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UNC vs. Clemson: Beyond the Box

Maybe too much is being read into UNC's streak of wins against Clemson in Chapel Hill. I mean, as Jay Bilas said last night, everyone is capable of having a bad century now and again...

Four Factors

Statistically at least, the Heels' performance against Clemson was really their most complete game in ACC play.  Yesterday was the first time since UNC's first ACC game of the season (Boston College) that they outscored their opponent by more than 5-points in each half, and were it not for an end-of-half three, it would have been the first time that they won both halves by more than 10 points.  Additionally, this was the first time in any of the 12 ACC games that the Heel's had an offensive efficiency over 110.0 (OE: 112.2) and a defensive efficiency under 80.0 (78.8), leading to their first 30.0+ efficiency margin in conference (EM: 33.4).

On offense, the story really boils down to the fact that Carolina was able to hit shots at much higher rate then we have seen recently.  UNC was (statistically) slightly below average with both their TO% (18.2) and OR% (34.4), leading to them snapping a 3-game streak in which they scored on at least 60.0% of their possessions.  However, they were able to overcome this on the scoreboard by producing an eFG% (54.4; 51.0 2P%, 42.9 3P%) greater than 50.0 for the first time since they played Georgia Tech in January.

Defensively, UNC was really good, producing their 5th game of the season in which the had a defensive rebounding percentage over 80.0 (84.8) and steal (10.6) and block (14.6) percentages over 10.0.  For the game, Clemson was only able to score on a mere 36.5% of its possessions, and were it not for a stretch that saw the Tigers hit 5 of their 6 shots from behind the arc, UNC would have had a DE well below 70.0.

Statistical Highlights

  • Congratulations to Roy Williams, who now has his career winning percentage back to 0.800.  If UNC wins their next 16 in a row, his UNC winning percentage will also be 0.800.
  • UNC is a terrific rebounding team, and much of this is due to John Henson and Tyler Zeller.  However, the team has recently become much more balanced on the glass, and yesterday's game, which saw Henson, Zeller, Barnes, and Bullock all pull down 6+ boards was a perfect example.  Since becoming a starter, Reggie Bullock is averaging 5.3 RPG, and over the last 6 games, Harrison Barnes is averaging 7.0 RPG.
  • Yesterday's free throw rate (FTR: 12.7) was the 4th lowest during the Roy Williams' era.  The 2004 and 2006 team's each had games with a FTR of 6.2 (4 FTA!) and the 2009 team had one with a FTR of 11.9 (8 FTA).
  • Carolina has now made at least 3 three pointers and shot at least 40.0% in each of their last three halves.  That type of consistency (even more than the 11-18 explosions they have occasionally had), is exactly what UNC needs to maintain for the rest of the season.

Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings

[table id=186 /]

While UNC certainly received some solid minutes from their bench, this may have been the best overall performance turned in by the Heels' starters, as all five ended the game with a P.I.R. over 25.0 (a season's) first.  But as good as the starters were, it was Harrison Barnes who stole the show, which when his high school teachers are in the crowd, is about as predictable as is Clemson losing in Chapel Hill.  Barnes' scoring (24 points) and shooting (50.0 2P%, 50.0 3P%) will draw most of the initial praise, but he was really engaged in all facets of the game, contributing 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.  It is games like this that demonstrate why Barnes was a near unanimous choice as the #1-recruit in 2010, and why people occasionally wonder why he doesn't do more: he just makes it look so easy.  Overall, Barnes' numbers for the season (ORtg: 114.6, 17.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 47.0 FG%, 43.0 3P%) are quite good, but as strong (and healthy) as he looked yesterday, it certainly makes one wonder if we are about to see a late-season "take off" like we witnessed last year.  If we do, and he improves on what are already "All-American" caliber numbers, then the sky really could be the limit for this Tar Heel team.

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=187 /]