OU-Ohio: Postgame press conference transcript

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooner head coach Lon Kruger, guard Steven Pledger and forwards Amath M'Baye and Romero Osby talk about their 74-63 victory over Ohio.

Opening statement:

Well, it was a good win over a good ball club. Ohio's really, really solid and Jim does such a good job with them, so feel real good about the stretch of play in the second half. I thought it was as good as we've had all year on both ends of the floor. Been thinking we were going to shoot it better than we have on the season. Obviously the second half we did. Got off to a great start, then everyone kicking it. It started with Pledger in the second half making shots early and think that picked everyone else up and everyone responded in a good way. And I thought a lot of good activity defensively as well. You know, they're a ball club that spreads you out and are tough to guard. I thought our guys really as a unit [had] good communication and reacted well to one another. So, good win. Get on to Monday.

Lon, you haven't been real happy with the offense the last couple games. Much improvement in this game?

Kruger: Much improvement. Of course, when you make shots, everything's going to seem better. But it was. I thought we had better movement offensively. I thought we came off picks a little bit crisper and sharper and jumped into shots with good rhythm. Then, of course, some transition opportunities helps the percentage, too, which we had a few of those in the second half. Better. Better, more aggressive I thought with more purpose in the second half than we've had for most of the season.

Coach, can you talk about just the defense overall, especially in that second half when you were able to extend it a little bit?

Kruger: Again, they've got a good group of guys, veteran group, a lot of guys that can make shots. They spread you. They do a lot of ball screens, and I thought our big guys did a terrific job. You know, [D.J.] Cooper's such a good player that we—Buddy, for the most part was on him and did a really good job, but had a lot of help out of our big guys primarily. And I thought our big guys were really aggressive and getting after Cooper, and he still had a good game. You know, he's that good of a player, but we gave him a lot of attention and he still had a good game.

Amath, after kind of a rough stretch, how'd it feel to get kinda get back to doing what you know you can do?

M'Baye: It feels pretty good. I mean it was way more fun definitely for my part to be out there, and I mean my teammates have always done a great job keeping my head in there and just supporting me whether I was playing good or bad. And then nobody ever panicked, and the coaching staff did the same thing. They always pushed me. They were always here when I needed to talk and stuff. I mean it was a little hard to start off, and I'm feeling better about it now and I'm looking forward to the next couple games.

There was a huge increase in you guys' shooting percentage from the first half to the second. You went from 30.3 to, I think, like 70 something. What changed?

Kruger: I thought we moved it a lot sharper. I thought we moved the ball better. I thought we came off screens sharper and more crisply. Again, just shot it with better rhythm and then had some transition opportunities, too. So, that always helps the percentage.

One of the things, Pledge, you got going in the second half. Could you talk about that? Again you got into that groove where you got your mid-range jumper going and you got open, too, so talk about the offense and how it got you open.

Pledger: We were just trying to move the ball, come off a couple screens. And the guys, big guys, especially Amath and Roe [Romero Osby] and Fitz [Andrew Fitzgerald], they set beautiful screens, and I just use them to my advantage. And I was just getting the ball in the right spots. Je'lon [Hornbeak] and Buddy [Hield] were really putting it right where I wanted it so I could just catch and shoot, and I just felt real good.

What happened in the first half? Was it feeling good, they just weren't falling? Or did you really find your rhythm?

Pledger: Yeah, it was just all my shots were dying on the rim just like I wanted them to, they just weren't going in. So, I made the adjustment at halftime, just getting my fingers on the ball a little bit more and everything started dropping.

They seemed to have a rebound advantage, especially in that first half, but you all closed it, especially in the second half especially. What was the difference, both you [M'Baye] and Coach?

M'Baye: Well, first off I think the fact that we're shooting only 30 percent in the first half gave them a lot of rebounds. And I mean I thought our guards especially did a better job rebounding the ball because it was an emphasis on our guards just like collapsing and rebounding and helping the big guys, and they did a terrific job. And I mean, yeah that's it.

Osby: Exactly what he said. Guards helped rebound. And like he said, we were missing a lot of shots, so we gave them a lot of opportunities to rebound, and in the second half we started making a little bit more of our shots. So, they didn't get them chances to rebound, and then on the other end we just tried to rebound everything and tried to close the gap and finish off some good defensive plays.

Do you feel like this was more of a team effort than just one individual player?

Kruger: A lot of guys did contributions. Again, you can look at these three guys, of course, led the way in the scoring. But Buddy's line was really [good], steals, assists. Did a really good job. I thought Sam [Grooms] came in and gave us a nice lift when Je'lon was in [foul trouble], picked up two fouls early. I thought Cam [Clark] came in a did a good job, so yeah this is the type of a win you like because a lot of guys contributed in significant ways.

Roe, I guess what do you think about it just because you have been the guy that has been so consistent throughout?

Osby: I mean I like the fact that it makes you feel good to know that your team, everybody's coming into their own and becoming more confident. And I think it was a team effort. I think it's been a team effort all week in practice. We've been just sharing the ball better, talking on defense better, going after rebounds together better. And I think that'll be good as we get into the Big 12 because it is a team game and when we're all playing well and working hard for each other, it's always a good feeling. It's fun to play.

Do you feel like this was the most complete game buddy has played?

M'Baye: Yeah, he didn't play like a freshman today. I thought he played like a vet. He had like a bunch of assists, not many turnovers. He was always on the ball, harassing the ball, just playing great defense. And that's what we need from him, and I think we're going to need him to grow as fast as possible and I think he did that tonight.

When somebody's pressuring the ball like that, how does it affect everybody else on the court?

M'Baye: Gets everybody hype, and you know that like you want to help him. You want to help him, make sure he doesn't get—like if he gets beat, you got his back because he's putting up so much effort into it that you want to make sure you at least like level up to the effort he's putting up.

Steven, you have a quick turnaround for the next game. Just what do you expect to see out of your team the next time on the court?

Pledger: Play smart. You know, we can't have any mental lapses. It's just we're gonna see how the young guys adapt, how the vets adapt.

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