Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media after Saturday's win over North Carolina.
Breakdown of Win: "We started pretty slow defensively. We let (James Michael) McAdoo get in the lane. Our centers made a nice adjustment, and our defense pretty much took over at that point. Jerami and C.J. had a huge first half. Our defense was really good the whole game.
Obviously, neither team shot the ball very well. I thought we were getting the shots we’d like to have. Trevor only took one bad shot, and he made that one. This was a defensive effort. We got loose balls, guys were getting on the floor, and we were making a lot of really good hustle plays. Rakeem (Christmas) and Jerami were getting a ton of loose balls and blocking shots. Tyler (Ennis) got after a couple 50-50 balls that he was able to come away with, and that was really the difference I think. Those plays got us a lot of extra possessions."
On Rakeem Christmas: "Rakeem was good. He was going after the ball. Baye (Moussa Keita) was getting after the ball well too. Our centers did a real good job. They (North Carolina) have a real good front line and we kept them in check for the most part."
On the Defense against North Carolina: "We were concerned about two things -- getting back on defense in transition and rebounding the ball. We gave them a couple break away lay-ups off turnovers early on, but we got that under control in the second half. We did the best job on the boards thus far this year, I think.
"We found Paige. We did a good job making him uncomfortable. He’s been the only guy really shooting the ball well from the perimeter. McDonald -- we did a pretty good job keeping him in check, he only got a couple looks.
"Paige got loose a little bit late in the second half, he got some open looks and he took advantage of them. I think we definitely lost a step defensively in the second half. But they had three or four plays they could have capitalized on, but they made some mistakes and turned the ball over a couple times, and we obviously benefitted from that."
On the Defense this Season: "We’ve been playing well lately. We played really well against Miami, luckily, because our offense wasn’t that great. Today we played our best first-half defense, I think. Of their 22 points in the first half, six or eight were off of turnovers, so that’s a very good defensive effort.
"UNC is still a force. The games they lost a lot of people don’t understand. They lost to Belmont and UAB because they missed 24 free throws. On any other night, they make 10 more free throws and win both of those games. And then they’ve beat the three teams that were ranked one, two, and three in the preseason. Those wins against Kentucky, Michigan State, and Louisville will be the best three wins anyone in the country has all year. Tonight they started the game great.
"We had to take it to them and make some unbelievable defensive plays to take the lead, some of the best we’ve made all year. Jerami had a couple blocks and dunks, Rakeem had a beautiful block on a layup, we made a ton of steals too. And that really was what won us the game, our defense carried us, there is no doubt about that."
On Jerami Grant: "He’s playing better. I think he was a little tired today. I liked him coming off the bench but DaJuan (Coleman) is still coming back. He practiced this week and he’s looking better -- he’s more mobile. We need a couple more practice days with him to see how much he’ll be able to do. Jerami has been playing about the same amount of minutes with him out though.
"Today he played a little more, probably too many. I think I should have gotten him a break for a stretch there. But he’s a key guy, he’s versatile, he can get a rebound, he can block a shot, and he’s shot the ball much better recently. C.J. was still the guy who got us going offensively in the first half."
On Adjustments to the Zone: "Well, after McAdoo got a few buckets in the paint we tried to do a better job on him, and our centers made some adjustments and did a good job on him. We really wanted to play Paige, he’s a good open shooter, we really didn’t want him to get going. Those were the two things we were looking at the most, defensively."
On the First Half Run: "It was all defense. C.J. (Fair) and Jerami (Grant) got going and Tyler (Ennis) had as many turnovers as he has had all year long in the first half. But he figured it out in the second half and made some good plays."
On Comparing This Year's Team to Last Year's: "I don’t listen to the comparison to past teams. Every team that is good has a chance to win a national championship, that’s college basketball. It’s been that way for the past 10 years and if you have a top 15 team you have a shot of winning it all.
"There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout the season and we have some tough games ahead as we go forward. How we react to these future games will determine if we are tough enough to make a Final Four."
On North Carolina's 0-3 ACC Start: "North Carolina is 0-3 in the ACC but they will bounce back. You’re going to get beat up in a league like this."
On the Progression of the Team: "We have a lot of guys that are going to get better. This is the first time Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis were in a meaningful game and even Jerami didn’t play a lot last year and didn’t play as much when we made our run.
"We had one guy who was our key guy last year. We have played really well when we needed to in tough games and that’s why we are where we are. It’s a good quality to have as a team but it’s not going to happen every time we play. This team can get better."
Looking Ahead to Boston College: "Boston College has lost a lot of games but they have lost games by one or two points. You don’t know what’s going to happen, if you don’t bring your game you’re going to have a tough time. We played a good road game against Virginia Tech and I hope that happens when we play Boston College."