March 18, 2006

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NCAA Men's Basketball Division I First and Second Rounds
Tennessee and Wichita State Coach and Player Quotes

Opening remarks
"I'd like to congratulate Wichita State on a great win and advancing to the Sweet 16. This season we said we'd beat everyone on our schedule that we were supposed to beat and a few that we weren't...Tonight was a game that I thought we could get, in spite of some of the challenges, so we're real disappointed."

On the late second half drought
"We put a lot of pressure on our offense in the second half. You shoot 55 percent and score 48 points, you do a lot of things right. Down the stretch Wichita State executed and we did not.

"I thought there were several occasions when we made the wrong choices on who we passed the ball to and we did a few things out of character. Our set pieces are normally things that we can go to with great success. For example, sometimes we threw the ball into the post when Major (Wingate) wasn't open and then he'd turn it over.

"I thought Major Wingate made a major statement tonight. He played one of the best centers in the country and (Paul) Miller got only one basket...I thought Major (Wingate) played real well with the exception of his turnovers.

On giving up the late five-point lead
"We made some bad decisions on some play calls where there were some things open and we went to a different option for one reason or another. We did not execute offensively and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We didn't get enough stops.

"We couldn't stop them in the half court. They did a wonderful job of executing. They got great looks and made shots, which put too much pressure on our offense to score every time down the floor.

"Wichita State made some backbreaking plays; big, big shots down the stretch that made the difference."



On his team's season
"We've not been an overwhelming favorite all year long. This team has accomplished more than anyone (expected). When you're picked to finish tenth in the SEC, and you finish the regular season as a number two seed, that says it all about the regular season.

"I thought we played pretty good basketball this weekend. We didn't play bad. We had to play real well to beat Winthrop and we played well tonight. Just not well enough."

On not being able to capitalize at 63-58
"I think we were in a position where we had them where we wanted them, and we were telling each other not to look back from there. I guess we just didn't execute. I'm not sure really what happened. We obviously didn't play well after that."

On his long-range shooting
"I tried to hit some shots, but they just weren't falling for me (in the closing minutes). We just didn't have it today."

On losing to Wichita State:
"We just came up short today. I just feel bad for the seniors because they don't (have) next year like I do."

On last 3:00 of the game:
"We just had some poor execution. We took too many shots, too many quick shots and they made us pay for it. They shot for a high percentage (25-50, 50%), they got great looks and we missed our looks. They are a great coached team, just like we are, but we didn't go with our game plan today."

On his NCAA Tournament Performance:
"I was okay. I wasn't doing anything that everybody else is not capable of doing. I put the whole thing (the loss) on me. I had two huge turnovers in the second half at crunch-time... you can't let that happen."


  • Today's contest was just the second-ever meeting between the two schools. Wichita State took the first meeting, 77-73, in the first round of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Dec. 27, 1990.
  • Tennessee finished its season with a 22-8 record. Its NCAA Tournament record fell to 9-15.
  • Tennessee's record in the second round fell to 2-5.
  • Junior Major Wingate set a new Tennessee record for blocks in an NCAA Tournament game with five, surpassing the record of three set by Reggie Johnson against Syracuse in 1997. Johnson later matched his own record, against Furman in 1980, and Torrey Harris matched it with three against Illinois State in 1998. Wingate had already broken the record by halftime with four.
  • Tennessee matched its team record for blocked shots in an NCAA Tournament game with seven. The record was originally set against Illinois State in on Nov. 12, 1998.
  • Chris Lofton set a new Tennessee record for an NCAA Tournament game with six 3-pointers. Lofton went 6-for-18 from 3-point range, breaking the mark of four 3s by Brandon Wharton against Illinois State on March 12, 1998. He also set a new record with 18 3-point attempts (previous: 10, by Tony Harris vs. SW Missouri State on March 14, 1999).
  • Tennessee had two players score 20 points in the same game (Chris Lofton, 20, and C.J. Watson, 20) for the first time since a 106-83, season-opening win over East Tennessee State on Nov. 18. Lofton had 24 and Watson had 22 against the Buccaneers.
  • C.J. Watson moved into 15th place on Tennessee's all-time scoring list. He scored 20 to run his career total to 1,424, passing Jimmy England (1969-71, 1,407 points) and Steve Hamer (1993-96, 1,418 points).

