PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF post-game quotes, Appalachian State 76, UTEP 72

APPALACHIAN STATE Coach Jim Fox – “I’m absolutely thrilled for our players. For the last couple of months playing we had to get over that hump of halftime and I thought it bothered us the last two games and it obviously knocked us to that mat today but we got up. We kept punching, guys made some big plays. I was proud of the way the guys stayed patient. Coach Floyd is an unbelievable coach and he came out and played box and triangle and our guys believed in each other, found the open man in the first half for us to build that lead. It would have been nice if could have made some free throws at the end and made it easier but that’s OK. We’re going to benefit, this is an unbelievable experience for our team at this tournament playing three quality opponents. Everything we gain from this experience we’ll use starting tomorrow at practice.

(On watching the lead dissipate in the second half): “You’ve just got to stay positive. I tried to smile in the huddles and my mouth was as dry as could be. Our guys just kept battling. We made some big stops, we made some big plays and that gave us confidence. I said on the radio that it’s like aliens overtake our bodies. We just make knucklehead plays at the start of the second half and all of a sudden the lead is gone. But our guys didn’t stop playing.
“Everyone talks about Ronshad (Shabazz) and what a great player he is, and he is, but he sat out in the first half. We played 16 minutes without him and built a 14-point lead. That’s something you take from a game like this and really use that.”

Appalachian State Guard O’Showen Williams – “I was proud of our team in the second half. We’ve been taking a few bruises in the second half and can’t get over that bump and today we just fought and talked together and overcame. We did pretty good.”

UTEP Coach Tim Floyd – “I want congratulate App State, they played very well. They shot ball exceedingly well in the first half making eight 3s. We didn’t close to them very well. We did a much better job defensively in the second half. There are some great lessons to be taken from that for our team. One, being down 14 going into the second half and being able to close in a 4 1/ 2 minute period by simply defending and getting back on defense, guarding and not turning it over. There were some costly turnovers in the first half, they kicked us around on the glass on both ends all night.

“We’re growing as a basketball team, still trying to figure out some combinations. We’ve got a couple guys banged up. We were surprised (Keith) Frazier could go. He told us on the bus that he couldn’t play and then told us before the game he could play. He didn’t practice yesterday. O (Omega Harris) is not himself right now with his back and his hand but he’s trying to play. Isiah (Osborne) is growing as a player. We’re a couple of free throws missed from being 3-0 in this thing and we didn’t get that accomplished late by stepping up and making one. The road gets tougher for us.”

UTEP Guard Omega Harris – “We’re still a young team and we’re trying to figure out who we are. I’m a senior, I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I’ve been here and I know what Coach wants and the freshmen are still trying to understand get the concept of what Coach wants. It’s a learning process for us. We’ve just got to continue to get those little things right so later on in the season we won’t be in these predicaments.”