Amid all the talk of the small lineup there is one aspect of this Tar Heel team that has been true all season long. If James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston all play well in the same game UNC is really, really good. If Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland compliment those guys by running the offense in an efficient manner and hit shots when called upon, you get something like the last eight minutes of the first half when UNC went on a 31-11 run to turn a one point deficit into a 19-point half time lead.
McAdoo probably had his best game of the season and absolutely his most efficient half of the year. He did a little bit of everything on his way to 17 first half points on 8-10 shooting. He would finish 21 points and only committed three turnovers which given his normal output there is an improvement. Bullock had another outstanding all-around game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. P.J. Hairston snapped out of a little shooting funk he was in to go 4-6 from three but also hit some mid-range shots to tally 16 on the day. For the game the "Big Three" scored 57 of UNC's 79 points.
The backcourt continues to play well with Marcus Paige dishing out nine assists versus three turnovers. Dexter Strickland had four assists and two steals to round out a solid effort from the UNC guard to facilitating the offense. UNC shot 55% from the floor and went 9-15 from three for a nice fat offensive efficiency of 123.4. The Heels had 20 assists on 31 made field goals highlighting a thoroughly efficient team effort on the offensive end.
On the defensive side, FSU did miss some open threes and it was probably not as crisp as it could have been. The Heels did enough in spurts to keep FSU from stringing too much together though the Seminoles did get within 12 in the second half. On the boards, which was a point of contention for Roy Williams after the Clemson game, UNC was dead even with FSU at 31 rebounds apiece. However UNC's OR% was only 26% which is below the season average of 35%. FSU had an OR% of 33% which is also above UNC's average in that area. In short, the rebounding will continue to be an area of struggle for this lineup against bigger teams.
Overall this was a nice win and the Tar Heels showing they are capable of playing high-level basketball, even if it comes in spurts. Steve Kerr, who did a great job on the analysis for CBS, pointed out UNC has to figure out a way to weather portions of the game with different lineup combinations on the floor. UNC is really good with the starters out there but when there is some shuffling of the lineup, things break down some. Of course in the bigger games down the stretch, I expect the key personnel to be in the 34+ mpg range. In fact Bullock went for 36 mins today and Paige played 34. That will likely be the case going forward unless UNC simply blows a team out.
UNC enters into the last week of the season at 21-8 and 11-5 in the ACC. The NCAA Tournament bid should no longer be an issue but avoiding ACC Tournament Thursday is still very much on the table. The Heels face a game at Maryland then Duke on Saturday. Both are winnable games but will be very tough for obvious reasons. A win on both would put this team on a significant roll heading into postseason play.