WEST VIRGINIA - 68
BUFFALO - 62
UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO
THE MODERATOR: We'll have an opening statement from Coach Hurley and we'll then open it up to the student-athletes.
COACH HURLEY: Obviously it's a tough pill to swallow. We were finished with moral victories when we were at Kentucky and Wisconsin. We had the mindset of coming here, trying to win this basketball game and advancing. And I was proud of my team and how we responded to the deficit we had at halftime. And came out really strong and put ourselves back in the game and they extended their lead again a number of different occasions. In the second half we battled back. Happy for -- I know Xavier Ford wants to continue and play. Right now, and he's obviously disappointed that his career at Buffalo ended today. But he had a huge 3-point shot. Had great numbers for us. Played a terrific game. I think it came down to a couple of very crucial plays that went against us. The foul call, when they had seven seconds left on the shot clock, was a tough one to accept in a tie game. And then you gotta give credit to West Virginia and Phillips for making a terrific shot. It's hard to simulate what they do. They're really good. I don't know how much of this game would have taken out of them physically and emotionally, but they're the type of team that's physical and athletic enough to win games, moving forward in the tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Shannon, could you talk about the press? It seems like you broke the press, but then making the turnovers in the front court. Kind of just talk about how you viewed that, how that went and what was the difficulty there?
SHANNON EVANS: Yeah, they're very big and long and athletic. So their press is really good. And we broke it a few times in the first half. But we struggled as well. And I took a lot of credit for some of the turnovers I had.
Q. Xavier, talk about that 3, and what was sort of the mindset from there and stuff? Where do you think it got away from you guys?
XAVIER FORD: The 3, I felt like I had a lot of space to shoot the ball. I was confident. I spent a lot of time working on that shot. And so I just let it go and it went in. And what was the second question?
Q. Then as you look back on it now, as you think about it, where did you guys lose it there?
XAVIER FORD: A couple of plays got away from us. Like Coach just mentioned, that foul call was a tough one to swallow. And I think there was a point, I don't know how much time was left, I'll say about a minute and 15 seconds left, I inbounded the ball and Justin does a great job of getting open, and it just rolls in and out. And I think that would have tied it at one point. So like you said, you've got to credit West Virginia, they're a great team, and I'm just proud of my guys. We all went out here and battled and showed that we can compete with anybody.
Q. Shannon, so there were 12 turnovers in the first half. The second half you only made five turnovers as a team. Could you just talk about settling down and what was said at halftime and what you did right to put yourselves back in the game.
SHANNON EVANS: Coach got on us at halftime. Told us to take care of the ball, be more strong with it. So we came out in the second half more composed and tried to play with more poise.
COACH HURLEY: Let me just elaborate a little further on that with Shannon. In terms of that press, first of all, they're averaging 20 turnovers a game. So for us to have 17, it's not a shocker for me. There's no way for us, and we don't face teams like this usually that are physical in trapping and that are relentless the way they play their defense. So I mean, they had a lot to do with those. And also we tried to simulate the speed and the pace they would come at us. But it's hard to simulate that. And I think our guys, as the game wore on, started to figure out how hard they needed to cut, how we needed to attack it. But initially, in the early stages of the game, it's just hard to figure that out as a player. Just not something we face very often.
Q. You played great teams this year. Had you ever seen anything as physical as that? It was like hand-to-hand combat out there at times.
XAVIER FORD: Like you mentioned, we played great teams. I'll say that's probably the second-most physical. Kentucky is real physical as well. And they're twice as big at every position. But that was a real physical game. We all laid it out there and I'm sure everybody's bodies is tired. My body is tired. And as well I think it took a lot out of them, too.
SHANNON EVANS: Yeah, I agree with Xavier, like the second-most physical team we played. But they're real fast and real big. So my body is tired as well. And I know a few of their bodies are tired as well, too.
Q. Xavier, can you talk, just, what's it been like for you being a part of this run up until today. And culminating your career with what you guys have accomplished over the last couple of weeks?
