COACH WEIR: I have to tip our caps to Baylor. They played a terrific second half. It's a great team. You know, I was talking to Coach Henson earlier this week before we left, and coach told me that you're going to have to play well but they're going to have to have a bit of an off night and we didn't catch them on an off night. They went 14 for 14 on the free throw line in the second half. They made a lot of two-point jump shots and just made a lot of plays. So you gotta give Baylor credit.
I thought we played well, ran out of gas there towards the second half. But that has nothing to do with how hard these guys work or how much they care. It was just a little bit of maybe just running on a little bit of fumes from three games in three days last week. But an amazing opportunity for us. Unfortunately, the margin of error in games like this is really, really small. And we just had a couple of missed cues here and there, missed free throws here and there.
And again tip the hat to Baylor. They were terrific.
Q. You guys aren't exactly a program that needed to do much rebuilding or anything, but does this season give you two a sense of kind of a launching-off point and maybe a foundation moving forward? It was Paul's first year, and you guys have been to five out of the last six tournaments. But was there a sense of kind of building something for the future with what happened this season?
IAN BAKER: I think so. I think, you know, this year we wanted to get here and make some noise. Unfortunately we wasn't able to do that. But I think the future looks bright for New Mexico State, and hopefully it's something we can build on for the future.
BRAXTON HUGGINS: I agree. We came in hoping to get a win. And we need to build on -- we need to learn from this loss and take it to next year.
Q. Ian and Braxton, how special was this season for you guys? I know Coach always said this is a special team, and you guys accomplished a lot of things that hadn't been done at New Mexico State in a while.
BRAXTON HUGGINS: I agree. The season is very special, not only because the wins, like the 20-game winning streak. Just because of all the hard work we put in. The first day of practice at White Sands I'll never forget. I remember that day like it was yesterday, throwing up like so many times. I never thought it would end. And we made it here just because of all that hard work we put in?
IAN BAKER: I agree. I think it was a pretty special season. We did some pretty good things throughout the course of the season. So definitely a lot of up-and-downs coming into the season. I'm sure people didn't know what kind of team we would have. We didn't even know what kind of team we would have. And I love the way we all came together as the season went on and we did this thing together.
Q. Paul, these guys talking a lot about happy to be here, and I know that for you it wasn't just happy to be here, but being able to win a game and get past the first round and possibly the second round. How does this program take that next step as a team that can make some noise in the tournament?
COACH WEIR: Yeah, you know, there's probably a time and a place for those conversations, but right now I really -- I treated this, I think the only fair way to do this as a coach, particularly to Ian was to treat this like it was my senior year, too, and we just went pedal to the metal all year long like this was the last year we were ever going to play together. And at some point we'll pick up the pieces. But I really don't want to worry about that.
This is about appreciating this team and what this team did and I don't want to look past the contributions of what this team was able to do together. I'm really proud of them.
Q. Coach, you guys had the five points the first six minutes of the second half. Was that due to them coming out of their zone defense and playing more man at that juncture or what was the biggest fact or?
COACH WEIR: Yeah, you know, we got some empty possessions there at the free throw line early. I thought that hurt us. I liked our man to man offense in the first half as well.
Baylor just kind of came out and locked it up a little bit. You gotta give them credit. They did a really good job and unfortunately we just weren't getting stops at the other end. They scored 53 points in the second half. It was just we had to get more stops. I think if you told me based on where Baylor was defensively we were going to shoot 44 percent and score 73 points and get more shot attempts than they were, I would have probably taken it. We just didn't get enough stops particularly at the beginning part of the second half. I think they had 22 points in the first two. So I guess both kind of went together, but you gotta give Baylor credit. They were terrific in the early part of the second half.
Q. For the players and Paul, I also want you to answer this. They have two guys come off the bench, obviously two guys that I'm sure were on the scouting report, but you guys were able to kind of contain the starters, especially in the first half. Did the guys coming off the bench, Maston and Freeman, did that catch you off guard at all that they had that kind of game and impact?
BRAXTON HUGGINS: No, it was kind of the game plan. We wanted to take the ball out the best player's hands and kind of make the role players try to beat us. And in the second half Johnathan Motley just came in and scored a couple buckets on us and opened up the lead.
