HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
“That game took so many twists and turns. Obviously LSU had not played without Hornsby this season. After the way he played today, you have to think he could have done something in that last game. I like to say that we didn't know he could shoot the three or we didn't guard him. That kid was making some hard shots. Sometimes you can play great defense, and it’s just better offense. That was a lot of the case tonight. He hit some unbelievably difficult shots and a lot of them he wasn't even square, but he was feeling it.
I saw a lot of nights from guys where they are just catching and shooting before they even turn around. We kept missing wide-open 15 footers where nobody was guarding us, and he was hitting circus shots. Those wide-open 15 footers win a lot of games for you, but they can also lose games. My guys have to understand the importance of those free throws and open shots.
It’s a big win for us for a lot of reasons. We are building this brick-by-brick, and I’m proud of our guys’ effort and how they hung in there. We spent a lot of time preparing for Ben Simmons, and we did a great job on Simmons, and obviously not so good on Hornsby, and Tim Quarterman did a great job tonight. They have a good team, and they are very talented.”
On LSU guard Keith Hornsby
“We didn't ever want to double him, because he’s such a great passer. You learn those mistakes when playing great players. If you put two on him he will have thirty assists. You double guys that can’t pass, and you don't double guys that can. That has always been my rule. What we did was put a man and a half on him. We wanted him to always think somebody was coming. Unfortunately, for Devonte (Pollard) he actually did a great job, but with this new emphasis with the officiating, they are going to call any kind of scrape or bump or any contact will be a foul.
Unfortunately, for us Devonte played four minutes the first half, and Rob played about five and half or six, so we go into halftime up nine without two of our best players. In the second half Tim Quarterman and Hornsby got going, but Galen Robinson is a tough freshman, and Rob Gray is a good sophomore. We have some good young players on our team. We have some young guys we are dealing with, but they found a way to win. Simmons is a really good player. He's only going to be in college for a year obviously. I coached one of those guys in Indiana, and when you coach a one-and-done kid it’s tough for him, because he's going to get every team’s best shot. I have no idea who they play next, but somebody is going to watch this film and watch some of the things we didn't do, and that is why kids like Hornsby and Quarterman have to step up for LSU.”
On the crowd for the game
““First of all, that’s the way it should be. I’ve been doing this a long time: that’s what we see when we go on the road. Rhode Island had 8000 fans. SMU is packed. Cincinnati is packed. Memphis is packed. Wherever we go, it’s packed. Because we are such a high scoring team, we’re going to see a lot of fans. We’re going to help other teams fill their arena, but I’ve always said you have to earn the right to have a big crowd. We’re earning that.
A lot of people came to see Ben Simmons, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I were a fan and had the chance to see the projected number one pick of the draft, and he was in my city, I’d make an effort to go. What I’m really hoping is that a lot of people that came to watch Simmons, who may have not come necessarily to see the Houston Cougars, will come back. They like what they saw with our guys, and the effort they play and were entertained.
Our goal is to fill that gym. We’re only going to be in that gym another year or so before it’s going to be completely renovated. It’s going to be beautiful. Coupled with that brand new development center and brand new renovated Hofheinz, it’s going to be a basketball mecca around here. People need to start getting on board. We’re a fun team to watch. We want to be the city of Houston’s college basketball team. We’re fun to watch, and our kids play hard.”
On the play of the guards
“We’re a guard-dominated team. We don’t have a big guy like Elbert Robinson III. We don’t have a big physical center. We don’t have a big man per se. The strength of our team is our guards. That’s why spacing is so important. If you noticed, Rob Gray Jr. always had great driving lanes, because the floor is spaced so much.
The Damyean Dotson big three-pointer was a by-product of our spacing. We keep the floor spaced. Our bigs screen-and-roll hard to the rim, and that opens the floor up, and we try and create driving lanes. Dotson and LeRon Barnes aren’t really attacking guards. They’re just big wings that can make threes and rebound, but we have a good mix of guys. Our best player up to this point this season has been Devonta Pollard overall. He had 10 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. He wasn’t really a major factor in the game, but that just shows you the strength of our team. I’ve said many times thus far this season the strength of our team is our depth. We have a lot of guys that can help us win a game.”
On the play of Danrad Knowles
“Chicken (Danrad Knowles) is a good player. I was trying to figure out how to use Kyle Meyer. It’s early in the season. There are no decisions made. We’re still trying to find some things here. This is the first year that these guys have played together. We played well in spurts at Rhode Island. We had the ball down four, with under three minutes to go, and we just never could put two possessions together.
I knew that Chicken was a much better player than he was playing. Sometimes when you put them in that starting lineup their ears prick up. I’ve seen Chicken play well. I saw him get 31 points against Tulane, but Chicken can play better. We made a concerted effort to go to him in the post, and he kept delivering, but it was good for him. It’s good for our team too that he’s another guy that can step up and play for us.”
