Austin Ainge scored in double figures for the seventh time in nine games Thursday night against Xavier. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following are postgame notes and quotes following BYU's 79-77 loss against Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night.
No. 23/24 BYU vs. Xavier
NCAA First Round
March 15, 2007
- For the 20th time this season and the 17th straight game, Austin Ainge, Jimmy Balderson, Lee Cummard, Keena Young and Trent Plaisted received the starting nod from BYU head coach Dave Rose. Cummard and Young have started in all 34 games this season while Plaisted has started 33, Balderson 31 and Ainge 26.
- Individual Career Highs: Sam Burgess - 5 rebounds; Keena Young - 4 assists (tied)
- BYU NCAA Tournament Records -- Mike Rose's five three-pointers made is tied for second all-time.
- The Cougars are now 11-25 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 7-15 in first-round games, having lost in their last five first-round appearances.
- BYU is now 23-6 when scoring more than 70 points and 5-9 when allowing opponents to surpass the 70-point threshold.
- With a 38-32 advantage at the break, the Cougars enjoyed their 26th halftime lead of the season. Overall, BYU is 22-4 when leading at the break, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when tied. BYU trailed 32-30 with 2:53 left in the half but scored the last eight points of the period on a layin from Sam Burgess, and three-pointers from Mike Rose and Austin Ainge.
- Keena Young scored in double digits for the 29th time this season with 22 points against Xavier, topping the 20-point mark for the 11th time this season.
- With 12 points against the Musketeers, Austin Ainge has now scored in double figures in seven of the last nine games. The senior point guard had 10 points before halftime.
- Mike Rose made another huge impact for BYU off the bench as he recorded 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting from three-point range. Rose has come off the bench to tally at least three makes from long range in nine games this season.
- Jimmy Balderson became one of just 19 Cougars to play in at least 115 games for BYU as he suited up for the 115th time in his Cougar career against Xavier.
- After Xavier scored the first bucket of the game, BYU put together a 9-0 run with four points from Keena Young and five points from Austin Ainge to go up 9-2. However, the Musketeers responded with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the lead to one point at 12-11 with 12:22 left in the first half.
- The Cougars went scoreless from the field for a stretch of 4:31 in the first half, getting just four free throws during that time to turn a 24-17 BYU lead into a 30-28 Xavier advantage. However, the Cougars recovered to score 10 of the final 12 points of the first half.
- Keena Young took over the game for BYU in the second half, scoring the Cougars' first six points of the period after posting eight points in the first half.
- BYU held Xavier to just one field goal in the first 5:51 of the second half, allowing the Cougars to take their largest lead of the game to that point at 49-40 despite the Musketeers going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line during that time.
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
Opening statement "First, I would like to say that it was a great game - competitive. Both teams battled. I think that it came down to just a couple plays down at the end, and I thought our guys were extremely focused and played relaxed and played with confidence. We played a very good team in Xavier - a very well-coached team. I'm very proud of our players because I felt like the effort they gave tonight, they left everything on the floor and that's all a coach can expect. You have to give Xavier credit. Our guys fought really hard. They were able to make more plays than we did."
On going to a zone defense "We were having a hard time guarding them. They're an extremely physical team. We were in foul trouble. I thought we'd try to protect ourselves."
On what he told his team after the game..." "I told the team I was really proud to be their coach. They batted, they competed, they got ahead, they fell behind and they battled back."
On how the NCAA Tournament experience helps the team... "It's very important for our program and the development of where we want to be. The experience our players received."
#13 Austin Ainge, G
On the key points down the stretch... "It was a very even game all the way through, but we just didn't have enough down the stretch. Really just a couple plays that we didn't get, and they did, and those made the difference."
On his last game at BYU... "It hasn't sunk in yet obviously, but it hurts. I love these guys like brothers, and I'll miss being around them. The relationships and friendships I've made is really what I'll miss the most."
On advice his Dad (BYU great Danny Ainge) can give him... "He's always taught me to fight as hard as I can, and to leave it on the floor. You have to have balance in life, and turn to other things afterwards."
On Xavier's comeback in the second half... "It was tough. We started trapping and screening, but their guys just hit shots. We tried different things, but they (Xavier) did a good job of adjusting and making plays."
On Xavier's Drew Lavender's play late in the second half... "We were nervous about their post players, so we changed the way we guarded in the post. I think that opened up the lane for him, and he's an extremely good player. I had trouble staying in front of him to guard him."
On BYU's foul situation late in the second half... "It takes away from your aggressiveness if the other team is in the bonus. We made some dumb fouls early, and that really hurt us. They (Xavier) did a good job knocking down their free throws."
#3 Keena Young, F
On whether he thought he would get the possession on the last play of the game... "No, I didn't. When I posted up he was pushing me hard so unfortunately we had to reverse to the other side, but we still had a lot of times where we should have made plays and close the game out."
#30 Lee Cummard, G
On the feelings of a road game... "It didn't feel that much like a road game. Yeah, the fans were big for them at times, but they weren't close enough to the court to affect us like a road game. It was fun to be part of, it just hurts coming up short."
