UNC-NCSU: Roy Williams Postgame

UNC's head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 97-73 win over N.C. State on Wednesday.

Opening comments:
“Well, we feel really good right now, to say the least. It’s one of those kinds of things where we thought we would have an advantage inside and we wanted to make that an important part of the game like we’ve tried to do all season. We haven’t done it sometimes, but points in the paint, 60-22, was huge, and 41 rebounds to 25, 27 second-chance points to their 13. We got off to a good start. The lead was in double figures and then they cut it back to six. We made a nice run and got the three right before the half and then got a stop. We came out in the second half and I think scored on three of our first four possessions. By then the margin was pretty difficult for them. I feel for them; they’re going through some tough times right now, but my job is to try to win and do what’s best for North Carolina. Got to feel good about that.

“I thought Dennis [Smith] was a key in the first half. We had a difficult time with him. The second half we were a little better or he just didn’t play as well. But five guys in double figures and shooting 56 percent for the game and that rebound margin and not turning the ball over. In the first half, we had four turnovers and every one of them was a silly turnover. There was no need to turn the ball over like that. In the second half, we had a few more, but I like 19:11 [assist-turnover ratio] for us and I like 11:17 for them. If you look at the stats, you can pick anything, but I think us being able to get the ball inside and score and rebound inside was the biggest factor.”

Luke Maye scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. What did you like about his play?
“Luke was big. I didn’t really intend to play Isaiah as limited minutes as I did, but he called that shot by getting in foul trouble. The fourth one was just a silly foul. The first two fouls he partially blocked a shot and followed through and got fouls, but the fourth one was a silly foul. Maybe he needed some more rest, but he didn’t tell me that before the game. I’d like to have Isaiah in the game more, but Luke really did some good things for us. I think he made one three. The last one he shot I didn’t want him shooting it at all. I didn’t think it was very intelligent, but still, 13 points, 6-for-11, played 23 minutes. Yes, he did some good things for us.”

Did you expect more of a fight coming over here?
“I never make up my mind what the other team is going to do. I’m just trying to play as hard as we can play. You guys asked me every question the other day at the press conference about them. I just try to control our team. I thought the crowd would be really excited. I thought their team would be really excited, but we played well early and took the crowd out of it. I think that was a key part of it, also. We made some shots, too, early. I don’t know what we shot at half – 52 percent in the first half and 60 in the second half – and I think that little run right before the half was good for us, too, because they had gotten it down to six at one time and it was 14.”

Any idea as to the severity of Kenny’s knee injury?
"Yeah, he’s got a right knee injury. He'll have surgery early next week and he's probably out for the season, unless we play until June. If we find someway to keep playing until June, he’ll probably be back.”

Can you describe what happened. Was it in practice?
“He hurt his knee. It's a crazy thing. It's not an ACL or anything like that. It's 4-to-6 weeks, but when you look at 4-to-6 weeks at this point in the year, it's basically the end of the season."

What did you think about Maye’s defense today?
“It was a little bit of a difficult matchup. They went small, and Isaiah was in foul trouble, and they were still small when Luke went in. I thought he did a good job. I thought he could have come up with a couple of loose balls. He kept trying to dribble it out of a crowd instead of just picking it up. I think he really did some nice things for us. I loved his offensive rebounding.”

Do you feel like you made some strides defensively tonight?
“They shot 42 [percent] and 46, I would like it to be better. We did get more turnovers tonight, 17 turnovers, but to be where we want to be, we’ve still got to get a lot better defensively. I don’t think I’m going to get too excited about one game because the last game they shot 50-something percent, didn’t they? But I do think we’re getting better.”

How will the loss of Williams affect that?
"I think we are getting better, but it’s hard to think in terms of how you’re going to get better when I've said all year long that Kenny's our best perimeter defender, he really is. And then in the Notre Dame game, when he makes three threes like that, then he's really gotten to a high level player, so some guys will have to step up - Theo (Pinson) and Nate (Britt). I thought Nate did a good job defensively tonight."

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