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March 7, 2018

Tyus Battle

Jim Boeheim

Frank Howard

New York, New York

North Carolina - 78, Syracuse - 59

JIM BOEHEIM: You know, I thought that we -- we have trouble -- Carolina has really played good defense against us in the two games. I thought in Syracuse we handled it a little bit better. But I thought their defense was really good half court, and we just really couldn't get any penetration against them. You know, we had some opportunities -- this team has fought as hard as any team I've ever coached. I think there was a time there where with 10 minutes to go, we were down about 18 or 19, they just dug in and got it all the way back to nine, and they fought as hard as you can ask a team. We're a little limited. Obviously seven guys, it's tough to play as many games as we've had to play in the last really two weeks. But very proud of what they've done. They've really worked hard through it.

I thought we had some opportunities, and when it got back, we had a couple pretty good looks. When we got it to nine, we just didn't capitalize. These guys fought as hard as you could ask them to fight, and I'm very proud of this team.

Q. Jim, do you think this is a tournament team? Have they earned a bid?
JIM BOEHEIM: Every coach in the country thinks this team is a tournament team. Anybody that's anywhere near -- as I said yesterday, we've got the best strength of schedule we've had in years. I think 15, 20, something like that, both non-conference and conference. Our RPI was, what, 42 going into today. With that RPI and that strength of schedule, that's pretty good.

Last year we didn't win road games. We won at Miami, won at Louisville, won four or five road games. It'll be close. I mean, there's a lot of teams. It just depends what the committee decides, how they decide things. There's a whole group of teams that -- some that's almost a coin flip.

This team I think has played very well. I think we're competitive with anybody. We'll see what they decide.

Q. Frank and Tyus, how difficult was it to get to the rim tonight?
FRANK HOWARD: They did a great job of flooding the paint and staying in front of us. You know, they're a great defensive team. They play the ball screen very well, and yeah, just made it difficult for us.

TYUS BATTLE: Just like Frank said, they played the ball screen well. They made it tough getting to the basket. They were setting us up trying to take charges and stuff like that, so they played us well.

Q. Obviously a four-day stretch before Selection Sunday. What do you plan to do over the next four days, and where will you be watching?
JIM BOEHEIM: We practice and watch it in the practice facility on Sunday, but we'll take a couple days and do some stuff Friday or Saturday and Sunday and see what happens. We're going to play next week. We'll be ready.

Q. Jim, despite the injuries and departures as a young team, what do you think allowed you to be in play for a tournament spot this year?
JIM BOEHEIM: Like I said at the beginning, this team is -- has really battled all year. We had a stretch, we lost some games and we had to go to Louisville, which was obviously a tough place to play and a very good basketball team, and we won there. And then we had another stretch that we went to Miami, and we were able to get a win there. You know, we played North Carolina, North Carolina State, tie game played. We couldn't make a play. But we had those opportunities, and we had a couple other opportunities early in the year. But these guys have hung in there. It's very -- you can play 40 minutes but not when you play Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Wednesday. That's just too much. We've had the last part -- just not enough rest days in between. It's not just the 40 minutes, but when you're -- when you have to make plays off the dribble, which we really have to do, it takes an extra toll on you.

But like I said, these guys, considering everything, I think they've done everything we could ask them to do. I can't fault anything that this group has done.

Q. Jim, Oshae didn't seem to have his best yesterday, passed up some open threes, and tonight he made five. Was there anything you saw that played into that?
JIM BOEHEIM: No, he shot the ball from the three-point line the last half, three quarters of the year. He's our best three-point shooters. He started out slow, but he shot it well. He kept us in there a little bit tonight with it, but he's had a great freshman year.

At the end of the day, we're playing four freshmen and a front line and one junior who has never played a whole season. So to do what they've done, the front-line guys, I just can't say enough about what they've done this year, how they've played, how they've competed. And then these two guys -- you can play a lot of minutes, but you need a little bit of a break. The problem with playing a lot of minutes the way we're playing is that these guys have to really do it off the dribble. We just don't have a post game. We've got four perimeter guys and a big guy that's getting better defensively, but he's not a factor on the offensive end.

But I think that both our big guys are getting better. Bourama has been hurt. His knee is bothering him. When he gets going, he's a good player. I think he can get his knee fixed pretty easily. It's not a big fix. And I think he'll be fully healthy next year, and we'll have a couple guys that come in that give us some depth that we need.

You know, when you're coaching a team and you have six guys, you say during the year that's enough, but you're never going to -- I'm never going to say, well, we don't have enough, or I'm never going to say these guys can't play 40 minutes, because for us to get where we are now, three guys had to play 40 minutes every game.

Q. Jim, what made North Carolina so effective inside today, and how did you try to counter that?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, they're very good inside. They're a very good passing team. They've got guys that can finish around the basket. We've guarded them pretty well on the three-point line in the two games. We just haven't been able to do anything inside. Paschal getting in foul trouble is not a good thing. That's just the way the game went.

The first play was a bad start. I thought we got a good block, and it was a foul. But him out is not good for our inside defense. You know, some of that's just learning -- he's learning the game.

But our front-line guys, you know, they're playing against guys that won the National Championship, guys that are very smart players, interior passers, and very good offensive players.

But in this game we had to be able to score more than we did, and we weren't able to do that. You have to give Carolina credit for that, as well.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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