I'm not sure if I can express how good a game this was to people who didn't see it. Looking at the score, sure you may be excited that UNC cracked the century mark, but you'll probably just chalk it up to Boston College not being very good. And their defense is indeed pretty bad. But they're a decent team at home, and Carolina just beat them worse than Duke managed in Cameron. This was the best complete game I've seen from the Tar Heels all season; from the moment they took their first lead – off of not coincidentally a Reggie Bullock three pointer – they didn't let up, putting over 100 points on the Eagles in regulation for the first time since 1996.
It's probably best to start with Reggie Bullock, who rattled home four three pointers in his first four shots. Three of them were part of a 9-0 Bullock-only run that gave the Heels the lead they'd never relinquish. His shooting forced Boston College to abandon their zone defense, freeing up the rest of the Heels to beat their defenders one-one-one. Bullock would cool off in the second half, but still finish with 16 points. The slack in the outside shooting was then picked up by Harrison Barnes, who was fully relaxed and on fire, leading all scorers with 26. I said after the State game that if he plays equally well against BC, it was safe to call this an improved Harrison Barnes; instead he exceeded his previous performance. Ladies and gentleman, we have ourselves a basketball team.
While Barnes and Bullock were getting things done from the outside, the frontcourt of Henson, Zeller, and Justin Knox were handling the paint. The trio were scoring with authority, as to be expected against BC's lackluster defense. But they also played well on the defensive end. Tyler Zeller would finish with three steals, including two on back-to-back possessions, by anticipating entry passes. Henson and Knox also had good defensive efforts, especially considering the Eagles' tendency to spread the floor kept them on the perimeter much more than their used to. Henson had two quick fouls, but played a good portion of the first half without picking up a third.
The entire team's defensive performance was good, although it may not be represented in the points per possession stats. UNC forced 16 BC turnovers, the most the Eagles have given up in conference play, and withered a pretty impressive perimeter shooting performance from the team. About the only thing the Heels couldn't do was find an answer for Joe Trapani. The BC forward would finish with 25 points and 15 rebounds – almost half of the entire team's boards – including nine on the offensive end. True, a lot of those were long bounces off the rim, or in a couple of cases airballs, but it was a weak spot for UNC, especially in the first half. The team recovered, and aside for a little sloppiness with the game well in hand, did nothing but impress. Even Blue Steel, the final five guys off the bench, extended the lead against the Eagles' starters after Patrick Crouch drained the team's eleventh three.
This is the best the team has played all season, and almost certainly since the championship team graduated. They even made 85% of their free throws and kept the turnovers to single digits. Hopefully they can carry this momentum through the tough stretch of FSU and Duke. After flying under the radar since the losses in November, they'll garner a lot more attention the rest of the way, but this team can handle it. Now things start getting gun.