Methodical and inevitable.
Real talk: I have reached a point I am not going to worry too much about how UNC plays early in the game. This group has made it clear they know how to take care of business even if it takes a half to get going. Could a slow start burn them? I suppose but even the deficit of the FSU loss was not a result of a poor start. UNC was only down eight at half but had a bedwetting of epic proportions in the 2nd half. Since then, UNC has done a good job of handling the second half starting with the Virginia Tech game and in every game since. Even the Duke game was a perfect example of UNC assuming control in the second half, the Heels simply didn't finish.
However against Virginia and now Clemson, UNC took a small working margin and turned it into a 18 and 22 point win by game's end. Against Miami UNC was 12 points better in the second half after being down five at the half. And to be honest, it really comes down to shooting more than anything else. Either UNC has shooting trouble in the first half or the opposing team is unusually hot. In the second half the pendulum tends to swing on both accounts and UNC assumes control of the game by double digits in most cases. Today against Clemson UNC shot 41% in the first half and 58% in the second. While a series of empty possessions when Clemson closed it to 47-41 is a cause for concern, the Heels ultimately ran the lead out by methodically controlling both ends of the floor. It may not look or feel or be what we as fans want, but business is being handled by this team which is all that matters.
As for the details of this game, it looks like Harrison Barnes is really starting to assert himself in the offense. I also think that every teacher who has ever taught him in his life plus his mother should attend all of UNC's NCAA Tournament games. Barnes had 24 points, seven rebounds and went 3-6 from three. Speaking of threes, Reggie Bullock was 3-5 from three on his way to 11 points and six rebounds. UNC 6-14 from three for the game. That is the piece of the puzzle missing for a few games now. If UNC, which outscores opposing teams in the paint by an average of 14 points can also put up 6-14 from three, this team will be in really good shape. Tyler Zeller and John Henson put in their usual tough work on the boards and in the paint. In fact Zeller continues to deal with physical play that is going unchecked by the officials. Despite this Zeller ended up with 14 points and seven rebounds. Henson ended up with 13 points, eight boards, three blocks and two steals. All told UNC had 39 rebounds and four players which at least six. Oh and Kendall Marshall had another ho-hum 13 assists. Seriously, Marshall was dealing out there and ended up playing 35 minutes. Clemson made it a tougher 35 mins than usual for Marshall picking him up before halfcourt and frequently jostling him.
The Tar Heel bench continues to turn in a solid effort. James Michael McAdoo looks extremely comfortable out there and while his production was not significant, he is playing well. The same could be said of P.J. Hairston who has yet to really find his shot but there is plenty of evidence he is putting forth the effort, especially sprinting back on defense. Desmond Hubert had two dunk putbacks and saw more minutes as though Roy Williams wanted to rest Zeller or Henson more. Overall the bench players appear to be playing within themselves and the team.
UNC moves to 10-2 in the ACC and is still waiting for an FSU loss to assume control of their own destiny.