Posted: 9:46 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, 2014
The Hoos shook off some early game sloppiness, turning a tight game into a blowout. The Hoos struggled all game to keep the Heels off the glass, and the early game sloppy offense was keeping the Heels in it. Once they settled things down, they were able to put the Heels away.
While a 15 point win is a good solid win, the final score of 76-61 doesn't really tell the story of this game. The game was back and forth for the first 15 minutes or so, with the Heels taking a 27-26 lead with just under 6 minutes to go in the opening half. The Hoos retook the lead on a pair of Joe Harris FTs about 20 seconds later, and never trailed again.
The Hoos finished the first half on a 12-2 run which basically ended the game. They led by as many as 23, and the Heels never came within single-digits over the final 19 minutes of the game. The Hoos missed 5 consecutive FTs down the stretch, which helped to make the final score look closer. In the waning moments of the game, Jay Bilas and the rest of the ESPN crew were discussing how UNC never seemed willing to fight for the game. Bilas asked, rhetorically, "Was there ever a point when you thought UNC would win this game?".
The honest answer to that question is no. Despite being in a see-saw game early on, the Heels never seemed into it. The Hoos were the team diving after loose balls and hustling all over the floor. UNC came in with a solid game plan, and it was working. They were getting some easy looks against the packline defense and they were all over the offensive glass. This is what kept them in the game. Once the Hoos adjusted their defense, and started getting their collective act together on offense, the game became a laugher.
Early on, it was the Joe Harris show. Harris scored the Hoos first 9 points on a trio of trifectas, all assisted by London Perrantes. Harris cooled off after those 3 bombs, finishing with 16 points. Perrantes ended up with 9 assists and just 1 turnover. The freshman PG also chipped in 8 points, 2 steals, and made both of his 3 point attempts. London was really the star of the show all game long. He just keeps getting better and better. Malcolm Brogdon tied Joe for the team lead with 16 points of his own.
The Hoos were out-rebounded on the night, with Joe recorded not a single board. Akil Mitchell led the team with 11 boards and Anthony Gill had 8. The game was not a highlight reel for defensive rebounding, as the Heels rebounded over 41% of their misses and the Hoos rebounded nearly 37% of theirs.
The rebounds weren't enough, as the Heels shot just 41% from the field, and 26% from 3. The Heels were led by Kennedy Meeks, who had 15 points and 9 rebounds. The Heels' leading scorer, Marcus Paige, came into the game averaging over 17 points per game but had just 9 on the night. James Michael McAdoo, UNC's top NBA prospect, had 11 points and 4 boards. Meeks was the only Tar Heel to who looked like he belonged in baby blue.
With the win, the Hoos move to 5-1 in the conference, half a game behind ACC leading Syracuse and half a game ahead of Pitt and Clemson. The Heels fall to 1-4 in conference, tied with 4 other teams for dead last.
The Hoos turned the tables on a typical UNC game, by converting more FTs than their opponent attempts. This is usually a staple of UNC (and Duke) in ACC contests, but the Hoos were by far the more aggressive team. Despite shooting just 55% from the stripe, the Hoos made 16 FTs and the Heels attempted just 12. That the Heels made just 5 out of their 12 just adds to the embarrassment of that statistic.
All in all, the Hoos come away with an easy home win over an over-matched opponent. That isn't something the Hoos have been able to say about a UNC game in quite some time (or ever?). That said, there are things that the Hoos need to work on, not the least of which is FT shooting. A closer game would've become harrowing down the stretch as 4 different Hoos missed FTs in the final 5 minutes.
The Hoos are back in action on Saturday at JPJ against the Hokies. UNC, in case anybody cares, doesn't play again until Sunday when they host Clemson.