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EXTRA ZELLER AUDIO
EXTRA STRICKLAND AUDIO
"Well, we congratulate Kentucky. Congratulate John and his staff and the players. If you didn't really care who won the game, it had to be a game you enjoyed watching if you love basketball. And I couldn't be more proud of my team than I am. And John's got a wonderful bunch out there cutting down the nets right now and I would like it to be my team, but it's not. But I wouldn't trade my kids for anybody. It's been an unbelievable ride and they've been an unbelievable group of kids. And they really made coaching fun. And we've had some adversity and they just kept together and kept coming back, just like they did today. And it was a wonderful, wonderful time for us.
"You know, we get it tied and Brandon makes a huge three right in front of their bench. And then I think, and I am not positive about this, I think we got it back to one and one of the players, I don't know who, made a big-time block on Kendall's drive when it was a one-point game and I think that was the only time we had the ball with a chance to go ahead.
"But you just have to congratulate them. They shot it extremely well, 12-22 from three-point line. And their entire team coming in today shooting 39.6 percent from three-point line, and we knew that but they still made shots. And you have to congratulate them."
On Strickland's performance:
"I just thought it was a fantastic, fantastic performance by Dexter. Brandon is hard to guard. He was the focal point of their offense. For Dexter to do that for 37 minutes is about as tough a challenge as I've ever had any guard. And I don't know I ever had anybody do a better job than Dexter did today. And everybody wants guys to shoot the ball and score points and all that kind of stuff. And Dexter made his decision that he was going to be a big-time defender for this team, and that's what is great about this team. Because they did care about the name on the front. And I can't imagine anybody playing any better defense on a really, really good player than what Dexter did today."
Is your knee hurt from that collision? You looked like you were lumping coming up the stairs there.
"I am an old man, that's what it boils down to. It hurt, Brandon came into my knee and it sort of hyper-extended a little bit but right now it does not hurt. It bothers me a little bit I guess, but no one knows your body like yourself, I am fine. I really am. It hurt like crazy when he first hit it and it was probably because the referee called a foul on him as much as it was him hitting my knee. "
As many times as this team came back and won games like this this season, do you think there's a possibility that maybe they took it for granted, that they would come back and win it when they tied this you?
"No. We didn't come back and beat Duke in the ACC Tournament finals. I think they have confidence that they can come back, but I don't think they have confidence that says that they're going to come back and win the game. They realize they have to work at it. They realize they have to do it. I don't think that confidence makes them take things lightly during the first half of the game, I really don't believe that. I think anybody that would write that would be completely wrong. Give the other team credit. As I said their, offense beat our defense. Their defense beat our offense. We did make a nice comeback but I don't think that our guys were overconfident that we don't care what happens now, we're going to get you later. I really don't believe that."
Tyler, obviously this is disappointing for you, but what was going on out there? Coach said you were down, you tied it, got within a point after they had taken the lead, was it too much of them or just shots not going down?
"A little of both. You have to give them credit. The shot Brandon hit, I still picture it in my mind. I think Dexter was guarding him. A fantastic job, had a hand in his face. It was a very tough shot and he knocked it down. You have to give him credit. And I mean, Dex did a great job all night shadowing him, chasing him around. And I mean, he still made shots. I think you just have to give them credit."
Could you just give me a sense of how much energy it takes to be constantly trying to catch up, get close and then to have them make a big shot?
"It takes a tremendous amount. It is something we work on all the time as far as we will be down six or eight or something like that in practice, and then we have to make a comeback. And I mean we've worked on it. We've done it. I mean you have to give Brandon credit again for making that huge three because we had a lot of momentum at that time and it was just a momentum-buster there."
Dexter, I know it's over now, but what did it mean to you to come home, play in front of your family and friends and really step up the way you did tonight?
"It was a great feeling just coming home. Just seeing my family and friends and playing in front of them. It was a great feeling. I felt comfortable and unfortunately we lost, but I had a great time being here in my home state."
Aside from limiting his touches, what else was the game plan as far as taking Brandon Knight out of his game?
"Well, the scouting report, we know he likes to go right. So I felt if I forced him left, he would pull up for the jump shot. And you know the jump shot is better than driving to the rack and getting the lay-up. That's what we tried to do. We tried to have better supportive defense, you know. Leslie or Kendall just being there on the drive, just guys rotating in the right position. You know, we could have did a better job, but we have to get better at it."
On his drive with UNC down one in the closing minutes:
"I drove the lane and I tried to take it, but he made a good defensive play and came up with a big block."
On if UNC was comfortable despite trailing most of the game:
"You don't want to be behind in any game. You want to be up. I'd trade any of those past wins for this one. We hate to lose that way, because we definitely didn't play the way we wanted to."
On his future:
"That's not really something I'm thinking about. Just having my last two seasons end with championships... The last time I felt like this was my sophomore year. That's the only thing on my mind right now."
Did you feel like it was your responsibility to carry the team down the stretch?
"Yes. 'Z' had done his part and everyone was chipping in. From my perspective, I hadn't done my job so I just tried to provide that boost and unfortunately it wasn't enough to put our team over the edge at the end of the season."
Did you have the feeling that this team was going to pull out another close game?
"Yeah. For the last three months of the season, when it was close, it seemed like our shots went in. Tonight they didn't go in. It was rough for us, but that's March Madness. That's the tournament for you. You've got to be a good team, but you've also got to be lucky and we weren't lucky today."
On his foul trouble:
"It hurts. You feel like you've let your team down. You couldn't do all you could do to help and that's the worst feeling to come out of the last game."
JOHN CALIPARI & PLAYERS
"The resiliency this team showed was unbelievable. It got late, they tied it up, and we didn't back away. There were a couple of times I thought about calling time-outs and I did not want my guys to think that I didn't believe in them. I wanted them to play through it. It was just a great fight, dogfight kind of game. And North Carolina does what they do and did not go away and made plays and tied it up. And it ends up being a great college basketball game."
North Carolina likes to run out and get a lot of easy baskets. There wasn't much of that today. Can you talk about how you guys were able to cut that off.
"Well, it's hard on a quick turn like this, and we played and we were up until three in the morning. So you couldn't work on it, you can only talk about it. And we could dummy it. What we were trying to do is make sure Terrence and Josh went to offensive rebound. And two others would sprint back beyond half court.
"And DeAndre was going to pick up the ball to try to slow down Marshall, because if Marshall had his way I thought it would be a problem. That was our plan. Did it work? Some. They still got it over the top and got some baskets and drove me crazy, you know, but they go on runs doing that stuff. And I would tell you they still scored 10, 12 points doing it, but it wasn't 20, 25."
Can you talk about your decision to put DeAndre Liggins on Marshall and why right from the start.
"Because I think he's changed their team and I think he's a terrific basketball player. And I thought that DeAndre could stunt off of him and stunt and dig into the post. And just try to bother him. Now I don't know if it did, but that was the plan. But we were ready to say, if Harrison Barnes goes nuts, we would move DeAndre on him and Harrison early in the game did get after us a little bit, but we stayed with it the whole game."