Wrap-up: Heels gets revenge against the Pack at home
UNC 76, NC State 65
That’s what they get for wearing black.
The Pack’s mind clearly hasn’t been right the past several weeks. In addition to its questionable sartorial choices, N.C. State basketball hasn’t had much working well on the court since these teams last met. While UNC has been on an upward trend, winning six of eight, State has been treading water, going 3-4. Being only three days from the greatest month of the year, it’s acceptable to check bracketology now, and if you look today, ESPN has UNC and State earning the same seed – No. 8. After their victory over Carolina a month ago, State’s prospects were much different, with the Wolfpack holding onto 5-seed.
So what’s changed? For the Tar Heels, Marcus Paige has continued to come along, redeeming his poor performance in Raleigh with a 14-point, 8-assist, 3-steal, 3-rebound, 0-TURNOVER game. Paige looked confident in his 31 minutes. Having now played in environments like PNC Arena and Cameron Indoor, playing at home must seem like a piece of cake for the freshman.
For State, it’s not so much what has changed as what’s stayed the same – a terrible record on the road. The Pack is 2-6 in true road games this year, and none of its quality wins have come on the road. Its wins over UNC and Duke were both at home, while it picked up a quality W over UConn in NYC. It’s true, the NCAA tourney is not played in true away venues, but State has two more away tilts before it ends the regular season. They’re not out of the fire, yet.
- Marcus Paige is growing up. The frosh has been steadily improving all year, and while not at a freakish Kendall-Marshall-esque pace, he’s at a point where we expect him to play well. Whether that’s a fair expectation is another argument, but one that Paige doesn’t really allow us to have because he keeps performing well. He did so against State is what could arguably be construed as the most important game thus far in the season – one the Heels desperately needed to win to stay comfortably in the field of 68.
- We have two scorers! Against State, it was Reggie Bullock doing the damage, dropping 22 and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. In recent games, P.J. Hairston was responsible for the scoring load. Roy has stated how uncomfortable the small lineup makes him, but having our best players on the court for most of the game has injected life into what was, at times, a stagnant offense earlier this year.
- McAdoo is still turnover prone. Much was made of the fact that C.J. Leslie had six turnovers and only six points, but Mac matched his turnover numbers to maintain his position in the Top 10 in turnovers per game in the ACC. For the record, Leslie is No. 1. We thought that with the small lineup there wouldn’t be as much pressure to constantly feed Mac and that would cut down on the TOs, but fact is, dude just turns it over a lot.
- The rotation is SHORT, bro. Things have been heading this way since the Duke game, but it’s time to recognize that UNC is really only giving six players quality tick, the starters plus Leslie McDonald. The other freshmen, Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons get a little run, but don’t really come close to double digit minutes. I guess if you’re going to go small, you gotta own it.
Players of the Game: Marcus Paige (14 pts, 8 ast, 3 stl, 3 reb, O TOs) He’s getting better all the time.
Stat Stuffer: Reggie Bullock (22 pts, 13 rebs, 3 ast) The return of the stat stuffer award! While not a typical winner, only charting in three categories, we have to recognize Bullock for his sensational game, but give Paige the nod above for the significance of his performance. We’ve seen Reggie do this before.