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UNC vs. BC: Beyond the Box

The Tar Heels' performance during yesterday's game against B.C. can really be defined by the answer to one question: was Carolina's starting five on the court? When they were, UNC not only looked good, they looked really good, outscoring the Eagles in each of the four stints to a combined total of 32-4. However, when at least one starter was on the bench, things got sloppy, to the point that B.C. actually ended up outscoring the Heels 56-51. Hopefully, this was just a case of lack of focus from the bench, as that can easily be cured with good competition and a close(r) game. If it is a sign of a pending slump from Bullock and Hairston, then that would be a far larger concern.

Four Factors

While UNC did out-shoot the Eagles on both two-point (50.0%) and three-point field goals (35.7%), because 47.4% of BC's FGA were from behind the arc, as far as the Four Factors are concerned, the shooting in this game was basically a wash (UNC eFG%: 50.8; BC eFG%: 50.0).  Despite the relatively even shooting, UNC was able to build a large advantage in floor percentage, scoring on 55.8% of its possessions, versus only 40.3 for B.C, and the reasons for this are plainly evident when the remaining Four Factors are considered.  UNC has certainly shown more aggressiveness this season on both the offensive glass (OR%: 33.3) and in getting to the line (FTR: 31.8), but despite this, they still enjoyed a sizable advantage over B.C., particularly from the line, where the Heels had 12 more attempts (and 13 more makes) than did the Eagles.  UNC was also terrific when it came to turnovers.  The Heels' trapping defense (when it was used) was far more active/effective yesterday than we have seen previously this season, and was instrumental in forcing B.C. to turn the ball over on 27.0% of their possessions (second best of the season).  And despite the seemingly sloppy nature of the game, UNC again demonstrated a very strong ability to hold onto the ball, turning it over only 14.9% of the time.  It doesn't matter how good or bad the competition is, any time a team can get a shot off in more than 85% of their possessions they are getting the job done.

Statistical Highlights

  • Yesterday's game was the Heels' 4oth-consecutive win when reaching 10.0 in both steal% (12.2) and block% (10.5).
  • With a DR% of 81.1, the Heels now have 6 games this season in which they have grabbed 8 out of every 10 available rebound on the defensive glass.  Only the 2007 team has had more under Roy Williams (7).

Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings

[table id=162 /]

In a game that was dominated by UNC's starting 5, it was once again the Big 3 along the frontline who did the lion's share of  the work.  All three produced ORtgs over 130.0 while scoring on 22 of their combined 34 possessions (Floor%: 64.7).  But more importantly, all three made significant contributions in other facets of the game, combing to contribute 21 rebounds, 5 steals, 5 blocks, 3 assists, against only 3 turnovers.

This type of performance has become customary over the last couple of weeks, as all three players are averaging a P.I.R better than 33.0 over the last 5 games (see below).  While this essentially represents the status quo for Henson and Zeller, it marks a significant uptick for Harrison Barnes, who has been nothing short of awesome since back-to-back 9-point games in the middle of December.  Over the last four games, Barnes has averaged 21.2 PPG (37.0 P/40), 5.8 RPG and 2.0 SPG, with an eFG% of 65.5 and the following ORtgs: 1775. 164.5, 128.1, and 140.7.  In the last BTB, I made reference to the elite company that John Henson was keeping with his 10+-point improvement in ORtg from last season.   Well, Barnes' current ORtg is 117.1 (thanks in large part to a 50.0 FG% and 51.3 3P% for the season), which is 10.6 points greater than what he produced last season (106.5).  You don't have to dig too much deeper to figure out why UNC has improved from 38th to 8th in the nation in adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

Season P.I.R.

The cumulative impact ratings for each player can be found below.  A player’s average P.I.R., both for the season and the last five games only considers games in which the player officially logged at least 1 minute of game time.  The C.V. is a measure of variation; the smaller the percentage, the more consistent the player’s performance has been.  While it is not technically correct to use in this instance, because P.I.R. is an interval scale (it can go into the negative), it still has some value for the top-tier players, who will likely have a positive P.I.R. in every game.

[table id=163 /]