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Wooden Legacy championship game post-game notes & quotes, Washington State 93, San Diego State 86

Wooden Chips
• PAC-12 teams are now 5-0 when playing for the title in this tournament (also winning in 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2016).
• Washington State is the fifth different PAC-12 team to win the championship in this event (along with USC, Cal, Washington and UCLA).
• San Diego State is the first team to appear in two Wooden Legacy championship games… this marked the first ever loss in a title game for the Mountain West Conference (UNLV won in 2010 and the Aztecs won in 2013).
• While the first six years of this tournament saw mismatches in championship games (the closest was 12 points), this marks the fourth time in the last five years the title game has been decided by eight or less points.
• WSU overcame a nine-point deficit (SDSU led 73-64 with 8:25 left in second half), tying for the biggest deficit overcome in a Wooden Legacy championship game… the Aztecs ended on a 29-13 run.
• Not only is the 93 points scored by Washington State the most ever in a Wooden Legacy championship game, but the 86 by San Diego State is the third most.
• Today’s game was a bit unusual in that the team that got outrebounded still won… in championship games the team with the most rebounds are now 8-2.
• The all-tournament team (WSU’s Malachi Flynn was named Most Outstanding Player):

2017 All-Tournament Team
No., Player, Pos., Ht., Wt., Class, Hometown (School)
0, Devin Watson, San Diego State, G, 6-1, 172, JR, Oceanside, CA (San Francisco)
3, Trey Kell, San Diego State, G, 6-4, 216, SR, San Diego, CA (St. Augustine High)
3, Robert Franks, Washington State, F, 6-7, 240, JR, Vancouver, WA (Evergreen)
22, Malachi Flynn, Washington State, G, 6-1, 170, SO, Tacoma, WA (Bellarmine Prep)
1, Yante Maten, Georgia, F, 6-8, 243, SR, Pontiac, MI (Bloomfield Hills HS)

Washington State (6-0)
• Playing in its fifth ESPN event (7-8 record in those)… the Cougars are now 3-3 in Wooden Legacy games.
• WSU won its first tournament title since 2009, when the Cougars won the Great Alaskan Shootout as Klay Thompson hit eight 3pt-FGs en route to 43 points.
• WSU improves to 6-0 all-time against SDSU.
• The Cougars were able to outscore their foes in the second half as they have each game this year.
Washington State (6-0) continued
• WSU connected on 13 3pt-FGs, which is just one shy of the all-time tournament record of 14, set by Saint Louis and Santa Clara in 2011.
• The last time WSU scored 93 points in a regulation game was on 12/11/11 vs. Santa Clara (won 93-55)… the last time the Cougars scored at least 93 points away from Pullman was on 11/28/09 against San Diego (won 93-56).
• The last time WSU gave up 87 points in regulation and still won was on 1/31/15, in an 89-88 victory vs. Stanford.
• Malachi Flynn led WSU with 24 points, the fourth time in his career surpassing the 20 point plateau (and second straight game doing so).
• Robert Franks contributed 22 points, the fourth time he has scored at least 20 points.
• WSU had two players score 20+ points for the first time this season… it happened twice all of last year (vs. Colorado and at Arizona State, both in January 2017).
• Jeff Pollard had his second straight game in double figures, and second in his career, with a 16-point performance.

San Diego State (5-2)
• Playing in its fourth ESPN event (10-2 record in those)… the Aztecs are now 5-1 in Wooden Legacy games.
• SDSU has advanced to the championship game of an eight-team tournament for the sixth straight time, winning three times in that span.
• Devin Watson led the team in scoring with 23 points… he has now scored in double digits in 36 of his last 39 games… this is his 21st career game scoring 20 or more.
• Trey Kell had a season most 19 points, his sixth straight game in double figures and 64th time in his career.
• Devin Watson and Trey Kell combined to shoot 15-36 FG and score 42 points, while the rest of the Aztecs shot 18-38 FG and scored 44 points.
• Nolan Narain had a career high 10 points and tied his career high with seven rebounds.
• San Diego State ended the game making two of their final 11 shots.

Washington State Head Coach Ernie Kent:
(Opening statement) – “What an excellent tournament this was, I thought it was put on extremely well, really some competitive teams and competitive games and this last one was indicative of the whole thing, it was just great for TV. They fought hard and they had us down nine and I thought they played a tremendous game and forced us to grow up during the course of the tournament and during the course of the game. It’s our basketball programs first championship I think in eight years and this is my fourth year here so this is a long time coming and I’m happy for these guys, this is a really good group of guys, not just players but a great group of guys off the floor as well and I couldn’t more proud of them.”

(On Robert Franks getting hurt near the end of the game) – “The biggest thing was who to put in the game for him and the defensive end of the floor how we needed to match up. When I saw him get up and limp off I was hoping he would be back and I think it was at that point in time that Malachi (Flynn) stepped up and really took control of the game. To get that tap on your shoulder a couple minutes later saying ‘coach I’m ready to go,’ it was really good because that’s a turning moment for him.”

