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UNC vs. Miami: Beyond the Box

This was a better win than I think a lot of people who are not ardent followers of the Tar Heels will give them credit for. UNC really struggled in two games against a lesser version of this team (no Kenny Kadji or Jim Larranaga) away from DES last season, and the 'Canes have clearly been playing much better than they were in January. Winning this game by 9 (a margin greater than the combined margin of UNC's last 3 non-DES wins over Miami; two last year and in 2009) after trailing at the half, and seeing their second-half deficit grow to as much as 8, really says a lot about this team.

Four Factors

This game was not pretty, but it did actually prove to be one of UNC's more efficient offensive performances in ACC play.  The Heels' ended the game with an offensive efficiency over 115 (OE: 115.9) for only the 4th time in 11 ACC games, but it took an very efficient second-half performance to get there.  In the 1st half, there is really no other way to say it other than UNC was awful on offense (OE: 93.5).  The primary culprit (again) was shooting, as the Heels did good job holding on to the ball (TO%: 15.6) and were very aggressive on the offensive glass (OR%: 45.5), but despite their location in South Beach, the Heels could not throw the ball in the ocean (eFG%: 37.5).

The 2nd half wasn't so much a different story as it was a better story.  While the Heels did not shoot that much better overall from the field than they did during the first 20 minutes (FG%: 37.5 versus 38.9), they did go 5-12 (41.7%) from behind the arc allowing them to produce a second-half eFG% of 45.8; better, though that is still not stellar.  What was stellar was the rest of their execution on the offensive end.  UNC turned the ball over on only 3 of their 31 second-half possessions (TO%: 9.7) and were pit bulls in their dogged pursuit of their own misses, rebounding an astonishing 58.3% of their errant shots.   Much will (rightfully) be made about the second-half threes, as consistent 41.7% shooting from behind the arc could take this team a long way.  But so too can the results we saw with their TO% and OR%, and those are things that can (and should) be much more consistent than the shooting may be.

Statistical Highlights

  • Those 5 threes that UNC hit in the second-half against Miami are 1 more than they hit in the previous 6 halves of basketball, combined.  To say they were in a slump is the understatement of the year. The question now is whether one good half can be a springboard for the rest of the season.
  • UNC has now had a TO% under 13.0 in three straight games (longest of Roy's tenure).  For the season, they are just 0.2% off of the 2009 team's terrific 16.4 TO%.
  • The Heels' now have 6 games in which they have rebounded more than 50% of their misses, after doing so only 7 times in the last 3 seasons, combined.  The 2008 team has the "Roy Era" record with 10.
  • This was the first time all season that UNC had more offensive rebounds than they did defensive rebounds.  UNC actually had their worst performance on the defensive boards (DR%: 55.0) since the Michigan State game.

Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings

[table id=184 /]

UNC turned in what proved to be a very balanced performance against Miami, as 8 players ended the game with an ORtg over 100.0 and 6 wound up with an Assist% over 10.0, but the two stars of the game were John Henson and Harrison Barnes.  While Barnes was a force on offense (ORtg: 144.0, eFG%: 55.2, Ast%: 16.9, Poss% 25.7), it was John Henson's overall game (ORtg: 130.4, Ast%: 11.4, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks) that propelled him to the top of the P.I.R. leader board.  Tyler Zeller has been (deservedly) getting a lot of praise, both here and elsewhere, but it should not go unnoticed that Henson is the first player to crack 1000 total P.I.R. points for the season.  Henson has had a remarkable season, and (at least based on P.I.R.) has upped his play in league games.  Ironically, it may be the fact that both he and Zeller have been so good that keeps either of them from garnering the accolades they fully deserve.

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=185 /]