On hitting the winning free throw-
My thoughts were ‘I've got to make it, I've got to make it.' That's all I was saying after all my teammates were around me. ‘Calm down, I got to make it.'
Were you a little nervous?
Yeah, I was real nervous. But I stepped up to the line with confidence and I hit one.
Were you worried about fouling him when you made the steal?
It was a gutsy play and I just went after it and luckily I got the steal.
Talk about your increased confidence-
My confidence was fluctuating throughout the season, but now it's sky high and all I have to do is continue to go out every game, try my hardest and the sky's the limit.
Are you excited?
It's very exciting just to be a part of a great team, North Carolina, and be a premier player - and be that's all I can ask for.
How did you make this progress?
Hard work. Hard work and my coaches telling me to shoot the ball every day in practice. And things have been looking up for me.
Is it a little awkward taking Rashad's spot in the starting lineup?
Yeah, it's very awkward because in practice Rashad is still the best player and doing the things that he does – once he gets back to his level, 100%, the sky's the limit for the team. He's going after it very hard in practice and it teaches me a lot. After going one-on-one with him every day in practice, that's where I get most of my confidence from – him.
Does Rashad seem frustrated?
A little, but he puts it behind him and wants what's best for the team even if he's not playing well. But he'll be back to full strength and he'll do his thing.
Have you felt any pressure to contribute?
Not really pressure, but I've just been trying to go about as in ‘my team needs me, step up right now' – and that's what I've been doing.
On ending the losing streak and getting a win-
It feels really good. We finally got that monkey off our back. Now we've just got to build on this win and get better every day. I think it was a matter of time before we got a win. We went out and played hard every night but kept coming up short. Now it feels good to get a victory.
[With someone heard bellowing "Stand By Me" in the showers] No one was signing after the last five games …
No, not really. That's just Melvin [Scott].
Talk about the first five minutes of the game – what was the key to getting the big early lead?
Defensive pressure. And talking and communicating on D. We did a good job showing on balls screens and stuff like that, forcing them to start their offense out a little farther.
And then how did they manage to get back into the game?
Lapses. They hit shots and we just didn't communicate. Once you stop talking on D, that's what happens.
Talk about David Noel today.
Athleticism, defense and his heart. He goes out there and plays hard every night. It was just a matter of time before he came out of his shell. When he first came in people just labeled him as an athletic player who played defense, but now he's developed a great outside shot. He's making it hard on other [team's] defenses.
David's becoming a great player. We all knew he could play, it was just a matter of time before he had those minutes on the court to show us what he can do.
You were quick to talk to Noel after he got fouled at the end, there, what did you tell him?
‘Knock down these free throws' – that's all I could say. I missed one that should have won the game and I'm just proud of him that he hit one.
Their top scorer, Tim Pickett, was pretty much shut down on the offensive end-
It's Jackie chasing people around screens and stuff. Jackie plays great defense and we do a good job of supporting Jackie.
On playing as the biggest man in the small lineup-
That's just part of it – I've been in that situation before with guys that are 50 pounds heavier than me. The best thing I can do is just try to battle with those guys.
On Rashad McCants, and how he can help get him out of his slump-
We need to make sure he stays positive, it's all we can do. The worst thing you can do is get down on yourself. If you stay positive, you'll play your way through it. I think it's making other people step up and when he comes back we'll all be on the same level.
On the win-
It just shows that we're a great team all-around. Played great defense and we've got a good offense, though I don't think it was great tonight. But we still came out with the win so I'm happy.
Talk about David Noel's play-
David's a great player – he's my roommate, so we've become close. We like brothers now so we talk about things, go everywhere together. He's a great guy on and off the court. He just need a chance to show his ability and he's doing it. He's a great all-around player.
How much have you seen him grow?
David's grown as a man, an athlete, a player. He's a wonderful person on and off the court. He's got great ability, very athletic, got a good jumpshot, got good ball handling skills and plays superb defense. He's an all-around player – he's going to give you 100%, he's going to hustle. Like tonight he made the steal and knocked down the free throw.
What did you know of Noel before this season began?
I heard of him a little bit, but didn't hear about him [on a national level]. But I heard he was a superb football player that a lot of people said was NFL-bound. He just didn't love it. He told me he didn't love football – he loved basketball. I told that's the first part of playing sports. If you're not happy, you're not going to do well. If you love basketball, then that's what you should do.
How important was it to get a win?
This is a win – we got this monkey off our back. We've just been coming out and trying to get a win. We're 3-6 now in the ACC and we've got to try and make up the five-straight losses we had, work hard and try to get some wins.
Are you worn out after this stretch?
I think we're kind of tired. Our legs are worn out – I know mine definitely are. Just got to play through it – suck it up. Be a man about it. My legs are tired, my knee's still bothering me, but you've got to be a man about it, suck it up and still go out there and play and give your team 100%.