HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
“Our commitment to defense and offense, collectively, was the best that it has been all year. For 36 minutes, we fought them. In the first half, (Matt) Williams was making some hard shots. I don’t mind that. He was shooting 26-footers. We stayed on one side of the floor a little too much. They were downing side pick-and-rolls instead of the traditional. They were jumping up and making us go to the baseline, but once we got that fixed at halftime, we had our guards just make a quick pass, and we were going to get that corner three. Once we made that little adjustment, Damyean Dotson really benefited from that.
Our ball movement was outstanding in the second half. Our defense, our fight, is important. This isn’t a game that you play; this is a game that you fight in. Galen (Robinson Jr.) had one of his weakest games when we played (UCF) down there the first time, but tonight I was really proud of that young man. He really fought. Dotson was clearly was the best player on the floor tonight, but Galen (Robinson Jr.) was a guy who I saw make some important growth, not just for him but for the team.”
On being able to rely on Damyean Dotson
“Rob (Gray) can score, but Damyean (Dotson) can score as well as anybody in this league. We’re running a lot more stuff for him. If the season started today, Dotson may be our leading scorer. We don’t have a one and a two; we have two ones. Dotson doesn’t take a back seat to anybody. Gray was letting some things bother him that he shouldn’t have, so I sat him tonight. It’s not the first time I’ve done that. Once I sat him and got Wes (VanBeck) calmed down, then our spacing and our ball movement was really good.
One of the most beautiful plays of the night was once we got them spread out and we hit the high post. Kyle (Meyer) hit Dotson on a back-door play; he skipped it right away to the corner; and VanBeck made a three.
Dotson had 31 points. Most guys, when they get a back-door, are looking to score. Dotson just moved it, which is part of our culture. It tells you our kids, especially Dotson, have really bought in. When your leader is your best player, the guy who the other guys respect, you know you have a special program.”
On both teams’ defenses
“It’s not like we weren’t trying to score. They were playing great defense. That’s the No. 1 defensive team in the country. We scored 82 points on that team tonight. They weren’t in a drought either. Our defense was outstanding. Teams don’t go in a drought against Cincinnati because that’s a great defensive team. It’s hard to score against a great defense, and both teams’ defenses were really good tonight. When you get good shots and when they go in, people think you’re playing well. When you get good shots and they don’t go in, people wonder what’s wrong with your offense. There’s nothing wrong with our offense; we’re just not making shots some nights. Tonight, we made shots. It’s a simple game. Basketball is a make-or-miss game. Our defensive effort and our offensive execution together tonight was the best I’ve seen it all season.”
On Damyean Dotson’s game tonight
“Most guys never have a game like that in their life. The one thing I can say about him (Damyean Dotson) is that there are some guys who have games like this and wonder where they come from. He has earned the right to have that. He earns it every day. He is a great role model. Leadership is what builds teams that go through tough spots.
UCF is a good team, and they are on a four-game losing streak right now. We were on a three-game, but because we have great leadership we were able to come through it. We play in a tough conference. Duke just lost three in a row, and UCLA just lost two or three in a row. Every good team goes through this stuff in college.
We are not Alabama; we are going to lose games. How do you come through it? That is the most important. How do you handle it? Can you get better from it? We have played 23 games, and we have all of our goals and dreams that we want to accomplish this season still in front of us.”
On team growth
“Sometimes you have to fix individuals before you can fix your team. That is where a coach having a pulse with a kid and knowing what makes him tick comes into play. We had some guys not playing well.
If the quarterback position in football is not playing good, you are going to have a bad offense. People will say, what’s wrong with your offense. The quarterback is bad. Sometimes, politically you want to say the right thing, but in basketball its guard play. If you don’t have guard play you have no chance in college basketball. This is a guard’s game.
“They had the tallest guy I have ever coached against, but that’s not the deal. This is a guard’s game. Our guard play for a while was really lacking. Tonight, our guard play was great. Our guard play has been good for a while now, but we had to fix that. Sometimes, it’s that simple. Who is it that needs to be fixed? If I can fix him, I can fix these guys. That’s what we do.”
On Kyle Meyer
“I can’t figure out Kyle Meyer sometimes. A white kid from suburban Georgia can’t make a free throw; then there is this kid from Africa who never misses. What’s up with that? We give Kyle a hard time with that. Kyle and Bert (Nkali), sure they have warts, but last time I checked everybody does.
“Those guys are battling. I am really proud of both Bert and Kyle; they are fighting. That guy (Tacko Fall) is a hard matchup. He has had games this year where he has dominated teams. That kid is lethal. They kept going in there, and he was not a factor tonight and I give Bert, Kyle, Danrad (Knowles) and Devin (Davis) all the credit for that. Those guys did a great job. He is great player. He did not do good tonight, but maybe he wasn’t allowed to.”
HOUSTON SENIOR GUARD DAMYEAN DOTSON
On his scoring performances in the last few games
“Four or five games ago, Coach came to me and said ‘Dot, you have to be more aggressive. When you’re open, you have to shoot it. Don’t pass up any open shots.’ I try to be more aggressive in practice. Everything starts in practice. I’m just looking for my shot more. It’s the repetition every day and trusting my work. That’s it.”
On his last time catching rhythm behind the 3-point line like tonight
“High school. I haven’t had a game like that since high school. I would go back to just trusting my work and shooting that same shot every day. I’m just continuing to practice and working hard.”
On how the team controls and shifts the momentum of close games
“We’ve been going over four main things: focus, concentration, discipline and mental toughness. If we do those things, we can overcome deficits. We can come back, fight, scratch and claw our way through the game. If we focus on those four things, we can overcome anything.”
On if he will still be shooting his pregame ‘shot’
“No. I had to cut that out.”