“Well, the game was really a lot of fun the first four or five minutes. After that it got to be a lot like work. The first four or five minutes were really a lot of fun. You’ve got to congratulate Maryland because they just kept playing basketball and didn’t think the game was over. They kept playing and got it to three several times in the first half and then we made a couple of plays right before the end of the first half and got it back out.
"I think the closest they got it in the second half was eight. I thought Marcus [Paige] was sensational in the second half except for one turnover and one near turnover that he almost had there at the end. But he’s usually a heck of a lot smarter than he was today. He played his tail off and made some big shots for us.
"I thought Brice [Johnson] really came through. He had his best practice of his entire life yesterday and I hope that translates into good play the rest of the season. But he was really important to us. A lot of times they went small and we still had two post players in there, but it was harder for Kennedy [Meeks] and Joel [James].
"We had a tough time with Charlie Mitchell and the way he rebounded the ball. In the second half, I thought we did some good things and yet they kept coming at us, but we kept answering and I thought that was the whole key to the game – that we never got frustrated and we kept answering their runs.”
You’ve said you can’t explain why Paige plays better in the second half, but what do you think he has that allows him to step up time and time again?
“I think he’s really a tough competitor. We also have some stats that show sometimes he’s great in the first half and slows down in the second half. I asked him two times tonight if he needed a break and I didn’t take him out of the game in the second half. There were a lot of timeouts, so I hope that was good. But no, I can’t explain it except that he’s really a tough competitor.”
On if the team has gained confidence over four-game win streak:
"There's no question we are a lot more confident than at that point. I think they are more confident. I think they've bought in to the sense of urgency that we've been preaching all year long. I think we are getting a little better defensively. James Michael is really playing hard. I don't think James Michael had a game tonight that was anything like his effort showed. His effort has been really important to us the last five or six games.
"We still have some work to do on the free throw line. Somebody asked me if I was really pleased at the press conference the other day and what did I tell you? ‘No!' It's a daily thing. Some days I make a lot of putts and some days I don't make many. For us just answering their charges, answering their pushes was the biggest point."
After that 19-3 start, Maryland responded with a 16-3 run. Was that more what Maryland was doing or was it what your guys weren’t doing?
“Well, it was 19-3 and James Michael made a mistake in the corner and the guy makes a three. Then we brought in some subs and we weren’t nearly as good offensively and we turned it over and took some bad shots and that led to run-outs for them. We didn’t do a good job stopping their break.
"Then when we went back and put the starters back in, we were anxious on the offensive end and we took several bad shots. After we got them to calm down a little bit and get good shots, we came out and did some good things then. I think – didn’t we say they cut it to three several times in the first half – we take it back out to 12 at half and have a guy that can really shoot the ball miss two free throws with four-tenths of a second to play.
"I was pleased about that, but again, it was a lot of guys. I can look down there and I didn’t say anything, but J.P. [Tokoto] is 1-for-4 and 0-for-2 from three and 1-for-2 from the free throw line, it’s three points, but he had nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. And he had a tremendous block early in the game when it looked like they had a wide-open lay-up. So I can go down through there and there’s a lot of guys that did a lot of good things.”