“It was an unbelievable basketball game. I felt like we had the game won and made one of the silliest fouls I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Then all of a sudden they have a six point lead and everybody’s thinking we’d given it away and then all of sudden Marcus (Paige) made a heck of a drive and we stole one. I thought we had won the game and I never thought we had lost it but when it was six and T.J. (Warren) had another free throw to shoot, I don’t think it was looking good to say the least. J.P. (Tokoto) was cramping there at the end so we had the weird lineup in trying to see if we could get something but I thought J.P. was really important to us.
"Then the little fellow was off the charts and that’s just unbelievable. Marcus did not play very well in the first half but in the second half that’s just about as good as an exhibition as I’ve ever seen. That was just off the charts and the guy on the other end for them, T.J. we just couldn’t stop him, absolutely couldn’t stop him. We tried to double him the last two possessions and we were just very lucky. The last one, James Michael (McAdoo), we were going to double him when he got the ball and they call the foul on James Michael on the baseline. We were fortunate that he missed one of the free throws but how about going to the line with 1.7 seconds to play and stepping up and making both of them. He was unstoppable. He was as good of a player as we’ve played all year long. Marcus again was just unbelievable in the second half.
"I told our guys I didn’t really have a whole lot to say. I told Marcus I didn’t know what to say. It was a heck of a basketball game if you’re just a fan. The problem is that Mark (Gottfried) and I, we’re not just fans. We care about how our team does. I thought we’d just given one away and then all of sudden at the end I feel like we stole one. It’s college basketball.”
Can you remember a matchup between two players like the one tonight between Paige and Warren?
“You’re right, I’ve coached a lot of games. I’d have to think about that awhile. I’ve had a guy score 47 against us before and we won. I had another guy score 45 in the regular season championship game and we won. I don’t know if I’ve seen much where two guys were going back and forth at each other like that. T.J.’s got such a tremendous ability. He scores on little guys, he scores on big guys, it doesn’t make any difference.
"Marcus, his teammates did a really good job of screening for him down the stretch. Heck, I thought he was going to make that one with .8 of second to play. I really thought that was going in. That would’ve been an exciting way to finish it too. We can’t play any worse than we did at times in the first half and State wasn’t great but they were better than we were. The best stat I think is that we had 11 turnovers at half and we played the last 25 minutes with on turnover. Needless to say, that was pretty important to us.”
What is it about Marcus Paige to have the confidence to keep shooting despite missing his first three shots in overtime?
“He’s confident youngster. His first one I thought he got fouled but you always think that when your best shooter misses one by three feet. He’s a tough youngster. He’s competitive. He’s willing to try to make plays. One night in high school he scored like 18 points in less than three minutes or something like that. It may have been less than one minute, it was just weird. He’s a competitive rascal. He doesn’t mind taking shots when they really mean something.”
What is it in Paige’s DNA to be able to thrive in the second half?
“Well in the first half, not only was he not scoring he wasn’t being very smart. He had a couple of turnovers and a guy stripped him. It says he only has one turnover but he had two. He dribbled it and Tyler Lewis took it right in front of the State bench and then he threw it away trying to make an over the shoulder pass. Maybe it was deflected and we got it back that time.
"As I’ve said, he’s a competitive youngster. A hundred years ago, I felt like that when I was kid growing up you watch a movies of World War II and you talk about foxhole buddies. I can’t tell you what movie it was but I heard a guy talking about foxhole buddies and I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted to have some of those guys. I was very fortunate in 2000, I didn’t come back and some of the North Carolina people really got upset but I had some guys who were really with me. Then when I did come back in 2003 I made some people mad at Kansas and I had some of those guys really with me. I’ve always thought of them as my foxhole buddies.. Marcus Paige is not going to win many fights. I’d hate to see him in a fight but by golly I’d love to have him in my foxhole because I want tough people and he’s as tough of a little sucker as I’ve ever seen.”