Baseballs continued to fly out of Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, but this time it was Georgia Tech that would get the last laugh against UNC. "I did limp a little bit, but as I moved it and did the treatment this morning, it got better". "I think we're a pretty good team, honestly".
Berry assesses his own strength as being at between 75 and 80 percent.
BERRY'S STATUS: UNC coach Roy Williams said he is "hopeful" that point guard Joel Berry II will be ready to play despite an ankle injury that kept him out of practice Saturday. "That's the goal here, now that you're in the tournament- learn from winning and keep improving, because we know in the next round whoever it is we're going to play, they're going to be a really good team". "But just to wait and see". He went back to the locker room but quickly returned to the Tar Heel bench and ultimately checked back into the game.
"I'm not trying to think about stuff like that", said senior reserve guard Stilman White following UNC's 103-64 victory. If I can put all three of them together and have one player at the end, I wouldn't be that anxious. "You've got to play nearly ideal basketball".
UNC: Jackson's recent shooting funk was the most obvious concern as it started its push to return to the Final Four after losing in last year's title game.
The Tar Heels (28-7) led by 25 points at halftime, and cruised to their third biggest margin of victory in tournament history. You knew the game was over when, with 2:40 remaining in the first half, announcers pivoted away from game analysis to break down how awesome the Tigers' band is.
SEC teams went 4-1 in first-round NCAA Tournament games with Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida and SC winning and Vanderbilt losing. This was North Carolina's 163rd NCAA Tournament game, but its first in the state of SC. "Just a great job by these guys".
Williams said if Berry doesn't play, it will mean more minutes for seniors Nate Britt and Stilman White, and freshman Seventh Woods.
Without a doubt, though, the trio lacks Berry's proven ability as a shooter and as a defensive leader.
"It gave me confidence to go back out there", he said. "I think it speaks well in terms of what our conference is all about".
"I became more of a vocal player, and that is something I struggled all my life with". ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson broke out of his four-game shooting slump, scoring a game-high 21 points and converting 5-of-8 attempts from 3-point range. But we can't go out and draft anybody. We want to play at that pace ourselves.
Exactly 44 years later, the drought - the Gamecocks were one-and-done in their next five appearances - finally came to end in front of a boisterous, SC crowd who traveled the 2 hours north from Columbia to witness the end of an ugly run they couldn't have imagined would last this long.