UNC vs. FSU: Beyond the Box

So at what point to opposing coaches start to make late-game decisions against the Tar Heels under the assumption that Harrison Barnes is going to make the last shot if given the chance? Is this now the basketball equivalent of driving for a go-ahead score in football against the Colts in a manner that not only gets the score, but knocks the time down as close to zero as possible, because if you don't, then Manning will beat you. One could argue that we were at that point already before yesterday's game, but I don't think that there is any question now. After Kitchen made the second free-throw last night, I actually thought to myself that, for this UNC team, being down one with 18-seconds to go may be a better position to be in than being up one and on defense with 30-seconds to go. Barnes is just that good.

Four Factors

Basketball can be a funny game.  North Carolina and Florida State entered last night's game as the #2 and #4 teams in the country in defensive efficiency, respectively.  On top of that, neither team was known as a particularly good shooting team, as both were under 50.0 in eFG% for the season (UNC: 49.1; FSU: 49.0).  So of course, it should be no surprise that we were treated to a relative shoot-out, as both teams ended the game with eFG% well above 50.0 (UNC: 52.7; FSU: 52.5).  For Carolina, this was their first game over the 50.0-threshold since the last time they played FSU, and it was also the first time that they yielded an eFG% over 50.0 since they did so to FSU in February.  Like I said, basketball can be a funny game.

Looking over the rest of the stats, despite Barnes' heroics, UNC really won this game because they dominated a good rebounding team on the glass (OR%: 40.6; DR% 74.3) and had a large advantage in both FTR (32.7) and FT% (77.8).  These advantages were critical, as the Heels were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball (game TO%: 22.7; 2nd half TO%: 29.4), and were forced to overcome an 18-7 deficit in points off turnovers.

Statistical Highlights

  • After getting outscored from behind the arc in 10 of their first 12 ACC games, UNC has now outscored its last 3 opponents from three and is shooting a respectable 34.6% in doing so.
  • Over the last 6 games, UNC is shooting 73.0% from the foul line (92-126) and they have been over 77% in each of the last 3 games.
  • This was the 14th time UNC has blocked at least 10.0% of its opponents shots this season (Blk%: 10.0).  They have won all 14 of those games.
  • Florida State is the only team to have blocked at least 10.0% of UNC's shots this season (Blk%: 10.9).  They have now done it twice, and yet, Carolina's OE against the Seminoles is 117.5.
  • Justin Knox provided the Heels with some solid minutes last night and led the team in Roland Rating with a score of +12.   Surprisingly, Dexter Strickland (+6) was the only starter with a positive Roland Rating, and for the first time in a long time, Kendall Marshall was the low man, with a score of -6.

Beyond the Box Player of the Game

Before getting to the POG for the FSU game, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10% or minimum minutes percentage: 80.0):

[table id=92 /]

Harrison Barnes obviously made the play of the game, and overall, had a very solid and efficient game, scoring 18 points on just 10 field goal attempts.  But in terms of the Player of the Game, from start to finish, John Henson owned this game.  Henson was absolutely scintillating in putting together what was arguably the best game of his career.  Henson led the Heels in points (19), OR% (10.6), DR% (29.2), block% (7.1) possession% (20.6), floor % (71.4), and was second on the team in ORtg (136.5) and assist% (12.6).  It really doesn't get more dominant than that.  Additionally, Henson went a career best 5-6 from the free throw line and has now made 11 of his last 12 free throws, upping him to 58% from the line in ACC games.  While 58% is still not good (obviously), it is approaching a level that can be lived with, and more importantly, it is a terrific improvement from where he was at the beginning of the season.  Henson deserves a ton of credit for continuing to work at this, and given that his form has always been good, it would not surprise me in the least if he eventually develops into a respectable free-throw shooter.

Beyond the Box Player of the Year

The BTB POY is based on a points system in which a player gets 10 points for being named the POG and 3 points for having a top five ORtg, with a 2 point bonus for having the top ORtg.   What follows are the updated standings through 29 games.

[table id=93 /]

Note: For reference, a full stats glossary can be found at StatSheet.com.

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