“I’ve got to congratulate Shaka (Smart) and his staff and his team. High-level basketball game; that was a big-time game, great atmosphere. They made the plays down the stretch. We made some, but didn’t make enough. Their last four points were off offensive rebounds that their guards got. Two missed shots. They out-rebounded us badly, 36-27. They scored 21 points on offensive rebounds to our 7. Still, as a team, I thought we battled. We needed Brice (Johnson) in the game in the first half, not having three fouls over there, and getting a fourth foul. Got to get more guys to be able to play defense without fouling. (Isaiah) Taylor really attacked us, and then (Javan) Felix was a really, really big-time player for them. Great moment for him. You’ve got to congratulate him, and Shaka, and his staff. Those guys do a really great job.”
What do you attribute the poor rebounding to?
“Long shots, long rebounds. The last one, and I’m not trying to say anything about it, but he missed badly. So it bounces out long. Still, we should have had somebody there. Five guys box out five guys on the other team. That’s the bottom line. Five guys are supposed to box out five guys.”
How did Texas score on its final six possessions?
“I think it was a high-level game. I think we scored probably on most of those as well. Marcus (Paige) made a tough shot. Isaiah (Hicks) made a tough shot. They shot 47 percent for the game, we shot 52 percent, so it’s good basketball players making shots. Justin (Jackson) had a turnover midway in the second half, and I think we maybe had one other turnover, but other than that, we got shots, we didn’t make enough shots. First half, we shoot 50 percent from 3, in the second half 2-for-8. We’ve got to make shots. I was talking about good shooters, we’ve got to make the daggum shots every frickin’ game, not just a home game where we’re ahead by 30.”
Does your team feel the pressure of being picked as a national title favorite?
“I don’t think so. There’s 15 teams that could have been picked. Maybe that might be a little stretch, but it doesn’t make any difference, where you’re picked. It really doesn’t. You’ve got to play on game day. I think our team played pretty doggone well, but not enough to get over the hump. You’ve got to learn from these moments, and you’ve got to get some positive things out of them. Last year… USA Today had our schedule ranked number one in the country, and the NCAA Tournament committee had us ranked number two in the country, and I’ve said all year, I think this year’s schedule is even more difficult. You’ve got to gain some things by winning. We played in a tough environment at Northern Iowa. We didn’t play very well, and they made a bunch of shots, and you’ve got to congratulate them, but today, we played pretty well. We didn’t make enough plays at the end.”
When Brice Johnson is in foul trouble, how does that throw everything off for your team?
“Well it does throw us off, but Isaiah (Hicks) did some good things. 14 points. The big thing for us is rebounding the basketball, guys. You can’t rebound the ball like that and expect to win against good teams. You’ve got to have five guys going to rebound the basketball, and you’ve got to have five guys boxing out their team.”
What do you attribute to Isaiah Hicks’s lack of rebounding?
“If I knew, I’d already have fixed the daggum thing. We’ve been rebounding pretty well, but today Texas wanted the basketball a lot more than we did. They physically imposed themselves and their will on us I guess.”
Last year, you took some tough losses on the road. What do you have to do to fix that?
“We’ll find out. We’ll find out. The kids, we’ve got a bunch of them that played last year, but that’s so far in the past history that I could care less. What we’ve got to do is play today. You’ve got to play anywhere. Whether it’s a daggum barn or my place or your place, you’ve got to frickin’ play and do all the little things to help you win.”
What was your message to the team after the loss?
“Just what I said to you. The little things are important. That’s it.”
Did Javan Felix kind of lull your guys at times?
“No. He’s got the old-man YMCA game, and that’s not intended to be a cut towards him. He knows that I have a great deal of respect for his game. He made some big shots. You look down there, 5-for-7 from 3, and gets an offensive rebound and hits the shot that wins the game. I’d like to have a bunch of old-men YMCA players that play like that down the freakin’ line. But he’s old school, sneaky, knows what he’s doing, glides along and glides along and when he gets a shot, he makes it. We took four outside shots in a row, 8-minute mark, 9-minute mark, something like that, and we didn’t make any of them. Toughness is part of it, right there. Confidence is part of it, but no, as I said, he and Taylor were a load for us. And of course Cameron (Ridley)’s awful big inside rebounding, boxing out, blocking some shots, even though he only got one, he certainly intimidated us some other times.”
Do you have any thoughts on Texas’ freshman guards?
“Was it (Eric Davis, Jr.) that shot the crap out of it in the first half? 4-for-5, yeah? We tried to change a little bit defensively on (Davis, Jr.) and on Felix in the second half, but didn’t do it as well as we wanted to. They were 7-for-14 the first half, 5-for-10 the second half. Big-time players make big-time shots and big-time plays in big-time games, and today their players made more than we did.”