Jan. 18, 2014
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SAN DIEGO -
UNLV-San Diego State Postgame Quotes
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher
On the game:
"This was a really, really good win for us against a team that mirrors us with their length, athleticism and how they want to play, how hard they play. So we knew they would come in and it would be a game not unlike how it would be for the last 10 years - hard-fought, a lot of tough defense and two teams that respect one another, but want to beat each other. The defense in the first half was as good as it's been, and I told them that at halftime. I know it was Winston Shepard's best defensive game. He started out guarding Kevin Olekaibe, a three-point shooter. Then he switched to Bryce Dejean-Jones, a driver and shooter. Then he switched to Roscoe Smith and did a spectacular job on all three. The versatility we have and willingness to say, `We've got to guard,' allowed us to win the game. (UNLV) is a hard team to score on. They had to have five blocks in the first three or four minutes of the game. We made 21-of-27 free throws. When (UNLV) made their charge, we found a way to keep them at bay, which is what you have to do. The crowd was tremendous, and doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated by us. It doesn't happen everywhere. A lot of people sit on their hands when there's a lull, our people stand up and cheer for their team, and we need that. It helps us. Josh Davis had another monster rebounding day. So everybody did their part. Obviously we had to shoot better, but (UNLV) had a lot to do with our shooting."
On the team's free-throw advantage:
"We are a team that's hard to guard off the bounce. Xavier Thames in particular, knows how to play. He gets angles, he knows how to lean into you, he knows when to cross over and pull back. And Winston Shepard with his size and length, knows how to get (to the line). Davis gets his off of just grit, toughness and rebounding the ball. We shoot a lot of free throws, but (UNLV) does too. If you look at the 17 games coming into today, we had shot the same amount (of free throws). They had made significantly more because they've been shooting it better lately. But today we were 21-of-27, which will win."
On if they take pride in their defensive field goal percentage:
"We're a good defensive team, and when you make it hard for them to get easy shots, you're going to have a chance. Of their 21 field goals, I would say eight of them came off their 18 offensive rebounds. So we've got to continue to get better there. But we guard hard. I like how we played, and I continue to say, `If we guard, we'll be good.' (Players) know that and they're doing it."
On UNLV's low three-point shooting percentage:
"We did a good job of contesting three-point shots with our length. We let Olekaibe get one at the end of the half, and just kind of had a defensive breakdown. But other than that, most of the threes they shot, we had a hand up and contested them. And those are hard ones to make. They can make them, but they didn't make them today."
On only three players off the bench getting into the game:
"I wish I got Dakarai Allen in the game for sure in the first half, but I didn't. But we need not only the eight that played, but the three that didn't play, to be ready because we're going to need them. We've got a deep bench and a productive bench, and (our players) know it. So that's the challenge for them and for (the coaches)."
On the player's serious approach to the game:
"I did see that. I think that's maturity and leadership at the top form Xavier Thames. I think there's respect on both sides. Their players have great respect for our guys, and we do for them. They're good and we know that. They beat us three in a row coming into this game, so we were determined to protect our home turf. It was dealt with that way. I don't think it was just us. It was the mentality the UNLV kids had too."
On the team's identity:
"We've had wonderful moments offensively. We played a team tonight that makes it hard to score on them, and like us, they hold teams to low percentages. So I want to say they defended us pretty tough. For the most part I thought we were pretty good at trying to get a good look, and they were determined not to let (Thames) get many good looks, which is what I would do against us too."
Senior guard Xavier Thames
On if the team had a different mindset coming into the game:
"No, we just come into each and every game like that. Our focus this year has been great. We come into each game like that, but we did know UNLV had beaten us three-straight times so we took that and ran with it. It was a great game, UNLV is a great team. I'm just glad we got the win."
On being able to win despite shooting only 33 percent:
"For the most part, I think we just missed easy shots around the rim today, I know I did. So we can't hang our head when we miss easy shots, we just have to come down on the defensive end and get stops, and that's what we did today."
On if they pay attention to the rankings:
"We see it. We see all the teams that lose. I think everybody on our team watches ESPN and sees the top-10 (rankings). We just have to keep getting better each and every day, and looking too much at the rankings and stuff. Just try to win each and every game and play hard."
