Thoughts on N. Carolina 96 – 89 NC State

  1. A consummate win for the Tar Heels.  Coming off a short turnaround and the massive win against Duke, Carolina makes the short trip to Raleigh to play a revenge game of sorts. Everyone knew the Wolfpack faithful would be out in full force this afternoon, but the Heels answered.
  2. This was a game of runs. State responded to a run by Carolina with 19 straight points in the first half, but then Carolina reeled off 7 straight points to go into halftime only down 2. After missing 13 shots in a row during the State run, down 2 at half on the road did not seem too daunting. Often at halftime and during late timeouts in close games, Coach Williams poses a question, adapted to whatever the situation: “If you’d have told me before the game we’d be down 2 at halftime after the other team scores 19 straight points you’d take it right?” To which the answer is always yes.
  3. Carolina hammered the boards, ending with a 41-24 advantage. As well, they poured in buckets in transition, especially in the second half. Textbook Carolina basketball. The defensive rebounding was very strong in the first 10 minutes or so, as the effects of some missed opportunities and turnovers could have been further exacerbated, but no second chance points given up provided some relief.
  4. What a game from Luke Maye with 33 points and 17 rebounds, he was nearly unconscious in the 2nd half with a cool 25. As well, during the stretch in the second half from the under-12 media timeout to the end of the game, Theo Pinson had his hands on the ball a lot. Twice he made tough passes to a cutting Luke Maye and Joel Berry, and ended with 5 second half assists. He facilitated a lot in that time, setting screens, driving to the basket for buckets, and often making the pass that led to the assist.
  5. All night long the Tar Heels took advantage of mismatches after screen and switches by NC State. One of the things that allowed the Heels to play so well against Duke was to play solid team defense against the apparent mismatches, and the Heels did the flipside of that coin on offense today. Often in both halves, State’s small guards in Dorn and Beverley got switched onto Theo Pinson or Luke Maye, to which both responded with strong takes and finishes around the basket. A side note, the points in paint were a big factor for UNC, with 21 second chance points, strong transition game, and perhaps the most important thing: aggressive drives to the basket throughout.
  6. It seems as though the Heels have turned a corner defensively. Aside from the 19-0 run State had in the first half (for perspective, Carolina also missed 13 shots in a row during that span, many around the basket), the defense was solid. Carolina did a previously uncharacteristically great job of preventing open looks from 3, and challenged nearly every shot around the rim. The ball screen defense was spectacular tonight, where the big man helped long enough for the guard to recover and then recovered to his own man down low, and the guards did well to not get held up taking the wrong path around a screen or running directly into it.

Regardless of your view of the rivalry or non-rivalry between Carolina and State, it always feels good to get revenge on a team that beat you earlier in the season, and it always feels good to win this game. Despite a bunch of ping-pong like plays where loose balls ended up out of bounds or in the hands of State, and way too many unforced turnovers, the Heels held steadfast and hit shots when it mattered down the stretch to hold off a tough effort from NC State. Onto the third game in this 5 day stretch.

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