Now that the final buzzer has sounded, it’s hard to really decide what to call the win against Boston College. Dominant? Sloppy? Gritty? A much-needed warmup for Saturday? It’s safe to say that maybe all of the above are true, but either way, the Tar Heels finished off the Eagles to earn a perfect ACC road record for the season in their 79-66 victory. Their 11 wins on the road for the entire season is a feat that no other team completed in the ACC, American, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 12 or Southeastern conferences achieved. Needless to say, their achievement is might impressive.
As far as the game goes, it started out as a track meet. The two teams ran up and down the floor and traded baskets for the better part of the opening five minutes. Things really didn’t slow down until Cameron Johnson hit a three-pointer and got fouled in the process. BC then proceeded to go into a 1-2-2 zone to try to keep the Heels out of the paint, but their tactics didn’t stop them from getting what they wanted. Johnson and Luke Maye combined for 31 of the team’s 48 points in the first half, which was greater than BC’s entire point total of 25.
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Ky Bowman, as he shredded the Heels in the first half. He was responsible for 15 of BC’s 25 points in the half, getting a lot of his points form deep. After going 5-10 from three-point land in the half, UNC had to find a way to adjust going into the second half. Thankfully they did, as he only made two of his six attempts for the rest of the game.
While Bowman came out in the second half flat, that didn’t stop Nik Popovic from stepping up in a huge way. After only scoring two points in the first half, Popovic destroyed the interior for the Eagles, and added 18 points onto his total. He all of the sudden was a load for UNC’s bigs to handle down low, and he was a huge part of why this game stayed interesting at all. They went on multiple large runs to try to cut the deficit down to a manageable number, but the Heels kept finding ways to pull away.
UNC found themselves going cold from the perimeter down the stretch, but they managed to find other ways to get the job done. After BC went on a 7-0 run with 10:15 left in the game, Cam Johnson got to the rim twice in a row, followed by Coby White making one of his signature circus layups to put the Heels up 69-49. The Heels would only score 10 more points from there, but the damage was already done in front of a largely Carolina blue-filled crowd.
It’s a bit difficult to pick which of the two seniors to give the nod to for having the biggest impact on the game, but this honor likely has to go to Luke Maye. Following a 13 and 10 performance at Clemson, Maye did anything and everything that he wanted to do against Boston College. He finished the game with 17 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists, and shot 46% from the field. He is also the first Tar Heel to have a double-double in a half since he did it against Boston College last year. His 20 rebounds are also the most by a Tar Heel since Brice Johnson had 21 rebounds against Duke on March 5, 2016.
Speaking of rebounds, the Heels absolutely destroyed Boston College on the boards — they pulled down 60 rebounds to the Eagles’ 30, with 20 of those coming being offensive. Regardless of who any team is playing, that type of performance is downright impressive.
In short, the Heels’ 42% shooting performance left much to be desired, but winning by 13 points is never a bad thing in those situations. When you can make the other team shoot 34% from the field, the grass will always be greener, but they will have to keep that same energy when Duke makes it to the Dean Dome this Saturday. It should be an electric game as always, despite Coach K claiming that Zion Williamson will likely not play (which I don’t trust anymore than I trust his indefinite suspension policy). Enjoy the win, rest up, and get ready for yet another slobberknocker on Tobacco Road.