Winning the close ones.
This has undoubtedly been touched on at some point but last season UNC endured multiple games where the Heels were in striking distance to win only to see them fall short by basically giving it away down the stretch. That has not been the case this season as the Heels learned well the lessons of last season when it comes to how to handle the final minutes of a game.
Record in games decided by 10 points or less
2007: 5-6 regular season, 7-6 overall
2008: 6-1 through 28 games
The bottom line is UNC handles the late game situations much better. A quick perusal of UNC’s schedule from last season shows that if they did not flat blow a team out it was a real crap shoot in terms of trying to win. This season has been far more forgiving in this regard. Not only is UNC 3-0 in OT this season(versus 0-2 last season) but UNC has shown exceptional resiliency regardless of the circumstances. It really does not matter what position the Heels are in this season, they seem to find a way to win whether it means rallying from any number of points down to win the game or holding serve with a lead late. Obviously the only two exceptions show up in the record with UNC’s inability to rally versus Duke and the failure to hold of MD up four in the final two minutes. It also should be noted that this is still true despite the injuries showing some consistency in the quality of the coaching as well as what Tyler Hansbrough truly brings to table in terms of production when the Heels really need it.
Needless to say that while this has been nerveracking, it has been much nicer to come out on top in these games versus the tendency to drop games like this last season.