Game Wrap-Up: UNC avenges early season loss to UVA
UNC 93, Virginia 81
There was a lot to like about the game Saturday vs. the Virginia Cavaliers. Can’t say it wasn’t fun to watch two teams run the floor all afternoon and two scorers trading buckets. That’s only because we came out on the winning side of things. What did we learn about the UNC basketball team going forward though? That there will be blood shed if UNC plans to escape the ACC and make it into the NCAA tournament when the calendar flips to March.
- We got a taste of the high-scoring UNC teams we’ve been spoiled with in the past. And this was against a very good defense. UVA had not allowed more than 69 points in a game this year and the Heels showed up and dropped a big 93. P.J. Hairston continues to love the starter’s role pouring in 29 points on 6-12 shooting from long range. Even better was the balanced scoring all around. Four players in double digits and three players with six or more.
- P.J. was deservedly all the talk, but look at the combined stats of Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland (29 pts, 9 asts, 5 rebs, 3 stls and 3 TOs). The Heels have done a great job taking care of the ball over the last several contests and it’s been great seeing Marcus find his groove shooting (3-5 from 3). Dexter Strickland also leads the ACC with an assist-TO ratio of about 2.9.
- Besides Joe Harris the Cavaliers were consistent around but no other big games to speak of. Roy was able to use the small lineup to his advantage again without relying on the inside presence of James Michael McAdoo. McAdoo had a fine game but the Heels didn’t pick up as many rebounds as we’re accustomed to. There weren’t many missed shots to get though.
- It seemed like Roy was fine playing 9-10 players consistently until just recently. Joel James has missed games as he comes back from a concussion and we haven’t much missed his body. J.P. Tokoto, who has struggled to find his game so far in his UNC career, has also seen his minutes decrease over the last few. Only seven players reached double-digit minutes with Jackson Simmons (8 minutes) being the only other Heel coming close.
- UNC still has a lot to do to get into the postseason tournament that matters. Last week both UNC and UVA were on the shortlist of bubble teams that didn’t have any signature wins but had otherwise had a decent resume. A win against Virginia obviously helps the Tar Heels, but it’s at home so it’s not the win the Heels are in need of. That type of W comes in the form of State or Duke in the Dean Dome and a Maryland win on the road. We’ll say UNC MUST WIN at minimum two of those games. NC State and Maryland are even more important than Duke. Here is a current look at the ACC standings for kicks.
- Player of the Game: P.J. Hairston (29 pts, 7 rebs, 1 stl) Tempted to give it to Marcus, but can’t deny P.J. He’s in the zone.
- Stat of the Game: 22-30. If you didn’t know, that’s UNC’s FT numbers from Saturday. Not only is the 73 percent nice, but just the fact that they got to the line 30 times is pretty great. How many times do you think the team heard “free throw” since Wednesday night?