XAVIER FORD: It's been great for me. I'm just so proud of my guys. I'm so proud of this man sitting right next to me and Jarryn Skeete and Lamonte Bearden really grew up, he's not a freshman no more. And Justin Moss going from not even being noticed to being the MAC Player of the Year. And Raheem Johnson, who grew up. And Rodell Wigginton and Will Regan, who took a back seat in his game to be mature and to show how good of a person he is. This has been a great run for me. I'm just happy for the city of Buffalo that we're known for something associated with winning. We got the MAC championship, and like I said a couple days ago, a lot of guys doubted us and didn't think we would do anything. And for us to get out here and just make a national stand, just to let the world know that we can play. If you had have told us there he weeks ago or even at the beginning of the season that the president would pick us to win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a lot of people would have laughed in your face. I'm proud of these guys and I love Coach Hurley to death. He's done so much for me and everybody at the University of Buffalo. We want to thank the university, the wonderful community for everything they've done.
Q. Can you talk about the toughness level in the second half, down 9. You weren't playing well. Missed a couple of shots you normally make. A team that's playing in the first NCAA Tournament might have packed it in and conceded it. And you guys didn't. Can you talk about the way you guys finished the game?
SHANNON EVANS: I feel like it starts with our coach, Hurley. He has a lot of passion. He came in the locker room, ripped us. I feel most coaches would have patted us on the back and be, all right, you all hanging in there, you guys are doing well. He came into the locker room, ripped into us, got into us and we just responded.
XAVIER FORD: Like Shannon just mentioned, we're always going to be aggressive. This isn't the first time we've faced adversity. We've been down a few times in the season. So we just knew we would get in there and eventually a couple of the shots that we missed in the first half will eventually fall, and we have some success. We just came up short.
Q. Shannon, did you actually talk to Bearden a little bit to sort of calm down a little bit? He seemed really in another gear there early, almost out of control at times?
SHANNON EVANS: Yeah. That's one thing we both do. Like sometimes I'm out of gear, he'll come talk to me and I'll talk to him. And we try to communicate to each other, because the ball is in our hands most of the game. So we like to control the tempo ourselves.
Q. X, how much better do you feel you're leaving this program than when you came in four years ago, and what's to credit for that in that aspect?
XAVIER FORD: I feel great. A lot of guys are returning next year. And a lot of these guys are very talented players. I feel like we have a lot of high major players in a mid-major team. I'm so proud of everybody. And I just again want to thank Coach Hurley. He was a big part of my success. And Coach Hurley and Coach Levi Watkins and Nate Oats and Ben Wood, giving me a chance. I know, when I first got here, couple of years ago, 2011, people didn't really know about Buffalo like that, outside of the MAC conference. We got Coach Hurley and his name brings in a lot of press and media. And he's always a great person, he did a great job with us in preparing us to lead the world as men and handle adversity when we play. I'm just happy and confident that next year the team will be real good and now that we went out here and put on for a national team and national TV they can see that. There's good players in Buffalo.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. What did you see on the off-the-ball foul on Moss with 2:10 to go?
COACH HURLEY: I just can't get into it other than in this type of game, at that point in the game, in a possession that really wasn't going anywhere, it was just surprising.
Q. Regardless of the result, you go 2-3 and you tipped the momentum there. What went into that decision and why do you think it was effective at that point?
COACH HURLEY: I mean, we talked about it as a coaching staff, playing some zone, because I knew our guys would be expending tremendous energy trying to break their pressure. And for as good as West Virginia is in a lot of areas, that they're not a great 3-point shooting team and despite Phillip hitting the big 3, it was something that we felt we needed to do. And the only thing you worry about when you're playing zone, can you rebound, because I think one of the times we went zone and it didn't work out because we couldn't finish the possession with a rebound.
