COACH PAINTER: I thought kind of the key to the game was the end of the first half and start of the second half. Thought we gained some momentum at the end of the first half. The basket by Carsen to give us that lead, but kind of that transaction right in there with a couple of stops.
They gained momentum after we had a lead for most of the first half. And I thought how we came out in the start of the second half, that first five or six minutes kind of set the tone.
And we had to do a much better job rebounding the basketball. Even though we didn't do a great job we did a much better job in the second half. I thought we tried our best to stay out of rotations. They're very tough in their isolations and they're hard to guard. And I thought our guys did a much better job there.
And when we could get some stops, we got into a good rhythm on the offensive end. Carsen got into a good rhythm. Dakota got into a good rhythm and really had some balance. And obviously Isaac had a good game for us also.
But just a good team win. Thought our energy really picked up there at the end of the first half and start of the second half. We didn't have much energy, I felt, in the first half.
And it's so important in these tournaments, when you play back-to-back games, just to keep that fight and keep going. I thought our guys really picked that up.
And obviously when you're getting stops and you're making 3s, you're going to put a string together and be able to build that lead.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Tomorrow's Michigan for the third time. It's been said that it's hard to beat a team three times in a year. What do you guys have to do well to execute that?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: Definitely going to be defense for us. They run a good system with a lot of counters, a lot of options. Moe Wagner is one of the best players in our league. They just have just a lot of different options.
Just staying tight on some of their action, being disciplined on defense is going to be huge for us tomorrow.
Q. What does it mean to you to win the Big Ten Championship game particularly here at Madison Square Garden?
CARSEN EDWARDS: I mean, it's a good opportunity. I mean, this was a goal of ours to be able to have this opportunity to win it, and (indiscernible) in the regular season. So to have this opportunity here just for us as a team and as for the seniors as well is a good opportunity and in an environment like this. So hopefully we can take advantage of it.
Q. Dakota, just what's Carsen mean right now as far as a consistent big score provider for you guys on a nightly basis?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: You said it. It's a consistency. He's being very efficient, too. He's making the right reads, the right passes. And he's attracting so many defenders. That's the good thing about him; he's unselfish and he finds the open guy when the time comes. So just another dynamic for us and he's a great playmaker.
Q. How much of the game tomorrow for you guys is their bench considering you guys were the 1 seed last year when Michigan knocked you off in the quarterfinals?
CARSEN EDWARDS: Did you say revenge? I mean, I personally don't look at it like that. Just the opportunity to play the game. You want to win every game. It's not like -- it's just going out to play, honestly and just try to come out with a win. Looking forward to this opportunity and it should be a good game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Was it nice to see guys like that calm down your bigs so they wouldn't get more technicals?
COACH PAINTER: Yeah. We want our bigs to play hard. And I don't think Matt Haarms deserved to get a technical. The ref couldn't tell me what he said. You're allowed to have emotion on the basketball court. You're allowed to say positive things.
If they said something negative, they should be able to repeat what they said. So I don't really think he deserved to get it. When you had the WWE body slam, both of those guys -- I just told them, you know, Ed Hightower used to blow the whistle come out and not call a foul on anybody.
How can you call a foul on either one of them? They're hooked up. They don't see who hooks up first. If they do then they need to call it on the one person who does.
But if they can't, why call that right there because it's 600 pounds hitting the ground at the same time. And neither one of them want that, you know what I mean? I didn't quite understand how Matt Haarms got a technical and then how Isaac got one and Satchel got one also. I don't think there should have been an technicals in terms of that. But it's part of it.
We've got some guards that are pretty level-headed. And I think our bench is pretty good, too. Nojel Eastern played really well tonight. And Ryan Cline hit a couple of huge 3s for us. So we're just excited about moving on and playing.
Q. Tony Carr, 4-of-18 shooting today. How important was that and how does Nojel's length help you in that matchup?
COACH PAINTER: We really wanted P.J. to start off the game and get into him and just make him work. Third game in three days. We know he has the ball in his hands a lot and how important he is.
And he's a tough shot-maker. Most people that make tough shots don't make them the next game. He's a guy that can make tough shots consistently. When you're shooting a lot from 20 to 25 feet, when people are hounding you, sometimes you have nights like he did.
But he's a great player. He's one of the best guards in our league. But I thought P.J. did a great job on him. I thought Nojel really fought him, really made it hard for him and fought him and tried to use his length when he shot the runners and the floaters and the pull-up 3s.
Q. How do you think playing together in World University Games all the way to today, how has the team improved? And how do you think that will help you going forward once we get to March?
COACH PAINTER: We've been together a lot. Obviously we start four seniors. But the more basketball you can play together just raises your value overall. And so I think the trust of getting in the games -- we've had to win games differently the whole season. And we've had to grind games out.
We've been able to shoot the ball well in some games and other games we've been able to win when we didn't shoot as well. But we had that three-game skid in conference play where the ball didn't go in for us much and we had to do a better job in other areas and we just didn't.
But I think that anytime you can have that kind of an experience -- the one thing that's misleading about traditional international trips are the competition's not very good.
But it's great. You go to Italy. You go to Spain. It's a great learning experience for your kids to be able to see everything and see a different culture.
But early August is a lot of a times where we make those trips. This trip is different. The World University Games is different. The competition is really good. About every other team is equal to you. You do have some teams that get in there, especially in pool play, that are just okay. But we played in a good pool. We obviously got there and so we played high-level competition.
And I think anytime you can play high-level competition, represent your country, it's going to help your kids.
Q. Speaking of winning in different ways you had a grind-out game up in Ann Arbor to beat Michigan, and then you had that kind of video game at Mackey Arena to beat them. What do you take out of those games as far as what you're going to have to do well?
