What Mike Pegues, Louisville Men’s Basketball Players Said After 90-83 Loss to North Carolina

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville led North Carolina in overtime but ultimately fell in the extra period, 90-83, in part due to a myriad of questionable calls from OT officials.

Here’s what interim head coach Mike Pegues, guard El Ellis and forward Matt Cross had to say following the loss:

Interim Head Coach Mike Pegues

(Opening Statement)

“I’ll start by saying to our kids, given the magnitude of everything that’s happened this week, I couldn’t have been more proud after two losses. On paper, we’re 0-2 against Duke and Carolina, but in the spirit, in the heart and spirit of competition, of tenacity and resilience, of character and of combat… I saw everything from our guys tonight. I saw it in the game of Duke. I saw it even more tonight, even against a man. I’m so proud of our guys.” I’m so proud and grateful to our fans – that atmosphere was loud. It was amazing. The Yum didn’t sound like this for our games like it did against Duke and tonight than it has in a long time. I thank them for their support. I had fans there who were shouting ‘great job, coach, great job’ at me. I’m a rookie in this field and it means a lot to me. It means a lot to our fans that they showed up and supported us. The only thing we can do now is go out on the road and take one at a time. I hope that when we return, they will still be there to support us. t I’m so proud of our team and the fight they showed. We were ten behind with twelve and a half minutes left in the second half. Sometimes when we hit that level of adversity, that team didn’t react that way. Tonight they broke the pattern. I’m proud of it. We need it to continue.”

(About overtime, technique and explanation)

“I was told on Jae’Lyn’s (Withers) technique that he pushed a kid. I was frustrated with the call because Jae’Lyn isn’t the kind of kid that’s going to get into a scrum and start something. Didn’t see the game, but I’m pretty sure Jae’Lyn was just trying to get rid of the kid so he could get to his teammate. It’s not that kind They don’t know our kids They don’t train them every day But I just feel like in a three point game it’s a tough decision to make I know that “they have their rules and everything. First of all, my technique was inexcusable. I’m furious after the big scrum with Sydney which looked, to me, like a clear foul on (Armando) Bacot. It went into the other meaning. I was completely shocked by this. Nevertheless, I have to temper myself when things seem to be something that I think they should be. I am responsible, in part, for d The reason we lost tonight is because I need to control my temper better. I apologized to my team and our fans for obtaining this technology. I’m not going to sit here and blame the officials, it’s something that’s taken care of by our administration. They’re looking at those calls because they’re two tough calls.”

(About playing and filming El Ellis)

“Yeah, I’m shocked at the eight for 21. I felt like every shot he made. He was phenomenal. El’s a guy that we have to keep the ball in his hands in the middle of the floor, especially when he gets hot He can create mismatches. He can create problems for the big players, in the switches. They find it difficult to keep him in front. If they play against him, he can make shots. He gets two assists. J ‘d like to see him sometimes, without looking at the tape, being more of a guy who makes the game a little easier for other guys sometimes. I don’t mean in any way that he was playing the game the wrong way. I thought that he was playing a phenomenal game. He’s a big part of why we’re in the game. He’s a competitor. At some dead point, he took over the huddle. With everything we’ve been through, we have a kid who is, in his first year here, he’s supporting a caucus. How about that?”

(About Matt Cross’s career-high 15 rebounds, 13 points; About his game against a great physical team)

Well, Matt is also a big physical kid. He’s a tough kid. We need Matt to keep having games like this. He is more than capable. Proud of Matt because he hasn’t played this well in a while. I think he did a terrific job in competition. He executed the game plan. He screwed up a few switches. You challenge them not to waste one. If they screw up one or two, it’s fine. We screwed up three or four of them, so we have to improve a bit with that. But I thought he was really good. Jae’Lyn Withers didn’t play well. He took a lot of heat. I think he stepped up and played hard and played well. That’s another guy I want to highlight. I think every guy on the pitch, regardless of minutes, did a really good job executing the game plan, competing and going after him. It’s a good North Carolina team, we were there. We will see them again.”

(About El Ellis’ play right before the end of regulation, were you asking him to foul there)

“No, I was telling him not to foul Caleb Love. Love hadn’t missed a free throw in the whole game. I didn’t want him to foul. to pass the ball to anybody because that he didn’t miss a free throw and that he made it nine for 10. I just wanted him to pass and then, at that time, see if we can get one. But we’re done by having the flight.

