CHAPEL HILL- No. 3 North Carolina defeated Boston College 83-60 in the ACC opener for both teams. A look back at the highlights and lowlights from the Smith Center:
Why the Tar Heels won: North Carolina used a 10-0 run to take control in the first half, and then opened the second half on a 10-2 run. Outside of those two stretches, this was a surprisingly a pretty even game. Boston College, with its 12 first-year players and nine freshmen, showed some toughness and didn’t really go away. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, played well in stretches but had too many mental lapses, coachRoy Williamssaid. UNC won comfortably and should have. Even so, it was probably a tad closer than the 23-point final margin indicated.
The good: The Heels dominated in the paint, where they outscored the Eagles 46-26. AndHarrison Barneshad one of his better games of the season. He finished with 25 points, made 10 of his 15 shots, and had one highlight-worthy dunk that brought the crowd to its feet during the first half. In fact, UNC’s entire front court played well. The big three of Barnes,John HensonandTyler Zellercombined to score 59 points and they made 23 of their 36 field goal attempts.
The bad: Williams and his players spoke a lot about raising their intensity entering ACC play but the Tar Heels were a bit sluggish to start. About eight-and-a-half minutes into the game, UNC led just 15-14 before going on that 10-0 run. Plus, the Heels allowed Boston College to hang around. UNC built a 21-point lead early in the second half, only to see the Eagles cut it nine with about nine minutes to play. That frustrated Williams. So, too, did his team’s defensive lapses in the second half, when UNC failed to properly play screens that led to three Eagles’ baskets. The Tar Heels’ bench has been solid for much of the season but it was unproductive on Saturday.Reggie Bullock,James Michael McAdooandP.J. Hairstoncombined to make 4 of their 19 attempts from the field and they scored 11 points as a group.
Key stat: The Tar Heels made 23 of their 35 field-goal attempts inside the paint. But they were just 8-for-31 outside of the lane. And just 3-for-17 on 2-point shots outside of the paint. If the Heels shoot better from the outside – both beyond the arc and inside of it, then UNC wins by at least 30.
Key stat II: Barnes, Zeller and Henson combined for 59 points and made 23 of their 36 shots from the field. When the Big Three are playing that well, UNC will be difficult to beat.
UNC player of the game: Barnes. Finished with 25 points and did it in a variety of ways – on the inside and from the outside. He made 3 of his 4 3-point attempts and also picked his moments to go to the basket and be aggressive.
Quotable: “You can’t make that pass. We have a lob for a dunk and you throw it over the backboard. I told him at 61, I can make that pass. Never had a guy that does a better job looking up and having the vision on the court that he does. But I really got ticked off there for a couple of minutes when it got down to nine or 10. But it wasn’t because it got to nine or 10. It was because we decided not to help down in the post, and Kendall goes and helps down in the post and his guy makes a three. And we say go over the screen, Harrison went below the screen, his guy makes a three. Next time he goes below the screen, Z steps out and help and they throw it Z’s man for a layup. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes.” –UNC coach Roy Williams, first on his frustration with Kendall Marshall’s errant lob to Harrison Barnes, and then on his team’s defensive lapses in the second half.
David Scott has been with the Observer for 28 years and has written about ACC, SEC and other college sports in the Charlotte region. He covers Wake Forest, South Carolina and college soccer for the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.
J.P. Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997, and the Observer.
Andrew Carter covers the North Carolina Tar Heels for the Observer and News & Observer.
Laura Keeley covers the Duke Blue Devils for the Observer and News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter.
Chip Alexander covers the Carolina Hurricanes and college football for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1979, and the Observer.
Luke DeCock has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist for the Observer and News & Observer in August 2008.
Tim Crothers is an author and former senior writer at Sports Illustrated who is joining the sports staff to write a regular column during the rest of the college basketball season.