Post game transcript provided by The Big Ten Conference
COACH IZZO: Hey, we won! You know, we won. And I think every big tournament run I've been involved in this last year at Louisville, national championship, Syracuse down 14, Iowa State down 16, the problem -- one thing we've had -- and I've got to take a lot of blame for it -- we've not been in a lot of close games. I think of the last 12 games we've had one close game. And it's hard to simulate that. It's hard to think about what you want to do.
And I didn't think we played as well as far as -- I thought give Maryland a lot of credit. I thought that he played as hard as I've seen them play in a long time. But I just didn't think we executed as well offensively.
Now, defensively, I think we're pretty good. Holding them to 33 and 36. And other than some threes we gave up in the first half, we rebounded okay. But we got sloppy in the second half turning the ball over, as Zel said, and uncharacteristic of us.
But this win will feel better when I get home. I just -- we have bigger dreams than to win a game right now, and I guess that's -- if you don't learn from the mistakes you make, if they're not addressed, you never get better at them. And so these two are going to address them. I'm going to address them. And then we're going to move on to Purdue.
Q. They did about as good a job as I've seen somebody taking Bryn Forbes away and the way they sort of turned down screens. Is this a formula that I guess -- not everybody has the personnel to adopt? But is this sort of the formula -- I don't want to say of fear, but the type of team and personality you worry about?
COACH IZZO: No, not at all. We've had other teams turn them down. Everybody does their own thing. That doesn't worry me at all. There's some options that we have to come off that. We just did not execute them.
And it will help us in preparation tonight because we'll make sure -- you cover a lot of things defensively when you've got these 20 hours or 15 hours to really prepare. And tonight we'll do things defensively and offensively.
That doesn't worry me. We had enough good shots. We had enough good plays. We still scored 63 points. We shot 42 and 42 and 93. But I look at it like -- I say to my team all the time, not necessarily a Denver Bronco fan, but I was because they were the number one defensive team in the country.
And somebody asked the question we won this game on our defense, and that's usually what you win championships on. You get enamored with the three-point shot, but those things come and go. And sooner or later, you have to grind it out. And I thought we ground it out pretty good.
Q. I mentioned you have not beaten a Big Ten team by less than eight points since Maryland a year ago. And to your credit, you mentioned it Monday, that you were concerned that there have not been tight games. Does this help you now going into tomorrow and more importantly into the dance?
COACH IZZO: Well, it does and it doesn't. It's hard to simulate. Everybody says you've got to know what you're going to run down the stretch. Like, did you ever do this? If anybody has ever done this, you're a better man than me. But I've never gone to a practice and said, okay, let's practice miss a free throw.
Last year against Indiana and this year against Maryland, we're supposed to miss a free throw at the end and we made them. I don't know if Zel -- I'm trying to figure out if he was being defiant, if he's trying to catch Buddy Hield, or if he just made a mistake. But I think he just made a mistake. It's something you don't work on. You don't work on missing free throws. I'm never doing that.
And I think we got to get a little better on things down the stretch. But we ran some pretty good stuff. We just turned the ball over. Matt had that layup that one time. Ball went right through his hands.
So I'm not over-worried about that. I don't worry about how other teams are going to play us. We'll have an option to take care of whatever way they want to play us.
Q. At the end of the game, you turned away from the court and you were holding your head with both hands. Could you describe what you were thinking at that moment?
COACH IZZO: Well, I was laughing, if you want the truth. I said we're supposed to miss the free throw and we make them. We're supposed to make a lot of shots that we missed during the game. I was just thinking to myself, oh, my God, what a bizarre way this whole thing went. But that was all. There was nothing else to it.
I mean, Zel stepped up there. I wanted nobody else at the line but him. And we went to him. We got him the ball. If you want to talk about executing, we executed very well three, four times in a row to get the ball inbounds to him. We did exactly what we wanted to do in that respect. And, other than missing one free throw, the guy is -- what was he? Eightfor-nine? And sad part is he is nine assists at halftime. And that was a weird game for Denzel Valentine. And all he did was 18, 10, and 7. I guess I'm getting like fans, spoiled.
