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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State will play for its first Big 12 Tournament championship since the year 2000 on Saturday night after Friday’s 94-83 upset of 10th ranked Kansas. After the game, CF (and other reporters) caught up with Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg to get his reaction to the win. Enjoy this transcribed media session from the Iowa State locker room.
Q: How were you guys able to withstand that 16-0 run in the first half, keep it to two at halftime and ultimately win the game?
FH: It was very important that our guys got the poise back and you know, I put a lot of that on me. I thought we got a little unraveled out there and unnerved when I got my T. Once we got back in the next time out, I told everybody to take a deep breath, me included. I said, “Let’s go back out there and play with poise again.’ That’s what we did. Once everybody calmed down and took a deep breath, we closed a 10-point deficit to two. They are so dangerous. They are a team that can really get it going. They make runs. To be able to cut that deficit when it could have gone the other way to a manageable number was huge for our guys.
Q: Did you really write ‘No T’s’ on the whiteboard before the game?
FH:I did. I did. Yep.
Q: Do previous losses to Kansas make this sweeter?
FH:I don’t know about that. Here we are at the Big 12 Tournament and you are able to compete for a championship. I think that is the thing that makes this a great win. We have a great opportunity tomorrow to do something not many Iowa State fans have done. One more time, our guys have to get hydrated. They need to do the right things to get their rest tonight on a short amount of time. Again, we know these teams. We very recently played Baylor and Texas a short time before that. Whichever team we play is going to be on heck of a tough game, especially a third game in three days. I know our guys are going to go out there and compete. We need to be mentally ready for three in three nights but our guys will be up for the challenge, I know that.
Q: How scary was Georges’ injury?
FH:I mean I saw him coming off. I guess when the ref immediately waives over at the trainer, you know it is serious. It was just a lot of blood. You see a lot of that. Once Georges started pumping his fist, I knew he was fine. It will probably make him a little prettier too.
Q: What happened with the technical situation?
FH: I came out on the floor because it was a media timeout. I didn’t come out to protest the call. Did I deserve it? Probably. Yeah.
Q: You guys made so many double-digit comebacks earlier in the season. Did that experience pay off tonight?
FH:Again, I think we just got a little out of sorts for that run. They go on a 16-0 run. The big thing is that we kept our composure. We hit a big shot to cut it back to seven. We were able to slowly chip away at it and cut it to two. We missed a lot of easy shots in that first half. We were getting to the rim. We made a really good play there at the end of the half with 0.6 seconds left and we just rushed it but we had it at a manageable number. But I thought our intensity and energy out of the gate in that second half was incredible. It gave us a lead and we were able to create some separation to hold them off there at the end.
Q: You guys shot almost 70 percent in the second half. How were you able to do that?
FH:Just getting the right guy the ball on the right spots on the floor. I thought Georges had a mismatch out there. We just kept going to him. He made unbelievable plays. He made six or seven in a row at one point after struggling early in that game. When you have struggles against a team that you probably had your worst game against of the year, you have some doubt creeping in your mind. But he kept with it and continued to make plays. Our spacing was very good, I thought. We were able to have a nice little run there where we scored on consecutive possessions.
Q: Some of the players said that you kind of put the first half and that collapse on you. Can you talk about why you did that?
FH:Yeah, I did. I think when I got the technical, we just got a little bit unraveled. We were out there I think looking more at the officials than at ourselves. Once we were able to calm down, I did that in the huddle, I told them to look at me and take a deep breath. We were able to battle back.
Q: How much pride do you take in not having technicals called on you?
FH:Well I’ve had two in my life and that includes as a player. I got one against Kentucky a couple of years ago in the tournament. This is my second one. Not very many.
Q: But it’s a real point of yours to demonstrate calm? Is it just your demeanor?
FH:I try to stay calm out there. I think your players are a reflection of what you do on the sidelines. I try to stay as calm as I can but you know, maybe we needed a little spark today when it happened? I thought we just, it wasn’t us out there after I got it so I probably won’t get another one.
Q: Is this the best that your club has played this year Fred?
FH:I thought that was as good as we have played, yeah. I think so. Kansas is so good and they are tough to score on, especially at the rim. It was 24-12 the first half in the paint. It ended up 24-38 if I’m not mistaken. So to battle back and get some shots to go down at the basket. This team, obviously Embiid has a lot to do with it. They are No. 1 two-point field goal percentage in the nation. To be able to get some at the basket was huge for us.
Q: How important were the minutes that Edozie gave you tonight?
FH:Daniel was unbelievable. To go out there and again, early on Georges was tired. I put Daniel in. Daniel is my first sub. He went in there, played well and got some rebounds. We rotated him in when Melvin and Georges when we needed a big body to help contain them and make it difficult on them. He got some huge rebounds and that and one was a big play. Just really good.