North Carolina Player Quotes
Nate Britt, Senior, Guard
On struggling for most of the game, but stepping up at the end
“I think it had to do a bit with being a senior. The game was getting closer to the end and we were still losing, so I knew we needed to make some plays and get some stops. I think the early steals of the second half gave us a lift. We got the crowd and our bench into the game, and I think we just went from there to close the gap.”
Kenny Williams, Sophomore, Guard
On improved defense in the second half
“I think our defensive pressure at the beginning of possessions took them out of what they wanted to do, and they weren’t getting those shots in rhythm that they wanted to take when it came down to it. I think we’re pretty good at making adjustments and changing what we’re doing to how the game is being played. I think that showed tonight with our defense in the second half.”
On what he considered to be the turning point of the game
“We just came out with a lot more energy in the second half. We came out and scored six straight points, and we just kept that up. We had some moments where were a little off, but for the most part of the second half, our effort and our energy picked up. We were able to wear them down and keep it close enough to where when we needed the stop, we got them, and then we were able to convert on the offensive end.”
Tony Bradley, Freshman, Forward
On game-saving block
“It happened pretty fast. I just knew I needed help off my man. The point guard was dribbling at me fast and I knew I needed help, so I just put my hand up and the ball hit my hand and I got the rebound. It just happened so fast.”
On worry about fouling on the last block
“To be honest, I really wasn’t worried about it. I just wanted to block the shot. I forgot they were up by one and I could have fouled them and they could have won the game. I just didn’t think about that. I just thought about the block.”
On role during offensive struggle
“My thing is I just try to rebound the ball, defensively and offensively. That is where the baskets come from.”
UNC Head Coach Roy Williams
“This the luckiest I've ever been in 1,003 games. That's the flat-out, bottom-line truth. We got a good start early in the second half, got some turnovers and made it a basketball game. Then we made a couple of plays at the end. Brandon got a big tip in, Justin Jackson had a big drive, Nate had a big drive. I told Rick [Barnes], 'That's the luckiest I've ever been as a head coach in 29 years.'
"In the first half, they shot 66 percent ... The backboards were big for us with 25 on second-shot points compared to nine for them. Tony [Bradley] gave us a huge lift, to say the least. Nate [had] seven assists and five steals but you don't want anybody to go 4 for 14. You've gotta make some shots if you're going to shoot the ball that often. It was a struggle. Look at that, Justin Jackson 3 for 15, Nate Britt 4 for 14 ... if you don't think we're lucky today, man ... what a great day to be a Tar Heel."
On the crowd
“I’ve been complaining about our crowds, but today the Smith Center crowd was 100 times better than the head coach and I appreciate that.”
Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes
“Really, my initial thoughts are what I told our team. I don’t buy into college basketball being young. We’ve lost three games now to three teams that were in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four, and we’re in this game to win. We told our team at halftime, if we’re going to win the game, we’re going to have to do it by rebounding the ball, and we didn’t do it. Carolina just played volleyball with it. We had one thing on our scout report about [Tony] Bradley. What he does is go get the ball, and he had a double double in twenty minutes. He came in the game knowing and he’s very good at going to do it. We didn’t rebound. Like I told our guys, being close is not good enough. I’m just disappointed that the last play of the game, we didn’t execute. We had exactly what we wanted. We had the ball on a running start. Why we crossed over and just threw up a shot, that you don’t want, in that situation you attack the rim, somebody is going to be open. We’ve got four different outlets there, and we took probably the worst shot we could take. Go back before that, when we had to get a defensive stop, we didn’t, and they got a couple easy things. Again, I love my team. I think there are a lot of things that we can do, but again, like I told them, it’s easy to go into the locker room and say ‘we did this, we did that,’ but the fact is we came in to win and we didn’t. I don’t want them to feel good about being close in games. We’ve got to figure out a way to get over the hump. We’ve got to break through, and that’s what they haven’t done yet against an opponent that we’re probably not supposed to beat. It’s a mindset, and again, coming down the stretch we didn’t do what we needed to do to make winning plays."
On losing the lead at the end
“Well, you know, they’re going to rebound it. The way the game ended. I think they missed a free throw again and came up with it. They batted the ball there, and we had a chance. They got twenty-two offensive rebounds. I would like to play for North Carolina knowing if I shot and missed it my teammates are going to get it, today, probably fifty percent of the time. That gives you a lot of confidence as a shooter. I think that’s why they’re a tough team to guard because Roy’s [Williams] teams have always been a terrific rebounding team, and we couldn’t match it. They kicked us on the board today, and our point guard play hurt us at the start of the second half when we had the lead and we came out. Not sure what we were trying to get done other than we didn’t get in our offense, but we fought back. We’ve got a group of guys where we’ve been down big to start games, and these guys haven’t flinched that way. When we guarded, we did some things defensively, but when we needed to we didn’t get it done.”
On Robert Hubbs II mismatch for three point shots
“That was a point in the game where we needed to get to [Robert Hubbs II] and he cramped up there a little bit and he had to come out. I could tell he was tired looking at him, and when he gets tired, he plays straight up. Lost the ball doing some things, I’m not sure what he was thinking as opposed to getting the ball out of his hands. He and Fulky [John Fulkerson], and I’m sitting here talking about those guys on the frontline, but the fact is they’re not that tall, and I’m asking them to do a lot. I’ve seen them do it and I expect them to do it, and they have to understand that we have to get better."