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UNC basketball coach Roy Williams ties Dean Smith on wins list

By
Alex Butler

Dec. 31 (UPI) -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams tied Tar Heels legend Dean Smith for fourth on the all-time Division I men's college basketball wins list after a 70-67 triumph over Yale.

Williams, 69, earned his 879th career victory Monday at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Tar Heels coach assumed his current role in 2003. He worked as a North Carolina assistant under Smith for 10 seasons.

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"You know, it's a number," Williams told reporters. "It means I've stayed here a long time, probably longer than some people wanted me to stay but that's what it is."

North Carolina honored Williams on the court after the game, with Tar Heels players Brandon Robinson and Garrison Brooks joining Smith's son Scott in presenting Williams with a picture of himself with Smith. Smith died in 2015.

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"Scott Smith came out and said one thing. ... 'Dad would be really happy for you.' I think he would be," Williams said.

Williams has a 461-138 record at North Carolina. He posted a 418-101 mark at Kansas, before becoming coach of the Tar Heels.

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"I think every game I've ever coached is a tribute to coach Smith," Williams said. "Greatest advice he ever gave me, the night before I left to go to Kansas as a head coach and I said something to him and he said 'just be yourself.' He said 'you're good enough, just be yourself, if you be yourself, you're going to be one of the great coaches.' So I've trusted that.

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"I do coach every game for the players, not for coach Smith and not for me. I coach every game for the players and try to do the best I can. Now let's talk about something else."

Williams has a chance to pass Smith and claim sole possession of No. 4 on the all-time wins list when the Tar Heels (8-5) face Georgia Tech at 6 p.m. EST Saturday in Chapel Hill.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski ranks first on the all-time wins list with 1,143 career victories. Jim Boehein ranks second, with 1,055 wins. Former Indiana coach Bob Knight ranks third, with 20 more victories than Smith and Williams.

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