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Opening Remarks -
"A big time day for us. I've always thought to try and put pressure on the underclassmen to make sure that the seniors go out the right way. I challenged those guys to make sure the seniors have great feelings about their last home game.
"Duke is a big time basketball team - we really had trouble guarding them, particularly in the first half. Second half we got a little bit better, but they also missed some shots. Think we always have to understand that when they miss a shot it's not always just our defense, but we were very fortunate. Our work on the backboards was big for us. First half we had like seven offensive rebounds and and they only had three but we had the same number of points because on theirs they scored every time ... but in the second half I thought we were better there. We shot the ball pretty well.
"I was extremely concerned about Ty. I did not know until I came here today whether he'd be able to play. He banged his toe big time on Friday. Yesterday he tried to jog up and down the floor and that's all he could do. If we'd played the game yesterday, he would not have played at all. ... He wasn't the Ty we've seen all year long, but nine assists is pretty doggone good ..."
"But five guys in double figures and it was tough for us trying to stop Henderson, Singler and Scheyer and I don't know we did, but those three in double figures against our five and basically that was the game to me."
Is Ty Lawson the ACC Player of the Year in your opinion?
"I don't think in those terms ... but he's been so big in close games. And he's played so well since the first two games. I think I'm extremely proud of our team. We started off 0-2 and a lot of people were abandoning team and criticizing my team a great deal, including some of you guys. I told our team in the locker room at Wake Forest that it's a long year and we've got to play each day and we've still got chances. I think that was the important thing. And since those two games, I thought Ty was sensational the rest of the season. ... You throw out those first two games and what he's done from that point on was incredible.
"And then I'll say this, too [about the big fella']. I've never coached anybody that has had to face as much on the court as he has faced and he's been awfully impressive. To do the things he's done with two and three guys going at him and as physical as he has played, I don't know how is player of the year, but if you go past those two, I find it hard to believe."
Can you talk about the gamut of emotions tonight?
"It's very hard, it's a hard game to play. You're thinking about everything. You're thinking about your after-game speech, who you're going to thank, and your thinking about 'oh, man this is my last game in the Dean Dome' and your college career is coming to an end - and all that and still trying to focus on the game and get this win."
Down the stretch Ty came up big, and he did it with an injury ...
"Ty stepped up - he showed some toughness by even playing. He came through for us in the clutch when we needed him. He wasn't 100 percent, but when the time came for him to make big plays for us, he did."
Is this team better than it was last year?
"I think so. Some people have shown some toughness and we're making better decisions and we know what to expect."
How much did you feel the toe injury limited you?
"Not much. I really couldn't feel it - it felt like I had four toes when I was running out there. It didn't limit me that much. It didn't start hurting until the speeches as it wore off."
What was the process pregame to decide whether or not to play today?
"Pregame, before the doctor put the shot in me, I was just seeing if I could cut and things like that a little bit. If I couldn't cut at all, there was no point in taking the shot ... So I went out there, shooting around, jumping off of it and cutting back and forth and it felt kind of good. The pain was what limited me, so I took the shot and couldn't feel it for a couple of hours."
How does it feel now, having played?
"It feels like the first time it happened - right after it happened. It's throbbing while I'm sitting here. Hopefully a couple days of rest and ice will make it feel better by Friday."
Were you surprised why 'Jump Around' started playing during your senior speech?
"Yeah, I wasn't expecting to dance. But it's my last game here on this floor and I figured I'd do it one more time. And my teammates, they always get my going - Mike came out and got me dancing. So I figured, why not? Hopefully we can dance in the Final Four and be having a lot more fun then."
Duke stayed with you guys, but you wouldn't let them over the hump ...
"It was a close fought game. They hit some big shots, we hit some big shots, there were some fouls called -- there were some bad fouls called, there were some good fouls called -- but they hit their free throws, we missed a lot of free throws. They played really good offensively, they executed the way they wanted to - they were getting their shooters open and getting into the lane. We tried to make adjustments to keep them out of the lane and make them shoot over us. ... It was a tough fought game, that's how it always is and how it's always going to be. But I'm glad we got the win and my teammates sent us off with a good memory."
This is a team known for its offense, but there were some defensive stops that turned the tide in the second half ...
"Definitely. The first half it was a little more physical and the refs let us play a little bit, but in the second half they called it tighter ... so we had to adjust and keep our man in front of us and make them score over our body."
Has it sunken in that this was the last game you'll play at the Smith Center?
"I don't know if it's hit me yet. I tried to soak it in. Sitting before the game I was thinking 'This is the last time Coach Williams is going to give us a pregame speech in this locker room.' I'm sure down the line, many years from now I'll look back at how special this was, but it was hard not to get emotional before the game when they were announcing us before the game standing at halfcourt standing with all the seniors. It's been a great ride, this day has been awesome and hopefully we'll keep it going with some momentum in the Tournament."
That play to tie up Gerald Henderson near the end of the game was a signature play for you to go out on ...
"It's nice that I could make a play and be a part of this big win. I know it's a little risky play, but luckily I got both hands on the ball, it was a jump ball and the refs called."
Where's this team at headed into the postseason?
"I think we're on the right track. We're getting better - we do have some lapses defensively still, but when we need a stop or need a bucket, I think we've shown that toughness to grind it out and do either one of those. ... We've all been looking forward to March and the Tournament. I was talking to Tyler at one point and he said, 'Man, I just wish the Tournament was here.' And it's true, but the ACC Tournament is still fun and as competitive as this league is, it's going to be crazy at the Georgia Dome, so hopefully we can get three more wins and win that. "
I'm assuming you thought Lawson was going to play all along?
"Come on… What, do you think we had a different game plan? Everybody gets banged up a little bit. I don't know what his injury was, but I would have been very shocked if he didn't play."
How has your team improved since the last meeting?
"I thought we played better defense. I thought we got better shots. I thought we competed better. Is that enough? I just think that we're a better basketball team than we were a month ago. But they're really good. If they're not the top team, they've got to be one of the top two or three, so I'm good with where my team is at. I'd like to get Nolan [Smith] back and get more and more adjusted to the lineup that we have. The game was a big game for us because that lineup – it's a huge game. Although, the four that we won before were big, they were a little different."
"He's one of the best that has played, not just here, but in the ACC. I think when you think of Tyler, you're going to think of a warrior. You would never say that there was a possession that he did not play. And he's really good. And it puts him in a really elite class in the history of this conference. So he deserves all that he gets. He's earned it. He's been a great representative for North Carolina as a kid."
On the UNC-Duke rivalry:
"My feelings are the same wherever I compete. If I didn't, then I shouldn't compete. Florida State is a big game for us, at Maryland, Wake at home. So I think you try to compete at that level every game. I do think there is an immense amount of respect. Not just now, but over decades, that Duke and North Carolina players have for one another. In some respect, there is a kind of brotherhood there. I saw Michael [Jordan] right before [the game], and we're unbelievably good friends. But that doesn't mean that you don't want to beat them. But there's a tremendous amount of respect because of the excellence that each program has had."