It's been a little over twelve hours and Marcus Paige's 35 points to power North Carolina to an overtime win over NC State is still resonating through the Tar Heel fan base. Like all things the benefit of time will help us to properly place this game in the correct historical context regarding legendary Tar Heel performances. At the very least, this game will probably earn a spot in the media guide along with all the other great UNC finishes over the years. Paige's play of late has been so good it got him recognized at Deadspin for being "College Basketball's Newest Little Badass"
Paige scored just four points in the first half of last night's game against NC State. In the second half and overtime, he scored 31 points while turning NC State's defense to ash and carrying his team to an 85-84 victory. None of those 31 points were as impressive as the last two, which the 6-foot-1 guard netted after driving into the teeth of the NC State defense and sending home the softest little lefty layup with 0.9 seconds left on the clock. 85-84, North Carolina. "How in the hell did this little dude just do that?"
Paige's game winning layup or the raining of threes weren't the only eye opening moments. This play in the first half may have piqued Larry Fedora's attention since it might be the best play on a pass by a Tar Heel this school year.
Not only did Paige make a great play to get the ball but after hitting the broadcast table hard he got back into the play and was at the goal when J.P. Tokoto threw down the dunk.
Another indication of how clutch Paige was list night, statistically speaking UNC was on the brink of losing. With 1:34 left in overtime and NC State up 82-76, according to KenPom UNC had a 5.4% chance of winning the game. However, just prior to that T.J. Warren went to the line looking to complete a three point play that would have made the Wolfpack lead seven. Warren missed the free throw and the lead stayed at six. That missed free throw didn't feel like a big deal then but it could have been one had he made it. A seven point lead, which is three possession, would have felt more like NC State was in control than a six point lead did. After Warren's miss, Paige scored 10 of UNC's next 14 points including the game winner.
Here are some quick facts per UNC.
-Paige's 35 points is the most by a Tar Heel since Harrison Barnes posted 40 against Clemson in 2011.
-It is the third most against NC State with Bob Lewis(1967) and Antawn Jamison(1998) both scoring 36 points against the Wolfpack.
-This is the 12th time this season Paige has scored four or fewer points in the first half and posted double-digits after halftime.
And a quick update to the Second Half Marcus Paige numbers from earlier in the week. Paige is now shooting 58% from three after the 10 minute mark of the second half in ACC play. He is at 52% on all shots in tht same span. Paige is averaging 12.4 ppg in the second half against ACC teams and 8.3 ppg after the ten minute mark.
One final note, check out Paige describing the final play of the game. UNC had no timeouts left yet the Tar Heels got great execution with Brice Johnson setting a screen at the top of the key which drew Wolfpack center Jordan Vandenburg away from the basket. James Michael McAdoo did a great job boxing out on the other side to prevent Kyle Washington from getting involved. Fittingly Paige won the game with a difficult lay-up over the outstretched arms of T.J. Warren. Paige got the job done but Roy Williams should get credit for having his team prepared to deal with that kind of situation without the benefit of huddling with the coaching staff.
Here's the game winner once more, this time with the Tar Heel Sports Network call and a special video from UNC on Paige which includes the scene in the locker room afterwards.