Roy Williams: "I'll be fine" after on-court collapse

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

BOSTON (WTVD) -- Playing most of the second half without coach Roy Williams, who left the bench after complaining of vertigo, No. 9 North Carolina rallied to beat Boston College 68-65 on Tuesday night thanks to 20 points from Justin Jackson.

Update: Roy Williams is expected to return to the next team practice.

Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner said Williams, 65, who has suffered from vertigo in the past, felt dizzy and returned to the locker room but was OK. Assistant Steve Robinson took over the coaching, and the Tar Heels eventually came around after falling behind by nine points in the first half.

"I'm alive. I'm kicking," Williams said afterward. "I've had some vertigo attacks over the last 17 or 18 years. This is the first time I really had one during a game. I said something to the referee. I didn't respond correctly to his response. I kind of whirled around, and that's when it hit."

Williams said his condition, known as benign positional vertigo, is triggered by sudden head movements. He had previous bouts with vertigo in the past and felt dizzy when standing up quickly.

"Every attack that I've had is when I've jerked my head quickly," he said.

Assistant coach Steve Robinson assumed coaching duties for the remainder of the game. Williams received medication in the locker room and remained there until after the game, when he went out to shake Eagles coach Jim Christian's hand.

Williams said he wanted to let Christian know he never intended to be a distraction.

"I was very concerned because I didn't want to be a distraction," he said. "I'll be fine. I'm not dead yet."

Christian said he was thankful that Williams' incident wasn't serious.

"For him to come back out and congratulate our kids on their effort speaks volumes as to why he's a Hall of Fame coach," Christian said. "He really wanted to congratulate them, and deservedly so. Anybody who saw this game today saw a lot of heart, a lot of character."

In a deadpan manner, Williams said, "I've been diagnosed in Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Kansas, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Chapel Hill Hospital. All three. I don't know that the doctors really care that much about me. I just think they don't want me to die on their watch."

Though the incident stunned many in Conte Forum on Tuesday, Robinson said there wasn't panic in the UNC huddle after Williams collapsed.

"I think we really rallied around the fact that Coach was down," Robinson said. "Our team really tried to pick things up with Coach out."

Sophomore swingman Justin Jackson, who led the Tar Heels with 20 points, said part of the reason the team was able to stay focused was that it had seen Williams go through similar attacks.

"We know he'll be back out there for us," Jackson said. "He's our leader. We'll rely on him and know he'll be back out there. We've seen it before, not in a game, but we've seen it before, and he's been fine after a little bit.

"It definitely stinks in the middle of a game to see your coach go down like that. But Coach never quits, so we know he'll be back."

The Eagles, who have not won an Atlantic Coast Conference game this season, led the whole way until Theo Pinson hit two free throws with under 4 minutes remaining. After BC retook the lead, Marcus Paige hit a 3-pointer to make it 62-60.

The Tar Heels (20-4, 9-2) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Dennis Clifford had 14 points and 13 rebounds for BC (7-17, 0-11).

Clifford had six rebounds in the first 6 minutes to help BC open a 13-4 lead. The 7-foot senior, who has had only one double-double in his career, finished the first half with nine boards and eight points, then opened the second half with a dunk that he celebrated by flexing his arm at the BC bench.

BC's Matt Milon hit a 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds left to make it a one-point game. But after Paige made two free throws, Eli Carter's 3-point attempt from halfcourt at the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the backboard.

Clifford added another dunk with 7:33 left to make it 56-49. This time, he threw it down with both hands, then flexed both arms as he ran back on defense.

But BC went cold, failing to score for almost 4 minutes while the Tar Heels ran off eight straight points to take their first lead of the game.

Clifford missed the front end of a 1-and-1, then fouled Theo Pinson going for a rebound. Pinson made both free throws with 3:55 left to put Carolina ahead 57-56 with 3:55 left.

Carter made one of two free throws to tie it and then, after Jackson hit a jumper in the lane, Carter made a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 60-59 lead. It was their first basket in 5:24.

But Paige hit a 3 with 1:47 left, and after BC couldn't get a shot off Jackson made a short jumper from the side to give Carolina a four-point lead. It was still four points when Milon made a 3 with 5.6 seconds to play to make it 66-65.

Carter scored 26 points.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels are coming off their longest losing streak of the season: two games. They haven't lost three straight conference games since they started the 2013-14 season by losing three in a row.

Boston College: Forward A.J. Turner went to the court holding his right ankle a few minutes into the second half. He was helped to the locker room. He returned to the bench late in the second half still in uniform, but on crutches.


North Carolina: Hosts Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Syracuse on Sunday.

The Associated Press and ESPN contributed to this report.

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