In the second half, when you lost the lead, it looked like you guys really kept your composure tonight and hit some big shots when you needed them at the end.
They lived by the three, and they died by the three. We'd go down and get two and then they'd hit three, but after a while they started missing and we capitalized on it down the stretch.
How big is it for this team to get a win on the road at this point in the season?
I think it's really big for us with our confidence on the road. We have Duke coming up, after Clemson on Tuesday, on the road. Not looking past Clemson, but we needed momentum on the road going into the post-season.
Was the game plan to switch between man-to-man defense and zone throughout the game?
Not really. That wasn't the game plan. We knew they struggled against the zone and can't run their offense against a zone. We'd switch it up and give them different looks and just make sure they don't stay hot from behind the 3-point line.
It looked like Julius Hodge had a lot to say tonight.
He always has a lot to say. He wants to be the Big Man on Campus, and there isn't room for two.
On that really deep 3-pointer, fading away in front of the bench, it looked like Raymond lost control of the ball and you just picked it up. Were you aware of the shot clock or just shooting in the flow of the game?
I knew when he had the ball there were about 10 seconds on the clock. When he lost it all I was thinking about was just shooting it--when I get it shoot it. I don't pray when I shoot. I knew it was going in.
Do you enjoy when you go on the road and the crowd really rags on you? You seem to like that.
I love it. I can't wait to play at Duke. The crowds are great. That's the best part of it. When you have your own crowd, it's a little bit better, but when you are at someone else's house and you win and the crowd is on you all game it's a beautiful feeling.
It looked like you were having fun with the crowd out there tonight and let them know you were listening to them.
You can hear them. They have their signs and do what they do to rattle players when they come here. They've been undefeated, so it's been working, so we'll see how long that lasts.
I think they were chanting "STD."
Does that inspire you to play better when you hear the chants?
Oh, yeah. It makes me more aggressive. It makes me more willing to win. Once we win, you don't hear the chants. You hear nothing, and then you see the seats empty out. Everybody is leaving. So where are the chants then?
Does this win get you into the NCAA Tournament?
It's up to the selection committee, but it helps us. It puts us where we want to be. We said that we had to go out and try to win the next three games to control our own destiny and control our own fate, and I think that's what we're doing now.
How was the team able to keep it's composure rather than thinking "Here we go again" tonight?
I think just going some of the experiences we've been through on the road with Virginia, Florida State, Maryland. I think every time we are up big at half, a team makes a run and in the past we have folded. Tonight we just stuck together. Rashad hit some big shots, we stuck our free throws down at the end, and we pulled it out. We knew at Virginia if we'd gotten the last three rebounds of the game it would be over. Tonight we didn't want to give them any second chances at the end.
What were the keys defensively tonight?
Being alert on defense. Stopping the penetration. They really don't have a mid-range game--they shoot lay-ups or three's. Just being alert and rebounding the ball were the keys coming into the game, and I think we stuck with the keys for the entire 40 minutes, and that's what brought us this win.
Rashad was really hearing it from the crowd tonight. Do you think that really revs him up?
He's got something in his blood that no one else has. They were all over him tonight, and he feeds off of it. Everywhere we go he does that. He's a clutch player, and he loves coming into environments like this and just shutting the crowd up. I don't know how many this place holds, but he shut them all up tonight. I feel lucky to have him on my team.
It's five on five out there, but Ilian said that he wanted to get into your head and take you out of the game. Was that the "game within the game" tonight?
Nah. With our offense and the way they were playing defense it was hard to get the ball into the post, we were starting so far out. I was real concerned about getting Rashad started because he played so well in the first half. In the second half I just really didn't worry about my shots. I think I may have only taken two shots in the second half, but I'm not worried about that. We got a win.
Ilian is not the best defender I've ever played against. He's nowhere close to it. He's a good player, and he tries to do his little games with getting into people's heads. He's a great player, but nowhere near the best I've played against.
What reason were you given for not starting tonight?
Defensive match-ups. Coach Williams thought it would be better to go with a smaller, quicker line-up. I can't be mad at that. We went out there and everyone still did their jobs.
This game probably got you into the NCAA Tournament. You've been through the hard times. Now, what does that mean to you?
It means a lot. Like you said, I've been here through the 8-20 year. I still came back and played hard every night. Now I just want to get better and finish the season strong.
Clemson is coming to Chapel Hill on Tuesday where it has never won. Are you aware of that streak?
I've heard about it, but that streak doesn't mean anything. I was here when we blew every streak there was so that streak means nothing to me. We just have to go out there and play.
What was different about today, because this game played out like a lot of the games you have lost?
Confidence and a sense of urgency among everyone. We went out and played hard and did the little things we need to do to win the game.
What was your reaction when you saw Rashad pick the ball up and hit that long 3-pointer?
I was excited. He stepped up and made a big play, and we really needed it.
That doesn't seem unusual for Rashad.
Yeah, that's Rashad. He's going to take crazy shots like that and he makes a lot of them.
I see you have ice on your foot. Is it serious?
I'm not sure yet. I'll find out once I get back.
What kind of injury is it?
It's my big toe.
What does it mean to this team to get this game on the road?
It's a great win. State hasn't lost a game at home this season. It's great to beat a team that was undefeated for the entire season at home. It was a big rivalry game and a game we needed in the conference.
What are your thoughts on Rashad's play tonight and the big shots he hit?
Rashad is a tremendous player. He loves to take big shots. He wants the ball when a big shot is needed. It's great to have a guy like him on your team. You just penetrate, make something happen, kick it out and have confidence that he's going to knock it down.
Is there any shot that's too deep for Rashad, at least in his mind?
Not in his mind. He feels that he can hit anything. In some ways that's a great thing. (Smiling) In some ways that's not too good.
On his deep 3-pointer it looked like you lost control of the ball and he picked it up. Is that what happened?
I lost control of the ball. I was going to run it down, but I saw him beating me to it so I kind of screened his man off a little to give him a chance to get a wide open shot. It was deep, but Rashad is used to taking shots like that. Once again, he knocked down a big shot.