The Heels finally threw a knock-out punch. For the first 30 minutes, this game felt like most of Carolina's other ACC contests: they were ahead, and maybe even in control, but their lead was by no means "safe." That all ended with a tip in by Tyler Zeller at the 13:44-mark that set the Heels off on a 28-5 run. A run that buried the Terrapins and essentially ended the game by the penultimate T.V. timeout.
North Carolina shot under 40% from the field (39.4) and had an eFG% under 50.0 (43.0) and still ended the game with a solid offensive efficiency (115.8; season average 112.7) and a 24-point win. The Heels enjoyed an enormous advantage at the line, outscoring the Terps by 14 points thanks to both the rate at which they went to the line (FTR: 46.5 - 33.3) and the success they had once there (FT%: 81.8; made 25 of their last 29), but the real story of the game was turnovers. After seeing its last two opponents turn the ball over in less than 7.0% of their possessions, the Heels amped up their defensive pressure and forced Maryland to cough the ball up 22.4% of the time. That alone is generally enough to win a game, but the Heels made it a double-whammy, as they also took excellent care of the ball when they were in possession of it (TO%: 9.2). As a result of this large disparity in TO%, Carolina enjoyed a 21-1 advantage in points off of turnovers. It would be nice if the Heels could more regularly be a threat from behind the arc, but they can still win a lot of games by continuing to capitalize at the line and protecting the basketball.
- As an added benefit of Maryland's 17 turnovers, UNC was able to snap a 5-game streak of sub-70 possession games (76 possessions).
- UNC has now hit at least 75.0% of its free-throws in four straight games, the longest streak since the 2009 team did it six games in a row towards the end of their ACC schedule.
- This was the 3rd time this season that the Heels had a TO% under 10.0. In Roy's first 8 season's, UNC had a total of 4 such games.
- UNC's season TO% is now 16.3, which is just under the benchmark rate set by the 2009 team (16.4).
- This was the 9th game of the season in which the Heels had an A/T ratio of 2.0 or better, tying last year's team for the Roy Era record.
Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings
[table id=193 /]
Is the race for ACC Player of the Year over? Well, the fat lady may not be singing, but she is certainly warming up. Zeller entered yesterday's game already possessing significant (national) support for his candidacy, and it is hard to imagine that last night's performance did anything but solidify his position. Despite having one of his poorer games from the field (eFG%: 41.6), Zeller was still dominant, delivering his 5th game with a 50.0+ P.I.R. in ACC play (and 6th overall). While Zeller certainly stuffed the stat sheet (OR%: 20.2, Blk%: 10.3, Stl%: 3.8), it was his near historic performance at the line that stole the show. Zeller had an individual FTR of 191.6, taking him to the line 23 times (UNC Record: 25). And once there, Zeller did what he usually does: make free-throws, 20 in all (FT%: 87.0), one short of the UNC record.
Earlier this week, Tyler Zeller set the bar for what a UNC student-athlete should aspire to be, becoming the first Tar Heel to be named the Academic All-American of the Year. Last night, he set the bar for how a Senior basketball player should end his Smith Center playing days. It has been a remarkable run, and something tells me that the story is no where close to being over.
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=194 /]