Game Notes: NC State at UNC
The Tar Heels take care of business at home.
by Rachelle Jean-Louis | @RJL24
The Tar Heels played like they had something to prove.
North Carolina State fans may have been hopeful for a comeback last night (especially after vandalizing a University of North Carolina campus sign with red paint), but those hopes quickly vanished. After the blowout, the score read UNC 74, N.C. State 55.
UNC put on an impressive show in the Dean E. Smith Center—one that had fans on their feet for most of the game. With quite a few N.C. State fans spread throughout the crowd, emotions ran high on and off the court.
The Pack struggled to find an offensive rhythm, airing most of their 3-point attempts and banking in a few (at which point a disgusted Heels fan yelled, “Those should be illegal!”), including Lorenzo Brown’s Hail-Mary from the opposite free throw line at the first half buzzer.
With a blocked shot early in the first half, John Henson’s defense foreshadowed his team’s overall great defensive effort. Mark Gottfried definitely didn’t see it coming, nor did he know how to adjust.
“They took away one option and we didn’t have the wherewithal to stay with our offense and really grind out good shots,” Gottfried said.
Nothing went right for the Wolfpack. North Carolina’s fast breaks seemed to catch them off guard in transition repeatedly early on. From then on, they never showed the ability to make consistent defensive stops. The exact opposite was happening on defense for the Heels, whose defensive performance came at a great time.
“I said early in the year I thought we had a chance to be good defensively,” Roy Williams pointed out. “I still say that. At times, we really haven’t been.”
Looking at how UNC defended the perimeter, you’d never know that Dexter Strickland was out for the season. Though he admits he needs to figure out a better rotation, Roy Williams tried to work PG Kendall Marshall’s minutes around timeouts.
“I was perfectly fine; I really didn’t get tired at all,” Marshall said. “Coach did a great job of managing the timeouts. Even when Stilman came in, we really didn’t lose anything.”
Freshman Stilman White is small but quick, and made some valuable plays in his few minutes—confidently draining a 3-point shot after checking into the game second half. Senior Tyler Zeller (an “animal!” in last night’s game, according to Marshall) stole the show, and showed some intensity and emotion on the court.
“When you look down the line and see Tyler with 17 rebounds, John with 5 blocks and Kendall (Marshall) with 11 assists, those are some good things out there,” Williams said.
The main task for the Heels will be repeating that effort in the remaining 11 games of the season, especially with two match-ups against rival Duke before the ACC Tournament.