This is what seems to be the UNC modus operandi:
1. Play even or better than even in the first half exhibiting difficulties when it comes to getting the offense really going through the game in the paint. The Heels lead at halftime but not by as much as one might expect as the other team has done well to hang in there.
2. Come out in the second half and during the first ten minutes pound the ball inside to Hansbrough and Wright. It really does not matter what is happening with the perimeter game as long as the points are coming in bunches from the paint. However if Ellington or anyone else is hot outside then it becomes a two edged sword for the opposing defense.
3. During the last ten minutes of the game take full advantage of the fact the opposing team has fallen apart from fatigue by running the ball even more and getting tons of easy baskets in the form of layups and slam dunks.
This has pretty much been how UNC has operated for the three games prior to tonight to the question coming in was how would the Heels perform against a team which could end up being the fifth best team in the conference and also in a conference game which for obvious reasons adds a whole new dimension to how these games are contested. In my opinion that added dimension had something to do with the degree to which Wayne Ellington struggled to find the range with a rather peaked 3-12 from the floor. Ellington did make up for that by chipping in five assists. Ty Lawson also seemed a little erratic at times running the offense but did have four steals on the defensive end. The other side of the coin is that Quentin Thomas and Bobby Frasor had solid games spelling Lawson at point in 13 minutes between them. Danny Green had another one of those utility games by posting eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
As for Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. Same old, same old. Hansbrough had 25 points most of it in the second half when UNC decided it was time to exploit the Noles’ general lack of size. Hansbrough scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half for the Heels including back-to-back three point plays. Wright also ended up with 20 points gleaning his opportunities opposite Hansbrough. As expected UNC controlled the boards by a margin of +13 and also was +5 on the offensive end which led to multiple second chance opportunities.
Defensively speaking I am of the opinion that the Heels are close where they need to be. FSU only shot 34% from the floor and was held to 58 points for the game. Al Thornton was basically it for the FSU offense with 29 points and 12 rebounds establishing himself was one of the top level players in the ACC. However, save for a handful of big shots from Isaiah Swann giving him 10 points. the Noles had very little in the way of offense outside of Thornton. Obviously they will need more from guys like Jason Rich and Toney Douglas to pull themselves out of the 0-2 conference hole they are presently in.
One more note: With the UCLA loss, UNC will in all liklihood be elevated to the #1 ranking in the polls for the first time since 2001. If I am not mistaken the Heels remained #1 until they went to Clemson and had an 18 game winning streak broken. UNC visits Clemson in 10 days.