UNC 93 NCSU 62

It is about dang time.

I am glad to see that some of the players decided to login to THF late last night after I posted my preview post and take to heart my plea for some dominating basketball, especially on defense. 😉

It is has been said by various people but that first half was the best half of basketball this team has played all season. And the defense was exactly the kind of overwhelming, angry hornets swarming a target defense we all have been expecting to see from this team. And while I agree with Roy that NCSU missed some shots they could have hit I am convinced that the way UNC was operating on defense so upset the Wolfpack’s balance on offense nothing went right. Regardless of the problems NCSU has had on offense coming into this game, UNC exploited that and rebounded like men possessed which feed the fast break over and over and over. Obviously keeping up that kind of effort nursing a 30 point leads is a tall order and UNC allowed 49 second half points in large part because the Heels basically let off the gas on defense. However, when you crushed the life out of a team in the first half, as long as you keep the opposition about right there in the second I have little complaints.

On offense, if UNC had been clicking the whole game this could have been a repeat of the 2005 game in Charlottesville where the Heels went up by 50 at one point late in the second half. It seemed like it took UNC a little time to get things clicking but once they did it was an incredible display of how potent the offense can be if the dominoes start falling. Aside from that the most impressive piece of the offense was the balance as pointed out by J.P. Gilgio at ACC Now:

They won Saturday because Green, Deon Thompson and Quentin Thomas — aka the supporting cast — were effective.

Put it this way, UNC would have won by five if Tyler Hansbrough (13 points) and Ellington (13) hadn’t scored a point.

The ability to win games with different players on a game-to-game basis is the sign of a great team, and really an asset UNC has been missing since Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Marvin Williams left for the NBA.

The fact everyone was involved meant Ellington and Hansbrough were not the main offensive threat on the floor. A quick rundown on how each player did.

Tyler Hansbrough-Poor shooting day but had 13 rebounds.

Wayne Ellington-Only took nine shots, played excellent defense.

Danny Green-Stat line of the day and possibly the season so far. 13 points, 14 boards, 6 assists and blocked four shots. Incredible effort off the bench and in only 23 minutes of playing time.

Deon Thompson-Quiet 16 points on 7-15 shooting. Also had three blocks and may be rounding into the form we saw during the summer.

Marcus Ginyard-Made some key plays. Had five points, five assists and four rebounds.

Ty Lawson-ZERO turnovers to go along with five assists and 16 points on 4-6 three point shooting. If he gets into the perimeter shooting business alongside Ellington one can only imagine what kind of damage they can do.

Quentin Thomas-Solid, solid, solid play filling in for Lawson who spent some time on the bench getting his right ankle taped after tweaking it. Thomas also had four assists and ZERO turnovers reversing what has been a disturbing trend for him. This hopefully will be a confidence builder for him.

Alex Stepheson-Eight points, six rebounds and two blocks. Very nice to see Stepheson get back in the groove and make significant contributions while getting well above his average in minutes played.

I know I am running the risk of sounding a tad too giddy about this win but given some of the defensive efforts UNC has produced this season, it was nice to see them come out and bury someone. In the final analysis, this game could end up being the signature win that puts this team on track to play at the level expectations have been calling for since the beginning of the season. Certain individual players who needed a shot of confidence got that in a big way today. Thomas and Stepheson needed a game like this to help them find a place and we can only hope it persists as the season moves on.

In terms of the way the team played, a game like this can be seen as the light bulb coming on, especially as it pertains to defense. NCSU has a plethora of issues, especially on offense. The PG situation is dreadful, team chemistry is non-existent and there appear to be rampant problems with player effort at key times. So in respect to these issues UNC should decimate them in a game at home. The bugaboo so far this season for UNC is they have shown a penchant for substandard play against an inferior team out in the first half. Teams like Nicholls State, Valpo and even UNCA hung in far too long against a team ranked #1 in the nation. UNC came out and asserted it’s will, made life on offense a living hell for NC State and when that happens the best fast break(arguably) in the country goes absolutely nuts.

The next few games will tell us if this was one great game(like the Arizona game last season) that was followed by poor efforts down the line or the beginning of something beautiful. A trip to Atlanta this week will be a good test to see if UNC is possibly locked in for the long haul.

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12 Responses to UNC 93 NCSU 62

  1. 52BigGameJames says:

    good stuff THF–the relevance of a “signature win” (for me) is that they now have a baseline measure for how good, and how effective their defense can be. I still think Marcus is going to need to continue his offensive development. He and Green both have the ability to be significant offensive weapons imo. And Lawson adding the 3 dimension is big!

