Jan. 5, 2015

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery

Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

Opening Statement
“Man, I’m proud of our group. We held off a lot of runs and did what we needed to do to escape, but [it was] a tough situation. I thought we were really poised. Every time they made a run we came out and executed and gave us a little bit of a cushion, and we needed all that cushion down the stretch. I thought getting off to a great start was a key on the road, especially in this building. We were in such a great offensive flow, [and] I thought that gave us confidence. And then as much as they were beating on us on the backboard in the second half, we got some really key stops at key times. I’m proud of our group. [It was a] great road win. To be 3-0 in this league, we’re thrilled but we need some rest after Saturday [going to] double overtime and the energy we exerted here tonight.”

On his team’s defensive performance
“We’ve made great progress there as you know, and I’m really proud that we lose Jerian [Grant] and we do it. I thought that was really another step forward for this group to do it without Jerian. But when we had to get key stops, we really dug in as a team and got them and got some lose balls. I thought Zach Auguste was fabulous in the second half on both ends of the court. Connaughton does his thing. This group loves playing together. It’s a group you love coaching every day, and to get a road win like this early in the ACC season is really a confidence-builder.”

On the matchup problems created by his small lineup
“I thought it was interesting that they did end up going small, and so did Georgia Tech. A lot of people have subbed and reacted to us. Shane Battier asked me today…I said we gave up 17 offensive rebounds to Michigan State and won in overtime. We gave up 19 to Georgia Tech and won in double overtime, and we gave up 21 tonight. [Battier] said, `What’s the limit?’ I said, `I guess the teens.’ So I guess that means we can give up 20 and still escape. Over the course of 65 possessions, guarding us offensively I think is hard if you’re playing a big lineup. We got some really clean looks, we pass it well, and we made enough shots from outside the arc to kind of get us confident.”

On Jerian Grant’s performance
“I thought he was delivering the ball the whole night, really finding people. They really were aware. [North Carolina decided] to take him away with fresh bodies, and they did. But I thought he was pretty good about not really forcing stuff and just getting people involved. I thought V.J. Beachem’s minutes were huge, and we got him back off an injury. That’s the kind of stuff we need off the bench from him.”

North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams

Opening Statement

“I’d just like to congratulate Notre Dame. Mike [Brey’s] club came in and he said they were excited about being here and they played like it early and we didn’t. They didn’t make any mistakes early, and it seemed like to me almost every shot went in. It was just an uphill battle. We kept fighting, kept fighting. It’s amazing with the offensive rebounds, we got 21 and they got six, yet the biggest play of the game was their offensive rebound and put-back. We had two or three opportunities there where we had Kennedy [Meeks] open on the block, but we didn’t go to him. Marcus [Paige] coming off a screen, and even the last play we didn’t execute that. I need to see it on tape but I don’t think we executed it the way we do in practice. Just extremely disappointed and they’re the best shooting team in the country and they looked the part tonight. They helped us a little bit at the end by missing free throws but I think Steve [Kirschner] said they made 16 or 15 in a row before that. They made 10 threes to our four. Our club did give us a chance to make a play at the end and we just didn’t get it done. But at the same time the play earlier in the game, it’s all extremely important. What you do in the first half is just as important as what you do in the second half. [Zach] Auguste was very huge for them. We’re lucky Jerian [Grant] fouled out, but he had eight assists and he really dominated the game when he was in. He’s a heck of a player. [Pat] Connaughton came out and just attacked us off the dribble, just a big time three-point shooter. It’s a tough matchup for us. Having Brice [Johnson] or Isaiah [Hicks] trying to guard him, but that’s what it is, that’s the game of basketball – North Carolina vs. Notre Dame. Very disappointing.”

On the team missing last eight field goals and if he was OK with the shot selection

“Not really. Of course I’m not pleased with Marcus’s at the end because it’s a prayer. It would have been nice if it had gone in, but it didn’t. Kennedy had two looks inside and that’s where I keep talking about he’s got to get more explosive because he just didn’t have much lift at that point. We missed a lot of shots. We had some good ones. We didn’t make many, or we didn’t make enough – that’s for sure.”

On if the last two possessions were drawn-up plays for Marcus Paige

“Not necessarily. The last one we had three options. Marcus was the second option. They did a nice job covering it. The first part of it we didn’t run it correctly, but I have to see it again on the replay to be sure. I didn’t think we were as organized or solid as we use to be. Give Notre Dame’s defense some credit, they weren’t just running around out there.”

On guarding Notre Dame’s small offense

“Well we had Brice trying to guard Connaughton, but that wasn’t a very good matchup. He stared him down and shot a three and then the next time he drove him to the basket, so it’s hard. There’s a balance when you’re taking away some of our inside, hopefully strength, to try and matchup with them, but we were behind at that time, so we had to get some stops. “

North Carolina Players

J.P. Tokoto

On the final play of the game

“We had a timeout at the end. I thought about taking it but I saw Marcus, I saw him open for a split second, made a choice, and he ended up with three guys on him. Like I said, it’s just kind of the way things go. You wish you had the play back but you just got to keep moving forward.”

On defensive during the final nine minutes of play

“It was a little bit of everything. Pressure, we picked it up, which is what we should have had the whole game. It was them missing shots. We bothered them when they were taking outside shots. When they drove we had guys collapse on them. That’s what we want to do on defense, make the other guys uncomfortable and I think that’s what we did when they went through that stretch.”

Theo Pinson

On his overall performance

“Yeah it was fun. That’s the reason why I came here, for games like that. I had a great game but at the end of the day we lost…They didn’t recruit me to be intimidated in these type of games so I just tried to come in and contribute any way I could, and today things were going well for me so I just tried to play well for my team.”

On defending Pat Connaughton and their shooters

“I think he missed one shot. He can shoot the ball and we knew it was going to be tough, but you just got to fight. The whole time we knew they were going to make shots. They are leading the nation in field goal percentage. We knew they were going to make shots but we just wanted to dig in, keep fighting, keep fighting, and we started digging in towards the end of the game and we got a lot of shots. That’s why we got back into it, but unfortunately we came up short.”

Marcus Paige

On missed shots at the end of the game

“The hoop had a lid on it at the end. I missed a right-handed layup, two left-handed layups; Kennedy (Meeks) missed one under the basket; one of the shots we took rimmed in and out; J.P. (Tokoto) got a great look. You have to make some of those and those didn’t go in. It’s tough when you’re clawing back and it’s a one possession game, every stop is so hard to get that you have to convert a couple of those when you do get a stop and we couldn’t get a basket to go in. That was the toughest thing is that we were getting the stops against (Notre Dame), which is really hard to do, we just couldn’t get that basket and get over the hump.”

On where the team is right now developmentally

“I still think we have a way to go, it’s only our second league game, we have another big game coming up. We didn’t make the plays tonight, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve progressed over the past five or six games. Obviously, we don’t want to lose any games at home or lose any games that we feel we should’ve won – we didn’t play great in the first half, but I still feel that we should have won this game – but at the same time, we’re getting there. A couple possessions change here and there and we have a win and the vibe is completely different and the mood is completely different. It’s tough and obviously we’re not happy with what happened, but we’ve still made progress if you look big picture.”