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March 15, 2014
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
New Mexico Â– 64
San Diego State Â– 58
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by San Diego State.Â Coach, if you could make a few comments about tonight's game.
COACH FISHER:Â This was a tremendously hard‑fought game between two very good basketball teams.Â We're disappointed that we didn't get the opportunity to cut the nets down.Â But we're proud of what we've done and how we've done it.
We competed from wire to wire, and we just didn't quite have enough to finish.Â But if we continue to play that way, we'll have a chance to be playing after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.Â That's our goal now.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.
Q.Â The past couple games you have had double‑digit assists.Â Tonight only five.Â What was going on out there with the assists?
XAVIER THAMES:Â Well, we just didn't knock down shots.Â They did a good job on defense, as well.
We're all right.Â We'll come back next week, watch film, do different things like that.Â We just didn't knock down shots tonight.
Q.Â There were a lot of fouls called on both teams tonight.Â Do you think that changed the nature of the game?
DWAYNE POLEE:Â Well, we can't really worry too much about the calls. Â We just go out there and try and play hard and play every possession like it's our last.
We can't say that the officiating played a big part because there were other parts of the game that we could have done well.Â We can't just blame it all on the refs.
Q.Â Winston, in the end when you were shaking hands, looks like you and Kirk had a big embrace.Â What did you talk about?
WINSTON SHEPARD:Â Nothing much.Â Some people back in Houston where I'm from, that's all.
Q.Â When the inbound pass was stolen, did you feel the momentum was going on your side because you had an 8‑0 run going?Â How did you feel at that point?
WINSTON SHEPARD:Â We felt good.Â We got the lead back.Â Our press was doing a good job on 'em.Â So of course we felt good.
Q.Â You came here to win and you didn't, yet you know what's ahead of you.Â Could you talk about what's ahead.
DWAYNE POLEE:Â We know what we have to do to get better.Â Like coach put it to us, we got a two‑game tournament every week.Â We can't let this linger.Â It hurts.Â We all came here to cut down nets.Â But we ain't going to let this linger.Â We have a big chapter to move forward in our book next week and that's what we're all looking forward to.
Q.Â (No microphone.)
DWAYNE POLEE:Â I just seen the lane open up.Â I took what the defense gave me.
Q.Â In that you did come here knowing there wasn't really much to be gained or lost, why was this tournament, winning another trophy, so important?
WINSTON SHEPARD:Â There was plenty to gain.Â Any tournament or any game, we want to win.Â We don't take losing lightly.Â But we just going to get better from it.
Q.Â Dwayne, on that last possession that New Mexico had, you were in your 1‑3‑1, they were running out of options, Williams took the deep three, what did you see on that?
DWAYNE POLEE:Â Well, I felt like he was kind of deep.Â I wasn't really expecting him to shoot it.Â I was expecting the ball screen.
But he's a great player and he hit a great shot.Â There wasn't nothing I could do.
Q.Â New Mexico brought a lot of fans here.Â Did you feel like it felt like a road game tonight?
XAVIER THAMES:Â No.Â We had fans, as well.Â A lot came out, other Aztecs came out that supported us.Â So no, not really.
Q.Â X, on your fourth foul, what happened on that?
XAVIER THAMES:Â I tried to close out on Neal.Â I just closed out too hard and got called with a foul.Â That was my fault on that part.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll continue with questions for Coach Fisher.
Q.Â Like they said, not a ton to gain.Â What do you think this tournament as a whole does to your chances for your placing in the post‑season tournament?
COACH FISHER:Â I have no idea where we'll be seeded.Â I know we have a really good basketball team, as does New Mexico.Â And I think the tournament committee is a look at who you played, who you've beaten.
New Mexico, in my opinion, is not a top‑20 team, they're a top‑10 team, top‑15 team.Â They're good.Â They're really good.
My hope is that both of us can get into this next tournament and win and prove that we have teams in the Mountain West Conference that can compete not only within a league, can compete nationally with anybody.
They can play with anybody, and so can we.Â So let's hope that we do that next week.
We wanted to win three games.Â We didn't.Â We came up a little short.Â We went right to the wire with an effort that makes a coach and a parent proud.
Q.Â The last sequence with the 1‑3‑1, it seemed like it was a great coaching move, caught them off guard.Â The shot clock was running down, the guy makes a deep three.
COACH FISHER:Â I have seen Williams make deep threes against a lot of people.Â Two years ago as a sophomore, he lit us up in our building with long shot after long shot after long shot.Â He's a very good player.Â He's got a lot of moxy.Â I saw him air ball a free throw last night, and then want the ball to get fouled at the end so he could make two free throws to win the game.
