When North Carolina head coach Roy Williams met Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning in front of the scorer’s table after the final buzzer sounded on Saturday, Williams spoke the first words that came to his mind.
“I told Danny, and I really believe it, that we were the lucky team,” Williams said after the Tar Heels’ 73-69 win. “We weren’t necessarily the best team, and we darn sure weren’t the best coached team out there today.”
The No. 13 Tar Heels (12-2, 1-0 ACC) may have won on the scoreboard — thanks to senior guard Joel Berry II’s skyscraping floater to put UNC up for good with 9.7 seconds left in the game — but they were outscored 15-5 on fastbreak points and committed five more turnovers than their in-state competitor. North Carolina shot just 39.7 percent from the field and allowed a nine-point lead to evaporate over a three-minute stretch in the second half.
Williams wasn’t going to allow the victory in his team's conference opener to overshadow the teachable moment in front of him. He stepped toward the UNC locker room, trying to craft constructive criticisms for his team that — in several ways — fell short of the expectations he had.
"[There was] not a great, positive message to them in the locker room because by-golly we gotta play smarter and we gotta play harder," he said.