Harrison Barnes drives to the basket on Daniel Miller during their game at the Dean Smith Center.
If only it wasn't Georgia Tech.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that the Yellow Jackets posed a particular threat to Carolina. The Heels jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead and never really looked back. The defense was strong, completely taking Glen Rice, Jr. out of the game. And the offense introduced a new wrinkle, going 8 for 12 from behind the arc in the first half, and 10-16 for the game.
And this is why I wish it wasn't Georgia Tech. Because Tech doesn't have the greatest of defenses, especially on the perimeter. I can look with admiration at the way Kendall Marshall sliced up the interior defense on his way to 12 assists, and be confident that will be around for the entire season. But the perimeter shooting? That's a rarity, and one I would feel better about had the opposing defense been made of sterner stuff.
But, we play the hand we're dealt, and the Heels did well. P.J. Hairston shook off his offensive slump and drained two threes while continuing his recent defensive performance. Reggie Bullock sank three, and Marshall and Stilman White each contributed one. And Harrison Barnes just tore the Yellow Jackets apart, hitting all three of his threes on his way to a team-high 23 points. He's now gone for 20+ points in three of six ACC games, typically with at least one stretch where he completely takes over the game. Tonight it was a second half stint where he had seven straight points and forced one Georgia Tech timeout after a particularly vicious dunk.
But it's still Georgia Tech. And after Georgia Tech comes equally dismal Wake Forest, and then only slightly better Maryland. There's a lot of mediocrity in the ACC this season, and it won't be until the Duke game that we'll truly be able to judge how this team has improved since the Florida State loss. There's a lot of good here. I just wish there was a better opponent to test them.