ILLINOIS STATE Coach Dan Muller – “Very proud of the team. The way we fought and competed with the way we competed in the last game was a tremendous improvement, which is what we spoke about a lot. I admire the way Coach Martin coaches his teams, they always compete. To go up against them and just fight a little shorthanded was satisfying.
“Last year both our man and zone were great, so we practiced it a ton. We did not plan to play it for 40 minutes today but it was worth it so we stuck with it. But if they start making three or four 3s, things can change so a lot of it was they had a cold shooting night. Sometimes you have a lot to do with that, sometimes you don’t. Because they shot poorly we were able to stay with it.
“We rushed shots and missed shots that we normally make because their defense was so intense. I’m sure they thought they missed shots they normally make also. To get to the foul line, and I don’t know if it will be a strength or not. I know Milik Yarbrough is hard to guard and he can cause fouls but clearly if we didn’t get to the foul line like we did we wouldn’t have been very good offensively.
“We can’t control our opponent, so we wanted to make sure we were the team that was ready and again clearly we were. Our guys were embarrassed by our last performance, as was I. It was good to see them respond like they did today.”
ISU Guard Keyshawn Evans – “We felt like we gave up our first game against FGCU on the defensive end and our plan was to come out regardless if we were playing man or zone and just play solid on defense for 40 minutes regardless of the offensive end. We weren’t really worried about anything they were doing. Even me and some of my teammates that were up top, if they’re setting ball screens, we’re getting over the ball screens and regardless if what they do, we’re not going to let them drive. We’re going to move when they kick it. Coach is always tells us not every team has a great man and zone so we focus on that all the time and we try to get 70 percent stops in practice in both man and zone.”
(On Yarbrough’s passing abilities): “He’s the best passer on the team in my opinion, one of the best guys with the ball period. He usually always finds, even last year in his redshirt year in practice, he was really good with the ball, always finding open guys. It kind of helps me when you’re getting pressure by Hassani Gravett, a really good defender, to have a guy like Milik, who’s big, too. He can get past his guy, get in the lane and make sure he makes the right play.”
Forward Milik Yarbrough – “We came out with a lot of energy. That’s what helped us. Me and Phil (Fayne) didn’t start the game but Matt Hein and Taylor Bruninga came in and gave us a lot of energy and me and Phil came in and felt like we had to back it up. That’s what we do. We play defense very well and that’s what we focus on because we know we have offensive players that can make stuff happen.”
(On facing a Final Four team from last season): “We treat everybody the same. We don’t treat anybody different. We play our principles and we play our game.
SOUTH CAROLINA Coach Frank Martin – “They came at us and our defense was back and when you’re in a half court game, and your defense is back, that’s not good.
“We never got inside the zone. And when we threw to within 5 feet, our bigs couldn’t score. We got the ball in there but the bigs couldn’t score. Our guards never drove the zone, they just kept passing it around the zone and that’s to their advantage. You can only run so many plays against a zone. There’s no such thing as running plays against the zone. For the most part the zone will morph to the play so to attack the zone, it’s not running a play, it’s attacking the zone and you’ve got to get inside the zone. We never played off the dribble to get it inside the zone.
“On defense the object of the game is not let the ball get between two defenders. We never got it between two defenders, they got it between two defenders every time they wanted to. They won it.
“If you’re going to pout, there’s no place for you in sports. Whether you win or lose, you’d better be ready to go the next day and learning how to do your job every single day, being prepared every single day. Mentally we’d better be ready to go tomorrow or we’re going to take another loss.”
USC Guard Hassani Gravett – “No, (the sightlines) were not issues. We just couldn’t make shots. We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball and we didn’t hit shots today. We didn’t make our layups, so we couldn’t score at all.
“We’ve got to make sure guys get their rest and we play early again. I saw a couple guys with their eyes closed sleeping on the bus on the way here and I’m not going to let that happen again.”