Postgame comments by Keatts and Brownell

Raleigh, NC – NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts & Clemson coach Brad Brownell spoke to the media after the Wolfpack’s 69-67 win over the Tigers at the PNC Arena.

Coach Keatts

Opening Statement:

“I have a couple of things I want to say. First, I want to congratulate Clemson. I thought they played a tremendous game. When you talk about Reed and Thomas, they are as good as advertised. They are very good basketball players who put a lot of pressure on our defense and can score when they want to. We were in a dog fight, as we expected to be. The other thing I have to do is educate our fans that got up and left early and are now realizing that we won the game. When you are a pressing team, which our team always is, the game is not over until the clock strikes zero. Believe it or not, I never feel like we are out of a game. We can press and we can make shots, so we have every opportunity to win the game. I thought our guys did a great job of making shots and executing down the stretch. We did a great job of fouling when we had to. It helped us obviously that Reed missed four free throws down the stretch. We didn’t take bad shots to take us out of the game. I thought we took great shots. Give Bryce credit: he drove and could have forced up a shot, but he pivoted, did a great job and found Beverly. Now I’m sitting up here smiling because Beverly made his first three of the night. What a great play call that was for me. I knew it was going to happen. Last night when I was dreaming, I was thinking Beverly was going to make a huge shot at the end and win the game, and what a great coach I was today.”

On the team’s fight…

“I told them to believe. When you are down six, with a few seconds left, you are either going to take bad shots or do something that is not going to help you win. Put us in a situation where we have the chance to win. I felt like we would win the game or have a chance to win the game. I thought our guys showed composure, which is something that we haven’t showed in the past. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of listening to me and knowing when to foul. I wanted to tell the referees on our first trap that we weren’t trying to foul, they listened to me. We thought we had a steal under the basket when Reed caught the ball, and then we fouled him and he missed the free throws.”

On Johnson’s presence…

“It gives us another guy who can pass the ball. He is a veteran and they will listen to him. It also gives us a guy who can score when he needs to. I went into this game saying that if he was ready to play after he warmed up, he would play ten minutes. Each time that he came out of the game I would ask him how he was doing, and he felt good so I wanted him to go more and more. It just gives us another veteran guy that we can rely on. We are talking about the guy who led the ACC in assists last year, and I have just asked him to be able to score the ball this year. We are fortunate to be back home. You think about it, this is the toughest league in college basketball and we have played three games away from PNC Arena. Four out of our last six have been away from home.”

On free throw defense against Clemson…

“My coaches were all saying to me, ‘Are you going to call a timeout like last year?’ When we went to the line and missed the first one, I wanted to hold on to the timeout in case we wanted to run something at the end. You guys don’t see this, but when guys go to the free throw line at the end of the game I am telling the players, ‘I bet you he will miss this one.’ What happens is that towards the end of the game, guys don’t shoot free throws or three pointers well when they don’t have legs. I think our pressure wore them down. We don’t always press to get steals, we press for these types of situations.”

On the Braxton vs. Reed matchup…

“Beverly’s defense against Reed was horrendous. They did a great job of switching screens and getting Beverly on Reed. Not that Beverly didn’t defend him well, but Reed was able to shoot over him. At the end of the game, I wanted to go offense to defense. We put Lockett in for defense because he had great size to be able to do that. I think our defense on the team’s best players during the past two games has been the best I’ve seen. Against Warren at Louisville, even though we lost, we did a tremendous job. I don’t think he made a three pointer and had a tough percentage. Reed is a great player and had a good night with nineteen points, but we wanted him to take seventeen or eighteen shots to get there. I think we defended the three point line very well.”

On intentionally missing free throws during the final play…

“What happens in this situation is that I am telling my guys not to foul. Our discussion with nine seconds left is, ‘Do we let Beverly go to the free line and do we let him make both of them?’ I felt like we would have time. I was thinking that they were going to foul us because I would do the same thing. With the last seconds on the clock, send them to the line. Making two free throws won’t hurt you. If you miss, maybe we will get the rebound. One of the things we talked about was whether or not we were going to let him make these two free throws–and hopefully he would make them–or are we going to rely on our pressing defense back down the court to get us back down there. We were going to trap and if we didn’t get a steal on the trap we were going to foul right away and obviously we did. We got a rebound with the missed free throws, came down, and made a shot.”

On having closely scheduled games…

“This was a tough scout game for us. We got back about 1:30am or 2:00am from Louisville. We had to turn around and prepare for Clemson and not play an 8:00pm or 7:00pm game, we had to play at 2:00pm. So it was a lot of emotions. We went through film last night and watched film yesterday. I had to make a decision–and it was a tough decision–on whether we should do a shootaround this morning. You know, get on the floor and go over their plays again. I decided not to. When we play a 12:00pm game I normally don’t do a shootaround. A 2:00pm game is a 50/50 call. I decided I wanted our guys to have fresh legs as opposed to walking through or getting on the floor at 9:00am this morning, so it’s a great win. For us to bounce back after a tough loss and we had to opportunity for a short turnaround it’s a great program win.”

C.J. Bryce

On the final shot…

“Right before the shot I saw Beverly, and you know you can’t turn down a pure shooter. So I passed it to him and he made an incredible shot.”

