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March 18, 2018

Billy Kennedy

Tyler Davis

Tonny Trocha-Morelos

Admon Gilder

TJ Starks

DJ Hogg

Charlotte, North Carolina

Texas A&M - 86

North Carolina - 65

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from the Coach and take questions first for the student-athletes.

BILL KENNEDY: Great win. Great team win. Great a performance from everybody. I thought once we slowed them up in transition, our zone gave them some problems. Fortunately they missed some shots. Did a good job of rebounding the ball and taking care of the ball, especially in the first half.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Tonny, specifically, for you, this is your second trip to the Sweet 16 in two years. What does this mean to you as a senior?
TONNY TROCHA-MORELOS: Well, it mean a lot, my senior year, I wanted to do something with the young guys. I mean I did this when I was a sophomore and great feeling. I talked to the freshmen, it's nothing better than winning a game in the NCAA Tournament. So it's really good feeling to keep dancing.

Q. Tyler, how did y'all -- why do you think y'all are so dominant inside and do you think you surprised them with the overall athleticism that y'all had?
TYLER DAVIS: We just stuck to the game plan, played to our strengths. We know we have the advantage on the inside with most teams. We do what we do everyday, go to the war on the inside and eat glass.

Q. Other than statistically speaking, what did you guys have that UNC didn't that gave you this dominant win? Whoever can answer.
TYLER DAVIS: We had a certain togetherness today. We came out there from the jump, I thought -- we didn't have the fastest start, but we were together the whole time. We stuck together and got the W.

Q. Tyler, seeing the way that this team performed on the perimeter, was that something you noted that if you could make them pay beyond the arc that it would end up turning the tide in your favor?
TYLER DAVIS: I can't hear, I'm sorry.

Q. Seeing the way they performed against Lipscomb and Coach Williams noted the other day any team feeling less than confident about their perimeter game, they need to play Carolina and everything opens. Is there something you saw and were able to take advantage of that?
TYLER DAVIS: We knew we would get open looks. I think we took advantage of our opportunities. We did a great job of moving the ball, playing inside out, getting great open looks and knocking them down.

Q. For TJ and Admon, defensively you held them scoreless during a key stretch in the first half, about the middle of the first half, about a 6-minute stretch there where they didn't score the basketball at all and missed 8 field goals in a row. If you could take us through just defensively the intensity out there in that key stretch that allowed you to build that lead?
TJ STARKS: Coach Kennedy, he preached defense. We knew today we was going to play against a great offense team. We knew we was going to have to key in on defense and lock-down, and we knew we wanted to win, we were going to have to shut their players down at least a couple possessions, so that's exactly what we did and we just got the win.

ADMON GILDER: What TJ was saying, Coach Kennedy talked about going into this game, only team that can really beat us is ourself. And then as you see we played our brand of basketball, which we do on everyday basis. And so like DJ got a couple steals early for us, Robert used his size and being able to block shots. That's what we do, force teams to taking tough shots. And give North Carolina credit, they're a great team, but.

Q. I'm asking DJ, can you talk about early in the game Tyler dominated inside and that seemed to open up your game in the perimeter game where really the 3-point shots started falling.
DJ HOGG: Our offense is inside out. We have the two best bigs in the country. They draw double teams. Luckily they got the ball out and around and I was ready to shoot, got it going.

Q. Question for Tyler and DJ, how would you describe the way that upper size and length had an impact on Carolina?
DJ HOGG: Size and length. I think was more effort versus size and length. I mean, because they were big, too, but we just focused on playing harder and playing more together, staying connected. And then our size and length, I guess, gave us an advantage, but I think it was more effort.

TYLER DAVIS: Definitely effort. We have great size, we did have great length. I knew this game, I was going to have to work hard to keep their bigs off the glass. And DJ and Rob and the other guys did a great job of contract the glass, helping me out on the glass.

Q. TJ or Tyler, both you guys, you guys are now the second team to make history in Charlotte. UNC never lost a game in Charlotte prior to tonight. Did you come in -- did know that coming in, or did your Coach talk to you about that and how do you feel to be the second team to make history in Charlotte?
TJ STARKS: I didn't know I was -- this is my first time on a --

Could you repeat the question. My bad.

THE MODERATOR: Carolina never -- in the first round. What is it like being a part of this, beating Carolina for the first time here?

TJ STARKS: It felt good. We was together, like we all said, we were together. We came to play and ready the play from yesterday. We was talking about this our whole life, our whole season, basically, so we was ready for the moment. It is -- it was very challenging because, like I say, North Carolina, they're a great team, play together, got great offensive threats, defensive threats. We came together and got the win.

THE MODERATOR: Historic because it's your first tournament.

Q. Admon, I think that you guys probably expected from the very beginning of the season that you would be a team that was capable of doing this but it wasn't always there. Why do you think the team is what you expected it to be finally now?
ADMON GILDER: Because Coach Kennedy, he's done a great job of keeping us altogether. We've been through so much as a team and he's always preached, you know, staying connected, staying together. And so we got to give him the credit. So he's been a day one, he's always talked to each one of us everyday before practice. He's talked to us some of our leaders that we have today and so he always adds different things, what we can do better as a team. So I can say Coach Kennedy.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Head back to the locker room. Congratulations. Good luck to you. Questions now for Coach Kennedy.

