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March 1, 2013

Recap | Box Score | Notes | UVA Gallery 1 media-icon-photogallery.gif | AP Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif | UVA Gallery 2 media-icon-photogallery.gif

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On the home crowd:
“I told our guys before the game, I said ‘none of the hype leading up to the game, all of the emotion, really matters because once the ball is tipped, it’s about what you’re doing, getting your game. But, if you play well, and you harness the energy that will be in the building, then it can be huge for you.’ I felt like they were a little nervous before the game, but boy, the way they came out, and then the way the crowd got behind them was terrific.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a lot of pretty special settings, and this one ranked up there, with how loud it was. That’s home court advantage. The guys fed off of it. Defensively, I thought it really helped them, and that’s what you need against a team like this.”

On Joe Harris:
“It was obviously a big game. Akil [Mitchell] was terrific. But, Joe [Harris] — I didn’t realize he had that many points until someone handed me the stat sheet. He obviously got to the line, got some offensive putbacks, a couple in the posts. He showed his versatility. When Joe gets that look in his eye that he’s not going to be denied, he’s hard to stop because of his strength and size. He’s playing very good basketball. We needed that.

“I’m so happy for him. That’s not for me to determine if he is [ACC Player of the Year], but I think he’s really improved. I think he’s probably surprising some people. We saw this coming. I don’t know if I saw 36 [points] and 7 [rebounds] coming, but we see it in practice and we see him improve. He’s the most unselfish guy that you’ll be around.”

On how far the team has come since loss to Delaware:
“I think we’re a different team personnel-wise, too. It’s part of having a young team and just getting better, understanding how you have to play, and then having guys play at a high level. A lot of guys did tonight, but Akil [Mitchell], certainly Joe [Harris]; those things need to happen. Those are two of our three upperclassmen. They’ve been in these kinds of situations, in terms of big games. It was nice that it mattered to win. To go from where we were to where we are is about improving, and young teams usually do that.”

On offense:
“Offensively, we had to do some different things. I was concerned with Duke and their ability to switch on screens and sort of pressure you. We tried to go out a little more, get on the glass, and then we always talk about position-rebounding on defense.”

“I thought we made them, for the most part, take contested shots. There were stretches where our defense was really good. At the end we struggled, and we made some turnovers offensively that we didn’t need, to make it that close. Guys were rallying and coming, and when a guy (Akil Mitchell) has 12 rebounds like that and our guards are a little bigger, our wings, that helped. When they play four guards, they’re not real big, besides Plumlee. That gives you help.”

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening Statement:
“I want to congratulate Virginia. I thought they played really hard. (Joe) Harris was fantastic, which we knew he would be. He is just one of the best players in the country. He had half their points and when you have a guy playing that well, it breaks everybody up. You know you’re playing with a stud. He was terrific. It was a very, very physical game and we’re not equipped for that type of game and we got knocked back. They were deserving of winning and congratulations to them.”

On what happened as Duke left the court at the end of the game:
“When we’ve lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court. Whatever you’re doing you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that’s cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on. Put yourself in a position with one of our players or coaches. I’m not saying anybody did this but the potential is there all the time for a fan to come up to you and say, “Coach, you’re a…” What do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story, right? So we deserve that type of protection. I’m always concerned about stuff like that, especially this time of the year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended or that becomes the national story? It is not all fun and games when you’re rushing the court, especially for the team that lost. But again, congratulations to them and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff, I’m all for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court.”

On UVa double teaming Mason Plumlee and missing Ryan Kelly:
“Well they do a double team on everybody. We haven’t had Ryan for two months. The four position was not played tonight by us. They doubled off not just the post, but ball screens. Those kids have done a good job for us, but tonight they didn’t play very well. We had zero offensive rebounds from that position and that position is not blocked out. But we’ve also won nine games since Ryan has been out so those kids have done a good job for us, but it just wasn’t tonight.”

On Akil Mitchell:
“He’s real good. He plays with poise and athleticism. He’s a good player but the key to their team is Harris. Harris is a big time player and an amazing competitor.”

Virginia Junior Guard Joe Harris

On his play tonight:
“Overall, it was a team effort tonight. It’s not like I did it by myself at all. We played really sound on both ends. To be honest, I was just really focused and trying to win the game. Fortunately enough, I was able to make a few baskets.”

On controlling the game:
“I felt like we did a really good job defensively all game. Obviously there are going to be some mistakes throughout the game, but I thought we did a really good job of playing really sound and tough on both ends. For the most part I felt like we had control the entire game. From the scouting report and watching film we had noticed that Plumlee didn’t necessarily show too hard off of ball screens. We tried to make an effort of curling those, trying to make rim-cuts, and I think that’s what was working for a majority of the game.”

On the NCAA Tournament implications:
“This is a big win for us and a big win for our program. We need to finish out the season strong. There can be no slouching in conference play. We have to finish the year on a high note and hopefully we’ll be fortunate enough to make the tournament.”

Virginia Forward Akil Mitchell

On playing against Mason Plumlee:
“He’s a great player. Just like against anyone else, I just tried to use my quickness and athleticism to stay in front of him. I tried to limit his post touches, but he wasn’t trying to post deep. But I think the post trap really threw him off a little bit. I really attribute that to Justin (Anderson) and Evan (Nolte) to getting there with their hot hands.”

On his free throw shooting:
“I feel a lot more confident in my shooting stroke. I talked a little to trash to Seth [Curry] from the line. There was one point where I hadn’t hit the rim, so I talked a little bit then hit four more. I kept talking to him and he gave me some motivation.”

On the home court advantage:
“Once they stormed the court it was fun. I’m losing my voice already. It’s great to see the fans be happy and feeling like that. I’m starting to get used to it. They get loud for a lot of games, but this was just deafening. You lose yourself in the game and it’s just a lot of fun.”

On the win:
“We were confident. We knew if we played the way we could that we could step up and play with this team. With the crowd like that, and I’ve been saying all year that we’re a different team at home, and we played with a lot of confidence and physicality.”

Senior Guard Jontel Evans

On Joe Harris’ performance:
“He’s finally got that killer mindset, and he showed it tonight on the big stage and national TV. If he keeps playing like that, the sky is the limit. His future is bright. He had an unbelievable performance and I’m very proud of him.”

On coming out to a 9-0 lead:
“I was excited inside, but I had to control that. Being the point guard of the team, I had to calm the guys down even though the place was jumping. We still had a lot of basketball left to play, and they’re a good team. Obviously, they’re gong to try to come back, so I needed to keep the team ready.”

On the post game celebration:
“It was unbelievable. I was excited at first, but then I started getting hot and scared that someone was going to topple over me. But our fans are great, and it was great to celebrate with them. Some of the football players that I know were lifting me up on their shoulders, and we were able to celebrate with the fans. It was a really good win. Duke was the only team that I haven’t beaten since I’ve been here, so to do it my senior season was really a great feeling. I’m really excited for my team. We came out and played a great basketball game.”

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