"Generally we're very pleased, to say the least, to still be here and be advancing on a Saturday, or Sunday -- what day is today, Friday? So I guess we play Sunday. I think we got off to a good start. Shared the ball early and got the ball inside. We felt like we had a big advantage inside. We wanted to get there and we did. Justin was phenomenal in the first half. Five threes, five out of six in the first half. And the thing is he's had a great year, not just a really good year, he's had a great year. And he put a little bit more pressure, thought he had to try to do more. And I told him all he had to be was be Justin, and I think that's what he was today. And I think he was sensational for us, and also had three assists, one turnover.
"But our big guys did some things also in the first half. We had, needless to say, a big margin at halftime, and I challenged them to come back out and play the second half and I thought we did. We had six guys in double figures. We had a huge rebound margin, 54-27. And points in the paint, 52-28. So we feel good about where we are, but it's just a great job by these guys."
How much confidence does 100-point game give the team going into Sunday and to the rest of the tournament?
"The number of points we scored really doesn't have anything to do with it. It gave us confidence that we tried to follow the things that the coaches emphasize to them, and we wanted to play defense without fouling. The first half they shot six free throws, so we did a better job of that. We wanted to do a great job on the boards. We wanted to get the basketball into the lane by pass or dribble. I think we did that and take advantage of our height. That gives you some confidence. And there's a game on Sunday. Whatever happened today can give you confidence, make you feel good. But you still have to play that second game."
You have a tougher game Sunday. Are there any negatives of playing a game like this?
"I have won close games and then played great the next game. I've won by big margins and played great, and we've also did both and probably played sorry. My biggest fear was Joel Berry. All of a sudden you know how sometimes as a coach, when there's a timeout you have negative thoughts, or he's laying on the floor kind of thing.
"Took me back to 2002 we were a one, playing Holy Cross, a 16, and we almost lost the game. Kirk Hinrich sprained his ankle terribly, and weren't able to get him back in the game at all, but he iced for about 48 hours, and we played Stanford in the second round and played really well. So that's what I thought of. Joel came down on the side of the guy's foot. And Doug took him back, and he jogged some back there. And I put him in for two or three minutes because he wanted to, and we wanted him to get confidence that he was okay, it wasn't that bad. And also, I think, the more you move those things around sometimes, they don't balloon up. And so that was the thought of me and Doug. And I guess he talked to maybe the doctors back there when they were back there also. But we got him three or four more minutes.
"But again, you guys that have been around a long time, one year they said isn't it great you're peaking at the right time, in the Big Eight, I guess it was the Big 12 Tournament by then, we won a game like this, and the next day, less than 24 hours later we got our butts beat. I don't know if you're peaking, but I'd rather win regardless."
Is Joel okay?
"Yeah, my guess is it will stiffen up a little bit. But I feel certain that he'll be able to go. And he said his momma's here, so she can clap her hands together like Mr. Miyaga and put her hands on his ankle and I'm sure it will make it feel better."
Down 10-8 you went on a 16-point run and went up, you talked about the play, that ignited your play and it stayed consistent.
"I think that was probably -- I know two of them -- I shouldn't say I know, I think two of them were Justin's 3s at that point and the other two were layups inside. No, I think I did look at the score. One time during the first half I was just concerned about how we were playing, and I saw at halftime it was 25, I think, but that big run was good for us.
"But we're bigger, and you gotta take advantage of that, and I think we did get the ball inside. I think Kennedy and Isaiah both were really effective for us in the first half. And I liked the fact we had nine guys play at least 15 minutes I think is what somebody said."
Arkansas is a team that really plays an up-tempo game like you guys. What are some of the keys to Sunday?
"Well, we've got to attack them back. I think they do want to speed you up. We want to play at that pace ourselves. We want them to go fast. We want to go fast, but we've got to take care of the basketball. They're very aggressive. They play very hard on the defensive end of the floor. We've got to make sure that we don't turn the ball over. I'm always yelling at my guys attack, attack, attack and then I pause, and they give me the last two words: It's under control. So we've got to make sure we attack those guys under control.
"Mike's done a great job with his club. I've watched three or four minutes of their game against Kentucky in their tournament, but I haven't seen very much of them until then. But I know Mike, he worked with Coach Richardson a long time and believes in that style of play. And Nolan and Mike with those teams at Arkansas, they did it as good as about anybody's ever done it."
Obviously you did a lot of things well. But if there was maybe one thing that you were particularly pleased with today, what would that be?
"Well, I think I'd have to say two things: One, for Justin to see the ball go in the basket. I mean, he did. He just put too much pressure on himself and tried to do too much possibly, which you love that, you like a guy that tries to step up. But I'd say that would be the biggest thing. But then the other thing is we did try to make sure that we stayed down on the shot fakes, tried to slide our feet and play defense without fouling. And they shot 16 free throws. The last two times we played Duke, they shot 72 free throws in two games we can't do that and be a good team."
Talk about a game like today where you got a chance to get a lot of young kids maybe their first tournament experience where you may need them down the road.
"I think we like to play eight, nine, 10 guys and feel that we need all those guys. I was not going to play Brandon Robinson. He threw up twice before the game. But it got to that point and I thought it might help him a little bit to get out -- as long as he didn't throw up on the court or me I thought he'd be all right. But he got hit in the stomach and that just accelerated a little bit of pain for him. So we took him out. I do think it's good to get a lot of guys in the game because I play a lot of guys and they're going to be important to us."
Rebounding was 54-27. Is that just a function of just being bigger, or is it an effort you like to see on the boards?
"There's no question we're gifted with more size than they had. But I do think it was one of the three things that we put up on the board that we wanted to emphasize. I like trying to get as many offensive rebounds we can. I always say that the game of basketball is really simple: You get the ball and then I get the ball; you get the ball and then I get the ball. The only way for me to get more opportunities is to get some offensive rebounds and not let you get some offensive rebounds. So I do think that's important to us, and we emphasize that every year I've ever coached."