Here’s some comments Duke players and coach Mike Krzyzewski along with Central Florida coach Johnny Dawkins after No. 1 Duke rallied to beat Central Florida 77-76.
Q. Zion, what was your thoughts on the final drive looking down at a guy who was almost a foot taller than you when you took it to the basket?
ZION WILLIAMSON: You know, it’s March Madness. A lot’s going through my mind, but like Coach said, at that 2:09 mark when they were reviewing the play — you know, I consider him the greatest coach of all time. When he looks at you and tells you that you’re made for this moment, it’s like the most confidence you can be given. So when I went to the basket, I knew it was going in.
Q. R.J., what was going through your mind when you hit that shot at the end off the Zion missed free throw?
R.J. BARRETT: I was just thinking what can we do to win this game? I remember watching March Madness and watching a whole bunch of games and seeing missed free throws, somebody gets a rebound and a putback. So I thought, I’m just going to try to do whatever I can to get this rebound.
Q. Can you talk about their last possession, what Coach told you in the huddle, and kind of how that went down? It looked like they were going to hit that tip. What did it feel like on those last microseconds?
ZION WILLIAMSON: Go out there and play like defense. You’ve got to play like there’s no tomorrow. Tre played great defense and got — shoot like an off-balance shot. Dawkins came flying in. I mean, when he tipped it, you talk about microseconds, when that ball rolled around the rim, it looked like it was going in, but as Coach K talks a lot about the basketball gods, they had our back tonight.
Q. Just curious, with such a talented but young group of freshmen in the biggest moment of their athletic career at this point with two minutes left after the shot clock violation being reviewed, like what did you tell them to try to keep them calm and keep them focused?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We had a lot of time, one. It was a long time to do that. And on the court, I said, look, no matter what the decision will be made, there’s going to be eight to ten, maybe more possessions in this game. And you guys were made for these two minutes and just be yourselves. And they are.
You know, we had a lot of foul trouble, and we are young, and we’re not deep, but we’re good. But we had a lot of stuff go on today that was difficult for us, and they were still able — and the most difficult was the other team, and we were able to find a way to win. These kids are that — they have it. They have it. Hopefully, we can continue to advance, but I love who they are, and I have confidence in them. If they didn’t come through, then I got their backs, but they did come through.
Q. Coach, Zion’s final drive to the hoop where he got Tacko fouled out, were you comfortable with that call? And can you talk about the missed free throw, where R.J. Barrett got the rebound?
JOHNNY DAWKINS: Definitely. You have a terrific game, and I thought the game was ref’d great. I have no issues with how the game was ref’d. It’s a game you have to make plays. Unfortunately, we just didn’t make enough plays. They made one more play than we made, and that’s how it was going most of the evening. They came up with one more big one.
That’s all it was. I think his drive to the basket was strong, and you have to call what you see. I have no issues with that. So that’s the nature of our game.
Q. R.J. Barrett?
JOHNNY DAWKINS: R.J. Barrett, I haven’t seen that play over again, so I’m not sure. Same thing, the ball kind of bounced his way a little bit, and the kid made a great play. A lot of guys don’t see those plays to make. R.J., you’ve got to give him credit. He was staying in the moment. He made a terrific basketball play also, the rebound putback.