Jan. 4, 2012
HEAD COACH James Dickey
"It was a heck of a game. We want to give Tulsa a lot of credit. They came with great energy to start the game. When we went up 14-10, we turned the ball over three times to give them the momentum. They have four starters back from last year's team and have played a tough schedule. They are a good team. They went on an 8-0 run and built up a good lead before the half. I was encouraged with the way our guys dealt with that.
On how we started the second half
"I felt good the way we started the second half. Our defense was a lot better, rebounding and we got to the free- throw line 35 times. We turned the ball over too many times. Most of our turnovers are self-inflicted. We are driving in too deep. Thompson and Simmons had 14 (combined) turnovers, but then again both of them made big plays, including big free throws."
On the final play of the game
"I was happy Jonathon had a chance to come back after he missed the chance of ending the game in regulation. We were looking on who to isolate on the last play, and we decided to go with Simmons, and he did a great job of finishing. He did a great job of hitting the free throw to put us up by one."
On the win
"It was a very good win for us and protecting our home court. The thing I am most proud of is how our guys stuck together. Tulsa is very good in execution. They had too many paint points. Tip (Darian Thibodeaux) did a great job on (Scottie) Haralson. I was proud of that. Idlet hurt us down low. We didn't have an answer for that. We survived it though. Our guys did a great job offensively. We had four guys in double figures. It was a good win for us, and we are glad to be 1-0."
On Jonathon Simmons dynamics and his turnovers
"There is a fine line between reining them in and not letting them play. We have to use better judgment when we get between the elbow and the 3-hole. That is when we make bad decisions. You have to give the players freedom. Once they have better judgment and are able to make smarter decisions it becomes a threat. We want to give Jonathon and J.J. that freedom to be able to make their own decisions.
"J.J had a tough play against Idlet. Jonathon is a great tough player but 14 combined turnovers between the two are way too many. What we will do is advise them and educate them but also not take away their freedom to make plays."
On the final play of the game
"We had two options. We wanted to give the ball to either Joe or Jonathon. Jonathon did not have to say a word. I could tell by his look that he wanted the ball. We saw the matchup and made the switch, and Joe was fine with it. I feel like Jonathon made a great decision and am very proud of him. They let us get the ball in. I was afraid he was going to wait too long. The guys flattened out quickly like they were supposed to. He recognized what we wanted to do, and he is very gifted off the dribble. It was big to hit that first free throw."
On the game plan
"(Assistant) Coach (Daniyal) Robinson did a great job on his scouting report before the game. One of the things we emphasized was taking the ball inside. One of the things we wrote on the board before the game was to attack and get to the basket and make free throws. You can't settle for jumpers. It was a physical game. Alandise (Harris) and TaShawn (Thomas) made some big plays. It hurt us offensively in the first half when Alandise picked up two fouls. They got the lead after that. We need him in the game, though. The intensity level was different, and our players see that. It is a different type of intensity in conference play."
On Darian Thibodeaux' defense
"I feel like that is the best defense he played all year. We did a great job on baseline coverage. I would like to see him drive more and get to the free throw line because he is a good shooter. "
On Joe Young's performance
"Joe knows what we want from him. He knows that he doesn't have to come in and score. As long as he comes in and takes balanced shots, we are good. We talked about having balance and being comfortable with it.
On LeRon Barnes' status
"We are going to make a decision on that soon. He has had many problems with his groin. Our No. 1 concern is his health and No. 2 is his year of eligibility. We are going to try to make that decision with our medical staff soon. "
On the growth of the team
"Our guys are playing with more confidence. They have a better understanding. I want to get them to be determined at home. We learned some tough lessons before and after Thanksgiving. Our guys were ready. We practiced so many different situations. As I told them, let's not have those painful losses to understand those situations."
JUNIOR GUARD Jonathon Simmons
On how bad he wanted another chance to shoot free throws
"I wanted it really bad. I should have hit the first one and I am so glad I got another chance."
On what he was thinking on free throws the second time around
"That this must go in. I calmed myself down and just told myself that I had to make it."
On team improvements
"We are rebounding and defending a lot better."
On asking Coach Dickey to be the go-to-guy at the end of the game
"I wanted that chance, and he looked me off a little bit. He then asked the other coaches and they said to give it to me. I got the ball and made the play."
On being prepared for Tulsa's size
"We were very prepared, and we practiced everything we needed to do."
On the atmosphere
"It was very loud tonight, and it helped us a lot. We fed off the crowd's energy. We thank all the fans who came out tonight."
On how hard they had to work
"We worked hard because we refuse to lose. We came out slow at the beginning but picked it up in the second half."
On how they will carry over the successful home stance to the road
"We must carry it over. On the road, it is just us, and we have to feed off all the energy from wins at home."
FRESHMAN GUARD J.J. Thompson
On his thought process during close games
"At the end we just need to stay together. That is what it all came down to."
On how early season mistakes helped prepare them for this close game
"They helped a lot. With all the situations we've been in, we already knew so we knew we needed to make stops at the end."
On assigning a go to guy at the end of the game
"Whoever gets the chance needs to make plays."
On what they did defensively to not allow Tulsa to score any threes
"Ball pressure. We've been working on that all week and not letting them take easy shots.