On if he knew the final shot would go in…

“Oh yeah, we knew that. Everybody knew that. Everybody in the stands and on the sideline knew it was money.”

On what the win means…

“It was great. The whole time we had confidence that we were going to pull it through. We’ve been in close games in every conference game we’ve played so far, so we had the confidence we’d pull it through. It’s going to be a great win going into our game on Tuesday.”

Eric Lockett

On using this momentum in upcoming games…

“I feel like this just brought us closer together and it gave us momentum for the next few games. We’re definitely going to start playing better and harder the rest of the season.”

On how big the win was…

“It’s definitely a big win for us. We needed it coming off the Louisville game because you don’t want to drop any games, especially games we know we should have won. We gave the game at Louisville away with our turnovers, so this win really helped us.”

Markell Johnson

On free throw shooting against Clemson…

“I really don’t know what it is. It must be playing in here.”

On his reaction to the final shot…

“It was crazy. I actually saw Beverly traveling down the court. I just didn’t know if Bryce saw him or not, and Bryce just made the right play.”

Braxton Beverly

On the final drive…

“It just kind of happened. We have a good connection on the court. Coach Keatts didn’t draw anything up. He trusts us he knows we’ll make the right decision.”

On how his shooting day factored into the final shot…

“I’m not saying I was going to make the shot, but you have to believe you’re going to make it.”

On how this win helps the season…

“It helps us out a ton. We were coming off of a tough loss that was not even two days ago. Johnson’s still working his way back with us, which will be a big help for us, of course. Defending our home court and getting this win should be big for us.”

On how he felt near the end of the game…

“I felt great, and credit to our fans who helped us with the free throw defense. Clemson missing a few free throws down the stretch really helped us. We believed and stayed together. It was great.”

On who held him in the air postgame…

“I think it was someone with long hair I couldn’t tell who it was.”

On Walker’s strength in the celebration…

“He felt a little wobbly when he grabbed me and picked me up.”

On his feelings after hitting the buzzer beater…

“It’s incredible. You saw the bench mobbing me after the game. It’s incredible to get that kind of support from your teammates after hitting a big shot and getting a big win like we did.”

On what it meant to win…

“It’s huge and it was just 48 hours after the Louisville game. We knew we had to battle back and get one here at home.”

On playing at PNC Arena again…

“It feels great. We knew we were tired. We knew it was going to be tough to get up because it was such a quick turnaround. We battled through, though. We’ve got a lot of tough guys on this team. We stay together, have each other’s backs and push each other through it.”

On keeping the momentum going…

“Like you said, we have another short turnaround. We’ve just got to get our rest in and get back in the gym. Virginia has a really good team, so we’ve got to get back and watch film, learn from this game and move on.”

On Clemson missing the free throws…

“It just felt good to get the win and defend our home court. It felt great.”

On having Johnson back…

“It was great. Makes our jobs a lot easier.”

Torin Dorn

On having Johnson back…

“It was huge for us. We’ve been missing him since he’s been out, and it’s good to have him back. As our point guard, our floor general, it’s always good to have guys like that on the team.”

On the team’s fight…

“It speaks to our resiliency, and I think we’re a team that never quits, never gives up and plays to the end. That’s something that’s big and I think will help us down the stretch.”

On Beverly exiting PNC Arena…

“We haven’t discussed it, but I think he’s going to need some security to help him get out of here.”

On Beverly’s contributions this season…

“He’s been huge, and that’s something we’ve seen from Beverly since he stepped on this campus. I attribute his ability to shoot and make big shots to his work ethic and how hard he works at shooting. It’s invaluable for us.”

On Clemson taking the lead…

“They went on a run down low and scored a couple of buckets. It’s a game of runs, though, and we had to match their energy and intensity and find a way to win at the end, like we did.”

On what this win means…

“It’s huge. You always want to protect your home floor, especially in a conference like the ACC. It’s definitely huge for us coming off of a loss. You never want to lose two in a row.”

On free throw defense against Clemson in PNC Arena…

“I don’t know what it is, but thank the fans I guess.”

Coach Brownell

Opening Statement

“We have some bad karma with free throws in this building. We missed a free throw with one second left last year to tie and then didn’t make any down the stretch to seal this game. I thought we played really hard and I don’t know that we played exceptionally well in terms of our offense, but I thought our kids really competed. I thought we were really good defensively. Give credit to State, they just kept hanging in there in the last minute. State having Johnson back was a big factor. He played very well. It was a huge shot by Beverly. It was a very competitive, tough game, which you expect when Clemson plays NC State. Unfortunately, we just didn’t finish it off.”

On foul timing at the end of the game…

“Beverly caught it in the corner–maybe he’s going to dribble it, maybe he’s going to shoot it. He wasn’t in a great position. That’s a hard one. Nine seconds is okay. It’d be better if it was five or six, but it’s not going to get to five or six. They’re probably going to shoot it. Your chance of then fouling a guy when he’s trying to make a shot is really good. It was a little bit of a tough break and I don’t think the foul bothered us as much as the missed free throws. Obviously we had our best free throw shooter up there.”

On Reed shooting end-of-game free throws…

“He’s an 86% free throw shooter. He’s made thousands of free throws for us to win games. He’s our best player. It’s just a tough break. I feel bad for him.”