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Post-Game Quotes: North Carolina 86, Georgia Tech 78

Jan. 2, 2016

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GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Brian Gregory

Opening Statement
“Give North Carolina credit. They did a lot of great things in the second half. I thought we played well on the road against a high-caliber, high-quality team, not quite well enough, and we had a hard time at times with their transition, but I thought we did a fairly good job in that. We did a pretty good job in terms keeping them off the glass. Only nine offensive rebounds. We probably fouled too much in the second half. One of the big things that we’ve been good at this year is winning the free-throw battle, and we did not win that today, and that was probably the difference in the game.”

On slowing UNC’s offense
“All year long, we’ve done a pretty good job with our transition defense, and we’ve played some teams that really blast the ball, that have quick guards, so we tag a little bit, even on missed shots, with their point guard and put some pressure on the in-bounds to try to slow that down a little bit. I thought that was the best that we did. Now, they came out with a little more pace in the second half and got us on our heels a couple times, but I thought overall, us especially, because they’re great on made baskets as well as missed baskets, I thought we did a pretty good job of corralling the ball, taking [Marcus] Paige out of the early offense, you know when he gets open shots and things like that, and our big guys did a really good job in terms of running the court. When it comes to Brice Johnson, if you take away the transition points and you take away the lobs off the early offense and made him score strictly in the post, obviously, he’s a great player but that takes around six or eight points out of what he’s accustomed to getting, and I thought we did a very good job out of that.”

On second half offense
“I think they tuned it up a little bit. We didn’t score inside as much in the second half, and we still have to go inside first. I thought a critical junction was when we had two pretty good looks in the post when it was us down two, or up two, or tied, and we didn’t finish. They were able to lock in a little more on our perimeter guys because of our inability to score in the post in the second half, and Chuck [Charles Mitchell] didn’t play as many minutes in there probably the second half because of foul trouble. He only played 18 minutes for the game, had 14 points and six rebounds but it’s going to be hard for us to win if he only plays 18 minutes.”

Takeaway from today’s game
“It’s a loss. We’ve got to get past that. We’re past the point of, ‘Alright we competed with a really good team,’ and we’ve got to figure out ways to break through and win the game. I say that with all respect to North Carolina and who they are now, but at the same time I say that with respect to us. I think we’re a much different team. You’ve got to go out there and prove it. You can believe in it, you can have faith in it and all those things, but you go out there and fight for it and take it, and that’s the point we’re at right now.”

NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS

Opening Statement
“It’s an ACC basketball game. It was extremely hard fought. I don’t know that’d you’d say either team felt like they played great, but I think kids rose and stepped up and made big plays. Adam [Smith], in the first half, was 4 for 5 [in three point shooting]. Second half, he made one with Marcus [Paige] having one finger and one nostril, and another finger and another nostril, and still made the thing. And then he made that one at the top of the key when it was a six-point game, and if he misses it’s a huge, huge miss. But I thought he was sensational. Marcus Georges-Hunt for them, kept getting to the free throw line, and we couldn’t keep him off the free-throw line. I was pleased with our rebounding. They are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. On their offensive boards, I think they are fifth in the country. Gave up a couple of early rebounds to them, but after that I thought we did a much better job. I told Brian [Gregory], this was before the game, that I liked his club. It’s so so much better than they were last year, and he’s done a great job with them, got some new guys that look like they’ve been there the whole time the way they’ve bought into what he wants for them to do. But when you’ve got a three-point shooter like [Adam] Smith, you’ve got a guy that drives it to the basket and gets to shoot 15 free throws like Marcus and you’ve got [Charles] Mitchell and those guys doing everything inside, it’s tough to guard that kind of team. For us I thought Joel Berry made a couple huge, huge plays. I didn’t think he’d played well at all until that point. First half, he had two turnovers that were sort of unusual, Nate had three. Second half, Joel [Berry II] had three more turnovers. That’s just unusual for him. For a guy to slap it from behind as you’re dribbling down the court, that shouldn’t ever happen. But he stepped up and made a big three. I think it was a two-point game, and then we got a stop and he took it to the basket, got fouled, made the shot for an old fashioned three-point play, and to me those were the two biggest plays in the game right there. I think we scored again, maybe Justin Jackson the next possession. But for us we finally got some stops on the defensive end of the floor, were able to get out of there, felt good about some guys, and you look down the line and you get six guys in double figures, you love that. And I thought the big fella early, Joel [James], was really something for us. I think he would have scored one of the other times hadn’t he dribbled it before trying to go up, but is 5 for 6 for a guy like that. He tries really hard. Can’t be a greater kid, a greater person than Joel James. So I’m extremely happy for him. It was a Joel and Joel party there for a while tonight and I was happy they were both with us.”

On the team’s execution down the stretch
“You know, we’ve got some guards who have played. Marcus is a forth-year, Joel [Berry II] is a second-year, Nate is third-year. Those guys do a nice job. Justin Jackson played last year. Brice stepped up and made the free throws. I think Joel [James] missed one and Joel [Berry II] missed one. Down the stretch, I know we only missed two. So I think that I like guys who can finish games, and I think we finished it by the way we handled the basketball, [we] didn’t turn it over and I think we also are pleased at by the way we made free throws. You know, we changed a little bit defensively just to see if we could make something take them a little longer, but you know we got some good rebounds. It’s the game of basketball, we ‘re one defense and they took a long three right in front of their bench, and guess who didn’t box out – Marcus Paige, daggum Academic All-American didn’t box out there. It’s basketball.”

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