Post-game Q&A: Illinois Players

Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams discuss Friday's win against Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

AUSTIN, Texas - Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams discuss Friday's win against Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Q. D.J. or Brandon, just how do you explain these wild momentum swings? And kind of the hot and coldness of the whole season. Can you put your finger on why that happens in games?

BRANDON PAUL: This is March Madness and that stuff happens all the time. At the end of the day I think that as seniors we got to find a way to tough it out. We got to find other ways to get some points on the board. And I think getting to the free throw line-- my shot wasn't really falling as well tonight, so I tried do my job getting to the free throw line. And we got a lot of guys who stayed poised. Tracy got us the ball and in positions to score. We can't tie our defensive effort to the same as our offensive effort. So I think coach said we went on a 16-2 run that just shows the type of poise we have on this team.

Q. Can you describe the emotion that was going through your heads out there during that run? The crowd's going with the other team making the run and you turned things around almost on a dime. Just talk about what you were thinking about and how it changed.

D.J. RICHARDSON: We played what is this our 35th game? We have been through so many different situations throughout the year. We played in so many big games. Played games we had to come back and make plays at the end. And playing a lot of games to get us prepared for a game like this. And I think we made some big plays tonight like we did earlier in the year in other games. We just find ways. We trust each other, we trust the system and we just find ways and the outcome out positive our way. So we just got to stay tough minded.

BRANDON PAUL: We play a lot of teams that feed off the crowd so we don't let that get to us. We stay focused on the task at hand. Coach does a good job of making sure we stay cool, calm and collected. So we have been through this before, and we have been through lots of tests before and we have had a lot of character. We have been through this throughout the whole year. We played against a lot of teams that really base their energy off the crowd and they to do a good job of pumping the crowd up and we like to stay poised and coach does a good job along with the rest of the staff making sure we calm and cool and collected in the huddles. And no one is pointing fingers and we all keep the same mindset.

Q. What were you guys saying to each other during timeouts during that drought?

TRACY ABRAMS: Like Brandon was saying, the coaches do a great job at making sure everybody's composed and on the same level. You see a guy put his head down or look like they got a certain face on, they always keep us composed and collected like Brandon was saying. And there's definitely a big difference just to stay positive and just bring positive energy to our huddles and stuff.

Q. Brandon, Illini Nation is in the house, there's more orange in that arena than any other school that's here. How important is that to you guys and did that even help you when times got a little tough in the second half?

BRANDON PAUL: Yeah, that's really important for us. They're a great fan base. Orange crush was always with us. We're at home or whatnot, they travel with us. And we got Illini all over the world. Every we're we go, we see orange. So having their support behind us through the ups and downs definitely goes a long way. We feed off their energy making baskets at the end, making plays, and we appreciate all the support we can get. We're going to continue to feed off their energy.

Q. Brandon, you talked about this a little bit yesterday about not wanting this to be over. Talk about what it means to have it not over and was there, did you have a moment when you thought it might be over?

BRANDON PAUL: No. I think if we had that type of moment it means we have given up. We're a team that never gives up. So we like to finish everything. Down the stretch things weren't going well for us, but we kept playing, kept fighting. D.J.'s in my ear telling me just to make plays and don't worry about what happened before. So we got a lot of guys that continue to make plays and now we're on to the next. Our focus was on Colorado and now it's on Miami.

Q. What does it mean to be able to get this one?

BRANDON PAUL: It means a lot. Obviously just to be able to advance, we got guys on the team, this is their first time advancing in the tournament, first time being in the tournament. Me and D.J. have some experience in this and now that we are advancing we want to continue to survive and advance pretty much.

Q. For D.J. or Brandon, is the shooter's mentality just to have a short memory and if they're not falling just keep shooting and trusting yourself that eventually they're going to fall down.

D.J. RICHARDSON: We're mature players. We have been in college for four years, we have been through up-and-downs throughout our careers. We are shooters, we both can shoot. We're going to keep shooting even if they don't fall. We keep defending-- that's the main thing, if we defend, we'll find some ways to score somewhere down the line and that's what we did tonight.

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