IAN BAKER: Yeah, I wasn't surprised. I think that's what makes Baylor a good team. Even when their best players don't have it going they have other pieces that can come in and fill the void. Our job coming into the game was try to contain not only the best players but everybody. We just didn't do that good of a job of letting their role players kind of get it going as the game went on.
COACH WEIR: Yeah, these guys get on it. I don't have a second half only box, otherwise I'd get a little bit on that.
Freeman is usually a good starter. He made some threes in the first half. We knew he was a good shooter. And Maston came in and made shots. And that was the game plan going in. And Motley was kind of fresh in the second half and came out with some pops. So the game plan in general was something we liked. It just didn't actually get executed to the complete degree, I guess.
Q. Paul, Motley didn't play in the final nine minutes of the first half because of foul trouble but seemed like he made a difference in the second half when he got back in. How much of a difference did he make against you guys with their length and size?
COACH WEIR: Yeah, he's a good player. He's an All-Conference player. He's big strong long. I thought his 3-point shot was a really big shot for them. That's not ordinarily a shot that he's making. I thought the guys did a really good job of keeping him off the glass and doing good things. He kind of got some stuff towards the back of the press and the end of transition which is where we were in that lull offensively and we couldn't get anything to go down.
Again, credit to him and them. It's a good team and a great player.
Q. Coach, from the beginning of the year to now, where do you think the biggest growth was for your team?
COACH WEIR: You know, I don't even know how much I've told these guys. When we went into the season, we had this plan, this idea of where we were going to go, and I don't know if any of us really knew it was going to work, but we just all got in the boat together and decided to give this thing a run.
And this team I just told them after the game has taught me a lot about emotion and energy and togetherness and those values that maybe some people think is lost. It's not lost. It's real, and I learned that it's real from these guys.
We beat a lot of teams this year that we weren't supposed to beat. We beat a lot of teams that were flat out better than us. We were trying to do it against one more team tonight and we were trying to do that with I think what we showed for 20 minutes which is a team that just plays really hard and together, and to bottle that was a lot of fun for me. I think it was really fun for them, and it made it a really great year.
It sucks the way it ends. I wish we had a different ending to all this, but I think whenever we sit back and look back at the season and think about the discussions that we have had we're all going to look back on this team really fondly one day and have memories for a long, long time.
Q. You talk about memories, Paul, and this is for Ian as well being a senior. What will be your biggest memory and take away from this year's team?
IAN BAKER: I don't really think I know how to answer that question right now. I gotta kinda sit back and reminisce on the season. So many things happened this year, it's kind of hard to answer that question right now.
COACH WEIR: Yeah, I'm with Ian. We had some fun times. Man, to beat New Mexico at home for the first time in ten years was terrific. To beat a power five team on the road for the first time in nearly 25 years was terrific. We finally beat a Mountain West team. We were on death's door after the Utah Valley game and came together in the locker room and went on a run after that.
I mean, I could go on and on with these guys and the memories we'll have. I don't know if there's really one that stands out.
Q. For Ian and for Paul, too. Ian, obviously closing a great career for you at New Mexico State. How much fun did you have at New Mexico State and what will you remember most about your career, and Paul, same with you about Ian. You've said he's the best point guard you've ever coached. And what will you remember about his career?
IAN BAKER: I would say my four years at New Mexico State, I had a blast. I can't really -- like I told him, I just can't really -- I don't know what would be my most memorable thing at New Mexico State. I'm going to have to take some time and sit back and think about everything that happened.
But overall I love my experience that I had at New Mexico State. I'm glad I came there. Like I told -- I don't know, I told one of these people here the other day that in a million years I would have never thought I would have ended up at New Mexico State but it was the place for me and I'm glad I ended up there.
COACH WEIR: Yeah, if there was anything that had to sacrifice this year it was going to be Ian. You had new a coach, assistant, players. Eli, Braxton, Sidy, guys like that, they were excited because they're getting to play now. Before they might have had reasons to be a little bit disappointed, but for Ian to buy in to me and for Ian to basically go through this kind of like transition and be the leader and take the lumps and be the guy everyone points the finger at when we lose and all that kind of stuff, I mean I'll never forget him. I'll never forget the games that he's won. And I mean, I'm just -- I mean I'm -- I'm forever thankful to him. Thank you.