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Listen to Audio (6:03)
It’s a “W,” and we feel very pleased about that part to say the least after the losses we had down in Puerto Rico. At times we did some nice things, and other times I thought UNC-Asheville was more aggressive than we were. I was very concerned about them. I watched the tape of their win at Auburn. They were down 12 with about four and half minutes to play, and they kept coming and kept making plays. So I knew it wasn’t going to be a team that was going to give up. We had it up to 17, and then the last 45 seconds of the first half, we played about as dumb as we can play. I told them all our teams have always played great at the end of the half, made shots, made stops. So we didn’t do that.
“We came out in the second half and did some good things for a while, then all of a sudden we started missing shots. But you have 13 turnovers in the first half and miss that many shots in the second half, that usually hurts you a lot worse than it did tonight. If I can live through this team, I think we’re going to be a heck of a lot better at the end of the year. There is a big question if I’m going to live through it.
“But thank goodness [Tyler Zeller] was here tonight. He did some really nice things for us, but I got a little mad at him. His guy takes it from the foul line, drives, and lays it up. You’ve got to get a little bit tougher, mentally tougher, with attitude on the defensive end of the floor. But I thought Z, Justin Knox were both really big for us. Justin gave us a lot. John Henson had 10 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks. John gave us some things as well. We’ve got to be better with the basketball. To have Dexter with five turnovers, Harrison with four, Larry with three. But we’re happy to have the “W.”
On the team’s improvement:
“We learned some things tonight. We had a great number of opportunities to learn from our mistakes. Now if you can learn from it, I’ll say yes. But that’s their responsibility. We can show it to them, and we will, but they’ve got to make some adjustments. Again, you can’t have five turnovers, two assists from a guard--that’s Dexter. Harrison having four turnovers, two assists. We’ve got to do a better job with that.
“We’re going to get better offensively, I really believe that. But they’ve got to want to get better defensively. I’m frustrated as all get out with our rebounding. We had 51 - 32, but I don’t know how many second shots. Points off offensive rebounds, that’s the problem, we had all those offensive rebounds but we didn’t finish enough of them.”
On Carolina’s needing to get more aggressive:
“We need to work at it every day. We talk about it. We had a nice long talk with them after the game, probably the longest I’ve ever talked after a game. We’ve got a lot of things we have to work on.
“But we’re off tomorrow. We’ve had four games in six days. And I honestly believe that our legs were dead at times out there tonight. There were two cases where the ball was there, and it looked like our guys were trying to move but didn’t. They say “feet don’t fail me now” but they failed them. But we have tomorrow off. We’ll go Thursday, we’ll probably go twice Friday. We’ll do everything we can to get them to be more aggressive.”
Listen to Audio (5:52)
On setting his second straight career high in scoring:
“Yeah, I’m just doing whatever I can to be able to win. There were times I got the ball and they double teamed me so I had to pass it out. There were other times I got lucky and got to go one on one. So I’m just doing whatever I can.”
On struggling to maintain the lead:
“For one they just hit a lot of shots. They’re a very good shooting team, and our defense wasn’t great at times. We let them be able to step up and hit shots and get confidence. At the end of the game I think we made some plays finally and we were able to pull it out.”
On Coach Williams’s frustration level:
Somewhat, he was a little frustrated just because we were up 20-whatever. We can’t really be able to have that kind of a game against a very, very good team. They’re going to put us down 20 very quickly. So we have to be able to maintain for 40 minutes and play very well for 40 minutes…. We turned the ball over way too much.”
On whether the team had tired legs:
“Maybe a little bit. It’s one of those things where we practice every day, so we’re used to it. But at the same time, games are a little more physical. I did start to feel a little fatigued, but at the same time you’ve just got to continue to play and push through it.”
Listen to Audio (4:44)
On whether there was any celebrating in the locker room:
"Not really. We respect that we’re a better team. But me saying that doesn’t mean we don’t have to go out there and play hard. We’ve got to bring it every game.”
What was the reason for giving up the lead?
“Mental mistakes on defense, turning the ball over. I don’t know how many turnovers we had as a team, but me with five turnovers, Larry with three, Harrison with four, just as a team we didn’t take care of the ball that much. And they were getting great shots.”
What leads to turnovers?
“With me, I was trying to do too much, making silly passes. It was all mental mistakes. It can easily be fixed. The tempo of the game, you’ve got to adjust to it. You’ve just got to go out there and try to have focus.”
Has the game slowed down for you since last year?
“Absolutely. Especially being at the two, not flying down with the ball and going a hundred miles an hour up the court. It’s slowed down a lot. I do have to look to score more that I did last year since I’m obviously playing a different role. But it’s slowed down a lot.”
On Coach Williams’s postgame talk:
”He just talked about the mental mistakes we made, why they cut it close during the end of the game, what we need to do so that it won’t happen again.”
Listen to Audio (4:33)
On needing to slow down:
“I think everyone was ready to go after Puerto Rico, how we finished up there. Everyone was really amped and ready to go. So we just needed to take our breath, slow down, and just play our game.”
On Coach Williams’s halftime demeanor:
“Well, we did two things really bad at the end of the half. We didn’t execute our play, and then we gave them a wide open layup. So that’s probably the worst situation you could have, other than an and-one. So we just have to get better at that and focus at the end of the half.”
On the team’s energy level:
“I don’t know if I’d say we had an energy lull, but I thought we lost focus there for a minute. We weren’t as mentally engaged in the game as we were early in the first half. That caused them to start coming back. So we had to pick it up again later in the second half.”
On balancing aggressive play with smart decision making:
“That’s just something you have to know as a player, to stay within your limitations. You have to play as hard as you can but also play smart. It makes no sense to be as aggressive as possible and then have five fouls. You have to just play smart, do what you need to do, do your job, and do it as hard as you can.”
On his biggest adjustments thus far:
“It’s just a whole different world. It’s a whole different team, a whole different coaching style. Mentally and physically it’s so much more demanding. You have to get used to it, and as I said earlier, you can’t let your highs get too high or your lows get too low.”
On whether he pays attention to outside talk about his play:
“There’s so much going on externally, you can’t be focused on that. You have to stay within yourself, stay within your team, and listen to your coaches.”
Listen to Audio (6:22)
“I really appreciate Roy Williams. He’s played us four times in the last six years. It’s nice that he’s from Asheville and we can come in here and see how we fare against an ACC team, especially one with the prestige of North Carolina…. Coming into here, and watching North Carolina on t.v. a little bit, our guys felt that we could play with them. North Carolina’s a better team than we are.
“But I’m pleased with the game we played tonight. This game is good for us from the standpoint that if we’re fortunate enough to win our league, and that’s one of our goals to make the NCAA, we’ll play a team like North Carolina, like Georgetown, like Ohio State in the NCAAs. Our guys weren’t overly excited before the game. We play these games every year. Our guys are good players. They respond to challenges. We came in here wanting to win this game.”