Feb. 27, 2013
UNM vs. SDSU
Head Coach Steve Alford
Head Coach Steve Alford
On overall game
"Tremendous work. It was the biggest win we have had all year. I couldn't be more proud of our guys. This is a very good team we played tonight. They played their heart out. They have had some success in here in years past, which doesn't sit well with us. I thought it was terrific. We had a terrific crowd. I thought our guys played hard for 40 minutes. Our bigs were just dominant. That is what is fun about this team. Kendall Williams went for 46 points three or four days ago. This game he gets one field goal and our bigs combined got 41 points. We are hard to prepare for. I think that is what makes us a unique basketball team. I thought Kendall was patient. He didn't come out and start taking bad shots. He was patient. He had eight assists for us and did a lot of good things. It was a tremendous team win for us."
"What tastes good is that they are eliminated from the conference race. That is the taste that we want because we want a championship. We weren't picked to win it. The team that was is now out of it. There is only three of us, UNLV, Colorado State and ourselves are the only three teams that can win championships. We have eliminated six. We have led this thing wire-to-wire. We have three games. We can win a championship on Senior Day. Nothing would be more fitting for the two winningest Lobos Jamal Fenton and Chad Adams in front of 15,000-plus to win a championship at home. That would be the most ideal thing and hopefully we can finish it on Saturday."
On comparison between first game and tonight
"I thought in the first game we didn't drive the ball very well. I thought we were careless. We had 18 turnovers. Tonight we have nine. We have been taking care of the basketball and I think we are under 12 turnovers a game now, especially in league play. Those numbers has been going lower and lower every game. We are driving the ball and our guards are playing at high level. Our guards didn't particularly score a lot of points tonight. If you look at assists, our guards had 13 assists and four turnovers. That is tremendous. They make good use of their shots. We got to the free throw line. I thought our ability to drive the ball was not there in game one. They throw a lot of pressure at you. When you get pressure, you have to be able to drive the ball. If you can't drive it, then you are going to get chewed up. That is what happened to us in game one. I thought today we did a much better job of driving it and that opened things up offensively."
On Alex Kirk
"I think Alex has been very consistent for us all year. I think he got some confidence going against a really good center and doing so well in that game. He and Cameron Bairstow, they are like anybody. When you don't play well against somebody, you want to make up for that. They didn't have very good games in San Diego. I thought they really responded well in this game. They rebounded. Alex has three blocks, three assists. He makes a couple of threes. He made all of his free throws. We thought he might get going once he made those first free throws. You saw his whole demeanor change. The guys went to him well. I thought the big key tonight was what our bigs did."
On Tony Snell
"I think everybody wants Tony to average 20 points a game. Tony is all-around great player. He is starting to rebound for us. He could not guard [San Diego State guard Jamaal] Franklin or anyone else the way he has been guarding this year, two years ago. He has always been a good shooter. He is getting better at moving without the ball. He did a really good job moving without the ball tonight. We can give it to him late in the game to break presses because he is such a good ball handler and foul shooter. His maturing as a basketball player has really happened at the defensive end. I think that is what helped us. It has kind of gone unnoticed all year long. This was another game that we held somebody to 36 [percent] free-throw shooting and 60 or fewer points. He has been a big part of that. We played two games against them and have done a good job of holding Franklin in check."
On designated shooter for team
"This team does not care. I don't think they care who it is. We have had games where few games back it might have been Boise [State] and Jamal gets 11 points for us off the bench. He hadn't done anything in the first half. He played poorly in the first half. It is a team where they feed upon each other. It is a very unselfish group. It is a very together group. They understand championships. They understand winning. We won the last five-minute game again tonight. That is something they have been doing all year long. Sometimes you just got to let them go. You don't try to over coach them. You just try to give them bits and pieces here and let them know the emphasis of what we are trying to do. These guys understand winning. That is what is fun about them."
On how good of a feeling it was on the court today...
"It was a great feeling, It has been a while since I hit some jump shots and since I have even shot a three. We were open tonight in those positions to hit some open three's. It felt good that things were going smoothly."
On building from his game on Saturday...
"That was a fun game with a fun atmosphere. I can't express enough how fun the atmosphere was there. We had fun and played hard as a team. We have done that in some big games all season. When we all come together, have fun and relax we are a really good basketball team. We are an even better shooting team than what some people think."
On being comfortable offensively....
"Coach was making sure that I got a little lower and I think I could even work on that. I was taking some longer hook shots tonight that I would have liked to. I need to get above the block and not show them that behind the backboard. I got into the rhythm of how they were guarding us. You (SDSU) needed to put some more emphasis on Kendall after he scored 46 so the rest of us had a easier job. That worked out for me tonight."
On playing with someone so unselfish...
"Kendall was even sharing the ball a lot the last game but it is fun to play with a guy like that. Even when Cam and I pass the ball around to each other that gets everyone going. We are playing hard for each other and we are playing unselfishly. You can't guard an unselfish team."
On SDSU saying The Pit is their second home...
"We talked about that as a team and their record in here is something that no other team has done in a long time. We talk about protecting home and we came out with that attitude. We understand the pain of loosing at home with South Dakota State. We cannot let people come in here and win games."
"They are a tough team. Every Mountain West team comes out and plays hard. This is going to be no different. Wyoming has good player and we will start looking at them tomorrow and figure out how we are going to deal with them."
