Wrap up: Paige Leads Heels in OT Victory over Hokies
UNC 72, Va. Tech 60
A 12-point win was not evident in the first four minutes of action on Saturday, when the Heels gave up a 12-0 run to start the game. The early spurt by Virgina Tech put Carolina in a hole it would crawl out of for the next 30 minutes, taking its first lead with 9:29 left in regulation. UNC followed Tech’s 12-0 run with an 8-2 run itself and maintained (maddeningly) a 1-4 point deficit for most of the game and could never pull more than a couple of points ahead of the Hokies. While up two with 46 seconds remaining, James Michael McAdoo turned the ball over and fouled Joey van Zegeran, who promptly tied the game with two free throws. Marcus Paige, who had played well the whole game, made a freshman turnover after UNC got the ball back to give Tech the last shot in the tie game- a miss by the nation’s leading scorer, Erik Green.
Perhaps the basketball gods didn’t want to punish Paige for his untimely mistake, or perhaps Reggie Bullock really is just a good defender, but either way, Paige realized his chance for redemption and capitalized on it in overtime, tallying eight points, two assists and one rebound in the extra frame. He ended up with a career high 19 on the game, but probably what stood out most to us was that he never let the game get out of hand and took control in crunch time. Was this Marcus Paige’s coming out party? We wouldn’t mind seeing more of the same.
- We miss P.J. Hairston. Hairston sat out the game with a concussion, and Carolina missed his scoring more than anything – only notching 26 points before halftime. It’s been a problem for this team all year, and yet somehow it’s eighth in the country in points per game. Weird. Anyway, Hairston has emerged as one of UNC’s most consistent threats and his absence would certainly be harder to overcome against Duke, Miami, Virigina or N.C. State. Let’s hope he’s back soon but now he has to get over flu-like symptoms as well.
- Tech ran a zone, and we actually were able to handle it. I’ve been worried about facing a zone for most of this season. With one of our best outside shooters in Hairston out, it seemed like a recipe for disaster and the 12-0 run to start the game didn’t help my nerves. Eventually though, Carolina began feeding McAdoo in the high post, where he was able to either take a jumper or distribute after the zone collapsed. I actually really liked this look for Mac. Rather than him taking his patented turnaround, fade-away jumper in the low block, he was able to catch and shoot that 13-footer with ease, and usually less defensive pressure.
- Marcus Paige is a baller. Paige has steadily been stringing together solid game after solid game. His increased scoring against Tech made everyone stop to look. Just the very threat of him being able to score affects how other teams will defend UNC and opens up more opportunities. It’s clear that Paige has the ability, and that it’s all about confidence for him from here on out. Some post-game quotes confirm that.
- It was important for the Heels to get this win. After they play Wake Forest on Tuesday, the next three games are @Miami, @Duke and Virginia at home. The top three teams in the league. UNC needs to head into that stretch at 6-3 and try to pick up at least one and preferably two wins out of those three games to feel good about their standing and post-season aspirations. As others have noted, right now the Heels are getting close to bubble territory.
Player of the Game: Marcus Paige (19 pts, 5 ast, 5 reb, 1 stl) Paige took control in overtime to seal what had been a closely contested game all afternoon.
That’s different: James Michael McAdoo was 8-12 from the floor. Noted shot-taker McAdoo, who went 7-20 against BC, shot an unusually high 66 percent from the floor. Mac is 45 percent on the season. I’m going to chalk it up to the high post offense UNC was running against the zone.