“The way we turned it over led to many baskets for them at the end. You can’t put the ball over your head against the zone, stand, and just stare down guys. We kept playing more east-to-west. We talked a lot about that at halftime, and we just didn’t make the plays we had to make.
“We just can’t turn it over the way we did it. The way we turned the ball over is what really is disappointing. We were just throwing the ball into people’s arm’s length.
“You have to give A&M a lot of credit. Their experience kept them in the game the whole game. I can’t say enough about Alex Caruso. He is a player every coach would like to have. He just does so many things to disrupt your team and a lot to help his team.
“It is a tough loss. We have a good basketball team. We want to win, but we have to understand how to take care of the basketball. You’ve got to take care of the basketball, and the way we gave it back to them led to way too many easy baskets.”
(On the difference in the defense in the first half)
“We told them from the beginning that they’re going to keep trying to throw the ball inside. We weren’t doing as good a job scrambling, but you look at the second half, where they shot 63%. That was a direct result of those turnovers. Defensively, when we got set, we defended probably as well as we could defend. With the turnovers, they had way too many runouts. Our transition defense wasn’t great in the first half, where we didn’t hurry and get down the floor.
“When you turn the ball over the way we turned it over today, you’re going to give up a lot of easy baskets, and teams are going to shoot. In the second half, that’s the reason. You look at their field goal percentage. They had point-blank layups. We knew we were going to have to keep fighting in the post, and we still wanted to continue to double in the post. We can talk about the defense all we want, but the difference in the game was turnovers. That’s what led to way too many easy baskets for them.”
(On the team tightening up throughout the game)
“I don’t know if we tightened up. You can ask them that. I just think we turned the ball over. You can’t put the ball over your head. I can sit here and think about [Detrick Mostella’s] turnover. I’m not even sure what he’s trying to do.
“At the start of the game, even in the first half, we were getting the ball into the belly of the defense. You have to know that they’re going to adjust. We just kept trying to throw one pass and bounce it in there. They’re an experienced team. They play a zone. They do play some zone, but that was us just being too impatient, and putting the ball over our heads and attacking the basket. When people play zone, you can still drive the ball. You can drive the ball. You never want to play 30 feet from the basket out front, and play sideways. That allows them to start getting in the passing lanes. You have to stay in that attack mode.
“I don’t know that we tightened up, I just don’t think we executed. It’s the way we turned it over. That’s the stunning part of it. Just throwing the ball into people’s reach. That was the single biggest difference in the game, those turnovers. Even in the first half, we could’ve had a much bigger lead if we would’ve passed the ball. You look at it, we had maybe the most turnovers we’ve had all year. You’ve got five from [Kevin Punter Jr.], three from [Devon] Baulkman, three from Detrick [Mostella] in 17 minutes. That’s too many turnovers from your guards. Guards can’t turn the ball over like that. We just turned it over too much.”
(On getting team’s attention when turning it over)
“I’ll say this. Poor turnovers lead to easy baskets, and that was proven today. You dig yourself in a hole. I thought Robert Hubbs III’s three was a tough shot, but he had Kevin Punter Jr. wide open. All he had to do was make one more pass. That was a big possession where we could have put the fire out a little bit. If you think about it, all that and as much as we sit here talking about it, Detrick Mostella had a wide open shot that we would love to have him take every time for a chance to put us up. It didn’t go down. This was a team people picked to finish second or third in the league. First thing I told our guys when I walked in the locker room was that we have a good team, but you have to understand we can’t help people out by turning the ball over. We absolutely can’t do that.”
(On final possession)
“Yeah, in that situation, we are going to go in. It was a good read right there. We had no timeouts. It had a chance to go in there. There is going to be contact. I thought another big play of the game was Admiral Schofield’s fourth foul. I thought it was a big play because he had just gotten back in the game. He got whistled for a fool underneath the basket. It looked like he was pretty vertical, but those are bang-bang plays. I’ll look at it and see. With all that and the way we sit here and pick it apart, we had chance and just didn’t take care of the ball. When you get it lead, the offense has to protect it for you, and we did not do that tonight. It’s the way we turned it over that led to so many baskets.”
(On play of the freshmen)
“I thought Shembari Phillips played the best game of the year. He was terrific. He is a great cutter. In the first half, he was cutting. He did a great job. Admiral continues to improve. I thought Kyle was pretty good. Looking back at it, he could have played some more. He went in and really did exactly what we asked him to do. Without question, I thought it was Shembari’s best effort.”
(On taking positives away from the loss)
“I just told the team, I don’t think there’s any question, Robert Hubbs has to realize that Texas A&M went right at him every time down the floor. He’s going to have to take it up to another level defensively. I think we have to learn from the turnovers. We’re still in process of learning how to take care of the basketball against a team that has a lot of experience. Guys that have played a lot of basketball for them came through and did some things. The difference really was, it goes back to turnovers, they had 13 turnovers at halftime, and turned it over one time after that, and we had 13 or 14 (at half) and turned it over a couple more times in a one possession game. It goes back to turning the ball over the way we did and giving them easy open court plays that they took advantage of. They won the game. We’re disappointed, and as a coach you go back and look after the game and say, ‘we could have won the game, but we didn’t make winning plays and they did.’ But if you look at it, they had 11 steals, and some of those were good plays by them, but some of them we just threw right on their hands and they made us pay.”
(On Kevin Punter’s performance)
“Every game [our opponent] is going to game plan for him, and he’s going to have to figure out what other team’s are doing, and going to have to continue to learn how to make those adjustments. When you’re one of the leading scorers in the league, you have a big bull’s-eye on your back. I though that he got a lot of respect from Texas A&M, their staff, and their game plan. What people are going to do is they’re going to make Kevin Punter play every possession, and they’re not going ot let them have anything easy.”