Q. As the game went on, it seemed like your ball-screen defense got a lot better. Was there an adjustment necessarily? Because they came into the game pretty good at that and you talked about that earlier in the week.
COACH HURLEY: Staten is really good out there. And we did better down the stretch. And we tried to suck in as much as we can with our guys off the ball so that we would try to limit his driving lanes and their ability to break us down in ball screens.
Q. Did the amount of fouls called today, did that take away from the rhythm, the flow of this game, the tempo? What's your view of that?
COACH HURLEY: I don't think that that was the case. I mean, we knew that it would be that kind of game, just based on the number of fouls that West Virginia's committed this year and we're a very aggressive team as well. And we at one point in the year we're second nationally in made free throws, because of Justin Moss' physicality and our guards attacking the rim. For us, we did some things uncharacteristic of what we've been doing, particularly at the free-throw line. Usually we do a better job of making free throws, especially in the first half I thought that contributed to us being behind the way we were. And then also just missing some layups in the first half and we can't afford to do that against teams like West Virginia.
Q. What was your message to the team at halftime? And also what do you attribute some of the poor play in the first five, six minutes to from your team?
COACH HURLEY: I just felt like, you know, just getting our feet under us in this type of game, no matter how many big games you're prepared for, you played in, there's no true preparation other than experience and being in these kinds of games. And then as fast and as hard as West Virginia plays contributes to us not playing at our best early. And then we just talked about just doing the things that we've done all year, like make layups, hit your free throws, and it would have been a one-possession game at halftime. And we started doing a better job. And I loved how we started the half. And in games like this, if you don't come out well to start, the teams like West Virginia could put you away. We jumped right back in the game.
Q. It seems like whenever I ask the guys about their character, they attribute it to you. Can you talk about their toughness level, especially in the second half and where that kind of comes from and it really does come from you and how you kind of give that to them?
COACH HURLEY: I got -- I've received and gotten way too much credit for us being in the position we're in than I deserve, because I've just been fortunate to have great kids. And when you have kids like Shannon Evans that plays with his heart and Xavier Ford, everything he's been through, and to have the season he's had for me. And Lamonte Bearden for some of the passes I'm sure he wishes he could have back. For a freshman, man, he's so good with the ball and such a playmaker. And Justin Moss who hasn't been himself and is still not himself, but he just was a warrior and gave everything he had. So it's really the type of kids that I'm blessed to coach here.
Q. Now that the season is over, do you think you'll really have time to kind of reflect back and really think about just how much this one season has kind of meant for this program as a whole? Do you think you can now start to reflect it, now the game is finally over?
COACH HURLEY: It's a hard loss, because we didn't come in here satisfying being the champion of our league. We felt we had a team that could win games in the tournament. It didn't play out that way. We were a couple of possessions here or there from that happening. But ultimately I'm excited about the enthusiasm about our program and what we're doing and the excitement that Buffalo had to back us here. It felt great. And it's something to build on with so many returning players coming back.
Q. As you mentioned, you have a lot coming back next year. But how much will you miss Will and Xavier and talk about what you need to do to replace them in the lineup?
COACH HURLEY: Those guys, in their own way, are great leaders. And just in terms of setting the standard of how to work and how to -- Will Regan is a tremendous worker. Xavier Ford, the same thing. They brought so much to the table when we had them. So it's hard to replace guys like that. But we've set the standard and the expectations about what we're about and we have guys now that have gained invaluable experience being in this kind of game and this setting with this kind of pressure and handled themselves, conducted themselves in the best possible way.
Q. West Virginia had the ball for well over a minute there before they got that final 3-pointer that pretty much sealed it. Could you have played any better defense than that 60, 70 seconds than what you did?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah, I mean, it was a two-point game. And there was no decision as far as I was concerned about whether to foul. I mean, we were going to play it out and need to get a stop and hope that we could get the ball back and have a chance to tie it or go ahead. I mean, we closed out as good as you could close out to a shooter and he made, Phillip made a great contested 3-point shot.