Opening remarks
"Obviously I'm extremely proud of my group today. We had great effort. Everybody that got in played well. I thought we played with pretty good intelligence, especially in the second half. We played with great effort. I thought they were out-hustling us for a while, especially in the second half. I think around the seven-minute mark we talked about playing as best we could on offense and defense. They took the lead and hit back-to-back threes and took a three-point lead on us. We took a couple stops and really guarded and we picked our defense back up and that was the difference in the game. Then we made huge shots: Karon's (Bradley) shot, a floater in the lane, P.J.'s (Couisnard) three was big. Our guys stepped up."

On his emotions in the final seconds
"To do what this team's done this year, I keep saying I didn't think we were any good when practice started. To now be a part of the Sweet 16, we just keep getting a little bit better. We do everything as a team, that's what makes it fun. We're team offense, team defense. I really had to get after them today. Our motto is 'seize the moment.' I didn't want this to get away. I probably screamed and yelled a little bit more, or encouraged a little bit more than I had all year, but I just didn't want this opportunity to slip. Guys stepped up and made big shots and got just enough stops down the stretch."

On match-ups with Tennessee
"The match-up I liked was Paul against (Major) Wingate and Wingate thoroughly won that one. It wasn't even close. Obviously Coach (Bruce) Pearl has his guy ready to go. It started on the first possession. After that I liked our match-ups. You look at their team, they're not the tallest team in the world, Bruce (Pearl) has done a tremendous job with them. Their system fits them. We exploited some matches, we got the ball to Kyle (Wilson), we got the ball to Ryan (Martin), but after that I really didn't like any except for Paul. I thought Paul would be dominant. He had weight, he could push that guy down, but he didn't."

On playing an up-tempo Drake team in the MVC
"Having Drake on the scheduled no question helped. Only having one day to prepare, it was easier for us. I don't know if it was easy, but it was easier. We have about three or four different press offenses. I stuck with one too long. I should've started at the 10-minute mark. We made a couple turnovers and I switched into another press offense and then we didn't have any problems down the stretch. It really helps playing Drake."

On PJ Couisnard
"When you have 20 points on seven shots, you've almost had a perfect day. He had it going. He hit his first one and I thought he's got it going. I thought everyone of them was going in and they almost did. He did a great job getting the ball in bounds, that's not easy."

On the potential of playing North Carolina and Roy Williams in the Sweet 16
"I would love it. There are three guys, three men in my life, three men that have put me where I am today. Obviously my dad, you know how important he's been to me, and Larry Brown and Roy Williams. I wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for those three guys. I'm a pretty lucky person, aren't I to have those three in my life?"

On his go-ahead basket late in the game
"That was just coming down on the break and making a good decision. I felt it was a good look and I took it."

On returning to the Sweet 16 after transferring to WSU from Marquette
"It feels good. I wouldn't want it any other way. This is a team of character (as seen by) the way we care for each other. I knew when I first transferred here that we had the ability to make it to the Sweet 16. It was just a matter of time and now we've made it."

On Tennessee's second-half run
"It's college basketball. Teams make runs, you know? It is March. You just gotta stay with great poise and patience and those things are going to happen. You just have to stay focused and we did that."

On WSU's depth
"We're really deep. We play nine on a regular basis, depending on who's playing well. We've done it all year. We did it even last year. That's what coach (Mark Turgeon) is about, playing a lot of people, so we can be fresh to the end of the game. All year long we've won close games down the stretch and we've made tough shots down the stretch to win those close games."

On why WSU won down the stretch
"Coach (Mark) Turgeon really challenged us to start guarding and we finally started guarding them in the last three minutes; that and limiting them to one shot. PJ (Couisnard), Karon (Bradley) and everybody else who made free throws stepped up big down the stretch."

On reaching the 'Sweet 16' for the first time since 1981
"We're really excited. I'm so proud to be a part of this team; to be with these guys, the coaches. I know the city of Wichita is behind us all the way and they're probably hooping and hollering back in Wichita. It's an awesome feeling. We've stuck together all year and we've kind of just meshed, and that's why we're so successful."

On reaching the 'Sweet 16' for the first time since 1981
"I'm just happy we were able to play so well today. Coach (Mark Turgeon) told us that it was going to be a big game, but that we needed to approach it like any other game. I thought our guys came out and really played well today. This is just a huge victory for our program and for all of our guys that are involved with Wichita State basketball."

On whether he would prefer to play North Carolina or George Mason
"Whoever man. I'm just really glad to make it to the 'Sweet 16'. (UNC's Tyler) Hansbrough is a Missouri boy and I've been watching him all season. He's a great player. It would be fun to get a chance to play against him. We've played George Mason before, and they're a great team, too. They got us at home, so we'll have our hands full either way."



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