On the impact of the win
“It’s more of a boost to our fans and to the perception outside our program. We had a game-plan for Ben Simmons sure, but our focus was on beating LSU. It’s really good for us as it pertains to the people outside our program. It was on national television. It’s a great game for college basketball. Anytime you get a 105-98 game versus a 58-55 game, it’s great for college basketball. But the perception of Houston basketball will go up.
Ben Simmons is probably going to be the number one pick in the draft. They have a lot of really talented players. This is our first recruiting class. We haven’t even had a second recruiting class. We know what we can do within our program. I like our players. We’re learning how to play together, learning who should control the ball and who should not. Offensive rebounding is always going to be a key in our program. It’s a great win for us outside of our locker room. Inside of our locker room, we have a game Wednesday night, but people will talk about this nationally. People will talk about this in our city, and this will give us a good bump.”
HOUSTON JUNIOR FORWARD Danrad Knowles
On being in the starting lineup
“Starting gave me a lot more confidence. It helped me get in the flow a little bit more on offense.”
HOUSTON SOPHOMORE GUARD ROB GRAY JR.
On his play in the second half
“I was just trying to help the team. The first half was very limited. So the second half I just wanted to come out whether it was getting other people shots, or getting myself shots or even making a defensive play. I just wanted to impact the game: try to help us to win.”
On reacting to the game-tying three in regulation
“Just moving on to the next play. That’s what we always practice. Once he hit the shot, regulation was pretty much over, so we just knew we had to win in overtime. That’s what we started prioritizing and getting ready for.”
LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“It was a hard fought battle here in Houston. They did a tremendous job and are off to a great start in the season. We knew coming in that we would have to play extremely well. They had a good first half after they settled in and an even better second half leading to overtime. They won the war on the boards, and that was a big difference in the game when they got second chance points. We scored 98 points, but we didn’t do great enough on the defensive end.”
We didn’t do a good job of protecting, staying down, containing, and the post guys didn’t do a great job of stepping up. We have to make sure to slow down their guys. They did a great job of finishing at the rim. They had 50 points in the paint, and a lot of that was contributed to the guard play.”
On the play of the defense
“It’s a battle that we’ve had all season. We have to continue to address it, and we are hopeful that we will improve, because that’s where we are getting hurt. They got about 11 offensive rebounds at the half. That was the difference at the half.”
On senior guard Keith Hornsby
“He helps tremendously, and there isn’t as much pressure put on them to make shots. Keith brings a presence that he did last year, and he gives us an opportunity to settle in. He is a fifth-year senior, and he is very poised. He plays extremely well under pressure throughout the floor, and that is something the freshmen can learn from.”
On freshman Ben Simmons and sophomore Craig Victor II
“Physical presence inside that we don’t have would be a great compliment to Ben. Craig is one of those guys that looks forward to initiate opportunities to go in and get rebounds. He will be a force inside that will help us on the rebounding end.”
LSU JR GUARD TIM QUARTERMAN
On Houston’s defense
“They had their hands up, it was stretched out, and they played aggressive. We saw a couple jumpers when we first got in the zone, then we settled in, got the ball rolling, got a couple lay-ups and ended up getting back out there.”
On Keith Hornsby’s performance tonight
“He is back out there and doing well. He contributed big for us tonight. Now we’re just moving forward, not looking back, and getting Craig (Victor II) back is going to be big for us.”
On Houston Guard Rob Gray Jr.
“He took a couple good looks at the basket and a couple of good floaters. You have to expect his jumper, so when we closed out he had trouble driving to the basket, and the help didn’t come over quick enough. We just have to improve our defense and make plays.”
On how they can improve
“Just going at each other in practice and not allowing easy baskets, because that’s what’s hurting us in the game. Going back to practice and having a couple intense practices the next couple of days so we can be ready for the next game, because it’s going to be big for us.”
LSU SR GUARD KEITH HORNSBY
On the shot that took them to overtime
“It was a simple play: something we do in practice. That type of shot I shoot a lot. It was a good look, a good screen, but it’s disappointing after a good shot we go in overtime and settle, and part of that is on me.”
On LSU’s defense
“The past few practices we have been going hard on defense, so it’s unfortunate that we didn't do very well on the defensive end tonight. The only thing we can do is go back and get after it, and we have to have more urgency.”
On his offensive play
“I felt like it was a good offensive night for me, but I’m not going to be happy if we lose. There are a lot of things on the offensive end that I feel like I didn't do very well and that is sticking in my head right now. Coming back and helping rebound was a goal of mine, because it has been an issue all year, and tonight I didn't do a good job of that.”