  2. Born and Bred Ed says:

    Yep. As Roy has said, they’re in trouble now because he knows that they can do it and he’ll expect it every time out now.

  3. william says:

    I have enjoyed reading StateFansNation today. Many of them are wishing they had “nerdy Herb” back. That shows just what a smack-down this was. Carolina could have won by 50.

  4. Howard says:

    I don’t think State fans, or the State team, should be beating themselves to death over this loss. They lost because they just happened to come face to face with a fired up and well playing UNC team. The same thing could happen to us, as it almost did against Clemson. State didn’t lose because of their coach or because they are a bad team, they lost because that day they faced a fantastic team playing fantastic ball.
    Of course, the hope that the Heels will continue to be that “fantastic team.”

  5. Wayne says:

    No, Howard, the same thing did NOT almost happen to us. We were in the game against Clemson for the full 45 minutes and showed the fortitude to never quit and never believe the game was over until it was actually over.

    State fell behind Carolina by 30+ in the first half and the game was essentially over well before half-time. Although UNC played very well, State played very poorly on both offense and defense and didn’t look like a TEAM, but five individuals who were not on the same page.

    I think State not only lost, but lost big to UNC, primarily because they are not a good team right now. Time will tell if they can develop into one.

  6. william says:

    I read somewhere that there is dissension on the Wolfback because Hicks has been pushed into starting above McCauley. Even though Hicks seems clearly better, such a change is a difficult one for a coach to pull off.

    Bilas seemed to be making an implicit reference to something like this. Has anyone else heard or read about this? Something is wrong with NC State, because Engin Atsur was a decent player, but he wasn’t all that. You would think, as most of the media and pollsters did, that subtracting only Atsur and adding Hicks equals a top twenty team. Even in the second, the Wolfback looked listless to me. Yes, some three-pointers were falling but what they should have been doing was working on their offense in stead of throwing up randow three pointers; the game was already over.

    I was surprised Roy didn’t sub until one minute left. Maybe he thought bringing them in earlier would be even more humiliating for State?

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I think Bilas’ comments, if you have seen them, are 100% correct. The team has no chemistry and no one is on the same page.

    As for subbing late, I think Roy was trying to get his principals guys to a certain minute total to keep them game ready to play at least the much.

  8. Wilson says:

    Yea, State’s demise goes well beyond missing an average ACC point guard. If you had told me after last year’s ACC Championship game that Costner would only score 4 the next time the two teams would meet, I would’ve been quick to call BS.

    He is playing uninspired and complacent, and is potentially playing himself right out of the NBA. I feel sorry for my friends that go to State, that’s how bad the situation is.

  9. C. Michael says:

    FYI (From IC)…

    Dexter Strickland has committed to the Tar Heels, InsideCarolina.com has learned through sources close to the situation. The 6-3, 175-pound junior guard will announce for UNC over Florida in a Sunday afternoon press conference at Madison Square Garden.

  10. Tardy Turtle says:

    I really liked the tough love Bilas gave the Wolfpack at halftime and after the game. He was speaking the truth about the depth of their problems. It was as bad a game as a good team can ever have.

    The failure of State this year has to rest on the coaches. The talent they have is at the elite level and the results are a disaster. They haven’t defined a role for the players. Their isolation offense did nothing against UNC and they had no “plan B” (how many times was the State offense going 1 on 3 in the paint?).

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    I am of the thinking that, as good of a player as he is, Hickson took their team balance (chemistry) off of the table. Last year Costner was beasting ( a term I hear teenagers use to describe a good post player) inside and now he looks confused as to what he is supposed to be doing (taking 3’s) and such. I certainly hope they can get it figured out. I wonder if Sydney Lowe is bringing on board too much of that NBA philosophy of not harping on players and such & letting players be players. This is college and these athletes need to be coached & disciplined (unlike million dollar nba players who won’t listen to it & demand trade).

  12. seth says:

    THF, good point about Arizona. The only thing that I’d add is that last season, we’d already shown signs of team weakness (Gonzaga / VT) by the time we went to the Wildcats. If a ten point winning effort over Nicholls State is the only flaw in our team thus far, I think we’ll answer the call as conference play continues.

    Oh, and to add insult to, well insult… Carolina Women also beat N.C. State this weekend (at N.C. State, where the Pack rarely lose).

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