Following No. 5 North Carolina's dramatic 60-57 victory Wednesday night over No. 7 Wisconsin in the Smith Center, head coaches Roy Williams and Bo Ryan spoke with reporters. In addition, we got quotes from several Tar Heel players, including Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and John Henson.
The Tar Heels returned to the win column coming off last weekend's loss to UNLV, and heading into this Saturday's nationally-televised showdown with No. 1 Kentucky in Lexington.
UNC HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
Fantastic college basketball game. Not the prettiest game at all, ever. Sometimes you need to win like that. Like I told Bo (Ryan),' I'm glad I don't play you anymore.' It was a difficult game for us. Jordan Taylor just donimnates the ball so effectively, and yet you have to congratulate Kendall (Marshall) and Dexter (Strickland) because it's hard to guard that guy.
I was very please with what we did defensively. John (Henson) on the backboards, Harrison (Barnes') offense, Kendall running the club, and then Kendall and Dexter and those guys doing a great job for us defensively. It was a heck of a basketball game.
On Harrison Barnes and his performance in light of the injured ankle......
He made some big-time shots. I saw his mother this morning and I said, 'You son's going to play a big-time basketball game tonight,' and I really believe he did.
On having a plus-13 rebounding advantage over Wisconsin......
I think it's huge. We put down a goal on the court defensively and to finish it means boxing out. We put something down on the board offensively and we said get to the offensive boards. We didn't rebound to the offensive backboards as well as we wanted to.
WISCONSIN HEAD COACH BO RYAN
If Jordan (Taylor) got 20 shots in the gym in practice, he will knock a lot of those down. He didn't take any bad ones. It's just a hard-fought game. The jumper that he hit towards the end is more of the mechanics we are used to.
We needed to shoot it from some other spots to take the pressure off him, and it's a team game. Jordan did a good job of taking care of the ball without turning it over. I don't remember him having any turnovers, but we could have shot it a little better.
On North Carolina's team......
They're long and quick and getting looks (against them) isn't the easiest thing in the world. It was hard to get good looks. That was as hard-fought a game as I have ever been in as a coach.
On keeping UNC from making big runs.....
What changes those big runs is hitting a shot now and then, and breaking that streak. You have to be tough enough to get one or two in there and break those streaks, but those happen both ways. We have had some of them in our season too.
On the play of Jared Berggren......
Jared is a good player and he works hard. He is starting to come into his own. It's good to see.
What would have helped change the outcome?
It would be nice to shoot more free throws because they (UNC) don't have to leave their feet to block shots or clog up the lane with their length and all. But we were playing from behind, so they didn't really have to foul us.
What did you and your team learn tonight in defeat?
No coach can stand here (and talk) about what guys have learned in defeat when it just happened. You find out when the next game happens to see if you're getting better at something.
On the battle for momentum......
I think that they (Wisconsin) won it early in the game, but towards the second half we started pressure a little bit more. That kind of sped the pace up, which was more our style. So we won tonight.
What was the turning point in the second half?
I think it (the score) was 36-31 (in favor of Wisconsin). That was the go-ahead (to make a move) because thinking back to the UNLV game, that was the area where we could go to down 12 (points) or to tie a game.
We were in a similar situation last game. We let that get out of hand. We knew we had to contest a three (point shot) because that's the biggest way (for Wisconsin) to extend the lead. We knew we had to hit big shots on offense.
On playing against Wisconsin's slow-paced tempo......
Obviously, we wanted to run a little bit more. But they did a good job of controlling tempo, and I think we did a great job of not getting frustrated while on defense. They (Wisconsin) run their sets very well.
They shoot the ball very well, and they are just waiting for you to make one mistake. And I think for the most part, we did a great job, aside from those last two minutes where we had some mental lapses, but we did a great job of being aware and being mentally tough enough to do what's important.
On swinging momentum in Carolina's favor in the second half.....
Defensively, we stopped giving them second-chance opportunities, and because we were getting stops on defense, we were able to get out on the break. Harrison (Barnes) hit some tough shots. He hit some big-time shots for us and when he's hot, we just want to keep feeding him (the ball) in a situation like that.
On how the team felt after the game......
I think we are not so much tired, but spent, mentally. We focused for 40 minutes. They (Wisconsin) made a run on us and came back, and we pulled out the win and it was a tough one.
On the preparation leading up to the game......
We practice every day. We knew they were going to make it a slow game and hold it for 35 seconds (on the shot clock). We had to focus most plays to finish the play. They hit some big shots at the end to bring them back, but luckily we were too far ahead.