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March 21, 2014

Badou Diagne

Cliff Ellis

Eric Smith


Virginia – 70
Coastal Carolina – 59

MODERATOR:  We're now ready to begin the press conference for Coastal Carolina.  If we could, we'll begin with a comment from Coach Ellis.
COACH ELLIS:  First of all, I want to congratulate Virginia.  They really played a great second half.  The three‑ball, the 3‑point shot really broke our back.  They hit them at key times.  I know the kid off the bench, Nolte, his two threes were big.  When they come off the bench, sometimes you are not as focused as you need to be.
We knew going in we made sure to switch the screens.  We didn't.
But they showed why they're good.  They didn't panic when we took the lead.  They stayed the course.  They played tremendous defense, especially the second half.  They really took us out of what we wanted to do.
I'm proud of our team.  We competed.  At the same point in time, we came up short and we're disappointed we didn't win.  We came in here to do that.  But you got to give credit to Virginia.  They're a very good basketball team.
MODERATOR:  All right.  At this time, we'll open the floor for questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Were you surprised at how well you shot the ball early and to have that early lead?  Or did you come in feeling like you'd get off to a good start?
ERIC SMITH:  I don't think we were so much surprised.  We are real confident in ourselves and I think we did a good job moving the ball early and getting good looks that we're accustomed to making and we were able to knock them down in the first half.

Q.  How do you avoid kind of tensing up when you have the lead and it's the 1‑16 game everybody talks about, how the 1 has never lost.  How do you try to let some of those nerves go?
BADOU DIAGNE:  I mean, our coach warned us about that.  We have to stay in the moment, whatever happen in the game.  And keep focused, stay on defense and not foul, not do anything bad.

Q.  What was the feeling at halftime, having a lead and surprising a lot of people to that point?
ERIC SMITH:  We felt real good at halftime.  We did a good job early on following the game plan, which was to control the boards, take good shots when we get them.  So we felt real good at halftime about what we did.  Followed the game plan and that's what gave us the lead that we had.

Q.  Could you just sum up the experience of being in the NCAA tournament.  The program hasn't been here in a long time.  What was the experience like for you guys?
BADOU DIAGNE:  It was a nice experience.  At the end of today, we came here just to focus and win games.  So I guess it was good so far, but‑‑ I mean, we had a good experience.
MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, thank you very much.  You can return to the locker room.
At this time, we'll open the floor up for questions for Coach Ellis.

Q.  Cliff, what was your message to your team at halftime and what were you concerned about from Virginia in the second half?
COACH ELLIS:  The message at halftime was stay the course.  It was a long way to go.  We're only halfway there.  We've got to keep doing what we were doing.  Gillis had gotten three fouls.  I thought our focus was when they got the ball to kind of mirror them, cushion and contain.  We lost that containment a few times when they took it to the hole.  Warren was in foul trouble and that was a big concern.
We had kept them to zero offensive rebounds.  And I don't know if that's ever happened to Virginia, but I am so‑‑ I knew that the threes and the rebounds were key, and we wanted to continue to do that.
Offensively, we're doing some good things.  The thing that turned the game around were some threes and then their defense‑‑ we didn't get the shots we were getting in the first half.
They're long, they're thick.  Felt like we had a half a step on them as far as quickness.  But they did a very good job positioning and you can see why they're so good.  They made it tough for us to score.
We were trying to grind it out, but those threes were, they were some back breakers.

Q.  Cliff, you had the ten‑point lead there late in the half and in retrospect, had you been able to milk it a little, things might have changed.  What was going through your head at that point?
COACH ELLIS:  Momentum's in your favor, don't change anything, you know.  You got momentum going.  You don't ever turn momentum off.  We did have to get Gillis out of the game with the third foul.  I think that made a difference, when he picked up that third foul.  We got our best penetrator and a guy that can deliver.  I thought that was big.
We had another guy‑‑ we had a couple of guys with two fouls so I was trying to protect and not‑‑ Gillis has got three, I can't let Badou Diagne get three.  I can't let these guys get three.  Guys off the bench, you've got to do what you've got to do.

Q.  Coach, you called a timeout early in the second half after Virginia came out of the locker room with the quick run.  What did you see that they were doing differently and how did you try to counter that?
COACH ELLIS:  They started taking it to the basket.  We were losing that cushion.  They were driving.  Then we started doing that and then the three‑ball came.  They came out driving it more.  That was what I was doing.  We got to have that cushion.  Got to have that cushion.

Q.  They got 17 from Gill off the bench.
COACH ELLIS:  He's been playing well.  You look at him as if he's a starter.  He's very athletic.  Look at the guys that really hurt us, Gill, Nolte.  Those are the two guys.  They're coming off the bench and they hurt us.  So you got to give those guys credit.
MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Coach, thank you very much.
COACH ELLIS:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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