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UNC vs. St. Francis(PA): Beyond the Box

Now that is how you start a New Year! The Tar Heels snapped a two-year streak of dropping their first game after the singing of "Auld Lang Syne," using one of the most balanced offense games in the school's history to annihilate a completely over-matched Red Flash. A game like this really does not offer too much insight into how the team is performing, but it does provide a nice exclamation point to what was a much improved second-half of the non-conference schedule.

Four Factors

Entering the game, St. Francis rated, statistically, as Carolina's weakest opponent, and the stats from this game certainly do nothing to weaken that argument.  UNC was bigger, more athletic, and just plain more talented than the Red Flash and they used this advantage to produce season's bests in eFG% (65.2), eFG% defense (33.6), TO% (13.3), defensive efficiency (72.0) and efficiency margin (0.65 points/possession).  These numbers really speak for themselves, but it was good to see the TO% drop back below 17.0, where it has now been in 6 of the 7 games since the end of November.   UNC's TO% only went up by only 0.5% when it entered ACC play last season, so it will be interesting to watch and see if UNC can maintain their current play and keep a TO% around 17.0 throughout the conference schedule.

Statistical Highlights

  • UNC placed 8 players in double figures for the first time since its record-setting throttling of Manhattan in December of 1985 (a 129-45 win in which 9 players scored in double-figures).
  • Even more impressive, 9 of UNC's 10 regulars had a ORtg better than 122.
  • 5 Carolina players had individual assist percentages over 17.0, which demonstrates a really outstanding sharing of the ball.
  • All 10 Carolina regulars had an on-court +/- of +10 or greater in the second half.  For the game, all 10 were better than +15.
  • The point guard position capture the high and low Roland Ratings, as Kendall Marshall was +19 and Larry Drew was -19.

Beyond the Box Player of the Game

Before naming the POG for the St. Francis game, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10%):

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The only thing harder than picking a player of the game for a loss, is picking one in a game in which 8 players score between 10 and 13 points.  While the effort was balanced in nearly every statistical category, John Henson was absolutely dominant on the defensive end, producing his 8th career game with a block percentage of greater than 20.0 (and his 3rd in a row).  It is for this that he was the one standout choice for Player of the Game.  North Carolina appears to have a lot of interchangeable parts this season, but there is no one on the team who can do the types of things on the defensive end of the court to either stop or disrupt the opponents offense that Henson does.  He may not be the most important player as the season goes forward, but he is certainly the most irreplaceable.

Note: For reference, a full stats glossary can be found at