Junior forward JJ O'Brien
On if winning ugly is part of their identity:
"Yes, I think the way we play defense and get after the other team, it tends to be like that. It's working right now, so I guess that's just our style of play."
On being able to knock off UNLV at home:
"We don't look too much into the preseason rankings. I think it says a little more that (UNLV) just beat New Mexico and then we just won. So I think that's bigger for us, that they just got a big win and we were able to withstand the momentum they had."
On UNLV only shooting 30 percent from the field:
"Yes, it's really good, we definitely take pride in that. Our defensive field goal percentage is something that we've taken pride in all year. I think it was great we were able to get back to playing well and hold a team to that low of a percentage."
On Josh Davis' game on Saturday:
"He's the man, he did his thing tonight. He was all over the place, he was active. He did a great job defending, and was a monster on the glass as usual. He was huge for us tonight and was one of the main reasons why we won. He's just going to get better, I was proud of him tonight."
Senior forward Josh Davis
On bouncing back from a rough performance against Fresno State:
"The main thing was I had to move on from the past, and just play my game. That's just energy going after every rebound and scoring at every opportunity."
On being able to make his free throws today:
"Yes, I work on my free throws all the time. It's a work in progress, but it's coming along."
On his alley-oop dunk in the second half:
"I loved it, especially the atmosphere."
On if they were expecting to be 16-1 at this point of the season:
"Coming in, I was expecting us to be this good. It's happening right now, so you can't complain."
On if he had extra motivation going against the No. 1 rebounder in the nation (Roscoe Smith):
"Not at all. I just took this game as another one and tried to be the best rebounder I can be."
UNLV Head Coach Dave Rice
On the game:
"First of all, congratulations to San Diego State. It was a great atmosphere. Great game plan on their part. I thought it was a very competitive game, as all of our games have been with San Diego State. It was hard fought. When you look at the statistics, both of us shot a low percentage. Both teams from a defensive standpoint did a great job. The difference in the game came down to them (San Diego State) making more free throws. They were able to get to the line and we weren't. I thought that there were times when we settled, probably, for tough jump shots. When one team (San Diego State) holds another team to 30% shooting and the other team (UNLV) holds them (San Diego State) to 34%, that says it's two pretty good defenses battling. They just made a few more plays than we did. I thought we had some good looks early that didn't go in and we lost our confidence a little bit. A lot of that credit goes to San Diego State. They're a terrific team and very deserving of their ranking."
On offensive rebounding for both teams:
"I think both coaching staffs will go back and talk about the 18 offensive rebounds that we both (San Diego State and UNLV) gave up. They were plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds because we both missed a ton of shots."
On the first half:
"One of the biggest things was that we dug ourselves too big a hole in the first half. It's hard against a terrific team like San Diego State to dig yourself into a hole. I thought we battled for the entire game."
On second chance opportunities:
"I think that they were able to capitalize because they were able to get to the free throw line. I think we both attacked the offensive boards. I think we were both able to get similar paint touches and they (San Diego State) were able to get the ball in the basket either with a second chance field goal or from the free throw line."
On San Diego State:
"They're a physical group. Their size bothers everybody. They're all able to offensively rebound the ball. (Xavier) Thames is fantastic. We did a good job of holding Thames down, he was 3-14 from the field, but he got 12 free throw attempts."
UNLV junior forward Roscoe Smith
On the game:
"San Diego State is a good team. They're a tall and lengthy team like we are. We started slow in the first half but we definitely picked it up in the second half. The rim just wasn't kind to us today."
"It was a tough environment to play in. Tough for first-time guys such as myself. We started slow in the first half. We definitely had to adjust to it and we put it together better in the second half. I always heard a lot about the atmosphere at San Diego State. I watched them play last year when I redshirted. I was anxious to come out here, especially after our big win in Albuquerque but we knew that we could compete with (the Aztecs). We did cut the lead to five points so we definitely competed with them. It was a tough game."
On playing well after this game:
"I know we are going to play well because guys are playing with a lot of confidence. Everyone is battling, understanding their roles and gelling together as a group. We have 13 more games left. Next, we go back home to face Utah State and I know that we are going to play very well."