On his leadership for next season... "With some of the other guys leaving, I think some of the other guys will look at me because I have some experience. It's just tough to swallow right now, thinking about these guys (with me) not coming back."
#2 Mike Rose, G
On the intensity of the game... "Yeah, the crowd got a little behind them, and I think they fed off the intensity, and it really inspired their team. I think they got some key rebounds, and hit some big shots, and that just inspired the crowd more."
On his last game at BYU... "It hurts. Especially the way it ended in one of those close NCAA Tournament games. It's just hard because I love these guys, and am really going to miss being around them."
Xavier Head Coach Sean Miller
Opening statement... "I'd like to congratulate BYU on a great season. It was a tough, tough hard-fought game. It could have gone either way. As we watched a lot of film to prepare for this game, it became very apparent how well coached they were. They have such a unique team with their inside players. [Keena] Young is a terrific player and he was terrific tonight. As a team, they are so dangerous from three in that they are very difficult to guard. I give our team tremendous credit because we had to really reach back deep in the second half to beat them. The play of these three guys [Derrick Brown, Justin Doellman and Drew Lavender] really inspired the rest of our team. It was a hard-fought victory. It's our 25th of the season. I'm very proud to be the coach of this team and at Xavier. I'm happy for Xavier University. We're very excited about advancing. It's hard enough to make the tournament, and it's even harder to advance. We're glad to be in the seat that we're in."
On having to coach against close friend Thad Matta... "It's obviously a strange feeling. When we saw the brackets we really tried to focus on the team, and beating a very good BYU team. This day wouldn't have even come if we had lost. Now that the time is gone, and the reality is we play each other is really amazing to think about. Thad [Matta] is a great friend of mine; we talk all of the time. He's done not only a great job at Ohio State but he did an equally great job at Xavier. We have a number of different players who played for him as freshmen. [Justin] Cage, [Justin] Doellman and [Brandon] Cole almost went to the Final Four that season with him as the head coach. They respect him a great deal. In addition to that he's done a real nice job with recruiting and put himself in a position not only in his coaching but who he is to have a great team. The more important aspect of this is the game itself.
"Obviously, we're going to have to play a perfect game to beat Ohio State. It's easy to watch them. You see them all of the time. I probably know them as well as anybody because of my relationships not only with Thad but the rest of the coaches on that staff. I'm their biggest fan. Unfortunately that time has ended for a couple of days. We're looking forward to the game. Most important for us, I'm really excited for Xavier University and the basketball program. What we have done as a program is so unique. It hasn't been one season or one coach. It didn't start with Thad Matta or Sean Miller. It started with Bob Stack, Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser and the great players who you think about - Tyrone Hill, Bryant Grant, some of the guys we have up here, David West. It has really been a great run. We're excited that we've been able this season and over the last couple to keep the tradition alive. It is certainly hard to do."
#1 Josh Duncan, F
On what was going through his mind when he put Xavier up late in the game... "What went through my head was last year's game against Gonzaga. I had a shot like that in the corner and missed it. Tonight, I was about to go up with the jumper when I saw the guy running at me, so I gave him a pump fake and drove trying to make the play."
On playing Ohio State on Saturday in the second round... "We are excited to play them. We are going to have to play our very best to have a chance to win. I'm confident we'll do well."
#3 Justin Cage, F
On playing against Ohio State and former Xavier head coach Thad Matta... "It's another big game going up against the No. 1 team in the country. They have a great team. We know Coach [Thad] Matta is a great coach and I think it will be a great game."
On taking the lead late in the game and being able to hold on... "We focused on trying to get stops on defense and making it hard on them [BYU]. Coach [Sean Miller] wanted us to focus on locking down on defense and rebounding. We started doing that and were able to get a couple runs. We were able to get the momentum swing and were able to hold on in the end."
#24 Drew Lavender, G
On words of motivation from Coach Miller... "He just told me to pick it up. I wasn't really playing like myself in the first half. He just told me to pick it up and that's what I did in the second half. Coach just told me to attack. I just opened it up in the last three minutes and made some floaters."
On playing fellow high school alum Ohio State's Ron Lewis Saturday... "It's exciting that me and Ron went to the same high school. It's Xavier versus Ohio State though, not me versus Ron. They are the number one team in the country. We're just happy to be advancing. We'd play anybody in the second round and be happy. They are very good, we'll see what happens."
On key adjustments in the second half... "I think we defended better and played as a team better. Everybody just gets down and works and everyone helps each other out. I think we have matured and grown a lot during the season. I think when BYU came back and tied the game up, I think everybody played calm and picked it up."
#5 Derrick Brown, F
On his valiant rebounding effort... "Just going out and doing my role. My role on the team isn't necessarily to score points right now. As a young player, I have to go out and do the scrappy things -- and that's what I did."
#15 Justin Doellman, F
On playing in his home state of Kentucky... "It's good to be down here in Lexington, playing in Rupp Arena. It was kind of like a home crowd."
On having NCAA tourney experience... "I think it helped a lot. Our older players really stepped up. Josh (Duncan) hit one of the biggest shots of his life toward the end of the game and Drew (Lavender) hit two big free throws. With our experience, the older players really helped out down the stretch and we were able to pull it out tonight."