RALEIGH---- North Carolina head coach Roy Williams expressed relief and gratitude for his team's hard-fought 77-63 victory Tuesday night over N.C. State in the RBC Center, while N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe seemed frustrated with his team's lack of aggression and its missed opportunities.
"Needless to say we feel a heck of a lot better than we've been feeling these last few games. Right before the half we were up eight or nine and they (NCSU) made their last three three-pointers of the first half, and all of a sudden now it gets down to a four-point game at halftime."
"I thought we would come out and play well early in the second half. We had a wide-open three with Marcus (Ginyard) in the corner and Larry (Drew II) from the left wing. Deon (Thompson) had a 10-footer. We didn't make them and then they (NCSU) made some and they made a couple of three's and it's a five-point advantage their way (43-38)."
"I was really mad at that point and called a timeout at a stupid time since we were getting a lay-up, but I was really frustrated with the way we guarded and wanted to challenge them a little bit more defensively, and then we go on a great run---it was 16-2 after they took a five-point lead---and then we were fortunate."
"We got some misses from them. They had some open shots that they missed and we kept scoring down the stretch, and it was something that we haven't been doing lately---we've been turning the ball over and missing shots---and tonight we had 10 turnovers for the game, which is I think either our lowest or second-lowest of the year."
"It was one of those fortunate nights for us that we had some shots go in and didn't go in for them, and some really quirky things."
"There's three seconds on the shot clock and we're signaling a 'man to man' defense, and then they decide to reset the shot clock and it got reset just a little bit late, and I think it was (Javier) Gonzalez, a youngster that thought it was still three (seconds), and he took three seconds and took a quick three and missed it, so we did have lucky things that happened to us as well. We feel as lucky as we can be."
"I do like shooting 57.7 percent in the second half, and again, we were very fortunate that they didn't shoot it as well as we've seen them shoot it in other games."
"I think a couple of things that was big for us was John Henson and Dexter Strickland. They came in the game---I thought Will (Graves) was getting a little tired---and I brought in John, and John had some blocked shots that I thought were important for us. Then Dexter took over after Larry got his third foul and those guys were really big for us."
"John only played seven minutes, but I thought it was a big seven minutes---let's put it that way. It was during that stretch when they (NCSU) weren't scoring and he was blocking some shots. I don't know that I would say he was more comfortable offensively, but I know he was effective defensively and I think that had to help him in every way."
"He (Henson) got the ball and dribbled sideways still like he does a lot, but he did take it to the basket with that funky little 'scoop' shot kind of deal. I told him if it had been me with that I would have dunked the dadgum thing, but you know, I'm still 59 years old and dream about dunking it."
"I've told Dexter I love him and to go as fast as he can 'top of the key' to 'top of the key' and then he's got to get it under control, and that 'getting it under control' part is not quite in his game yet."
Thoughts about the timeout called when N.C. State was leading 43-38---the Tar Heels went on a 28-6 run from that point:
"We made a silly mistake---it was the reason I called a timeout. We've got two guys guarding one guy underneath the basket and letting the three-point shooter shoot and getting out there with nobody guarding him. We'd had two straight possessions defensively that we hadn't done what we wanted to do."
"The second one is Larry didn't box out Gonzales. The point guard has got to box out, because his player a lot of times is going back as defensive balance. We had two straight defensive errors---one to give them a three, and the other one to give Gonzalez the offensive rebound ---and that's the reason why I was mad."
"I just wanted to make them (the UNC players) mad at me or something. I yelled at them for a little bit---if they were going to get mad at me maybe they were going to go ahead and focus on playing the game."
"You know, when I called the timeout I think Deon was about to lay it up. I don't even know if we scored on the possession after the timeout, but it (UNC's rally) wasn't because of the timeout. It was because the kids played better."
Thoughts about the way the Tar Heels played in the second half:
"I thought really other than the first three minutes we played pretty well the whole second half. We had a shot clock violation, Ed (Davis) pushed off (for an offensive foul)---a couple of crazy little things like that. Dexter dribbles it off his foot and hits a State player and then it hits Marcus's foot and it goes out of bounds."
"With about 13 minutes on the game clock before the game started I went out and talked to him (Davis) at that point. He had already lobbied a great deal for it this afternoon at the shoot-around and I told him I still wanted to watch him warm up and see how it felt at that time."
"I told him he's got to be over 90 percent or I wasn't going to play him. Saturday and Sunday he did about 20 percent of practice, and during that time period he wasn't very effective. And so today at the shoot-around I said, 'Can you play better than you did Saturday and Sunday---because that wasn't very good.'"
"I said, 'How's it feel compared to that?' and he (Davis) said, 'The difference of night and day.'"
"Chris Hirth, our trainer, they've been spending two and three hours together the last three or four days even outside of practice, so he's done a nice job with the rehab."
How can a road win against N.C. State provide this young UNC team a spark?
"I hope it gives them a little confidence playing a very good North Carolina State team. I think that they have a really great mix of outside scoring and Tracy (Smith) inside that's really tough for the other teams to guard. Again, we found a night where they (NCSU) didn't make as many of their outside shots."
"You hope it's a big boost. You go back to Charleston---we're 11 points up with four minutes to play and we didn't make plays and they were in key situations there---but the whole season, it's a journey, and each and every day you've got an opportunity to learn something each day. You've got opportunities to do successful things or fail. And you've got to hopefully do the right things, and if you do and benefit and get positive results, then that really does help you."
How did the practices leading up to this game help provide UNC with a greater 'sense of urgency'?
"We got that Saturday and Sunday in practice. We went a long time Saturday and Sunday. We tried to make it as competitive as it can be, and I wasn't very nice to them, and they answered---they really did."
"(Monday's) practice wasn't quite as good as Saturday and Sunday---I got on them a good bit after practice (Monday)---but I think the toughness was there. We were better defensively. Everybody understands it looks so much better when the ball goes in, and we made some shots, too."
Were there efforts made to slow down the tempo given recent struggles playing as fast as UNC is typically used to playing?
"Larry pitched ahead once to Dexter in the first half, and then in the second half we were getting turnovers and we really were trying to run it, but we're not very efficient in turnovers. Dexter had I think two turnovers on a fast break when we've got numbers."
"The intention was not to throttle it (the game's tempo) back. The intention was to get a great shot every time, and if we didn't have it on the break, let's do a better job with our movement, a better job with our screens, and a better job with our spacing."