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March 7, 2018

Roy Williams

Kenny Williams

Theo Pinson

New York, New York

North Carolina - 78, Syracuse - 59

ROY WILLIAMS: Well, we're trying to get out of here, so I'll be quick as I can. Feel very good about it. We played exceptionally well at times and didn't play with our brain at times. But I thought defensively it was one of our better games of the year, if not the best game of the year.

Second half, we hit a bad stretch in there. We missed free throws, turned it over, took a couple of bad shots, and they made a run at us, and they did the same thing at Syracuse. Those three guys are really, really hard to guard out there.

Second half I think we did a better job of guarding the three or perhaps they were even tired, but who knows; we're still playing.

Q. Roy, two questions: Were you trying to rip your jacket? And two, after the last two games, did you guys need a win like this?
ROY WILLIAMS: I'll answer the second one first. I don't know if we needed it. I really wanted us to maintain the lead so I didn't have to play Joel and Theo and those guys as many minutes as I did tonight. That was the one thing I wanted. And yes, in the locker room, in case you guys want to find out, I'll tell you individually. I talked to the guys about how to rip a jacket in half, and how I did not do it properly. I started around the collar where it's folded over so the material is twice as strong. If you really want to rip a jacket in half, start at the back at the bottom where it's already split. Now you learn something. If you've covered me for 30 years, it may be something I really thought you, so don't forget.

Q. Theo, what were you doing to get so many good looks around the rim?
THEO PINSON: Getting me the ball (laughter). No. Like Coach said yesterday in practice, we're such an unselfish team. He doesn't really have to worry about us moving the ball. You can see I think it was multiple times tonight where guys had shots but they were looking for their teammates, so that's one thing that's good about -- since I've been here, we've always been good at passing the ball. We love playing with each other and we want to get each other going. We really don't run into that problem.

Q. Roy, had you tried to rip your jacket before, like why were you doing that -- was it Cam's shot? Was it the shot selection? What was the --
ROY WILLIAMS: No, I've never tried to rip one. It's embarrassing to try the sucker and can't do it. I thought I was stronger than that to be honest with you, but I do believe it's harder to do up there. At halftime we spent quite a bit of time talking about we should have had the last shot of the half. I may get the math wrong now, but I think we were up 11. If we get the last shot of the half, it's still 11 even if it doesn't go in. But instead we get an offensive rebound and decide we're going to attack the basket, and we missed the shot, and Sterling gets it and dunks it. So what do they do, they go down and get three so we lost, three points to two. I've said that forever -- I swear to goodness, guys, I have looked, it is not in the constitution of the United States that just because you get an offensive rebound means you get to shoot.

And so my answer to you is just about as dadgum long as we talked about it at halftime. So some guy who's the best play maker, maybe the best play maker I've ever coached gets an offensive rebound late in the second half, and he thought it says in the constitution of the United States that he had the right to shoot the ball. Not one to point fingers at anybody, so he shot it, he said he saw a sliver of light there, and shot it and missed it. We could have run another 25 seconds because you've got to play the clock any other team, but late game situations we've got to be smarter than that.

I told him I was trying to rip my jacket because I couldn't put my hands on him.

THEO PINSON: I thought all-ACC honorable mention gave me a little leeway on that.

ROY WILLIAMS: I told him he was high honorable mention, like the Olympics. I don't love anybody more than I love that boy, but I'm telling you, at that moment, me and his mama both wanted to strangle him.

Q. Theo, what made you so effective in getting Syracuse's front court into foul trouble today?
THEO PINSON: Attacking them. They contest every shot that goes to the rim, so every point we could get in the middle I wanted to put pressure on them to make a good play and keep attacking, and we got the call, so it was good on our part to get the -- I mean, it helped us. Having No. 13 at the game was huge for us, so I think that was a big part in the game.

