Dexter Strickland drives against defender Gabe Moton #1 of the Boston College Eagles during play at the Dean Smith Center. North Carolina won 83-60.
As a start to conference play goes, it could have been better. It could have gone worse, of course, as a twenty-three point win is nothing to sneeze at, but it wasn't the best of performances. UNC started out sluggishly, with the score as tight as 15-14 before the Heels opened it up with a 12-0 run. And they didn't fully close out the game until late, allowing the Eagles to get as close as nine in the second half. In the end, it was a comfortable win, but BC had more success than I'm entirely comfortable with.
That discomfort mostly occurred when UNC had the ball. They sputtered a bit, as the Eagles slowed things down with their zone defense. Carolina had difficulties shooting, especially from the bench players, who were a combined 4-18 from the field. The Heels poor offensive rebounding didn't help, as BC's zone at least denied them second shots. Instead, the scoring was the big three's responsibility, particularly Harrison Barnes. The sophomore had 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting, and Boston had no response for him.
He also had four of the Heels' nine steals, which brings us to the high point of the game, Carolina's defense. True, it wasn't against the strongest of opponents, but UNC really locked this team down, limiting them to only four offensive rebounds and forcing nineteen turnovers. Three of them were shot clock violations – and a fourth was blown by a late John Henson foul. The Eagles could accomplish nothing on offense, going for minutes without getting the ball to the rim at one point.
Will Boston College be this bad going forward? I don't think so. Their play today was an improvement over recent weeks, and the freshmen show promise. I doubt Matt Humphrey will be the key to their resurgence. Despite a team-high fourteen points, he was listless on offense without the ball, and dribbling into trouble with it. Perhaps he contributes more on defense, but if this team is going to score consistently, it won't be through him.
As for the Heels, they'll face an improving Miami on Tuesday, who just dropped a close one to Virginia on the road. They'll need a better offensive performance, but this defense is going to serve them well this season.