THE MODERATOR: We're going straight to questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Tarik, could you take us through the 3-point. How late was it in the shot clock, whether you thought you had to hurry it and where was the defender closest to you?
TARIK PHILLIP: The previous possessions I got my shot blocked, so I was just thinking to get it up. When he found me, I just though, get it up on the rim.
Q. Juwan, the last minute and a half, how tough a nut was that Buffalo defense to crack for you guys and obviously Tarik steps up and hits the 3, how tough was it there the last minute?
JUWAN STATEN: They made it real tough for us. They were gapping everything and forcing us to take outside shots. We tried to screen and rescreen a lot of times. But every time I came off they kind of funneled me to one side. I just had to probe and probe and see what the bigs was going to do. I noticed Tarik's man was running in to help a little bit. So I had to get it to him. So it wasn't that much time. He couldn't think about anything and he just made a great shot.
Q. Devin, how intense was it out there? This was a game you guys had in hand. And then it seemed to have in hand but then of course they come back on you and stuff. What was it like out there?
DEVIN WILLIAMS: It's been like that all year, definitely playing in the Big 12. It's always close. So it was something we was familiar with and understood. We just had to stay composed and just do what we do. And that's what we did. We just played with each other and things just happened to happen.
Q. Devin, can you talk about the play when you went on the ground and secured the ball in the timeout? Can you talk about that play?
DEVIN WILLIAMS: I was just in the game. I just wanted to win and that's the way we've been playing. That's the reason we're here now is because we make them extra plays. We don't stop playing. So when the ball came off, I was just -- just happened to get a hand in there and he lost the ball. So I just fell on it and that was pretty much it.
Q. Juwan, yourself, was it tough to get a handle on this game today, with the fouls and stuff? It didn't seem to be a lot of flow, a lot of tempo. What was it like, I guess, out there?
JUWAN STATEN: This game was pretty common for us. We've been fouling all year. So this is something that we were familiar with. But that's how we play. We play hard and you can't always control how the fouls go, but you can control how hard you play. So we just played through anything and we try to keep it ugly, because we're used to the ugly games. And we were just able to pull it off.
Q. Devin, I think you hit the two free throws with 2:10 to go or so. There was some question from the Buffalo players that was somehow a mystery foul. Could you give your perspective on it?
DEVIN WILLIAMS: I was just ready to step up and just shoot the free throws. There wasn't much I had to think about. I happened to be there a few times this year where I had to make some free throws and it was just pretty much get my elbow up, follow through and just make the free throw. It wasn't trying to overanalyze it or anything like that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. Was that your preferred style of play, the pace, the tempo, the way it worked out for you, you think, for most of the game?
COACH HUGGINS: No, I liked the early part when we were up about 15. We just -- it hurts our pressure when we lose Holton and/or Adrian. Our pressure is not near as good at the point of the press. So we were playing pretty well until those two guys got in foul trouble and it really hurt our pressure.
Q. Tarik's been in and out of your good graces at times this year.
COACH HUGGINS: I've loved Tarik the whole time. I don't say that now.
Q. How about this, Dax or Jevon or maybe both of them that have been in the game late at that position. What was there reason for Tarik, was it him playing well earlier offensively. Did he have a good game defensively, anything in particular?
COACH HUGGINS: Tarik has the ability to be our best on-the-ball defender. And he's really long and athletic. And I thought he'd do a better job of rebounding the ball than what the other two guys would have. It wasn't for him to really to take the shot. It was for the other end. It was for the defensive purposes. And really I kind of thought why didn't I get him out and get J.C. in to shoot the ball on penetration. And my absent-mindedness probably won the game.
Q. Sound like a weird question but what's it like to see a kid step up and make a shot like that, make a play in this kind of setting and stuff, from your vantage point, to deliver, I guess?
