“Pretty easy to figure out. Indiana was my 1,000th game as a coach. This one was 1,003 and it’s the luckiest I’ve ever been in 1,003 games. That’s flat out the bottom line truth. We got a good start early in the second half, got some turnovers and got it back and made it a basketball game. And then we made a couple of plays at the end. Brandon [Robinson] got a big tip-in, [Justin] Jackson had a big drive, Nate [Britt] had a big drive. I told Rick [Barnes] I felt like it was the luckiest I’ve been as a head coach in 29 years and 1,003 games.
“In the first half, they shot 66 percent. I challenged our game and I told them after the game last year the ACC was a pretty doggone good league. It had 15 teams that were pretty doggone good and we led the league in defensive field goal percentage, and somebody came into our building and shot 66 percent. The backboards were big for us, 25 points on second-shot opportunities to only nine for them. Tony gave us a huge lift, to say the least. Nate, you look down, seven assists and five steals, that was big, but you don’t want anybody to go 4-for-14. That’s 4-for-22 in his last two games. You’ve got to make some shots if you’re going to shoot the thing that dadgum often. But it was a struggle. Look at that – Justin Jackson, 3-for-15, Nate, 4-for-14. If you don’t think you’re lucky today, man, what a great day to be a Tar Heel.”
Britt made some plays down the stretch. Was that the senior in him coming out?
It was either the senior or the stars and moon finally got aligned, because they weren’t very good for the last 40 minutes on Wednesday night and the first 30 today. But as I said, his steals early in the second half were important and his drives late were important to us… And it’s not that we don’t have Joel [Berry] or Theo [Pinson]. The guy they started at point guard their first game got hurt. He didn’t play and hasn’t played since the third game, so whoever’s wearing the North Carolina uniform has got to play better. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching because I look like I’m talking to a brick wall.”
Do you approach this with your team as doing enough to get a victory?
“No, I approach it like we stunk it up and we made a couple of plays at the end. Brandon made a big-time tip-in. I’ve been begging and pleading all year long to get a three-man to the offensive boards. Justin Jackson, zero rebounds as the three-man, and Brandon Robinson one, and that was a big-time tip-in. We are lucky, period. They played better than we did, but we did make a couple of big plays down the stretch.
“You’ve got to play more intelligent. Why in the world would Kennedy Meeks shoot that ball? My gosh. My grandsons are six and five and I guaran-dadgum-tee you in that situation they wouldn’t shoot the dadgum ball. And then I told him, ‘it’s over with, it’s over with. The dumbest play you’ve ever made in your entire life, but it’s over with.’ Luckily he made one of the free throws.”
Brandon Robinson had a nice couple of drives in the first half where he dished off when you cut into the lead -
“I don’t know what it was, but we made a run right before the half that got it respectable.”
But he seemed to key that on both ends of the court. Is this as well as he’s played?
“After the first time I had him in, and I told the guys, ‘Don’t be begging.’ He made a foul and started making faces. Let’s just play. I told them at halftime the officials didn’t shoot 35 percent and give up 65. But after that first stretch, Brandon played really well. With Kennedy and Isaiah, if you’re not going to give us anything, don’t stay in the lane all day. And so they got out and that gave us the drive for Brandon, a drive for Kenny, a drive for Seventh. You can’t just park in there if you’re not going to do anything. I’m pretty straightforward. What I’m telling you is the same thing I told the guys.”