It was a long, hard shot.Â He's made long, hard shots before.Â I was hoping that one would not go in.Â He took a long, hard shot at our place when they were two behind that fortunately for us did not go in, but this one did.
Q.Â About the officiating.Â You shot two free throws in the first half, I think you shot 20 in the second half.Â The disparity is interesting.Â Do you think the officiating played any part in the pacing of the game or how you played it?
COACH FISHER:Â We had three guys who were veteran officials who have made deep runs themselves in the NCAA tournament.
Did I complain about some calls?Â Yes.Â Did Coach Neal?Â Yes.Â None of the three were attempting to make calls to favor one team over the other.Â I thought there were some calls that weren't good.Â I'm sure Neal thought the same thing.
If you get caught up in yapping at the officials, whether you're a player or coach, you're not going to be focused on the job.Â I complained some, I did.Â But I complained in a timely fashion where I could still get my point across and keep my wits about me.
Those are three really good officials.
Q.Â Have you ever been in a game or coached a game where there were almost 20 fouls called by the halfway point?
COACH FISHER:Â I'm sure I have.Â I've been doing it a long time.Â I'm sure when I was a JV coach back in 1968, we had a lot of those.Â We have progressed.
Officiating is a hard job.Â Coaching's a hard job.Â But if you harp on, That's the reason why negative things happen, then you're missing the boat, missing the point.
I'm not doing it.Â Our kids aren't doing it.
Yeah, I wish they would have made a couple calls.Â I wish Polee would have gone to the line at the end when he went in.Â I wish they hadn't called an and one when Bairstow went in, but they did.
Usually they're right way more often than they're wrong.
Q.Â Talk a little bit about the first five minutes of the second half.Â Seemed like you really pressed them hard, forced them into turnovers.
COACH FISHER:Â When we went into the locker room, they were on a bit of a run to end the half, 7‑2, whatever it was.Â They're sitting there motionless.Â I have my little spiel.Â I said, When I come back, I want some energy in this locker room, we're going to win the game.
We brought energy to the floor to start the second half.Â We hit them first.Â We seized that moment and got ourselves right back in the game and had them on their heels.
They're a good team.Â They righted the ship, had a good game, and we had a good game like we had.
It was a good effort by both teams.Â I wish the game would have been two minutes longer and maybe somehow we would have found a way.
Q.Â I imagine your message to them afterwards is similar to what it is for us here, came here to win, have a lot to accomplish, is that correct?
COACH FISHER:Â Pretty much I would say, yes.Â I told them I was proud of how we competed from wire to wire.Â We made mistakes that hurt us, but it was not for lack of effort.Â And when you control what you can control ‑ effort and attitude ‑ which we did pretty effectively, you got a chance.Â That's how we've won 29 games.
We fought.Â You know, you look up, we're six or seven behind, all of a sudden we're one ahead when Polee gets the and one with a minute 21 to go.Â Now we need to make one more stop, but we couldn't do it.Â Again, credit to them.
But I ended it by saying the great thing is we got a lot to look forward to, and it starts when we find out who and where, then we'll be determined to not have this feeling in the next two games that we play.
Q.Â (No microphone.)
COACH FISHER:Â I would hope that we would be a top four seed.Â I would hope that that would happen.Â I can't tell you.Â I got no magic wand in terms of who's going to put us where.
But I think our whole season, body of work, we've done a pretty good job of going out and competing and winning, winning in different environments, against different leagues, on the road, neutral sites, high altitude.Â When you have to win to have a chance to win the league, we won 29 games.
We had a really, really, really good season.Â I know a lot of others will state cases, but I'm hopeful that we will fall somewhere in that top four seed.
Q.Â These two teams not just this week were on a collision course from the beginning of Mountain West play.Â Is this fun for you when it's two teams like this?Â Is this the rivalry in this league now?
COACH FISHER:Â It's fun when you win.Â It ain't no fun when you don't win.Â Ask Noodles how he felt after the game at our place a week ago.Â That's not fun.
You're proud of your team, what you've done, and how you've done it.Â You rally the troops.
I think both of us know we've got two really good programs, not teams.Â Underline 'programs'.Â They're used to winning and expect to win.
I think sometimes, you know, the spirit in both teams can overflow a little bit and you think there's nastiness between the two teams.Â I think there's mutual respect.Â For 40 minutes you don't like one another.
But to a man in our locker room, we are hopeful that a week from Sunday both of us will still be playing.Â And I can say that, and you can say, That's easy to say.Â I do.Â I hope we can.
We got some great teams that we love to compete against in our league.Â The ones that are at the top are the ones you want to beat the most.Â Ourselves and New Mexico, Vegas, we've been the teams that have been migrating to the top, so we want to beat 'em, we want to win.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports