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#7 UNLV 74, #2 Wisconsin 68




March 18, 2007

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UNLV COACH QUOTES

Head Coach Lon Kruger
Opening statement:
I'm really, really happy for our guys and fans and everyone involved. What a really good win, especially considering the amount of respect we had for Coach Ryan and his program at Wisconsin and how great they've been for a long time. I thought our guys really opened the ballgame sharp and played with confidence throughout the first 20 minutes. Wisconsin makes a big-time run, and then I thought our response right there when we were down five really showed the progress and growth of this squad. They've done that all year in terms of fighting and not giving in, and a lot of guys stepped up and made big plays. I'm really happy to beat a really, really good Wisconsin club.

On Wendell White and the job UNLV did on Wisconsin's Alando Tucker:
Wendell had such a strong game. He was powerful from the start and made big plays when we needed buckets. Tucker is such a good player and we were giving him a lot of extra attention all game long, and he still scored. We still fouled him and he still scored, and he's such a good player. I thought Michael (Umeh) and Curtis (Perry) and Wendell did a terrific job in working at him.

On the depth of his team:
Different guys at different times have stepped in and contributed in more than just significant ways. They've done it almost weekly, whether it is Curtis Terry today, obviously Jerome (Johnson) and Gaston (Essengue) have shared that pivot spot, Rene Rougeau has given us some good minutes, and Corey Bailey has given us some great minutes. Our depth has been good throughout the year and it's been consistently good, so it's not like I've been able to call guys from the bench once in a while. We call on them virtually every game. And it makes for great chemistry, increased positive chemistry, because a lot of guys know they're going to play a big role. And if they don't play one game, they're ready for the next one. The tone set by the seniors early on was really outstanding and really special in terms of not caring about individual stuff but focusing on team wins.

On his team's response to Wisconsin's run in the second half:
I liked the comments of our guys in the huddle at that time. They simply said we've done too much, we've come too far to let Wisconsin come back and roll over us like that. I thought we had some really good defensive stands at that point and got down some shots to get us back into it. A lot of times when you get back into it you don't go ahead and create a gap. I thought it was really significant that not only did we catch up, but we went up five and that gave us some margin to play with down the stretch.

On the UNLV fans and what helped his team play well on the road:
Our fans have been great. We had a good number here given the distance, for sure. We knew it was going to be a pro-Wisconsin crowd, and we understood that going in. But our guys have done a good job on the road. They've handled things pretty well, went on the road in non-conference and got some wins. And they grew from that. I thought a big key to this weekend, a huge key, was that people don't know how good BYU is. The championship game last weekend against BYU really did a lot in making us a little grittier, a little tougher, and a little more physical. Then the Georgia Tech game on Friday. I think they're really an outstanding team and very physical. I thought both of those games allowed us to make some progress and grow a little bit, and today will help us hopefully into next weekend.

UNLV STUDENT-ATHLETE QUOTES

Kevin Kruger:
On the improvement in his shooting during the game:
They felt good the last game and even at the beginning of this game. They felt like they were going in and just coming out of my hand. It felt good. I just had a little faith. I mean, I feel like I'm going to knock down my next one every time. I don't ever think I'm going to miss, as bad as that sounds. But it just felt good. They were going in and with the way I've been shooting, if there was only a certain amount of time where I was going to make them, I was going to make sure I was going to get some up.

On playing under his father as opposed to sitting on the bench next to him when he was younger:
To be honest, it feels very similar to the feelings I had when they were winning games in the tournament back when I was not a player. Just watching him be happy, watching a member of your family be happy is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Just to look up and see my mom in the stands, she was probably crying she was so happy, I can almost guarantee that. Just to be a part of that and have something to do with that, it feels really good. But I would probably say it's about the same, just overall, it feels great.

On whether he predicted this kind of result after his transfer coming into the season:
I honestly did. Nobody really believed it when I said, I'm sure you can find one of those Vegas papers early on, that I predicted to go to the tournament and make some noise. That's what I've been saying all year and more ears have been listening as the year has gone on. But I believed, as soon as I got here and the workouts started, that we had a team that was better than a lot of teams and it's kind of coming to fruition right now.

Wendell White:
On the level of pain he feels from his rib injury:
I was wearing a protective under armor. It just protects my ribs and it helped a lot. It really did. They gave me a couple of elbows here and there, but other than that, I was fine.

On the prediction of the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi head coach that UNLV would defeat Wisconsin due to the match-up problem he creates:
It can be any team. We have great match-ups. With me, they basically say that I'm quicker than the other big men. I'm a power guard, that's what they call me, and not a power forward.

Curtis Terry:
On his play coming off the bench after Wink Adams' injury:
I wasn't too worried about it. I knew I was cold, didn't play in the first half much, got into foul trouble. I came in for Wink when he went down and I just tried to do my best on the free throws, trying to get loose and just didn't focus enough to knock them down. Down the stretch, I just made plays that my teammates and coach helped me create and we just got the job done.

On making a lay-up immediately after Wisconsin cut the lead to three:
There was a time out and the coaches got together real quick and knew that Mike (Umeh) had been going to the hoop easily on isos and they put (Alando) Tucker on him. They knew they were going to put (Jason) Bohannon on me. And Coach said if I had an iso, to cut to the left wing and attack the middle. And if they helped, to make a play for my teammates and nobody helped, so I just had to put it up and the shot went in.

Wink Adams
On advancing to the Sweet 16:
It's a great feeling, like a dream come true. We all feel good about the Sweet 16, but we can't sit back too long. We go out to St. Louis and hope we can come out of there with a win.

On playing while down:
We just don't give up. We play until there are all zeros across the clock. Every game we have to go out and improve ourselves, and today I think we did it again.

On Kevin Kruger:
(UNLV forward) Corey Bailey was saying we needed two people in double figures and I think we got three. Kevin, Mike (Umeh) and Wendell (White) had great games tonight. They all came up big. I had full confidence in all of them and they did a great job.

Joel Anthony
On playing Wisconsin:
All these guys in the locker room felt we were definitely capable of beating them if we did the things we needed to do. We were able to do that and came out with a win. On the 30-win season, the sixth in UNLV history: It's great to be able to add something like that to the program. We just want to help do our part to bring UNLV back. We're really happy with the way things have been going, and our fans have been great. This is a great win for us.

Gaston Essengue
On the upcoming game:
We're going back home and getting prepared for the Sweet 16. We're going to show people we can be called one of the best teams in the country.

On his nerves while Wisconsin was ahead:
[I was] kind of nervous. I always trust in my teammates on the floor though. When I looked at everyone's face, nobody was thinking, 'That's the game.' We knew the game would be tough. We knew in the second half they were going to get us and we were prepared mentally.

On Kevin Kruger:
I talked to him before the game and said, 'Don't worry. Just keep shooting the ball. Don't even look for me. Just shoot the ball.' He said alright, and you can see on the tape we got a lot of play like that.

WISCONSIN COACH QUOTES

Head Coach Bo Ryan
On the season:
I just told the guys how proud I was of what's transpired since August when we made our trip to Italy and started putting this thing together and knowing that going into the tournament different things can happen. The overall piece of work, I was very impressed with this group, how they hung in there. It took a team to go 10-of-20 from three to get us out and to their credit they were able to do that.

On relationship between Lon and Kevin Kruger:
We played Vegas and they beat us with some big shots. How about that, having a relationship like that on the court, having him do the things that he did, having that be so special for Lon. My hat goes off to him and that relationship and that's pretty good. I'll tell you what though, we had a great one too with our team, a great relationship. We got some things done and did a lot of things at Wisconsin. You never know if they're going to happen again, but it's going to be fun trying.

On the team after Brian (Butch) got hurt:
I won't even respond. You play with what you have and in a game like this, there's no second guessing. There's none of that. I just want him to be okay for next year. I want him to continue to develop. But boy, he tried. He was working and he was trying to get back in there. I don't care what anybody says. Sit out a few weeks and then go play basketball again. He got really fatigued at practice yesterday and it's not like he was worn out from the day before because it's not like he played in that one either. But he'd have been ready for next week. If we could have kept this thing going, he'd have had a chance to get back for sure next week.

On the impact of Wendell White and Kevin Kruger for UNLV:
Another team where five of the top six players are seniors. They really showed their maturity and we answered that bell early. Take a look at the first 10 possessions. They get 11 points in the first half. The first 10 possessions in the second half, UNLV gets four points. So that's 15 points on 20 possessions. If we could have held them at that ratio for the rest of the game, then you're walking out of here on the left-hand side. We had our runs, they had their runs. The one that really hurt us was when we went up five and let that get away from us, the momentum. They hit some tough shots. Curtis Terry with a three as the shot clock was winding down in the final stretch. We miss a lay-up and they go down in transition and Kevin gets his first wide open look in the second half. He hits his first one, then hits his next one, so there's two. He also gets a three-point foul, after we had shown our guys how he kicks his legs out. I've had players do that. Very rarely was it called, but I've coached some guys who had that technique, kicking your legs out. Alando (Tucker) went to all three referees before the game and told them that that's what he does. He got two of those. One, he made it, and the other one he didn't make it, kicking out the legs and drawing the contact. But that's just a smart player making a play. In that stretch he gets one of those, he hits the other threes and was the difference-maker in that stretch.

WISCONSIN STUDENT-ATHLETE QUOTES

Alando Tucker
On today's start of game being similar to last start:
Today was one of those things where their guards came out and hit a couple of threes early. We've been able to bounce back though from things like that and it shows we are a team that tries to play out the whole game. So if something like that happens or transpires early and they got two transition baskets early I believe from Wink Adams, he ended up with nine points and got six early. Some guys came out and got into a rhythm early and his shots were going down.

On UNLV's defense:
It was tough all game. They're a hard-nose, on-the-ball type of team. When I caught it on the block or off the block they were sending two guys at me so it was one of those things where I had to always find an open man. We talked about it and guys just had to make a move off the ball so I could find them. They were tough on me all game.

On level of frustration with today's game:
As seniors, you have a level of frustration and disappointment but I would change anything that happened this whole season. I've had fun. It's been a journey. And to be part of that with Kam (Kammron Taylor) and see what we have done, I'm really happy for that. We got to 30 wins but we also lost six games as a unit. I feel badly that we can't come back. It' difficult realizing you can't come back but we played a good game. I'm happy about the things I have been a part of at Wisconsin. After a game like this, it is only right to be frustrated.

Kammron Taylor
On his second-half performance:
Things just started to fall in the last couple of games in the second half. Unfortunately, it was too late today for me to make a run in the second half.

On the level of frustration with today's game:
I'm very frustrated. This is not how I wanted to go out and I don't think this is the way Tuck (Alando Tucker) wanted to either in the second round of the tournament. We set a couple of school records as a team. Our goal was to make a deep run in the tournament. Right now it stinks but life goes on.

Marcus Landry
On emotions after the game:
It's not a good feeling at all. To come out here and make it this far and to do so good and then lose a game like this, you have to take it all in. It will give everybody a chance to get better in the off-season.

On playing teams outside the Big Ten:
All the different conferences are very, very different. We do the best we can to get back on defense, and it's a more physical game. We have people who are not used to this kind of play, and things like that, and don't know how to call the game and some teams don't know how to handle it, and different things like that, and it can go against you.

Joe Krabbenhoff
On play of UNLV:
They made a lot of shots, and they had a lot of heart. They made some really big plays. Kruger hit those three threes, and then they had the three free throws right there, so they had 12 points in the final six minutes that really meant a lot to them. They wanted to win as much as we did, and they got the upper hand.

On transition of team leadership in the off-season:
It's a great loss losing those two [Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor], and then (Jason) Chappell also, those are three great players and they meant a lot for our team. It's a great learning experience for all of us to learn from for the upcoming class to learn from, and we are going to have to learn from it.

On play of UNLV senior Kevin Kruger:
The defense was really good on him, but he just hit big shots. Big-time players make big-time plays, and he did that today. He did a great job of leading his team today.

Jason Bohannon
On his feelings after the game:
Everybody wearing Wisconsin red thought we had the game in our hands when we took the lead, but they didn't buckle, UNLV, you have to give credit to them. But we can't have that game back. It's hard to even talk about it, but they did all the things right. We missed a few steps, missed a few shots, and didn't get it done overall - a real credit to them.

On getting ready for teams outside the Big Ten:
They get up and down a lot. They like to run and push it, to shoot an early three. In the Big Ten, not a lot of teams do that, but we were well prepared. Losing today had nothing to do with how prepared we were. They couldn't have been any more prepared than we were, so what happened on the court is what happened. Things were done on the court, not off the court, and they got it done.

On how UNLV regained control of the game:
Like us in the first half, we didn't lose our composure. We were down big; we came in at halftime, regrouped, and put it to them a little bit. When they got down five, they didn't lose their composure at all. They called a time out, got focused on what they wanted to do in the next two or three minutes, and went on that run. You can't give enough credit to UNLV, their staff and their players.

 

 

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