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Post-Game Quotes - Duke 66, Georgia Tech 53

Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner

Opening Statement

“Obviously they are a tremendous team and have some outstanding players. They’re very, very well coached by one of the guys who is one of the greatest ever in sports period. They are a great basketball team with a realistic chance of winning the national championship. I thought we played well for the most part. Defensively is who we are, that’s our identity. The only way to have survivability in this league is to defend. Through our two and a half years here, we’ve been pretty good defensively. It’s the only way to give ourselves a chance for success. Our guys have a great buy in on that and that’s their DNA. That’s our DNA. It gave us a chance to have great success this afternoon. We had that stretch in the second half where we turned it over. There was a four-minute segment where we had some careless turnovers and a team like Duke can really take advantage of it in transition offense and they did take advantage of it. I thought Zion Williamson had some high-level moves where I thought we guarded really well but he overpowered our guys. We actually guarded a player or two well and they threw a lob dunk and they out-jumped us. He’s really, really good. I thought Tre Jones made a difference. I thought he was really good defensively. It was sort of like two years ago when Grayson Allen came back for our game. I was thinking maybe Tre would get ready for the Notre Dame game on Monday. He did a nice job with running their team and ball-hawking the ball. Overall, we executed our game plan for the most part. I was really proud of our guys. Our team plays hard. They fight, they scrap, they kick, they claw every possession. That’s what we’ve done the entire year and I’m just really proud of our young men. It’s the ACC, which is just an incredible league. Besides the NBA, the best basketball in the country is the ACC. IT’s an incredible league. After today, we have to get ready to play [North] Carolina on Tuesday. That’s just how good the ACC is. Every night you’re playing against the best competition. I’m proud of our young men and we’ll keep getting better, keep working and continue to try and improve.”

On what other factors outside of turnovers contributed to Duke’s second-half run:

“I thought the second half, we did a good job in transition defense, but they had that stretch where they got the turnovers and they were live-ball turnovers. The dead-ball turnovers where we had some post-entry passes, which we need to better about, we didn’t convert. They didn’t hurt us because they went out of bounds. The live-ball turnovers really affected us. I thought Tre Jones was part of the reason for that. I’m surprised, I thought he had more steals. He only had one, but his ball hawking defensively created some issues. In those fast breaks where we had some transition opportunities and he just jumped the passing lane. They took advantage of it. They are probably one of the very best in the country, if not the best in transition offense. They took advantage of that. And then obviously there were a couple second-chance points off offensive rebounds. We did a good job the first half, probably the first 27, 28 minutes we were pretty good on the glass and then that second half, Zion got a few that were really big.”

On his team’s defensive success:

“If you look at our numbers defensively, that’s our only way of survival in this league. That’s our only way of survivability in this league is to be really good defensively. That’s who we’ve been in our time here. The guys play their tails off. They bust their rear ends. They work so hard and they have great buy in defensively. It’s our only way to have survivability in this league. We have to be great defensively. That’s who we are and what we do. If we don’t do that, we won’t have any chance of success. If we defend at the level where our standard is then we will at least have a chance to get ourselves in a position to have success.”

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening Statement

“We beat a really good team today. Josh [Pastner] had his team ready to play us. Their zone is obviously a different type of zone, 1-3-1 to 2-2-1. Their kids are very active, and they were ready to play. We didn’t hit some shots, and we didn’t convert fast breaks in that first half. We and their defense worked together to only score 27 points. It was mainly their defense, but then you could tell that we didn’t have fresh faces because the ball wasn’t going in. It didn’t impact our defense until the last couple minutes of the first half.

In the second half, we didn’t start out well, and I thought we were in a trance. After the timeout, our guys really started playing defense, and we did a couple different things against the zone that got us quick buckets. Our guys were just different, which says a lot about them. This was a game that you lose if you’re thinking about being a winner. It’s a game that winners win, when you can turn it around with 18 minutes to go when you’re just really not playing well, and then play great. We played great the rest of the game. Alex [O’Connell] gave us a huge lift. Antonio [Vrankovic] did some good things in the first half. Marques [Bolden] was playing really well. [His injury] is not serious, but it’s painful; it’s something about the toenail on his big toe. He tried to play in the second half but couldn’t, so we went to that smaller lineup. I liked the defense and that post that Zion [Williamson] and RJ [Barrett] played. They had two good post-men, like there’s a reason they’re 3-3 in the conference. Really good win for us, and for Tre [Jones] to play that number of minutes and cover one of the better guards in the league, [Jose] Alvarado. He felt really good after the game. Sometimes when you’re apart for a couple weeks or three games, it’s not like you just come back together, like that [snaps]. It takes a little bit, and I thought that was probably part of it, too. It was a huge win for us, the crowd was great. I’ve been doing this for a number of years, and sometimes in these 12 o’clock games, the home team isn’t as ready. I remember going to Louisville when we won in 2015, they weren’t in it. But also, their crowd was just a crowd. Our fans were our sixth man today. That combination of things produced a win. Thank goodness.”

On Alex O’Connell’s contributions today:

“He would say I’m telling the truth, but he hasn’t played well, and he hasn’t played with the verve that he has in the past. The last two days at practice you could tell he was different. When he wasn’t playing well, I thought he was into himself, like trying to figure it out instead of playing the game. Today he played. He had a big bucket, a big offensive rebound, and got two loose balls. Guys expect him to shoot, so when he missed, we rebounded at least two, maybe three, of his misses and scored. When the right guy shoots the right shot and misses, the percentages go up for you to get an offensive rebound. He was terrific. He was a big part of us winning.”

On bouncing back from missed transition points:

“We played defense. We are a transition team, and we had transition in the first half. We didn’t score. You have to either score the bucket or score on fouls, or both. You can’t come up empty. I bet there are four or five times, even in the second half when we did. You can’t come up empty in transition at the basket. You can’t do it because of how hard you’ve worked to get there. We’ll show our guys that you have to finish or get fouled, and we weren’t fouled. We didn’t finish.”

On having Tre Jones back:

“It was great having him out there, obviously. He’s one of the top guards in the country, and he’s our guy. After the Pitt game, he had done some stuff in shoot-around and he said, ‘I’m really starting to feel well.’ And then on Wednesday, he and Nick Potter did a lot more work. They’ve been working like crazy in rehab. Then Thursday, he said he was ready to do part of practice, and he looked good. We got him in and out. Yesterday, he said, ‘I feel great, ready to go.’ Again, after the game he felt that way as well. We’re moving on from that.”

On anticipating Jones’s conditioning and playing 35 minutes:

“There’s physical conditioning, and there’s mental and character conditioning. He never gets out of condition mental- and character-wise. His mind is in complete control over his body. Because of his mind, he’s not going to be tired. This kid is a special, special competitor. I love him. It’s not anything I taught him but thank goodness he’s with us. This kid’s a special kid, and his teammates know that.”

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