On defending the house this weekend...
"We already talked about this as a team and we need to put our mark and clench the title. We owe that to our fans who have been so good to us this season. We are trying to go out and do that Saturday."
On sending the seniors out....
"Winning the title will be the best way. They deserve it. They have worked hard and have had great career. They are two of the winningest Lobos. Jamal and Chad deserve that and that is our goal."
On how good of a season it has been personally...
"I can't say that I am surprised, I know that I am very capable. I am surprised on how I bounded back with my game and came into the system. Everyone accepted me and said that they were going to get me back where I need to be. I have come along well so that I can help the team every night."
On the pressure of the NCAA tournament seeding...
"I don't think we are feeling much pressure right now. We understand that we need to take it one game at a time and that is what we are doing. It is a great goal (Number 1 seed). Why not the Lobos? All of these different teams have been up there and we should get a shot at it. We are going to continue to work hard and win games and see what happens."
On motivation going forward...
"We understand that every night we need to come out and prove ourselves. I wouldn't call it disrespect but people don't know about us. People don't really know about the Mountain West Conference as a whole. Every team is really tough and has gotten their shots to win big games. We are going to go out every night and prove that we are one of the best teams and we can contend in the nation."
Player Quotes vs. San Diego State
On whether or not he and Alex Kirk dominate games...
"Not just based on personnel. In the first game, we didn't have a very good game, so that was a lot motivation coming in. But tonight, we just did a good job working together. I got a lot of passes from him that led to easy layups and he was doing a great job with the pick-and-pop, too."
On the physicality of the game...
"It was a good, physical game. The refs were letting us play, which is the way I like it. I like that aspect of the game. Besides that, they went small at the end. That opened things up more inside because they were trying to make use of mismatches down at the other end of the floor. But I think we were able to counter that with some inside play."
On establishing an offensive rhythm to begin the game...
"In the first game we scored 34 points. So that was definitely a focus. We held them to 55 [points] the first time. We knew we could guard them, it was just up to us to execute better. And I think we did a lot better job of that, moving side-to-side and running the screens."
On which player will end up getting hot...
"I think that's a strength of ours. Last game, Kendall goes off. This game, Alex goes off. So we can go inside and out. We have a great bunch of guys on the team. Anyone's night, it can really be. So that just makes us harder to guard."
On San Diego State calling The Pit its second home...
"It was a good win, because this was the first time we beat them in The Pit. So it's very unusual for a team to win two times in a row in The Pit, so that was a definite focus, stopping them from winning a third time in a row."
SDSU Head Coach Steve Fischer and Players
SDSU vs. UNM
Talk about what UNM did on offense that took you out of what you wanted to do defensively?
"They were very good both on the inside and the outside, especially Kirk. They're perimeter players penetrating and making baskets also helped them and lead to those points, so it wasn't just Bairstow and Kirk it was a collective effort. New Mexico attacked the basket and they were more aggressive than they were in the first game and they made shots."
After Kendall's game on Saturday how much of the game plan went towards taking him out?
"Our game plan is what it always is. You have to guard everybody. We knew that they were going to throw the ball inside and they did and they were effective in doing that."
How was the defense able to take Jamal Franklin especially out of the game?
"New Mexico is a good team defensively. They guard hard and they guard well. We shot 3-of-13 with both Jamal and Xavier Thames ending up with those numbers and we have to make shots. We had opportunities and we fought hard, but we did miss one three in our corner with two or three minutes left in the game that if we could've made it would have been different. A lot of 'if, if, if'. We also missed some timely free throws when we were trying to come back into it and you can't do that. We didn't guard as effectively as you have to when you play a team that is as good as they are. It wasn't just their bigs, they created angels and got into gaps and made plays."
In the first game you guys stunted a lot in the post and that confused them, you didn't double tonight so what was the plan?
"We didn't. We wanted to do the same things, but we probably weren't as active. Kirk was probably thinking to himself 'been there done that' so he took some shots. He made some that looked like they weren't going to go in but they went in."
Do you think New Mexico game planned for that defensive pressure?
"We felt like they were going to go inside since they lead the league in free throws."
Senior Guard Chase Tapley
On the team's defensively output tonight...
"We didn't play good enough defense and they just made shots and we didn't."
Was it a shock to shoot so poorly from the three when you've been shooting so well these last few games?
"It wasn't a shock; the shots just weren't going in. If we had made more shots here and there we probably would have been in the game towards the end and we wouldn't have to have fouled to stop the clock."
What was the difference with the bigs in this game as opposed to the first time you two met?
"The bigs made some good adjustments. I have to give it up to New Mexico they made shots and big plays and Alex Kirk was really key for them in this game."
Did you notice anything else that UNM did differently?
"Not really, they just made key shots and got to the free throw line. I'm not going to say that they played harder because we both played hard and we managed to come back a little towards the end, but the bottom line is that they made shots."
Did you guys consider doubling down in the post?
"We did consider it and we talked about it, but we just didn't do it."
You look exhausted, how was it guarding Alex Kirk?
"I was exhausted; Alex has like 40 pounds and five inches on me. I was trying my best and he uses his body well and he's a good player so I was pretty tired."
You guys have been pretty close in your road loses, what do you think you have to do to get over that hump?
"It is frustrating you never want to lose, so we definitely have to figure something out and get over the hump on the road games. We're going to stay positive and keep searching and find out what we have to do to win them."