Postgame Quotes

Feb. 11, 2012

Recap | Final Stats | Notes |

Kansas 81, Oklahoma State 66
February 11, 2012
Postgame Quotes

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On the second half:
“We played awful. The first half was about the best that we could play, but we’re so immature at this point. We took the second half for granted and played miserably down the stretch. We know how everyone is going to play us from this point forward, so we have to get better with that. We have to have everyone contributing, and that was certainly not the case in the second half.”

On the play of the bench:
“I wanted to give Naadir (Tharpe) some early minutes, but (he didn’t play well on defense). It was a good learning experience for him – but he did fine later in the game. I thought Kevin (Young) did some good things in the first half, but the second half was just bad ball.”

On Jeff Withey:
“He played great for the most part. I thought his defense in the first half was a big key to us having success. I thought he did a good job of ball-screen defense. As a team, we turned it over 11 times in the second half – but Jeff was good and he is on a little bit of a roll right now.”

On Kansas State Monday:
“It will be a juiced atmosphere and it is probably the hardest game to play in, but the most fun game at the same time. It seems like they do a great job whenever they play us (in Manhattan) and we are going to have to play a team that is very, very hungry.”

Kansas senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
On Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson playing so well:
“I think it’s hard to beat us when they are playing like how they have been playing, especially Jeff. A lot of teams focus on Thomas a lot. When Jeff is playing well, it gives us that extra threat, somebody else in the post that can block shots, rebound and score. That helps us a lot.”

On the difference between the first and second half:
“They started playing a little bit more zone. Once they started doing that zone, we kind of stood still a little bit. It was more like a match-up. It wasn’t a traditional zone. We were standing still and weren’t getting the ball moving fluently. It ended up causing a couple turnovers and them getting out on breaks.”

On the guards looking to Withey more after the Missouri game:
“I’ve been telling Jeff for awhile, ‘when you get the ball in the post, unless they come trap you, just go one-on-one.’ He’s been a really good shooter. It’s hard to stop him. He’s seven foot. He can shoot over guys. A lot of guys try to use their body and their strength against him, and I think that works to his advantage. I told him to just keep being aggressive. I like how he’s playing. I want to keep that up because it makes us a better team.”

On Elijah Johnson’s play:
“He hit a couple shots tonight. I think those shots he was taking tonight were the same shots he’s been taking, he just hit a couple tonight. Once he got off to a good start, I definitely started looking to him more. Elijah is streaky shooter, and he can get hot. When he gets hot, we want to ride him.”

On Coach Self’s emphasis after the game:
“(He focused) on what we didn’t do in the second half, of course. That’s all that matters. We had the game won midway through the second half. At least, we felt like that. He wanted us to go out and get better and we really didn’t. We let them dictate the whole second half. If we wouldn’t have gotten that big lead in the first half, this game could have gone either way. We definitely have to play better because we have to go on the road and get another tough one.”

On playing K-State in Bramlage:
“The intensity level for their team rises, like anybody else that plays at home. They feed off their crowd. We know when we play against Kansas State that they’re going to have a good crowd all the time. I’m sure they’re going to be hyped. The last time we beat them on the boards, so I’m sure that’s going to be an emphasis for them to crash the boards and be more aggressive. We have to be ready to match their intensity and not get sped up and play into their hands and the crowd’s hand.”

On Monday being his last game against Kansas State in Manhattan:
“I’m excited. We always have tough games there. I lost last year there so I definitely want to go there and get a win. It’s going to be a tough game, as it always is over there. It’s a Missouri-like atmosphere. That’s what we expect, a tough road game. We have to come back to practice tomorrow, getter better and just regroup.”

Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson
On the play of Jeff Withey opening up his game:
“It makes it a lot easier for me. I feel like I’m not even working to score anymore now with the way Jeff is playing. My play deserves nothing. This is on Jeff. He’s playing his butt off right now. He’s definitely the reason we’re playing good right now.”

On looking to Withey more:
“Definitely, I know that he’s capable of scoring. He’s proved that for the past two games. Now he’s on a roll. I feel like it’s my job to keep him on that roll, especially when people are focusing their attention on me a lot. It leaves Jeff right there.”

Kansas junior center Jeff Withey
On being more aggressive since the Missouri game:
“I’d say (being aggressive) is a lot of it. At Missouri, I didn’t score at all. I wasn’t a factor. Coach was really angry about that. He feels like I just let them punk me. The last couple practices have been tough. He’s been getting on me, getting me to be more physical in practice. He’s a good motivator, and these guys (his teammates) are too. I’ve been trying to be more positive and more aggressive.”

On being angry during today’s game:
“I don’t know if I’d say I was pissed. I was definitely more aggressive. My teammates definitely helped me out by looking for me. Thomas takes so much attention, it leaves me open a lot of times. I just got open.”

Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford
Opening statement:
“Give Kansas all the credit. They just came out and jumped on us. We never could get going. In the first half, we just couldn’t get anything happening from both ends of the court. We were just kind of stuck in mud, and they had a lot to do with that. At halftime, we just made some adjustments with our approach, first of all, adjustments with our offense and defense and different things. I’m really proud of the effort. I’m impressed with our effort in the second half. I really am. You’re looking at (a situation) where one team could get nothing going and the other team had everything going. It felt similar to our Baylor game. We went and played Baylor, and they had a record day. We’re out here trying to play one of the best teams in the country in one of the toughest places, and they’re making shots bouncing it off our head in the first half. That’s how it was going. Everything was going their way. It was just their day, but our guys decided to change it a little bit. They decided to fight back a little bit because it could have gotten worse with the day they were having. I told our team that Kansas is a Final Four-type team as far as they have five or six guys that are just really, really talented, really good (and have) great experience. You look at their physicality. I thought their physicality really hurt us early. I’m proud of the effort. I’m proud of our guys not giving in, responding, adjusting at halftime and making some plays in the second half to make it a little more respectable.”