COACH HUGGINS: He's that kind of kid. He's a guy -- Dax has been that way as well. They love that moment. Probably the only one who wanted Tarik to shoot it was Tarik. He had to, it was the end of the clock. But he relishes that kind of moment. And we're fortunate to have a couple of guys that do.
Q. Can you take us through the last couple of minutes after they tied it? Obviously you were trying to shorten the game, particularly that one possession where they got two timeouts and fouled right there under the basket.
COACH HUGGINS: I don't know that I was necessarily trying to shorten the game. I was trying to keep it in Juwan's hands as much as we could and let him try to create and make a play. And we wanted to throw it to Dev. We wanted Dev to screen and roll at the basket. We thought we could get him better iso 'ed that way because we did have him fairly spread. But it was more -- it was more just to try to keep the ball in Juwan's hands than it was anything else. He's been great. His ball security is really good. He's not going to turn it over. And we're going to get a shot. It may not be the shot we want all the time, but we're going to get a shot, we're going to get an opportunity.
Q. Their two timeouts and play underneath the basket.
COACH HUGGINS: Their two timeouts?
Q. Yeah, right at the two minutes, they got the layup rolled off the rim, off the inbounds.
COACH HUGGINS: Yeah. I was glad he missed it. There's eight seconds. And I thought we did a pretty good job of defending it. It kind of looked like they were trying to get it in the corner and get it in and get him an angle. And I don't know. I just kind of looked and Devin was laying on the ground.
Q. Where did Devin's performance tonight compare, stack up to compared to what he's done all season?
COACH HUGGINS: It's pretty much what he's done all year. I think the bigger the situation, the tighter the game, the better Devin plays. And I said to him after the game, I said, why don't you rebound the ball early in the game the way you rebound the ball late in the game? And he said, sense of urgency, Coach, gotta have that sense of urgency. But he's made huge plays for us all year, rebounding the ball, giving us second opportunities. I think the play that he makes diving on the floor and calling timeout was a huge play. Just a huge play for us. And we were sitting in there, Wany said he was getting ready to dive on it he said he saw the big body come flying in there, he said he got out of the way. He's done it all year.
Q. Who is Buffalo like if they're like any other team you played before this year, what adjectives would you use? And also did you use the fact that a lot of people had picked Buffalo as motivation in any way when you talked to your players?
COACH HUGGINS: I'm really going to have lost my mind when I start paying attention to what Jay Bilas and those people say. Jay always does those tweets, gotta go to work, I'm trying to wonder what that is. But I don't pay any attention to those guys. I mean really, honestly, if they knew everything they probably would have a pretty good coaching job making a lot more money than they're making sitting there in the studio. So we don't pay any attention to that. What was the rest of the question? Buffalo. They're just so competitive. When you watch them on tape, they'll do kind of what they did today. They'll get down. I think the game, they had to beat Bowling Green, I think to tie for the conference championship and they're down 14 and all of a sudden they just, they start making shots and they make plays. I think Bobby's done a great job of kind of inserting his personality and his will into the team. Bobby played with such great will and just kind of willed himself to be a great player and willed his teammates to be better. And I think he's done that with his team.
Q. I think even President Obama picked Buffalo. Do you pay attention to President Obama?
COACH HUGGINS: Absolutely not. (Laughter).
Q. That wasn't my real question. What do you get out of a game like this? You've been to the Final Four and stuff. Does a nitty-gritty game like this help a team or is it just the fact that you've got the W is all that matters?
COACH HUGGINS: Well, it's kind of survive in advance. I guess it remains to be seen. Dev's a little banged up and Gary and Wany played a lot of minutes for not playing for the last four games. So I think it's a matter of how well and how quickly they can recover to find out the effects of the game. We're not going to be able to do a whole lot tomorrow, obviously. But we played so many Saturday/Monday games, and at least we don't have to fly across the country to play the next one on Sunday. So we're kind of used to it to a degree. And as long as you win by one this time of year that's all that matters.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Transcription by ASAP Sports