(On what kind of statement the win is after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12) – “I’ve sat on your side working with the network and it’s hard for media people… we lost four starters, they should have picked us last when you look at the productivity that left our program but we knew what our redshirts looked like, our summer, our weight program, the growth… It was just a matter of gaining confidence in game time. We should have been picked last but it’s been nice again to see these guys grow up and we’ve grown tremendously in the last six games but there’s so much more growth potential in them.”

Washington State sophomore guard Malachi Flynn:
(On what kind of statement the win is after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12) – “I think it’s a huge statement but we’re definitely not done yet, we definitely can’t get happy about it, it’s only six games into the season. It’s a long season, we have 20 plus games ahead so we still got a lot to prove.”

(On turning his performance around after the first half of the first game) – “Just not thinking as much, just going out there and playing. Just sitting back watching that first game and how everything was going on and coming back and staying ready, knowing that my coach is going to come back to me. We know we have that trust with one another so he came back to me and I did my job the rest of the games.”

Washington State junior forward Robert Franks:
(On what kind of statement the win is after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12) – “It’s a big statement but we’re not satisfied. We feel like we’re not the last place in this the conference and we’re going to battle and show it throughout the whole year.”

San Diego State Head Coach Brian Dutcher:

(Opening Statement) – “Congratulations to Washington State. They did what they came here to do.  They shot the ball extremely well from the 3-point line, they spread us out and shot a high percentage from the 3-point line and played their game. What we tried to do to disrupt them, didn’t disrupt them enough. They were very good and congratulations to them. I thought our team fought hard enough to win, but 93 points is a lot to give up.  We have to be better at the defensive end. I’m happy we scored 86 points, but not that we gave up 93 points. I thought we had been playing pretty well coming into this game. Not having Malik Pope for most of the game hurt us, it was tough without him there.  He’s our main inside presence.  Defensively I thought Nolan Narian and Kameron Rooks did a good job. Nolan was 5-for-6 and Kameron was 2-for-2.  We missed Malik’s versatility at times and especially on the defensive end. He’s long and hard to score on.”

(On the health status of the roster) – “Once he went out, I didn’t ask our trainer what it was.  It looked like it was his foot or ankle.  Trey Kell got a little banged up at the end of the game.  College basketball is hard enough to win itself, you gotta have your players healthy.  When Robert Franks went down for Washington State, I’m sure they were concerned, but he came back in the game and definitely impacted the game at the end.”

(On the second half adjustment on offense to start the second half) – “When Washington State was playing the 1-3-1 zone, I knew we would be able to spread them out and get some opportunities.  We missed some good shots early, I think we started 0-for-8, but we got hot for a stretch and got them out of the zone.  Down the stretch, we had some ball screen plays that we got right to the front of the rim, but couldn’t finish. I thought the offense was good in that regard, and creating the looks we wanted.  We had Devin Watson at the front of the rim and Trey Kell with a couple of runners. I thought what we were running was effective, it’s just the ball didn’t go in. We had the shots we wanted, we just didn’t make enough of them.”

(On Washington State’s offense)- They started making shots. They spread the defense and made ball screens that made you over help. They would kick out the ball to open players and they have some very good 3-point shooters. It put us in a predicament where if our defenders helped inside they would kick the ball out for an open three pointer. I thought they did really good job on the post today. Our screen defense has been pretty good, but they did a good job attacking us today. Sometimes you got to give them credit, since they made the good plays.  Their passes were hard to see and they did a good job on finding the open man out of their ball screen plays.

(On their two losses for the season) – “I can’t worry about the losses. We can’t worry about March and what we’re doing in November. It would be a disservice to our team if you’re worried about what’s happening now. The whole thing in basketball, is trying to get better. All we’re trying to do is get better. If we would’ve won games, I’d say we gotta get better. We’re not worried about March right now. We’re just concerned about getting the team better and improving in areas. If we do that, we’ll be successful.”

(On the team’s’ overall performance in the 2017 Wooden Legacy Tournament) – “I thought we competed hard. The start times were tough for us. Starting games at 10:00 PM, playing the next day at 4:00 PM, and then playing the last game at 9:00 PM.  We basically sat around for two full days waiting to play a game.  It’s tough on everybody. It’s tough on Washington State as well. There’s not an easy flow to it. I thought our kids did a good job in preparing. They concentrated really well on film and practice and did everything I asked them of.  They just didn’t get enough stops. We knew what Washington State could do and they did it. How they finish in the Pac-12 conference I don’t know, but what they’re doing right now is effective. I know we want to get better at things and so do we.”

San Diego State junior guard Devin Watson

(On the championship game) – “I feel like we fought hard.  We lost Trey Kell at the end and it caused us to speed up and play a little fast. It’s disappointing and we knew we should’ve won that game but things happen.”