Coach Justin Hudson, Fresno State – Opening Statement: “Sam really started us off strong. When you come into a great tournament like this, playing against a good team and he really started us off. Not only did he hit 4-5 threes, but he played great defense and did a lot of things that didn’t show up in the stat sheet.”
On Northwestern’s size: “They were bigger than us and they play a great defense, so we wanted to spread them out, be able to drive into the paint and then kick it out for three to guys like Sam.”
Forward Sam Bittner, Fresno State – On his performance: “We took advantage of our ball screen opportunities. We knew that our big guys would roll hard into the paint and when they rotated over we’d have open shots. All my shots were wide open today because of our guards.”
On upcoming matchup against Miami: “I know that Miami scores the ball well and they are a big team. Obviously, they are a big team, they play in the ACC. It’ll be a big box out game and transition game for us.”
Coach Chris Collins, Northwestern – (On what happened defensively): “Yeah I thought that they spread us out. I thought they got into the paint against us, we weren’t as connected. They made shots which then makes it even tougher but, normally when we’re at our best, we have pretty good length, we’re able to keep the ball out of the heart of the paint. We didn’t do a good job of that. With their quickness, and their ability to drive the ball had us on our heels, I thought, from the beginning of the game. It wasn’t a great defensive performance from us.”
(On how the quick tournament helps his team): “Well I think, especially early in the year you’re playing against such good, competitive teams this is a really good field and we knew that. We knew Fresno State was a good team, we knew this was going to be a hard game for us and you have to learn about the things you have to do to get better. That’s why these events are so good. First and foremost, you want to compete for a championship, we’re not going to be able to do that with the loss today, but we have a chance to bounce back tomorrow and see how we respond to adversary.”
(On what the feel from his team is): “Hopefully, like I told the guys afterwords, you play a team and it exposes some of your weaknesses and you learn where you have to get better. That’s what I told our guys in the locker room. We don’t have a lot of time. We have to fix it tonight, so we can come back tomorrow and be better in that regard.”
- NU entered the game with the field’s best scoring defense (52.3 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.364), but Fresno State was able to score 78 points while shooting .500 FG… In its first three games combined, the Wildcats had yielded just 11 3pt-FGs combined, but Fresno State connected on 11 today.
- Already this tournament there have been two teams held below 60 points, equaling the total from each of the last two years at this event.
- Although Northwestern started the game shooting 5-7 FG, the Wildcats went the entire game without making at least three field goals in a row.
Fresno State (2-1)
- Fresno State is playing in its first ESPN event (1-0 record in those).
- Fresno State has won 10 of its last 11 games when making at least 11 3pt-FGs.
- All five Fresno State starters scored in double digits, the first time doing so since 12/28/16 at New Mexico (lost 78-73).
- The Fresno State bench contributed just nine points today, far fewer than their first two games (35 and 31 points respectively).
- Fresno State has now won 22 of the last 23 games when holding opponents to 59 or fewer points, with the only loss in that stretch a 59-57 loss at Evansville on 11/21/17.
- Sam Bittner scored 14 points, just one shy of his career high, marking his fifth career game with 10+ points.
- Nate Grimes scored 12 points to go with nine rebounds… Fresno State is now 5-0 when he scores in double figures.
- Northwestern is playing in its second ESPN event (3-1 record in those, with one title).
- The 78 points that Northwestern gave up today is the most the team has yielded since Oklahoma scored 104 on 12/22/17.
- Only three Northwestern players were able to score above their season average today; Pete Nance (scored 6, averaged 4.3), Ryan Greer (scored 5, averaged 2.0) and Jordan Ash (scored 5, averaged 0.7).