On if aggressiveness and toughness were emphasized at halftime:
“That was talked about more than once at halftime, absolutely. We weren’t covering much space in the first half. What I mean by that is we were just simple. Everything we were doing was very simple. In the second half, we were covering space. We were defensively covering space. Offensively, (we were) covering space quickly with more bursts of speed and a little more aggressiveness to the hole. We adjusted the offense and tried to change some things offensively and defensively at halftime to try to get that going. Our guys responded. They really did. It was some physical things, and it was some mental things, too, that our guys had to respond to. They did, and you’re talking about with just five guys. They subbed some guys in and out and played different guys. We stuck with five and said ‘go for it.’ I told our guys at halftime, ‘You five are going to stick in there, so you’d better make something out of this.’ They responded. I’m very proud of them and impressed they were able to respond in such a tough environment on a day that I thought Kansas, especially in the first half, was tremendous.”

On why he thought the team was able to respond after halftime:
“They’re a good group of kids. They have high character, I think. We’ve been through a lot, and we’ve played one of the toughest schedules. I know coming into this game I think Kansas was ranked No. 1 in America, and we were No. 2 or 3, in America in ranked schedules. That’s kind of tough on our little team. Today we probably went back to No. 1 after coming here. We might have gone to (the) No. 1 toughest schedule, so we’ve been through this before. We’ve been punched in the mouth before. Our guys didn’t like the taste of it at halftime. It’s not like we’re a better team than Kansas or anything like that right now. We’re not. They’re a really, really good team that’s extremely well coached and deserve everything – all the rankings and that. When you have two big guys, and it’s not like we’re the most physically imposing group of guys, but when their two big guys score 42 points and get 34 rebounds that’s pretty good.”

On what makes Jeff Withey a difficult matchup:
“He’s seven feet tall with long arms. There are some seven feet tall guys with short arms. He’s seven feet, and he’s got long arms and good timing. Shot blocking is an art. He’s got great timing. He’s very skilled. He’s not the most mobile guy, but I think he understands that and he makes up for it. He makes up for it (because) he understands the game. He has a very good understanding of the game, and I think he has a very good understanding of what makes him a good player and what are his strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been impressed with him. I talked a lot about him before the game to our media. I’ve watched a lot of tape, and you just see the progression of him. I think he fully understands he’s playing with the best player in America. I think he’s slowly figured out, ‘Hey, this is a positive for me. This is good. I’m going to feed off this.’

That’s good for Kansas, but bad for us. Again, I said it when we played against Baylor when they played one of their best games of the year; we’re not going to beat Baylor even if we’re playing really well when they play their best. When Kansas plays the way they did in the first half, even if we’re playing good, we’re going to have a tough time. But again, I think they showed some resiliency and some character in the second half. It’s not a moral victory. We’re disappointed we lost, but it’s something to learn from. It’s something to refer back to because a lot of these guys are going to have a lot more games to play in the many years to come.”

On the team’s defensive pressure in the second half:
“We haven’t been pressing much. I just said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to hold anything back in the second half. We’re going to be different than we were in the first half in all aspects, mentality and approach.’ We decided we were going to press. We were very active out of it. I really don’t know as far as why it was successful at times. I’ll look at it, watch film and see, but I thought we were very active. It helped us. It did create a few turnovers, but we only shot 32 percent in the second half. It’s not like we came out, were on fire and made this great comeback. We shot 32 percent, but our press got us going. I think it hurt them maybe a few (times). They beat it sometimes, but I think it just got our juices going and our blood flowing a little bit rather than just sitting back.”

Oklahoma State senior Keiton Page
On the turnaround from the first half to the second half:
“We had to turn everything around after that first half. I think they were beating us at pretty much every category there was to beat us in. We weren’t too happy with ourselves at halftime. Coach Ford came in pretty upset. Our intensity turned around. We started playing much harder on the defensive end. It led to us getting some baskets on the offensive end.”

On their slow start to the game:
“It (surprised me). Coming into this game, I felt like we were playing our best basketball. We were playing hard. We knew that was going to be the key to keeping us in this game, playing as hard as we could on the defensive end. We came out flat offensively and defensively. Going into halftime, we were getting beat in every single category so we just had to turn that around the second half. We played a little bit better if we hadn’t of put ourselves in such a deep hole. We could have kept it a game.”

On the halftime adjustments:
“Coach was telling us, offensively when we were setting ball screens, they were just pushing our offense to half court. He said somebody was going to have to attack and get to the middle of the paint. I think Markel (Brown) was the only one doing that first half, getting into the middle of their defense. Second half, we had a few more guys step up and try to attack their defense.”

On playing a press defense in the second half:
“It helped us out in the second half get back in it. We’re capable of being a good pressing team. We have great athletes that can cause problems in a pressure defense. That’s something we may look to.”

On feelings after the game:
“We have to take what we did the second half and build on it. We didn’t turn it around against Baylor at Baylor. That says something. It’s never fun walking out of here with a loss, but we have to see how we played (in the) second half and what it can do for us and build on it in the future.”

On the atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse:
“This is the kind of atmosphere you want to play in. It’s the type of games you dream of as a little kid, coming into Lawrence to a packed gym as rowdy as it was. It’s an exciting atmosphere to get to be a part of.”

Oklahoma State sophomore Markel Brown
On what this game showed:
“It shows a lot. It shows we’re willing to fight with any team in this league. We got off to a bad start; we had to turn it around in the second half. It showed that we can play with anybody.”

On explanation for the slow first half:
“It’s unexplainable. We laid down. They attacked us in every area and we didn’t fight back until the second half.”