I am a worrier by nature. If you read my preview of the Georgia Tech game, you’ll remember that I had a reasonable concern about Michael Devoe, the leading scorer in the country. I could see him --crystal clearly-- going off against a UNC team that had only just put together a complete defensive performance against Michigan. Considering how Atlanta has been a house of horrors for the Tar Heels, this fear was certainly justified.
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 74.4 ppg and had topped 75 points three times, including 88 points against Georgia. This offensive potential is troublesome when paired with a UNC defense that had given up 80 points or more four times.
But if Michigan was the beginning of a defensive renaissance under Hubert Davis, the Georgia Tech game was a good indicator that this upward trend can eventually become a standard. The Tar Heels only allowed 31 points each half, despite seeing the Jackets accurately strike from the perimeter, hitting 5-8 three-pointers.
A giant reason for this was Leaky Black’s defense on Michael Devoe. A scorer as skilled and multi-faceted as Devoe will never get shut out entirely, but it’s important that nothing come easy for him, lest he heat up NBA Jam-style. Leaky was draped over Devoe, and limited the senior guard to 50% shooting from the field, and 1-2 from distance, totaling seven points.
The second half was more of the same, as Devoe had eight points on 3-7 shooting, and 0-3 from distance. The man who dropped 33 points on Wisconsin and 37 on Georgia only put up 15 points, ten below his season average.
In addition to his defense (which was supplemented by great work from Anthony Harris, who played a season high 14 minutes) Leaky was extremely efficient with his offense, hitting 100% of his shots (2-2 from the field, 1-1 from the FT line). Leaky only had one turnover on a night when the Heels totaled 14.
There was tremendous competition for top honors amongst the Tar Heels. R.J. Davis was great on the night, becoming the sixth Tar Heel to lead the team in scoring.
Caleb Love was a force, getting into passing lanes, and getting two James Michael McAdoo steals, one resulting in a two-handed dunk and the other in a foul that was never called.
Bacot was a rebounding machine and center of gravity on offense, scoring and passing out to open shooters for big outside shots.
All of these performances garnered consideration for player of the game, but because of the relatively quiet night from Michael Devoe, the nod has to go to Leaky Black.