It's amazing how simple the game can be when the threes are falling...
Despite the fact that UNC is leading the nation in scoring, games like this have not been the norm for this Tar Heel team, as the Heels put up an offensive efficiency (OE) over 120.0 (125.6) for only the 6th time this season (and the 1st in ACC play). To put that in perspective, the 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009 teams all had OEs for the entire season that were in the mid-120's, so while this team has shown the ability to score, it hasn't always come easily. However, it did come easily last night, thanks in large part to a shooting display that led to only the 4th game all season in which Carolina had an eFG% over 60%. And in the first 20 minutes the numbers were even more impressive, as UNC shot 60% overall and 66.7% from beyond the arc, leading to a first-half scoring display (eFG%: 73.3, OE: 136.8) that would have been noteworthy for even the previously mentioned Carolina teams.
Defensively, the overall numbers (DE: 109.5, eFG%: 52.2, DR%: 67.6) were nowhere near the level that we have come to expect, but in this case, nearly all of that is the result of a 2nd-half that was played with zero-question as to the eventual outcome of the game. In the 1st-half, UNC's defense was actually quite good, as they limited GT to well under 1.0 point per possession (DE: 84.2), while blocking 16.2% of the Yellow Jackets' FGA and rebounding 72.7% of their misses.
- While UNC's overall defensive performance was sub-par, they were able to record double-figure steal (13.5) and block (11.8) percentages for the second game in-a-row. This is the first time (under Roy) that that has happened against ACC opponents (yes, the ACC is bad this year).
- One of the more disturbing trends for the Heels in the 3 games prior to last night's was the increased rate in which they were throwing the ball away. However, last night the Heels turned the ball over in a mere 13.5% of their possessions, the 3rd lowest rate of the season.
- UNC has an adjusted tempo of 74.6 possessions per game, which puts them on pace to be the "fastest" team during the Roy William's Era at Chapel Hill. This is despite having a point guard who some considered too "slow" to run Roy's system effectively (to be fair, I do think that Marshall is faster than he is given credit for).
Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings
[table id=173 /]
When Kendall Marshall buries a three off of the opening tip, you know it's going to be a long night for the opponent. Marshall is hard enough for other teams to to stop when they don't think he will/can shoot effectively. Add in that little bit of doubt, and it becomes damn near impossible, which is exactly what we saw last night. Marshall was absolutely brilliant last night, leading the team in P.I.R. for only the second time, while delivering his best overall performance since his 14 assist / 6 steal masterpiece against South Carolina. Marshall has upped his scoring now that we have entered ACC play (5.3 ppg in the non-conference, 7.8 ppg in the ACC), and his 12 assists (AST%: 50.9) will rightfully draw much attention; but, Marshall's biggest contribution last night came from what he didn't do: turn the ball over. After turning the ball over 22 times in the Tar Heels' first 5 ACC games, Marshall did so only once last night, despite (nearly) constant full-court pressure from Tech's Mfon Udofia. With the loss of Strickland, I imagine this will soon become a familiar tactic, as teams try to wear Marshall down with extra pressure. If he continues to handle the pressure like he did last night, then it may just as soon become a forgotten tactic.
The cumulative impact ratings for each player can be found below. A player’s average P.I.R., both for the season and the last five games only considers games in which the player officially logged at least 1 minute of game time. The C.V. is a measure of variation; the smaller the percentage, the more consistent the player’s performance has been. While it is not technically correct to use in this instance, because P.I.R. is an interval scale (it can go into the negative), it still has some value for the top-tier players, who will likely have a positive P.I.R. in every game.
[table id=174 /]
Note: I have added a new column to include each player's P.I.R. average in ACC games.