|Harrison Barnes reacts to his dunk. Ethan Hyman photo|
We saw the “good” Tar Heels on Thursday night, in a 74-55 victory over N.C. State. They came out focused and energized and avoided mental lapses that have plagued them at times this season. If it looked as if the Tar Heels were trying to send N.C. State a message, that’s because they were.
Said Harrison Barnes: “Well, it’s not Carolina-Duke, but we definitely wanted to go out there and show them that this is our court and this is what we do.”
Barnes often plays with a calm, stoic demeanor, but we’ve seen him let loose his emotion at times in the past couple of games. He showed some emotion after that one-handed follow dunk in the first half, and not only did that energize the crowd, but it also seemed to have the same effect on his teammates.
As Roy Williams said earlier this season, these Tar Heels aren’t a naturally intense bunch. But he also said it’s possible for a team to learn how to play with an edge as a season progresses. Maybe what we saw in the second half against Virginia Tech, and last night, was UNC learning how to play with such an edge.
-- Andrew Carter