Wrap-up: NC State and a little Va Tech
UNC 82, Va. Tech 68
UNC 74, N.C. State 55
Your editors have let the ball drop again, not posting a wrap-up from the Va. Tech game. Well, we’ll just make this one worth a full one and a half wrap-ups because the second half of Va Tech was when this current streak of play started.
Since the second half of UNC’s 82-68 domination of Va. Tech, there has been a certain level of intensity around the team that continued into Thursday night’s meeting with State. In Blacksburg, it was Harrison Barnes who came alive for 21 points in the second half alone. Thursday it was Tyler Zeller, who exploded — exploded sounds odd when describing Zeller — for 21 points and a career-high 17 boards. Those are like Sean-May-February/March-of-2005 numbers.
The defensive effort has picked up substantially, and that’s probably the best thing that can happen to this team. If the defense can stay consistent, a bad shooting night won’t throw the Heels off track and put games out of reach. It prevents those little mishaps like what happened in Tallahassee, and it comes at the best possible time, the game right after the Heels lost their best defender, Dexter Strickland, for the season.
- Harrison Barnes is out of his slump. If his 27 points against Virginia Tech didn’t prove it, his monstrous dunks and smooth drives against N.C. State did. Good to see the Black Falcon soaring again. Loved seeing that emotion after the one-handed put-back against the Wolfpack. He said after the game that “We definitely wanted to go out and show them that this was our home court, and that’s what we did.’’ When Barnes stops playing it cool is usually when he looks scary good. I hope he keeps that edge for the rest of the year.
- P.J. Hairston is in a HUGE slump. Here’s Hairston’s line from beyond the arc since ACC play started: N.C. State, 0-5; Va. Tech, 1-2; FSU, 0-7; Miami 1-5; and BC, 2-5. You have to go all the way back to BC for the last time he’s hit 40 percent in a game. In conference play overall, he’s shooting 16.7 percent. If ever there was a time for him to hit a slump, it’s better for it to be now as opposed to March, but let’s hope he breaks out of this soon. Judging by how he played at the beginning of the season, it seems like he’s due for a good game.
- Zeller is morphing into a double-double machine. Tyler Zeller’s play since ACC games began has been fantastic. He’s a consistent force and most teams don’t have an answer for him. Unless UNC faces Florida State in the ACC Tourney, it might be a while until Z faces off against a forward or center who can physically match-up with him. Mason Plumlee? Please.
- Reggie Bullock stepped into his starting role very well. He hit 3-5 treys and added 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 33 minutes. The most important number from that sentence was 33. He played some decent D as well. You can tell his quickness isn’t at Strickland’s level, but his length helps a lot. The other guy getting some increased minutes, Stilman White, hit a trey and for a while was 1-1 from the floor. He will need to get more comfortable but considering he played 5 minutes last night, he can probably get to a level where he’s playing more like 10.
- As for a guy who came off the bench, James Michael McAdoo still doesn’t get it. He had three fouls in nine minutes of action and Desmond Hubert actually played more than James. He’ll need to step it up during ACC play if he’s going to play during March. Love Hubert, but McAdoo has the tools to be a much better player if he can get his head right.
- John Henson is also putting up ridiculous numbers. The stat stuffer is giving us no reason to think he can’t put up 15+ points and 15 boards every game. His presence on the defensive end is unreal – 6 blocks against the Hokies and 5 against the Wolfpack.
Players of the Game
Va. Tech – Harrison Barnes (27 points, 6 rebs, 3 stls, 1 blk) Black Falcon was simply unstoppable. This was the kind of play that would win a title.
N.C. State – Tyler Zeller (21 pts, 17 rebs, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk) Zeller was a man among the boys of N.C. State.
Stat Stuffer – John Henson (9 pts, 10 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl, 5 blks against State; 16 pts, 16 rebs, 6 blks against Va. Tech) Going to use this space to say, just go back and re-read those numbers again.