clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NC State 58 UNC 46

UNC's offense fails to materialize as NC State slowed the game down and knocked off the Tar Heels 58-46.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Forty six points.

In the nearly 30 year history of the Dean Smith Center, UNC had never scored as few points as the Tar Heels did tonight. It was an incredible display of offensive ineptitude out of the gate. None of the shots were falling in the first half and UNC was unable to grab offensive rebounds to compensate for the poor shooting. The offensive execution was disjointed and some of the shots less than ideal. The Tar Heels shot 7-25 in the first half or 28% and only by the fact UNC actually did a decent job on the defensive end was the game only 29-18 at the break.

Early in the second half the trend continued and the NC State lead grew to as much as 16 before the Tar Heels managed to get some consistency on the offensive end. A 14-2 run drew the Heels to within four and Kennedy Meeks layup with 11:06 left put the Heels within one possession. That was as close as the Heels would get. NC State responded with five straight points from Ralston Turner to push the lead back to seven.

UNC wasn't quite done as Justin Jackson, who led the Tar Heels with 16 points, hit his second three of the game to make it a 45-41 contest. The next two-plus minutes of game time essentially decided the game. During that span, UNC had three straight defensive stops and followed those up with three straight empty possessions. Jackson and Marcus Paige both missed three and J.P. Tokoto missed a jumper to keep the deficit at four. Turner hit another three to run the lead back to seven with 5:06 left. The Heels would get as close as four again in the final three minutes but had trouble getting stops. Turnovers and more missed shots compounded the issue leaving the Heels too far down with too little time left.

Ultimately it was a hole too big to climb out of and a complete failure of the offense to produce. NC State used its size to stymie the Tar Heel big men and throw the offense out of kilter. Paige, as he has been all season, was dogged by tremendous defensive pressure. UNC's best offensive option ended up being Justin Jackson and even he was just 7-17 and missed several good shots. It was everything offensively the last two games weren't and wasted a perfectly good defensive effort which held NC State to 35% shooting and an offensive efficiency 96.0.

Kennedy Meeks ended the game with 12 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double but the lack of production from Brice Johnson(1-6 for 5 points), Marcus Paige(3-8 for 7 points and J.P. Tokoto(1-6 for 3 points) ground the Tar Heel offense to a halt. NC State's decision to burn clock on every possession also proved costly to the Tar Heels, especially when the Wolfpack managed to score at the shot clock buzzer.. A slower tempo doesn't matter as long as the offense is efficient. Absent that, a 60 possession game in which you trail by 16 points requires something akin to perfection to rally and push through for the win. The closest UNC got to that was an 8-9 stretch in the second half to get close but after that the Heels went 5-18 over the final 11:43 of the half. During tha span the Heels committed six turnovers.

So the roller coaster continues with a team that can play at a very high level sometimes but then out of the blue fall apart offensively. For a team that is ranked 14th in offensive efficiency, even after this debacle, some of the off games are really bizarre. The issue lies with the lack of a perimeter offensive options. The absence of another solid three point shooter matters a great deal in getting Paige open and balancing the offense. Without that to bail out a rough night in the post, offensive droughts like this occur.

Clearly the season isn't over but the sheer lack of consistency has made this one of the more maddening trips through a Tar Heel basketball season in quite some time.