Q. Kenny, is foul trouble something you can try to game plan to force on the other team, or is that something you just kind of get and roll with if you are able to?
KENNY WILLIAMS: I think that's part of why Coach wants us to get the ball inside so much, to get the other bigs in foul trouble, and I think we did a good job of that tonight, Theo, Luke, a couple guys got them in foul trouble early, and they weren't able to be effective.

Q. Kenny, obviously it's March, but was there a little extra motivation or maybe energy out of you guys with this game considering the way your season ended, the regular season?
KENNY WILLIAMS: We knew we had to come in and take care of business. We never talk about, oh, we lost two in a row, we've got to get this one. But we know it's March, it's tournament time, and after the last game we were saying it's go time. I think everybody had an extra pep in their step tonight.

Q. Roy, tough game for you and everybody at Carolina with Woody passing away. Any thoughts about that, and how much did that kind of affect maybe giving some extra inspiration or anything like that?
ROY WILLIAMS: Well, I'm not belittling this: Woody Durham was a great friend. He was a legend, but it had nothing to do with my game preparation. I coached two different times in my career with Dean Smith on the other sideline and never thought about him one second. He would have been extremely disappointed if I had thought about him.

Tonight the same thing; if I had been thinking anything about Woody, he would have been extremely disappointed. It was our job to try to coach our kids, and it was the coach's job to go out and play. I think we did a nice job. Eric Hoots' idea, I think, I know he's the one that brought it to me about putting Woody's name on the back of our shooting shirt. It was a sad day for all of us because I lost a friend, but we lost a guy who's a legend in North Carolina basketball.

But you've got to understand, nobody on my team ever worked with Woody. It's something like that. I loved him to death, love his family, went over to tell Wes something before the game, but it had nothing to do with the game. Woody himself would have been extremely disappointed if I said something different.

Q. Kenny, Battle hit a couple big shots early, but after that you guys were able to lock down on their perimeter players. Why were you so successful defensively against them?
KENNY WILLIAMS: We knew we had to lock down on them. We knew Battle, Brissett and Howard took the majority of their shots, so we knew -- and we knew that they played a good game against us up at Syracuse. We just had to lock in. And yeah, he got a couple early, and I had to step it up a little bit after that.

ROY WILLIAMS: And just understand, too, they play a lot of minutes. You've got to appreciate what in the heck they've done all year long, and they played a lot of minutes yesterday, as well. I do think our defensive play was better today than it had been in a long time, but those guys were -- they've been unbelievable for Jimmy and his club, and hopefully Sunday afternoon they'll be rewarded for it.

Q. Along the same lines, it seemed like Syracuse had some trouble scoring in the paint, getting to the free-throw line. What about your defense kept them from being effective from underneath the rim?
ROY WILLIAMS: Well, you look at their scoring all year long, 76 percent of their scoring comes from those three guys. They're not going to get in the tournament and change who they are. The big guys, 13, I think, is a magnificent shot blocker. It was important for us to get him in foul trouble. But he's not the offensive player those other guys are, and they got here, they won 20 or 21 games because those guys did a great job. You realize where your strengths are and let those guys take most of the shots, so that's who they are. I don't think our defense had anything to do with that kind of focus. That's just who they are.

Q. Looking ahead at Miami, I know you said that you thought that your team had one of the best defensive efforts this game; what are you guys looking to do? You lost a buzzer beater last time. What kind of momentum are you looking to take into this game?
ROY WILLIAMS: I used to say I wanted to enjoy one victory until 12:00 midnight. What time is it now?

Q. 12:02.
ROY WILLIAMS: So I guess we can't even enjoy the hell out of it for two minutes.

Miami played a big time game against us. We couldn't stop them. Ja'Quan made 10 or 12 of their last 13 or 14 points. We remember that. They remember that. But we have to play better tomorrow.

You know, we're up here in New York, and I will say this: I'm not as strong as Jimmy was. Jimmy said they shouldn't be in Greensboro, but think about this: The ACC goes from South Bend, Indiana, to Boston to Miami. Why can't we find someplace warm to play this sucker? Thank you, guys. I'm outta here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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