Akron (27-9, 14-4) 69 at UTA (27-8, 14-4) 85
Monday, March 20, 2017
College Park Center - Arlington, Texas
Post Game Quotes
UTA Head Coach Scott Cross
"It was probably one of our best defensive performances of the year. Watching them (Akron) on video, they looked pretty unstoppable I'm not going to lie. I knew it was going to take our best defensive effort and we were going to have to play the same way offensively to beat them. I guess I underestimated our guys on defense a little bit. They were locked in today. It started with Jorge (Bilbao) making it tough for Isaiah Johnson to get catches. Our doubles were really good and our rotations out of it were great. Watching him on film, this was a guy that could score the basketball at will but what makes him special is he passes the ball kind of like Kevin Hervey. He can pick you apart when you go double but our guys were so fast rotating out that we were able to get there and contest their shots. This game was won on the defensive end of floor."
On the offensive efficiency
"It starts with Erick Neal. He makes us go. When he's moving the ball and passing the ball we're tough to defend. He plays with such speed and once that ball starts leaving his hands it becomes contagious. All we want is our guys to take good shots. If they take good shots, even if they miss them, over time we're going to make them. There was a spurt where we got really hot and it seemed like everything went in. It starts with him (Neal). He's a great passer. Hervey's a great passer too. He's a guy that can pick teams apart. Jorge (Bilboa) also has a knack for passing the ball. Nathan Hawkins does too."
On the play of Jorge Bilbao
"Jorge is the toughest guy I've ever coached so you just put Jorge out there and you tell him this guy's (Johnson) a future NBA guy and Jorge's going to give you everything he's got. He finds a little bit extra in that reserve tank when he's going against a guy that can play in the NBA."
On the team's mindest
"Our defensive ratings are high. I've probably become more of defensive minded coach. By nature, I'm more offensive but when a team is scoring on you, you feel helpless. That happened a little bit against Texas State in the Sun Belt Tournament but this team is capable of doing it. When they make up their minds that they want to play defense. Jorge's (bilbao) one of the best defenders I have ever coached. Drew Charles is one of the best. Kaelon Wilson proved he can be a lock down defender. When Erick (Neal) makes up his mind, he makes the opposing point guard terrified with his speed and quickness. Hervey's got a seven-foot-three wingspan so he can alter shots. We've got guys coming off the bench that are great defenders. It's mainly guys just being locked in and focused."
On the play of Kaelon Wilson
"I've always said he's a starter that we've brought off the bench and he showed you why these last two games. He's been so efficient. He's probably one of our best if not our best driver on our team, but now he's shooting the basketball well. He's a guy that is in the gym all the time. He hadn't shot a high percentage until that last two games but I knew that sooner or later he was going to break out."
On getting Jalen Jones in the game
"My dream was to win the Sun Belt Championship and sub Jalen in and then bring him back out so he could get in the scorebook and experience it. Once we got that big lead, we saw that we had the opportunity to do it. Jalen needs to be acknowledged. He needs to be loved. That guy has given his heart and sole to this basketball program. We wouldn't be here without him. We wouldn't have one a championship without him and the guys know that. I wanted him to experience the crowd noise one more time."
On the crowd
"Thank you. This has been vision, my goal, my dream to see this place packed. To be able to have people buy tickets and have it close to sold out, it's definitely a dream come true. It would be awesome if we do get one more home game on Wednesday. That would be unbelievable. This crowd was amazing. Our guys feed off of it. You can just see it. When they get a stop, they play with a little more energy, they run a little bit faster."
UTA junior guard Kaelon Wilson
On his mindset as a starter
"I'm still as confident as I've ever been. I have a bigger opportunity now to go out there and show them what I can do."
On Jalen Jones' moment
"To be honest, I almost teared up for him. That was a huge moment. To hear the crowd cheering for him was big."
On playing in front of the crowd
"It was exciting to have a crowd like that on our side. All year we have been going against that."
UTA junior guard Erick Neal
On playing in front of the crowd
"It gave me the chills. It gave me so much energy and made me want to play even better. It was crazy. I love playing in front of big crowds."
Thoughts on winning the NIT
"As we've seen all of that teams that are playing in the NIT, we've realized it's a big tournament too. I feel like we can win it all with people like Kaelon stepping up and playing our best basketball at this time."
On Kaelon Wilson's performance
"Kaelon's playing his best basketball right now. He's outstanding right now. No one can stop him. He's going to the basket and knocking down shots. It's amazing."
The run at the start of the second half
"It was really all the crowd. It just got me going so I hit a few and felt like man, I'm not going to miss anymore so I'm just going to keep shooting."
Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot
"We had great energy starting out the game but they out-beat us and it's unfortunate that the last game of the year has got to be like that. We got our brains beat in. They just took us out on what we tried to do."
On the subject of not scoring
"I don't think it helped, we got out of our routine and couldn't follow our patter. It's probably the worst game we've played in 10 years. We've got to give them credit, they played well. They heated us up and we couldn't play very well together. We just couldn't get it out of our way and had a rough time with it and they played well."
Discussing the game overall
"It was just a bad night for everybody, me included. We didn't move the ball well and we can't win a ball game like that. They out-toughed us tonight and made it a rough time for us."
On the Maverick crowd
"It was a tough crowd tonight, when they got loud, I felt like we were playing the Harlem Globetrotters. They had it going and they were better than us tonight. I don't know if they are better than us every night, but they were tonight."
On a long season looking at the next
"We're going to go right back to the beginning. So we've been a very finesse-ful team the past two years and we're going to go back and be more like South Carolina and West Virginia. These guys tonight just really pushed the tempo defensively and we need to go back to that. We haven't been quite as big as we have been in the past, but we should have some athletic guys so we can get back that mental toughness.
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