Nowhere near as close as the final score indicated.
That is how a Final Four contender should handle on overmatched opponent in a home game. UNC came out and dominated the Yellow Jackets for 20 minutes pushing out to a 20 point lead then cruising through the second half make liberal use of the rotation. UNC was in complete control throughout the game, no one was injured and Kendall Marshall played 31 minutes. It was a win in every sense of the word. The only complaint, which was echoed by Roy Williams in the postgame press conference was how loose the defense was in the second half. That was part UNC and part Georgia Tech hitting some shots. UNC will take a hit on KenPom for giving up 100+ offensive efficiency to a team that is ranked in the high 200's on offense but it simply doesn't matter. We know this team can play defense even if they didn't do it particularly well in one half.
The offense is the story in this one. It was efficient, balanced with the usual strong inside game coupled with 62% shooting from three. Contributing to the offensive flow was some outstanding ball movement as evidenced by Kendall Marshall's 12 assists and John Henson even having three. For the past two games, Marshall has been absolutely locked recording 23 assists versus only four turnovers. And when he is on, you see all sorts of insane passing out of him including throwing the ball past Daniel Miller's head to Henson because Miller turned a look the other way. Another Heel that was locked in was Harrison Barnes who was nearly arrested for abusing Yellow Jacket players in the 2nd half. Apparently, every time Barnes' teachers come from Iowa to see him play he is averaging 25 ppg. It was more of the same in this one. Tyler Zeller had his string of double-doubles scoring 17 points but only getting three rebounds. Reggie Bullock continues to look solid as the starting wing guard with 11 points on a trio of three pointers. Henson was Henson with another four block game to go with 13 points and six rebounds.
Probably the most important takeaway in this game was the play of P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo. Hairston had been mired in a horrible shooting slump and had his defense heavily criticized. It looked like Hairston was making every effort to reverse both all in one game. Hairston was very active on the defensive end and running all out on several plays. His two made threes marked the first time since the Heels played Boston College Hariston has made more than one three pointer in a game. Likewise McAdoo looked better on both ends of the floor. He finally hit some shots and look more comfortable than he has in previous outings. McAdoo ended up with nine points and six rebounds, one of his bettering efforts of the season. In both cases, you can argue the opponent matters but confidence has to start somewhere and hopefully both players can build off this game.
Overall the team continues to look like it is on track and the loss of Dexter Strickland is being absorbed rather well. The true test of that won't come for another ten days when Duke comes to town but UNC can make the most of games like this to gel as a unit.