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March 20, 2014

Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

Sam Thompson


Dayton テや 60
Ohio State - 59

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined up here by Thad Matta, Aaron Craft, and Sam Thompson from Ohio State University.テつ That being said, Coach, go ahead and make your opening statement.
COACH MATTA:テつ I'm good.テつ Just ask these guys questions.
No, give Dayton credit.テつ They made some big plays.テつ We got ourselves in a little bit of a hole again.
Had a great shot at the end to win the game, but it was just one of those games for us.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thanks, Coach.
We'll take questions just for our student‑athletes at this point, either Aaron or Sam.テつ

Q.テつ Aaron, just like you have your entire career, you're in on every single play down the stretch.テつ Can you just take us through from your vantage point.テつ Just the big layups, the last play on Sanford, and just kind of where your head is at right now.
AARON CRAFT:テつ I just wanted to do everything I could to help our team win, and down the stretch, I couldn't do that today.テつ I can take blame for that.
This is the fourth game winner hit on me in my time here.テつ I can't change it.テつ Obviously, you want it to end differently, but these guys still have time.テつ The best thing that we can do is just move forward.
Got to give Dayton a lot of credit.テつ Obviously, he made a big shot down the stretch.テつ They made the last punch, and we couldn't.

Q.テつ Aaron, would you discuss your last shot.テつ It looked like it was going to bank in, kicked out.テつ What did you see?
AARON CRAFT:テつ Just tried to get up the floor as quickly as possible.テつ There's only four seconds left.テつ That's kind of how our season's gone.テつ Thought I got it up there high enough, and I obviously didn't, so...

Q.テつ Sam, you guys have played these back‑and‑forth games, close games, different stakes and what not.テつ In the NCAA Tournament, is it tougher to try to eke out a game like this when so much is on the line and both teams have their backs against the wall the way they do?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ I don't know.テつ We lost maybe ten games like that this season.テつ So I don't know if it's tougher in the NCAA Tournament.テつ I don't know if it's tougher in the Big Ten Tournament, regular season.テつ We knew going into the season that we were going to get everybody's best shot.テつ Today we weren't able to withstand it.

Q.テつ The fact that you guys have experience going deep into this tournament for both Aaron and Sam, with it fresh right now, how much does that offer solace or help you?テつ At least you have gone deep, versus how much does it make it tougher?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ It doesn't, doesn't help.

Q.テつ To what degree does it make it more difficult because you're used to it, you expect it more?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ You know, I guess.テつ Any competitor wants to win.テつ This is a game that we had an opportunity to win.テつ We had a chance to extend our season, extend the seniors' careers, and we didn't do it.テつ So it was tough.

Q.テつ Aaron, you put this on your shoulders.テつ You made big plays down the stretch.テつ Other than that last desperate shot, what could you have done better?
AARON CRAFT:テつ Not let them make a shot, obviously, down the stretch.テつ It's amazing the way that, you know, defense has kind of been my thing, and it's amazing how it's going to end with a kid getting the game winner on me.
Obviously, I think I knew he wanted to go right.テつ There's so many things that are going through my mind right now that I wish could have gone differently, but they didn't.テつ He made a big shot, made a big time play, and we couldn't come back.

Q.テつ Kind of a grandiose question, Aaron, but how would you like to be remembered at Ohio State?
AARON CRAFT:テつ Sorry, I have zero thoughts on that right now.テつ I'm upset at the way that we played this game and the way that we didn't take the opportunity and make the most of it.
So that's for you guys to decide and discuss, but right now, I can't move past this game yet.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, gentlemen.
At this point, we'll take questions for Coach Matta.

Q.テつ Thad, just with the way Aaron was able to make plays.テつ He made the few that weren't so good.テつ Just can you put in perspective the way you thought he played and finished his career today?
COACH MATTA:テつ I thought he was great.テつ Just from the standpoint of we wouldn't have been in this position had he not been doing the things that he had done to get us here.テつ You look at his career, in my mind, in the ten years I've been at Ohio State, he's going down as one of the all‑time greatest players to ever put on the scarlet and gray.
Obviously, you don't like this season to end the way it ends, but just that kid has probably meant more to this program than anybody's ever meant to this program, just in terms of what his teams have done in his time here.
Obviously, you don't like the way this game ends today, but, you know, he's special.

Q.テつ I know in the moment it's tough, and then the last shot there.テつ Is there anything you can do differently defensively if you're Aaron in that situation?テつ Or is that kind of just something that happens sometimes?
COACH MATTA:テつ Honestly, me telling him how to play defense would be like me telling somebody how to build a rocket ship.テつ I'll live and die with that kid any day of the year of what he's going to do defensively.
The kid made a tough shot, a runner that went in.テつ These things happen.テつ I would trust him more than anybody I've ever coached in terms of those possessions.

Q.テつ Thad, we've talked a lot about late in the season, especially about this team playing better with its back to the wall, which happened again today.テつ But for about the first, I don't know, 32 minutes, do you have any explanation for why you couldn't build any kind of a lead on these guys and keep it?
COACH MATTA:テつ Honestly, I don't know.テつ It's kind of been this team this year.テつ As I told them after the game, truth be told, we probably shouldn't have been in this position from the standpoint of some games that we lost throughout the season.

Q.テつ In the tournament?
COACH MATTA:テつ Not in the tournament, no, regular season games.
The positions we were in at times, and you look at this team, you have ten losses on the season, and you've led nine of them in the second half.テつ The other one that you lose, you're down one with eight minutes to go.
I wish I had the answer for you.テつ I would have used it about a month ago.

Q.テつ That being said, what you just said, is this the first time you've gotten to an end of the season with a team and felt like you didn't have an answer or didn't know what buttons to push to get it to play?
COACH MATTA:テつ I think so.テつ The funny thing, and you know this, we've been together for ten years, I've always predicated a team on how they practice, and this may be one of the best practiced teams I've ever had.テつ You know, an interesting phenomenon.
Like you said, the deal of getting ourselves down, I take a time‑out to start the second half, just to try to get some momentum, try to get some juice.テつ Two loose balls, they come up with them.テつ Five seconds on the shot clock, and a guy shoots a layup.テつ I think those were the things that kind of get me the most.
Not so much the stage we're on today or anything like that, but just having that ability to do the things we need to do to win basketball games consistently.

Q.テつ Coach, how did you view the challenge going against their defense going into the game?テつ And what did you need to do better offensively?
COACH MATTA:テつ Well, we needed to finish better.テつ I think that was one of the big keys.テつ We were getting the ball in there, and we weren't finishing.テつ There was a lot of contact.テつ We kept telling our guys, you've got to finish through contact.テつ You've got to finish the play through the contact.テつ We didn't do a good enough job in terms of that.

Q.テつ Was there any transition defense early?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, yeah.テつ That was probably the difference in the game was the start of the game, just our ability to get back, you know.テつ It was such a key, because we thought we could do a great job with their half‑court offense, and unfortunately, we gave those up.

Q.テつ You go on a 10‑0 run there in the second, I think it was 10‑0 over a span of almost five minutes.テつ To what degree at that point are you thinking, we're figuring this out?テつ What kind of place are you in mentally, I guess, in terms of confidence or that the turbulence of earlier in the game is behind you?
COACH MATTA:テつ You know, you're never comfortable.テつ You look at this, the last five games we've played, literally, I've listened for the horn to go off to see if we win or lose.テつ That's something we had talked about coming in.テつ The last five games come down to like the last shot.
And coming into this game, we had talked about extending leads and that sort of thing.テつ We weren't able to get over that hump in terms of what we needed to do.テつ That was the difference.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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