Q. Coach, you had three players with a double-double tonight. You had place touch on the need for comradery, that need to stick together tonight. To have that much on the glass as well as in scoring, what does that say about this team?
BILL KENNEDY: We shared the ball. I think we had 7 or 8, I don't know how many assists we had in the first half. Moved the ball, talked about making one more pass. Our goal was to defend the 3-point line and make them take tough 2s. You block 8 shots, there's a lot of tough 2s. Our game plan worked. They didn't shoot the ball well, we took them out of rhythm, took them out of transition, and fortunately when they did get some open looks at the free throw line in the first half against our zone, they missed some shots and -- that they usually make. And you got to have some of that happen at this time of year to continue to advance on. I don't think they played their best, but I think fortunately we were able to get the win and hopefully we had something to do with that.

Q. That three-game losing streak in February, at that point in the season, how worried were you about the direction of the season? How worried were you about your job, and what did you have to do to get this team to finish strong and play the way it's capable of playing?
BILL KENNEDY: We always worry when you lose as a coach, and you always know your job is in jeopardy when you lose games. And so -- I got tremendous faith and know God has got my back. We never gave up. These guys bought into how we needed to play and bought into some details that we weren't doing in that stretch. And we lost I think 1-point game to Missouri. We lost a couple of close games and really just had one game we didn't play well. But our biggest problem was the beginning of the SEC play when we had two guys with knee injuries, and that's where you want to be your best in the beginning of the conference play, and we weren't our best at that point.

Q. Your zone took them out of their rim rut in the first half, obviously. Did you anticipate that they were going to go into halftime trying to scheme the zone? Because you came out of it and didn't play it in the second half and they just didn't seem to figure that out.
BILL KENNEDY: Well, when they had certain lineups in the game, we wanted to play zone. When they had certain lineups in the game, we played man. Fortunately I think we rattled their confidence being up 14 at half here at home, the pressure goes -- reverts back to them. And when they did trap us, we got a couple of dunks. And when you get layups or make open 3s, we're tough to beat when we make 3s all year. I don't know how many games we've lost when we've made more than eight 3s. I don't know what our record is. You make ten 3s and have the post guys we have, we're tough to beat.

Q. Coach, come out the second half, they got to start well to get back in the game. It felt DJ may have played his best basketball since his suspension. Would you agree with that with everything he was doing?
BILL KENNEDY: DJ Hogg was tremendous. Aggressive on the defensive end. He had blocked shots. He got a steal. He got some deflections. He played like a junior plays in the tournament that's been in a tournament before, and really proud of him because he's been through some tough stretches, too, shooting the ball. But did he some other things to help us win tonight that -- today that were really big.

Q. Billy, I was trying to get something with Admon, but he was pretty much just heaping the praise on you. I don't know if it's the stage or what it is, but why is the team playing its best now? You closed the seasoning losing 4 out of 7.
BILL KENNEDY: We talked about in the beginning of last spring, we struggled last year and we talked about March Madness all year long. And that was our goal, and we came to a point in our season where our backs were against the wall where we knew we had to win games and I really think it changed, our whole attitude changed, and we played with more of a sense of urgency in practice, practice habits got better, and we just got better -- we grew up, you know, like the light came on. We beat Vandy at Vandy, which is a tough task in our league. And from then on our guys have been different. And when we prepare well and we're locked in and we play together, we're as good as advertised.

Q. Billy, about nine minutes or so without Davis really getting going offensively, but during the 15-0 run, I think he scored 9. How critical was that to start feeling the big fella and him to start feeling it offensively?
BILL KENNEDY: His presence, even though we got him the ball, he didn't get some shots up. I thought he -- he was holding it too long and waiting to see how they were going if play him. He went and the got it on the glass. He had some offensive rebounds, some effort plays that really sparked us and sparked him, the effort plays he made. That's what he's done all year. That's why he's First Team all SEC. He's been the leader and the most consistent player on our team all year with his effort and his attitude and his work habits. And that's why you see the success that he's had and why we've had success.

Q. Billy, you know, you have to dismiss one point guard, another one gets hurt, you're essentially down to third string point guard that you had to bench a couple times. Could you have ever envisioned you would be in this position just about a month or so ago?
BILL KENNEDY: You know, I never did doubt, I never gave up because I knew we had talent. We got talent and we got good kids. We got good kids who make mistakes. Unfortunately, they made more mistakes this year than I'd like. They came together when they needed to come together. And I really thought that if we could always make a run because of our talent level and because of the quality of the kids that we have and they grew up. We only have two seniors, and one of them got hurt and is not playing for us. We don't have -- everybody is young, it seems this time of year. Sometimes you can be young and even be old, immature. I think we grew up some throughout the season, throughout the adversity.

Q. Coach, can you talk about how you never let North Carolina make a run to get back in the game? As a matter of fact, you actually increased the lead every four-minute TV timeout segment in the second half and kept crowd out of the game.
BILL KENNEDY: We knew we needed to keep attacking. Sometimes you play back on your heals. We kept attacking and that's the kind of guys we have, we have some -- when -- especially when they're as confident as they are right now, we kept attacking and I thought we moved the ball really good and got a couple layups. When you're making 3s like we made them and we were open. I mean we had good shots. We made the shots today and that bred some confidence and we were able to increase the lead. I was concerned that they double teamed and double fist would give us some problems. I thought our guys did a good job of coming to the ball and making the extra pass.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Congratulations. Good luck.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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