UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett on win at North Carolina

tony bennett uva basketballOn what changed down the stretch

“We made some big threes. Kyle [Guy] hit some shots. De [De’Andre Hunter] made a heck of a pass. Jay Huff finished. We struggled at the line. We made some decent defensive stops. It was a game of ebb and flow, for sure. We just kept challenging. Hang in there, get a stop. You’re still in it. Ty [Jerome] said to relax. I thought we had some tough stretches and Carolina did some good things, of course. But, when you have a guy like Kyle [Guy]… Guys just made some plays and were sound enough. Even though we missed a couple free throws. That was huge the missed three that didn’t count, I thought it counted but they said it was just on his fingertips.”

On what he preached towards the end of the game

“It’s just if we can get stops and scores. Get a quality look and make some contested shots and rebounding. They had 16 offensive rebounds and we couldn’t come up with some of those when we needed to. Again, we made some plays offensively which was significant. Those guys have been in those spots but you still have to come out after a tough hard-fought game on Saturday. To come in here against a team that is playing well was encouraging. I really challenged them hard before the game. During the day we talked about what this meant and just responding the right way to a hard-fought lost and I think they did.”

On Coby White’s impact

“He’s always a threat. I think they are such a good shooting team 1-4 the way they start with all those guys. He’s quick. He’s triple-threat. He can really beat you in transition and he can get to the rim the way he did a couple times. He can play, shoot the three off the bounce or catch and shoot. We just tried to use Kite [Mamadi Diakite] to really get in him and challenge him and at the end of the game we shifted and put some length on him late. You have to be ready for him and they are always moving around with a good offense. I thought we made him earn his looks for the most part.”

On Ty Jerome stepping up

“15 points, 11 assists and two turnovers. That says a lot. The way they pressured us, we had to take care of the ball and touch the paint and then make the right play. Sometimes it was the shot but usually with the way they pressured and converged was to kick it out. He was really good once he got settled in… He’s tough. He is a warrior and I love how he stepped up and made the big plays. They all did down the stretch.”

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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.


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