Inside Carolina/Jim Hawkins

UNC-Clemson: Roy Williams Postgame

UNC's head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 89-86 overtime win at Clemson on Tuesday.

Opening comments:
“Needless to say we feel a heck of a lot better than we did on Saturday. That was a heck of a college basketball game, ACC game, it goes right down to the wire. I thought we had some chances to get more than a one-possession lead and we missed a couple of free throws and had a couple of turnovers and Clemson kept coming back. They were really something and (Jaron) Blossomgame starts off the overtime with that jumping hook over his left shoulder which we know is his favorite move and couldn’t stop it. I was really pleased with Joel Berry, except for the turnovers. He had two crucial turnovers that I don’t like, but man oh man did he make some big shots for us. Kennedy (Meeks) was big on the backboards – ten offensive rebounds. The rebound, 51-32, and second-chance points, 23-3. We have more size than they do and I think that was a big factor in the game.

“Both teams made plays. We had them six or eight, then they made some big plays and stormed back and made some big shots. Marcquise (Reed) stepped into a big time three. We were on the line with a 1-and-1 in a three-point game and miss it and he goes down and jumps up and knocks a three in. Then they miss a free throw with five seconds to play and we go down and Joel gets a very tough shot, but it would have been fun for that to go in. Kenny Williams made a big basket for us in overtime, and after Justin (Jackson) missed a 1-and-1 and Kennedy missed the second shot of a two-shot foul, then Kenny stepped up and made two big free throws. Then Kennedy made a big play on the out of bounds play to throw it deep for us.”

Kenny Williams has done some good things for you, but it seemed like in overtime he really asserted himself.
“He missed one right in front of our bench but he made the big one. I think he made the first basket or the second basket of the overtime after (Clemson) had taken the two-point lead. Came up with some loose balls, he has four rebounds, only one on the offensive end, but he did step up and made the two free throws and made it look like he had been there and done that before.”

Considering some of the struggles that Kenny had had recently, how did those two free throws at the end of the game help him?
“You know he’s been struggling a little bit, I think two for his last 17 from three and tonight was 1-3. The one he made was big for us. He was working extremely hard on the defensive end of the floor as well so I was very pleased to have him step up and make the foul shots.

What can you say about the toughness of your team? After Saturday, and then a lot of shots (tonight) didn’t go down and you missed a lot of layups but you still hung in there.
“The shot chart had a ton of them right at the basket. Kennedy’s 10 offensive rebounds, half of them are his own misses from 6-8 inches. I told him that was the only thing I’m not going to get excited about with 10 offensive rebounds, when you’re 5-14. We missed some shots right at the basket. Isaiah couldn’t get it to go down, either. He gets five fouls and we would have liked to have him in there at the end. Brandon (Robinson) and Seventh (Woods) didn’t get as much time tonight as they normally get, Luke (Maye) didn’t get as much time as he normally gets. I kept asking Joel if he was alright – it’s been a long time since I’ve had someone play 41 minutes, but to get 31 points on 19 shots is pretty good.”

What did Brad Brownell talk to you about at the end of the game?
“That was just something between me and Brad. I’ll take care of it.”

Is this the strongest year you’ve seen in the ACC?
“Well I’ve only seen two teams. I haven’t watched a lot of other games because it’s not the team that we’re getting ready to play. But no, I’ve said in the preseason that I thought it was going to be the deepest league there is, and I still believe that. I still believe that it’s the best league in the country, and the deepest. Every game could be just like this one. We laid an egg on Saturday but bounced back tonight. I did like our toughness.”

Is this as talented a Clemson team that you’ve faced in a while?
“I can’t coach Brad’s team. I’m sure he would like another big guy to give him more size around the basket, but they’re hard to guard. Blossomgame is hard to guard, Shelton kept getting in there. He’s made seven threes in his previous nine games and he made three of them tonight. Avry made four. They’re a basketball team that can hurt you in every position. Sidy (Djitte) – eight rebounds tonight, five of them on the offensive end. He’s the best offensive rebounder in our league. They’re a very good team and Marcquise gives them 17 points off the bench. He had 21 or something like that on Saturday in the their win over Wake Forest. Brad will have to tell you that, but they can play at a much faster pace and they have at some times in the past. I’ll tell you one thing: they guard you. They guarded us better than anybody's guarded us all season long. We had so many times it got down to late clock and we didn’t handle that very well, so we have a lot of work to do. Their pressure was very good.”

What kind of emotional lift did Joel’s three-point shooting provide?
“I think at that time he was the only person that was scoring, so it was big for us. When you do that, it shows some toughness because he didn’t play very well on Saturday. He missed a bunch of shots, 3-13. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. He made some big time shots tonight, though, and a big assist early in the overtime period to Kennedy.”

Did you ever think he was out of range?
“Well the one he made right in front of our bench was deep but I’ve seen him shoot from there and I don’t think he shot one any farther than that. It wasn’t any Danny Green heat check kind of thing. I told him, ‘If you want to be a great player you can’t make those turnovers in crucial situations.’ He made some bad choices, but on one of his turnovers he goes down on the defensive end and makes a big-time steal.”

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