Only four remain as Oregon faces Rhode Island while UCLA takes on Cincinatti! Ahead of Sunday’s matchups, see what was said during Saturday media availability and what was buzzed about on social media.
Oregon (3) vs Rhode Island (11)
Oregon (Casey Benson, Payton Pritchard, Coach Dana Altman)
Q: Can you contrast how different of a match-up this will be compared to yesterday?
Casey Benson: Sure. We know that they’re athletic, kind of a different team, Iona shot a ton of threes, while Rhode Island goes to the basket, so in that sense it’s contrasting. Got to be ready to fight the dribble on defense and contain them.
Q: What’s it been like — what was it like yesterday adjusting without Chris Boucher and what do you have to think about tomorrow?
Payton Pritchard: Obviously, it’s a big loss. Chris Boucher in my opinion is an All-American-type player. But as far as our team goes everybody has to step up now. We can’t dwell on his injury. We’ve gotta move on and try to make a run at this so everybody has to fill his role in some way. Kavell stepping up, Keith, Roman, you know, guys that had lower minutes during the year now are playing a lot more. They’re going to step up huge for us. Me and Casey need to step up defensively more for him and everybody needs to.
Q: Do they show you anything that you don’t see in Pac-12 competition?
Head Coach Dana Altman: Their athleticism is very good. They get out and pressure and are very physical, similar to Arizona in our league. I like their group. I like their depth. They’re [playing] with tremendous confidence. Nine-game winning streak will do that for a team. Very impressed with what I’ve seen, especially here of late. Early on, you know, they were trying to find their way. But if you watch the last four or five games, they’ve put together something special and they’re shooting the ball with tremendous confidence, playing with tremendous confidence, and they beat a very good Creighton team yesterday. So we know we’ve got our work cut out for us.
Rhode Island(Jared Terrell, E.C. Matthews and Coach Dan Hurley)
Q. Jared, you guys have gotten off to great starts throughout the A-10 Tournament and yesterday. What has allowed you to do that so consistently?
Jared Terrell: One is our confidence in our defense. We are defending at a high level, and just trusting each other on offense, just passing the ball willingly and being confident in making shots.
Q: Do you relish these moments of playing a higher seed, playing a nationally-ranked top-10 team? What does that mean to you going into the second-round game?
E.C. Matthews: We’re happy to be here. We try to treat it as just playing basketball and nothing more than that but obviously it is. It’s the biggest stage, but we thrive off that being an underdog and playing the best teams in the country. We just treat it as, why not us? Why can’t we win? That’s it.
Q. Dan, what will be your pregame message tomorrow?
Head Coach Dan Hurley: Can’t think about being forty minutes away from a chance to go to the Sweet 16. I think we just take it 4 minutes at a time. We call them “wars,” four-minute wars. Let’s just go and win this four-minute war. If you focus on just trying to beat Oregon, one of the elite programs in the country, the “blue blood” college programs is what Dana has turned this thing into, that becomes this overwhelming task. For us, let’s break it down into four-minute wars that we’re going to play, and let’s just try to, regardless of what’s happened in the last four minutes, let’s focus on the next four.
UCLA (3) vs Cincinnati (6)
UCLA (Thomas Welsh, Aaron Holiday and Head Coach Steve Alford)
Q: Thomas, what do you know about Cincinnati?
Thomas Welsh: We know that they’re a physical and tough team and I think it will be a really good test for us. They’re extremely well-coached. They run a lot of good sets and we’ve got to make sure we bring our “A” game tomorrow and ready for a fight.
Q: Aaron, how often do you talk to your brothers? Have they been talking about you to this NCAA experience? I know Jrue only spent one year at UCLA himself.
Aaron Holiday: We talk often, every other week, pretty much and they just tell me to stay focused on the goal ahead and just to have fun and play my game because you don’t get many moments like this.
Q: Coach, how familiar are you with the Bearcats in such a short amount of time?
Head Coach Steve Alford: It’s a quick turnaround, obviously, and we have watched a lot of basketball and they’ve been on TV enough and I know the staff well and have the utmost respect for them. I played them when I was at New Mexico, so know the style.
But obviously a good basketball team and all the makings of a great game, two 30-game-win teams. Both these teams have become accustomed to streaks and winning a lot of games so we have a little bit of contrast in styles, so it will be interesting which style wins.
Cincinnati (Gary Clark, Troy Caupain and Coach Mick Cronin)
Q: Gary, you guys are in this game. A lot of people will be talking about UCLA and their potent offense. You’re viewed as the underdog I think by most. How do you guys look at that? A challenge? How do you overcome that?
Gary Clark: It’s another game. It’s another game. Since I’ve been here most of the games where the other team is pretty good we’ve always been labeled the underdog. As a Bearcat you go in prepared, following the scout report as you’ve done all week and get prepared to get a “W.”
Everyone has their own opinion about who’s supposed to win throughout the tournament, but it’s all about who comes prepared to play that night.
Q: You guys are 13-0 shooting 50 percent or better. The other day overall you shot 62 percent, 67 percent in the first half. How do you guys continue to play at that level?
Troy Caupain: Confidence, and then establishing your big man early. It’s best to always play inside out. If you get shots around the basket consistently those are a higher percentage shot than shooting the threes or a long two, so getting the ball in the paint around the basket and establishing your presence early. Once you get the baskets inside early your confidence grows and grows and the game takes over for itself.
Q: After watching the tape that you’ve seen so far in UCLA are they easily the best offensive team you have seen all year?
Mick Cronin: I would say they’re the most explosive. I know SMU had a rough day yesterday and they blew a late lead which happened to Villanova. That’s why this tournament is called March Madness. But SMU’s efficiency is very similar, highly-efficient team. Obviously, UCLA does it in a much different way. They’re much faster, much more explosive, probably more NBA players. They got a guy that’s going to be an NBA All-Star on their team. They’re the most talented team without question and definitely the most explosive. I would say anybody that plays them would say the same thing.