Feb. 14, 2012

Head Coach Lon Kruger
Opening comment:
“Again, it was a tough start to the second half. Obviously, we had pretty good activity. It was great to see Tyler (Neal) knock down some shots there in the first half. Cam (Clark) got off to a nice start. A lot of guys were doing some pretty good things. Then early in the second half it seemed like there was a possession or two that kind of deflated us a little bit. We just couldn’t get back on top. As a result of that we played with a little bit less energy the rest of the way. We need to figure out a way to work through that. We have to avoid, No. 1, the easy buckets going the other way, and then take better care of the ball and make smarter plays on our end.”

On starting slow in the second half:
“It seems like typically it has been a result of being careless with the ball. It is not only just turnovers, but it’s turnovers that result in a layups going the other way. That is a big swing right away. Texas is a really good ball club and we can’t afford to give those easy looks.”

On Andrew Fitzgerald’s two early fouls and six-point night:
“Two early fouls, of course, and that is never good to have anyone on the bench that long in the first half. I thought Tyler came in and gave us a couple 3’s and Cam got some good looks to get us through that stretch. He (Fitzgerald) didn’t make shots in the second half that he has been making. But again, Texas has guys like (Clint) Chapman. They are long and agile and do a good job in there. But we need Drew to stay on the floor, for sure.”

On OU’s defensive game plan:
“The zone I thought disrupted things a little bit and changed the pace. We kind of went back and forth between man and zone in the first half; kind of kept the pace right where we wanted it. I thought we attacked some in transition but didn’t give them many transition points, which is a huge key because they are really good in transition. (Myck) Kabongo is really good attacking you in transition or making plays for others or finishing himself.”

Junior Guard Sam Grooms
On if Texas stepped up its intensity in the second half:
 “No discredit to (Texas), but I don’t think it was them. I think it was, like Coach said, being careless with the basketball and not getting strong with it and making sound plays and doing what we were in the first half. We started getting out of that and started doing things that we really shouldn’t be doing, trying to make plays that really weren’t there. You tend to do that when you see a team on the ropes and you want to make a play and want to make a big play. It’s something we’ve got to get out of as of right now.”

On if fatigue played a factor in the second half:
“That’s an excuse. Everybody wants to make it for us; I’m not going to accept it. It’s not. Fatigue doesn’t play a part in a lot of things for us. When you’re out on the court, even if you’re a little bit tired, you want to win, so that should take over and knock the fatigue out of the way. You should be able to play through it, get extra possessions and actually come out and do something. Fatigue is not the (reason) and I don’t think that’s where we should go with that.”

Junior Forward Romero Osby
On what the cause is for OU losing rhythm after one play:
“I’m not really sure, to be honest. I just think that sometimes we let plays build on us, let things build on us instead of just attacking and saying, ‘We’ll get a stop this time down’ or ‘We’ll get a stop this time down.’ I think we kind of dwell on one turnover or one missed box out or they get a layup or something like that and it carries to two or three (possessions). We’ve just got to get tougher mentally with stuff like that because stuff like that is going to happen during games. I don’t have an explanation for it. I just feel like we’ve got to fight and continue to get better.”

Head Coach Rick Barnes
On if this is an example of how defense can turn a game around in the second half:
“We needed something to help us turn it around because (in the) first half I thought they just totally got us out of rhythm. They’ve got a great coach and a great coaching staff and they were playing mostly zone, but would switch to man, and we didn’t pick it up like we need to. But (in the) second half, we came up with some deflections. And you look at the points off the turnovers -- that was huge for us in the second half. Huge; really big.”

On Texas’ streak of comebacks and if he’d like to have the second-half effort in the first half:
“Well, yeah you do. That’s the toughest thing this time of year. You like to know what you’re going to get every single night out and coming in. The fact is, we had really a pretty good practice yesterday. We’ve been aggressive. We didn’t run very much in the first half. The second half, we pushed the ball more and we’re at our best when we do that. But we got down on the floor and again, stood around, weren’t aggressive driving the gaps early. But again, I think you’ve got to give Lon (Kruger) and his staff credit. We never really got into a rhythm with it.”

On how he got Texas to quickly improve its defense:
“Julien (Lewis) was terrific and Myck (Kabongo) played hard all night long, and he’s getting screened and he’s over-exerting himself. We didn’t want him way down in the backcourt, but that’s what he does. We kept telling him to back up. But again, that’s the million-dollar question. If I could do that, I’d make him do it every possession. We’re trying to get that, but we need everybody. We really do. But the start of the second half was turning those deflections and turnovers into points, and getting fouled was really big. Again tonight, we got to the free throw line 29 times and shot a nice percentage tonight compared to the fact that they only got there eight times. That’s a big step for us. If you go back the last couple games, we’ve been getting to the free throw line.”

Freshman Guard Myck Kabongo
On if they planned coming out that fast after halftime:
“We just have to be aggressive in the second half. We came out flat in the first half. It’s unacceptable for a team that’s trying to improve every day. And for us to take a step forward, you can’t take a step back. I think in the first half we did that a little bit. But the defensive pressure of our bigs -- Lex (Alexis Wangmene) did a great job trapping -- good job for us to come down and help him and that led to steals. So our big guys did a great job of putting pressure on their bigs.”

On what Coach Barnes told them in the locker room at halftime:
“We know what we have to do. We have leaders on this team that tell us in that locker room what we have to do. (J’Covan Brown), Clint (Chapman) and Lex (Alexis Wangmene) were very vocal at halftime. They told us what we had to do for the second half and we responded to our leaders on the team.”

Junior Guard J’Covan Brown
On the defensive changes in the second half:
“We knew that we had to come in here and set the tone. Myck (Kabongo) and Julien (Lewis) did that right away with Pledger by getting steals. They got the momentum going on defense and we just capitalized on that.”