today.テつ Is it a match‑up thing?テつ Did it just work out that way?テつ Talk about the boards you got, 15 rebounds.
LAQUINTON ROSS:テつ I think it's just how it worked out.テつ Purdue is a team that you know they're going to play physical every game, and they try to beat you up every game, especially with Hammond and some of other guys they got, having multiple men come off the bench.テつ And I just take it upon myself to try to rebound in these types of games, especially since we're not that big of a team.テつ It's, like, Amir is 6'11" and the next tallest person to me is 6'8".テつ That's basically it.

Q.テつ Aaron, I'll ask you since this is your fourth year in this tournament:テつ It seems like the team's first game in this tournament every year always goes like this.テつ Does it seem the same way to you?
AARON CRAFT:テつ It has been that way.テつ This is now my fourth Big Ten Tournament, and luckily in the past, we've done a better job the next game when we come out.テつ But that doesn't mean we're going to do that this year.テつ It's a different year, and we need to take it upon ourselves to find a way to get ready.テつ And it's going to be a quick turnaround for us, obviously, so hopefully our young bodies can take it, and we've just got to move forward.

Q.テつ Aaron, what do you remember most about Nebraska's guard play with Tai Webster and Benny Parker coming off the bench?テつ What do you remember about those two guys?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I think the biggest thing they do is they do their role very well.テつ Webster did a good job the second time we played them at their place of getting to the rim rather easily.テつ And that kind of loosened them up going forward, and it really kind of opened our defense up, and that wasn't something he did the first game, so you've got to be ready.
I think Parker is playing much better now that he knows he's the guy they're going to.テつ It's got to be a big defensive game for us.テつ They've got bigs that can shoot the ball, and obviously Petteway and Shields, who are playing great basketball right now.テつ It's going to be a big team defensive effort for us.

Q.テつ LaQuinton, the team's offensive struggles have been obvious to everybody.テつ Have you taken it upon yourself‑‑ I mean, you're the guy, probably the most natural scorer.テつ Have you decided that you needed to score more?テつ You seemed to do a lot of that today, seemed to be on that kind of wavelength.
LAQUINTON ROSS:テつ I mean, we've had our ups and downs this year on offense, and I just try to do my part, that's it.テつ If you look at a couple games this year, we have different people step up in every game whether it's Sam, whether it's Craft, Lenzelle.テつ Everybody had big games this year, so I think it's all about people doing their part on offense.テつ When we have pace and rhythm to our offense, there's nobody that can stop us.

Q.テつ Thad, 15 lead changes, and the biggest lead for you was seven, biggest lead for them was six.テつ Is this the kind of game you expect in this league, this year, no matter who you're playing?テつ It just seemed like neither team could shake the other.
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, I didn't like the way we started the game in terms of just the baskets we were giving them.テつ I think at halftime 10 of their 12 points were right at the rim, or 10 of their 12 makes were right at the rim.テつ And we made some ridiculous mental mistakes defensively, and we didn't do a good job taking care of the basketball.テつ I think nine turnovers in the first half.テつ As Bob even said ‑‑ and we talked about as a staff‑‑ every year for 10 years, this game has just been‑‑ it's been tough.
Hopefully, we can relax and think a little bit better and play a little bit better tomorrow.

Q.テつ You just answered my question, so I'll ask you another one.テつ The question I asked Aaron about the guys being more comfortable in this situation, I wonder, from early in the season to now if you've noticed a difference maybe in huddles the last eight minutes of the game, whether it be confidence or whatever?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, you know, it's funny because we talk about that.テつ Early on today we didn't have‑‑ I didn't feel that energy that we wanted, that we needed.テつ Second half I thought they did a pretty decent job with that, guys talking it through, this is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, more engaged.テつ We executed a lot of timeouts, a little bit better offensively.テつ But we just‑‑ some of the plays we made, especially in the first half, we just kind of like, boy, that's uncharacteristic of him or whatever it was.テつ As hard as it is, we've got to pick ourselves and get ready to go again tomorrow.

Q.テつ Have you encouraged LaQuinton to go closer to the basket?テつ Seems like for a while now he's been playing a lot closer to the basket.
COACH MATTA:テつ I think one of the biggest things, and this has become almost throughout the Big Ten, the switching that takes place, and he touched on it, a lot of times it's predicated on match‑ups.テつ Last Sunday against Michigan State, I said, Q, you're going to have to shoot a three‑point shot here in the second, and he comes out and bangs that big three for us.
You know, he's got to, I think, continue to read where things are.テつ I thought his decision making his pretty good today.テつ I give him credit; he stuck with it and finished through a lot of contact down there and really even when he missed he found the ball and got some put‑backs with six offensive rebounds.テつ He did a good job of that.
Q is stronger than he looks.テつ He does have some pretty good strength to him.

Q.テつ It's been about two months since that second Nebraska game when they were able to beat you.テつ Is that the same formula Nebraska is using now, and have you been watching a lot of their games?
COACH MATTA:テつ You know, I really haven't.テつ I haven't seen them a whole lot now.テつ Obviously I'll shift over there, but no, I think as Aaron said, they're on a roll right now.テつ They are playing great basketball, and obviously Shields and Petteway are doing a good job.テつ They've got guys that can stretch the defense, they're shooting the ball well.テつ I think they're playing as well as anybody in the country right now.

Q.テつ I just want to be sure the time‑out that you called at 2.8 after he made the‑‑ after Ronnie Johnson made the first free throw, you knew what they were going to do with the intentional miss, and you just wanted to get everything set up?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah.テつ We talked about them intentionally missing, and we also talked about quick inbounding because I had another time‑out left, and we were going to go as quick as we could to get it in.テつ But yeah, I mean, what a unique play because Lenzelle said, he goes, it's off me.テつ So then we were able to kind of set what we were going to do next.

Q.テつ You seemed to have an ongoing dialogue with one of the officials, and you were awarded a time‑out that I don't believe you called.テつ Did you get any further explanation on that?
COACH MATTA:テつ No.テつ Here's what happened:テつ And Mike probably did the right thing, but I said, at 15 I'm going to call time‑out, and as soon as he heard me say "time‑out," he called time‑out, and I was like, no, not yet.テつ He heard time‑out.テつ He did the right thing, yes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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