Feb. 6, 2010
HEAD COACH Tom Penders
"The biggest difference in the game was at the foul line. We missed nine shots and you can't do that in a close game. The disappointing thing is you can point to four or five games this year where we lost the game by poor free-throw shooting. Defensively, we did some good things but in the second half we let them get into the lane a little too easily and a little too often. The first half we did a good job keeping them out of the line and we were able to build an eight point lead because of that. They are a hard team to run away from because of their tempo"
On the zone defense
"Southern Miss likes to beat you off the dribble and drive to the basket. They're not a post-up offense. We started in man-to-man and then built our lead when we went to the 1-3-1 matchup zone. It's a defense we work on in practice just to have as a secondary defense. Southern Miss is very good at penetrating at four positions, they are an unorthodox team. Their bigs are perimeter players who can shoot and that keeps the middle open. Their big kids are their best three-point shooters."
On shooting difficulties past few games
"We had a lot of nice, open looks that we missed and we played a good half except for a few minutes against UTEP. As a coach, you try not to dwell on that because the kids will become tight. You want them taking their shots and for the most part we were taking good shots tonight. We missed too many put backs in tight situations which obviously didn't help us at all. Aubrey took 24 shots today but he had to and I can't really complain any of those looks. He took them within the flow of the offense and had good looks. We really needed someone else to step up and knock down some baskets but that just didn't happen."
On staying focused
"We know are good enough to beat anyone in this league - we either have or came close. That's what keeps your spirit up. Some years we've had a high RPI and had the disappointment of not getting a bid. This year reminds me of a few years ago when we made a late run and played our best ball in the postseason tournament when we fell to Memphis in the finals."
On the close losses this year
"I'd rather be in a situation where my kids compete instead of being blown out. I don't ever want to be blown out; when that happens, you start to question your toughness. Our kids will bounce back. We'll go to Western Kentucky, and we'll play hard, and we'll play well. They are a team a lot like us and were favored to win their conference. They have lost seven or eight games like this today. It's tough, but it tells you we're close. I don't see how any competitive athlete wants to be blown out."
On the rotation
"Maybe I'll go back to four guards more instead of playing two posts. Yea, we're rebounding better but we're taking care of the ball well and we're not sloppy. We rebound better when we have two big guys in but rebounding doesn't always translate into winning."
JUNIOR FORWARD Maurice McNeil
On losing the lead
"They just started making shots. They were rebounding and making second shots too."
On the shots that Southern Miss made
"We let them make the shot with two seconds on the shot clock every time. We played good defense and just let it go when the shot clock was about to go off. We can't do that."
On how to come back from this game
"You just have to move on to the next game. We don't want to look too far ahead, but we want to win all our games going into the tournament. Hopefully we can just learn from our mistakes and bring what we know to the tournament. You have to learn from losses."
On thinking about losing after the layup
"I won't be thinking about the layup. I'll be thinking about the tip-in. The layup didn't win the game, it was the tip-in."
SENIOR GUARD Aubrey Coleman
On losing the game at the buzzer
"We were hoping it didn't count. We looked at what we didn't do, like making our free-throws and that's what counted in crunch time."
On how they played the game
"We wanted them to drive, but we didn't want them to score. We let them get to the middle too easy."
On why the shot percentage was low
"They were a good defensive team. They are up there with Tulsa. They hold opponents to 39 percent."
On losing double digit leads in the last two games
"You have to close the game out. We just couldn't stop them. They just did what they wanted."