COACH PAINTER: We have to rebound the ball better. We have to execute. From just how we've played here, I think we can do a much better job in our execution. But no matter who we're playing we have to rebound the basketball better and I think that's going to be imperative tomorrow.
I think their team's consistently getting better on the defensive end and really played hard defensively so we know it's going to be tough to go against them. But that was one of those games, we've had a couple games where we were fortunate because we struggled to stop Michigan at our place, but we were able to outscore them. And then we get a break and then it came at their place. They go to the monitor and we get the ball back. And we're able to go to the free-throw line after we got fouled.
So we definitely got a break, kind of like they got a break in the Big Ten Tournament when we missed the front end of a one-on-one layup late in the game to send it into overtime. That's part of it. If you don't like having something go against you or something like that happen, try your best not to be in those situations. But if you get in those situations a lot of times it's about 50/50.
Q. I know you have the Big Ten final tomorrow, but in your opinion does Penn State deserve to be a NCAA Tournament team?
COACH PAINTER: Without question. The NCAA Tournament, I think you've got to earn your way in there. I think obviously their three wins against Ohio State. Ohio State is really good. Ohio State is a really good basketball team. To be able to beat them three times I think really shows just how good they are.
We were able to push the game out a little bit today. But our game at Mackey Arena could have went either way. They're shooting two free throws with 10 seconds to go to tie the game up. They miss one of them, so we win. You know what I mean? If they're looking from the lit test, there's no doubt they're a NCAA Tournament team.
Q. There's been a trend the last couple of games and it's not been isolated. It happened throughout the season here and there. But you go on these runs with 3-point shooting in the second halves. Is there anything to that? Is it them taking time to settle in or their decision-making maybe being better in the second half or the way it's shaping out?
COACH PAINTER: Probably a little bit of everything that you just said. Obviously if you can kind of get that figured out, you try to make that for 40 minutes. But settling into the games is a good way to put it. I thought Carsen did a better job today than he did yesterday against Rutgers.
He struggled in the first half and had a great second half. I thought he was solid in the first half today. I thought he settled into the game a little easier. And then he was obviously great in the second half.
So in terms of our whole team, we're very confident and sometimes being overconfident, you take shots a little bit quicker, you take a quick contested one. And we've got to be patient, gotta have better movement when things don't go our way or when we don't get into something in one of our sets.
Penn State Quotes
COACH CHAMBERS: Wow. It's very emotional for me to be sitting next to Shep and the way he played tonight. He really carried our team. So proud of this group. I'm really proud of this group for what we've done, what we've accomplished. So many positives. To be able to put us, on the evening of Saturday being in the so-called final four the Big Ten, it's a huge step for our program. And obviously he has a lot to do with that.
Give Purdue credit. That's a great team. They have so many weapons. And obviously Carsen Edwards took over in the second half there. Our guys had an amazing year. I reminded them of that. And I reminded them we have a lot of basketball still to play. And we look forward to that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Shep.
Q. Can you just talk about setting the record, 33 points, No. 33. That number seems to be popping up a lot in your career. Can you just talk about not wanting to stop playing tonight?
SHEP GARNER: I knew I didn't want this to be my last game tonight. And I told my teammates, you know, I'll give it everything I've got to get this win. I gave it everything I had out there. I left it all out there on the court. And I was filled with emotion because I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to lose, our whole team felt the same way. It was just a tough night for us.
Q. How difficult was it playing these three games in less than 48 hours?
SHEP GARNER: It was tough. We put a lot of work in though the summer to prepare for this. We knew we would be here playing on the weekend in the tournament. So we always preached that in the summer, back to backs, we need to be ready for back to backs early in the regular season. So we were preparing for this all year.
Q. When things were kind of going the wrong way in the second half and you guys were showing your fatigue, what were you telling the guys in the huddle during the stop, with your experience, to try to get them going again?
SHEP GARNER: Take it one play at a time, one stop at a team. We're built on defending and rebounding. So we wanted to stop them, stop them one play at a time. We didn't want to try to get it all back in one possession.
And I guess late we started to do that a little bit and early in the second half. So just came up short.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. What did they do so well to slow down Tony?
COACH CHAMBERS: I think they were very physical. Obviously that's why I felt like I needed to get T'ed up, my first T in a long, long time. But they were playing him very tough and very physical. And I was hoping that would help him out a little bit, and it did. It did early in the second half.
But they shot really well. I think they made seven 3s in the second half. We scored the ball; it wasn't like we scored the ball. But we couldn't get stops. We needed to get stops. And Carsen Edwards played so well. And Vince being out there, you try to take that away then they go to Haas. That's a very, very good basketball team.
Q. What happened that last three and a half minutes or so that turned that seven-point lead into a two-point deficit there at the end of the first half?
COACH CHAMBERS: We weren't making shots. We started missing shots. We took a couple of tough shots. And they made some shots. Carsen Edwards, again, went on a little mini run on his own to end the half. And we know how explosive he is. He hit a deep 3 to end the half.
But you can watch film all you want. Now you've got to go out and get it done. And give him a lot of credit, and give Matt a lot of credit.
Q. How difficult is the next eight days going to be just sort of thinking about whether you guys are going to be in or out of the NCAA Tournament?
COACH CHAMBERS: Well, I'm an optimist. You can ask Sandy Barbour and Lynn and Phil about that. I'm an optimist, very positive. You can ask all the Big Ten coaches that we played over the last month. Nobody's going to want to see us in the NCAA Tournament. We have NCAA Tournament talent.
And I think the administration's going to see that. The teams that we've come up a little short with has been Purdue twice. We've played some really, really good teams. And on the road. So I believe we're going to be in.