(On how to keep up the energy with the road schedule ahead)

“I think it starts with taking the day off, decompressing, resting, clearing your mind and body and getting into the practice room with some ice. Hopefully these guys can get through some time with their teammates and chilling out a bit. Nobody’s been through this week more than us. These guys deserve this day off. We want them to be kids, play video games, hit the refresh button We will resume work on Thursday.

(Collaborating with Jae’Lyn Withers this season)

“It’s been a tough year for Jae’Lyn (Withers.) He’s been playing his normal position, which is all fours, after playing all fives last year. I think it takes him some getting used to. to come back to the four after playing the five, not only that, playing him in an entirely different offense We’ve adjusted our offense a bit and try to set up plays and keep our big guys as close to the edge as possible. Jae’Lyn has a special skill set and he’s trying to find that balance between when to shoot, when to drive, when to post, when to get in lane and how to keep the game simple. I thought he was great tonight “We’ll keep challenging him and pushing him to keep going. We need him to start playing his best basketball in February and March, and he’s totally capable of that. It’s been a collective effort, not just me, but all our staff, pushing him, showing him a movie, es trying to develop his game on the pitch and keep it clear-headed.”

(On what he learned from his players missing Malik Williams)

“I hope they learn something about themselves. The thing with Malik (Williams) happened, that’s what it is. I don’t want to talk about it. I want to celebrate our players for the performance they had, but I knew we could come here and win a game against North Carolina without Malik Williams. I knew it. Sadly, that didn’t happen because of some things, but hopefully they know by now. I hope they know we’re really good if we do the little things right and stick together because it looks pretty good to me.”

(On Gabe Wiznitzer’s performance)

“As soon as I get out of here, I’m going to give him a big hug. He hasn’t played since NC State. He comes into the game and he acts like a pro, and he’s a great sophomore “He’s done a phenomenal job of standing between him and (Armando) Bacot. He’s done a great job of competing and following up on our scouting report. He’s a high IQ kid and sitting around for that long, then having to get in the game and keep the best big man in the conference isn’t easy. I’m thrilled and excited that he came out and did the job that his teammates and I all know he can do. I was so proud of him. It takes a lot of character to be able to go out and do that.”

(On adjustments to Louisville’s game plan without Malik Williams)

“We haven’t made too many adjustments to the X’s and O’s. Malik normally plays the four or five. Matt Cross knows all the games of the four; Jae’Lyn knows four and five games. What made things a little tricky was that I didn’t want Jae’Lyn to guard (Armando) Bacot so much. I wanted to keep a bigger body on him, but Jae’Lyn proved himself worthy of being able to take care of Bacot for a bit in the post. He presented it well. I thought he competed on the glass with him and he was able to give us mileage keeping Bacot, which worried me going into the game.”

(On Jae ‘Lyn Withers’ block to force overtime)

“He’s so athletic. We don’t see him much, and we deserve to see more. I want to see him get up on the rim, dive the ball more, block more shots, be more competitive and make hard plays on the ball Sydney Curry also had a big block at the end of the game. We made very good individual, tough and winning games. We can get a lot out of it.”

(Thoughts on El Ellis towards the end of the game)

“I was watching the show. He was putting on a show, I like good basketball. He has total freedom of carte blanche. He has a leash. Be responsible with that. Find your teammates when they’re open, make good decisions When you have a good thing to roll, you roll.

(About the difference between the last two games compared to the rest of the season)

That says a lot about our character. This team has gone through more this week than any other team in the country. Going out and taking on two blue bloods and being there to win the game says a lot about this locker room. Says even more about this program, the character of this team and our staff. We have a lot of good people at Kueber Center. We will continue to compete and scratch and fight and whatever we have to do. It will begin with a day off tomorrow to rest our minds and bodies. We need it. We will start preparing on Thursday and Friday to hit the road. The Carrier Dome is not an easy place to win. But we have to find a way to get to the other side of this case.”

Guard El Ellis

Forward Matt Cross

(Photo by Mike Pegues: Jamie Rhodes – USA TODAY Sports)

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