“You just have to congratulate Tony and I told him that at the end of the game. I thought his club in the second half was really good. They were better than we were offensively. They were better than we were defensively. They were more alert, more aggressive.
“We had a little bit of a run the first couple of minutes of the second half. We had great movement at that time. We had four different guys at least score. After that, we didn’t get very good movement. We didn’t set the screens the way we wanted to set them, didn’t use them the way we wanted to use them. We missed some good shots, but at the same time, our defense was breaking down on the other end.
“But again, give Virginia credit. They shot 52 percent the second half. We’re trying to focus and see if we can do a good job on Joe (Harris). Joe was really good. I thought Jontel (Evans) coming in was big for them, too. Six assists, three turnovers – I think he had two or three of those turnovers in the first half. I thought in the second half that Jontel was really big for them. We couldn’t stop him from getting to the basket.
“We didn’t do the things that we wanted to do. Give Virginia credit. They did the things that they wanted to do, and they dominated both ends of the court in the second half. Right before the half, we had a one-point lead or a three-point lead and on three straight possessions, we make bad decisions. It would have been nice to have a six- or seven-point lead at the half, but we didn’t play well the last couple of minutes of the first half. The first two minutes of the second half we were good and then the last 18 minutes we were not very good.”
Was Jontel Evans more aggressive than you expected?
“No, it’s what we’ve seen every year we’ve played them. I haven’t been here for the games that he hasn’t played or the games that he’s been injured a little bit. He takes the ball to the basket. He creates plays for other people. He’s a penetrator. That’s what he does and he did a nice job of it. It’s hard to simulate his quickness in practice. We felt like he would probably play, but again, I think he had maybe three turnovers in the first half and he ended up 6:3, so to go 6:0 in the second half, that’s pretty impressive.”
You forced nine turnovers in the first half and only two in the second half. What changed?
“Jontel. The guy goes 6:0 in the second half. That’s pretty good. He dominated the ball. And they had better spacing. We didn’t play very intelligently. We come down and we guard a guy in the corner who is not a shooter and don’t pick up a guy on the wing who is a shooter and he shoots a three and makes it. And the guy in the corner, we say he’s a penetrator, and the guy comes up right in front of their bench and we say he’s a 3-pointer shooter, but we stay locked in on the guy in the corner, who’s not a shooter. But Jontel’s good. And Joe was good.
“Again, give them credit. We didn’t do the things we wanted to do by any means. We didn’t play the way we wanted to play. Take away Reggie’s baskets and I think everyone else was 1-for-11 from the 3-point line. We’ve got to have better balance than that. We’ve got to get more scoring inside. Nine-12 assist-error ratio for a team that’s one of the top-10 teams in the country in assists is not very good.”
When your team went up eight in the second half, did you sense anything that led to the letdown?
“Well, the very first possession after that we give up a wide open three, just silliness. You can’t say your young anymore. We’ve played 14 games. I know this is the first ACC game, but… Joe comes off a screen and there’s nobody there and just pulls up and shoots the three wide open. So for us, it was more of a breakdown on both ends of the court.”
Were there sequences when screens were supposed to be set and they just weren’t?
“Forty minutes. I’m being serious. I thought it was the worst game we’ve had in setting great screens and using screens.”
But was there a specific sequence of possessions where it didn’t happen?
“I’d say again for 40 minutes. Think about the shots that Reggie made. Those were pretty tough shots. Think about it. For forty minutes we didn’t screen the way we wanted to screen. We had a set play where we set a screen and they just busted right through it. We have a set screen and we come down and get P.J. at the top and he didn’t set his man up and he just came running right through it. Forty minutes.”
Your team played with a lot of energy against UNLV.
“More than we did today, for sure.”
What was missing?
“ACC basketball, on the road, all of those are good excuses, but we just didn’t freakin’ play.”