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UNC vs. NC State: What We Learned

OK, so it really just reaffirmed a lot of what we already knew.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

As a fan, its fun watching the Heels beat anyone, including our not-rival. This game, however, was a little too close for comfort. As a basketball enthusiast, this game had everything you could need: offensive spurts from each team, followed by gritty defense and moxie from the leaders.

So what can we glean from a win like this heading into a brutal finishing ACC schedule?

The bench didn’t play much today, but the quality of the minutes added much needed rest for the starters.

The starters are going to play big minutes, we just have to accept that. Looking back over the MPG for the starters versus the bench shows an absolutely wide margin. During the Duke win, the bench saw a total of 33 minutes, with Brooks getting 12 of them. Their total stat line resembles a single person; four points on 0-6 shooting (0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT), seven rebounds, a steal, and a block.

In today’s win over NC State, the bench saw a similar 34 minutes, with Brandon Robinson getting 10 of those. This time, however, they were able to contribute much more to the overall outcome. Scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting (1-3 3PT, 1-1 FT), five rebounds, two assists, and a block.

Right before the Wolfpack went on their 19-0 run, the Tar Heels had a lineup of Seventh Woods, Andrew Platek, Theo Pinson, Brandon Robinson, and Garrison Brooks. A quick glance at that lineup and you might wonder where any scoring could be coming from, but fret not. Andrew Platek scored on a fast break layup and Brandon Robinson hit a three on a great possession that saw excellent ball movement. It wasn’t until the starters came back in that State really pushed it’s lead.

If the bench can continue to supply some needed rest minutes without a drop off in production, this team can succeed.

Coach Williams don’t need to call no dadgum timeouts, OK?!

The first half was possibly the wackiest set of runs as I’ve seen in a long time. The Tar Heels rushed out to a 14-7 lead before the Wolfpack tied it at 16-16. The Heels then stretched their lead even further to 28-18. Just when you felt that North Carolina was going to put this one away early, NC State goes on a 19-0 that spanned nearly seven minutes. Soon enough, the Tar Heels saw that ten-point lead turn into a nine-point deficit and as is expected by Coach Williams, no timeout was ever called.

Be honest, you screamed “CALL A TIMEOUT!!” at the TV when Torin Dorn hit a three-pointer with just over four minutes remaining, but it never came. Why?

The Tar Heels were getting great looks, they just weren’t falling. It’s not like North Carolina was throwing up junk because of stellar defense. Everyone just went cold for a few minutes. During that span Luke Maye shot 0-4, Joel Berry and Garrison Brooks both shot 0-3, Kenny Williams, Cameron Johnson, and Andrew Platek shot 0-1 each. Of those misses, only 3 of the 13 were from three-point range.

What can Coach say in a huddle that allows Garrison Brooks or Luke Maye to make a two-foot layup? Calling an extra timeout does nothing but allow the crowd at PNC Arena to get even more hype about their attempts to prove that they are our rivals. As soon as the shots started falling, the Tar Heels reeled the Wolfpack back in with a 6-0 run of their own before they went into the half down just two.

He proved today that it’s not always needed to use it at the first sign of trouble. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll let you in on a little not-so-secretive-secret: Roy Williams has a cache of timeouts that he is saving up for retirement. I heard they transferred into mulligans on the golf course.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at North Carolina State
“Lord help them if they make me call a timeout...” Coach Williams, probably.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

This team can win in March

Parlaying off of the idea of not calling a timeout, it shows that Coach believes in the toughness and grit that this team has. They have been able to withstand quite a few runs by some great teams and still come out on top in big games. Clemson hit 15-straight during their matchup in Chapel Hill. Duke hit 10-straight a few nights ago, and the 19-0 run from today.

Joel Berry “activated” (great word, Al! Thanks!) Super Joel mode after a little chit-chat between himself, Markell Johnson, and an official. Luke Maye, well, did you see what he did?! I don’t want to steal any thunder from any of my colleagues, so I’ll just leave it at that. Theo Pinson showed flashes of why he was recruited to UNC with his slashes to the basket and big time assists.

The Perimeter defense has been MUCH improved in the wins over NC State and Duke. Go back to the three-game skid with Virginia Tech, NC State 1.0, and Clemson 2.0. The Tar Heels gave up 12, 15, 15 three pointers in each of those games (They also gave up 10 in a win against Pitt). However, against Duke and NC State 2.0, they gave up 9 and 7 respectively. Duke, unexpectedly, shot 36% on 9-25 shooting from three. After shooting 15-30 in the first round, the Wolfpack matched their 50% mark, but only had 13 attempts in the second. Braxton Beverly had a team best 3-4 shooting. Allerick Freeman wasn’t able to match his 7-7 total of round one.

Two gritty wins over a rival we hate and another team we hate shows that this team may be on the upswing at the right time.