Opening Remarks -
"Well, it feels a lot better than our last game here when we played Maryland, to say the least. I thought at about the 9:00 mark down to the end of the first half was the most active defensively we've been this year. We got some turnovers, got some deflections and all of a sudden we're running out on the break and it goes from a [close] game to 16 at half.
"Came in at halftime and thought we'd been really active, but they still shot 43 percent, though they had turned the ball over 11 times and we had 16 points off the break. So that to me was the key to the game and then to start the second half they missed their first 4-5 shots and we made our first 4-5 and after that we couldn't throw it into the ocean.
"Very pleased to have five guys in double figures. You'd like to look down there and see your point guard with 10 assists and zero turnovers. Deon being 8-for-10 and Alex coming off the bench having 11 rebounds, so there's a lot of things to be happy about ... but we really played pretty doggone well ..."
How key was that mass substitution activating the defense in the first half?
"I don't know, but I was ready to choke somebody. We didn't hustle, we didn't get after loose balls, we didn't sprint back. I don't care who you are, how long you've played, how good looking you are or whatever, your butt is going to come out. The guys that got in there did a good job for a few minutes and then when the others came back in, I yelled at them a little bit, but I think it was the players themselves getting refocused themselves to do a better job defensively."
Was the use of Marcus Ginyard on Tyrese Rice to give him a different look?
"We didn't do it very much, but we wanted to do it some so we didn't wear Tywon out the whole time. ... there were really only two people we assigned to Tyrese, that was Ty and Marcus, and anybody else that played him it was just because of switches."
Can you talk a little more about Deon Thompson's performance?
"He thinks he's Magic Johnson in the locker room right now. ... I did congratulate him. Deon did do a much better job. The biggest thing is finishing plays and I think everybody gets in better spirits when the ball starts going into the basket. He did have some really good [passes, too]."
Not a lot of rust out there after that layoff, huh?
"Nah, we kept working in the gym, had run and shoots, lifted weights and practiced, so we didn't have any rust at all today."
This was your second straight double-double and you're now at 20 assists to one turnover the last two games ...
"I'm just taking care of the ball a lot more, making sure the passes I make go through and not put the ball in jeopardy. I'm just trying to take care of the ball because limiting turnovers makes us a lot better."
How much did the wholesale substitution in the first half spark you guys defensively?
"It sparks us a lot, because when Coach takes us out five guys at a time, we know we did something wrong. We weren't running back. They got two threes and two easy layups off of transition. The team that came in played defense, harassed the ball and got the lead back and we came back in and did well on defense. That's something we need sometimes."
A career-high 17 points tonight ...
"I was playing really well tonight. The ball was going in the basket ... It always helps when the first couple shots get in the basket and it gets you rolling."
Coach was joking that you thought you were Magic Johnson tonight ...
"I had no turnovers, I think I had four assists and I was finding people out of the post, so that was really good."
Where is your confidence at this point - can you see yourself getting better?
"Yeah, as long as I keep working hard in practice, it's going to eventually come out on the court. That's the biggest thing for me right now. I put in so much work and it's not showing on the court right now, so I think as the season keeps rolling along it'll start to come out."
Ty mentioned you're in the gym at 12:00 at night shooting jumpers, and other teammates have mentioned that no one is working harder than you ...
"I just want it. That's the main thing. I have such an opportunity and I don't want to let it pass me. I just want to take full advantage of it."
How much do you pay attention to the other top teams around the country?
"A little bit, when we're relaxing at home - just to pay attention to see who is doing what."
How do you think you guys measure up with the other top teams?
"I know we can compete with anybody. We're just as good as anybody in the country. They're good teams and we want to play those type of teams and we're looking for the challenge."