Q. Tom, in the final minute with Wisconsin, Eron had a mental blunder. You took D.D. out because it was a switch four. Denzel took a shot. You got the same -- you've got D.D. in the game here. Eron you're trusting to inbound the ball. Denzel hitting the critical. Explain the growth that's happened in clutch situations since that moment.
COACH IZZO: That's a good point. I said then I wasn't happy after the Wisconsin game. And I took 80 percent of the blame for that. And I still take a lot of the blame for this. You've got to have your guys ready to execute down the stretch. And I think it speaks volumes. Give Dwayne Stephens credit. He's the one that wanted to take D.D. out and then said maybe he'll block a shot because he's somebody that can protect the rim. So my assistants did a great job. Me and the seniors have got to bet getter. We'll get better tonight.
Q. Tom, Melo was two-for-15, so I guess it didn't kill you. But, in terms of the double technical and what that meant foul trouble for Eron and how you wanted to play him the rest of the way.?
COACH IZZO: Nothing against an official because I -- like I said, I think they're held hostage on all they've got to call. But it's an emotional, physical game. And I'd be all for everything that's done. But, I mean, a little bump or a push? I just think we're overreacting to things personally. But it's not their fault. It's I think the way everybody wants it called. And pretty soon we won't be able to guard anybody and we'll just see who can run up and down the floor the most and make layups.
Q. McQuaid, Ellis, Clark, Mark Turgeon said those were the guys that they'd anticipate killing them today. Some big shots. Big shot here. Big shot there. How dependent are you going to be on that trio and others when you get into the big dance?
COACH IZZO: We're dependent on eight, nine guys, ten guys even. I think we played ten and all of them scored, or 11. What did we play? Whatever. That's amazing, you know, that we got something out of everybody. Tum (Lourawls Nairn, Jr.) hit a jump shot. But I don't think you're going to live and die with that. If Eron Harris -- he's got to stay in the game mentally and physically. And, I mean, Bryn has got to do a better job. And so does Zel. I mean, we're not going to win big games without our best players. Your best players have got to play well to win big games. But it is nice to know that your subs came in. And give them a lot of credit, man. One time I had to take Zel out, because he was dead tired. And we hung in there. And I thought there was a lot of positives to that, to be honest with you.
Q. Speaking of the depth, Tom, Ellis, obviously, has really come on here as a guy who is hitting shots. But also you feel comfortable putting him on with Melo, Trimble. What has he been doing lately to earn that time?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think he weathered the storms of the first two years. And give the kid credit. He's just kind of worked at it. I think the best thing we did was put him on the scout team. That seems to be, for some reason, a lightning rod for us of success. It seems like every guy we put on there -- we don't do it to punish him. We do it so he gets more playing time, more comfortable, more confidence. And he doesn't even go through the offense. He just plays on a scout team. And you got to give him a lot of credit for that. He has been shooting the ball a lot better in practice. I think he spent more time on it. And it couldn't come at a better time.
So, hey, don't be concerned that I'm frustrated with a few things. Because we just beat a hell of a team. I mean, that team, in my mind, as I said earlier, as I said early this week to my guys, I still think is the most talented team that most NBA players -- and I think Turg (Turgeon) has done a good job with them, because they were struggling during the year. And they've been playing better lately. Either we did a good job on Melo or he didn't play as well. And [Jake] Layman has been playing real well. I don't know what he ended up with. But those were two big keys for us. Yeah, he was 2 for 6. So those two big keys, just like last night with [Marc] Loving and [JaQuan] Lyle -- were we're kind of locking down key people right now a little better. And I thought at times our defense was really good.
But, if we're going to try to make a run, we got to get better at the things we didn't do well. And that's what we're going to keep addressing and see if we can keep pushing forward. So thanks a lot.