Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
The Tar Heels extended their winning streak to 10 ten games
with a win over their Raleigh rivals N.C. State Wednesday night.
The game ended up being an instant classic and at least one
(maybe two) guys came out of that one with way more national
spotlight shining on them than they had going into it.
Marcus Paige and T.J. Warren went back and
forth in a dual that nearly allowed the Wolfpack to pull off the
upset but ended up giving UNC one more notch in their
ever-improving NCAA tournament resume.
The Heels will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on the
Virginia Tech Hokies Saturday and that game is a precursor to the
final two games of the regular season which includes Senior Night
against Notre Dame and a road finale against Duke.
A long season's schedule is littered with trap games and this
another one waiting to snag a hole in the good fortunes UNC's
basketball team has found lately.
Can they avoid a loss and end the season on a 13-game winning
streak? Can they continue to stay focused and take care of business
against the Hokies?
Let's take a look at some of the storylines heading into the next
Paige was already in the discussion but he may have jumped the
line a bit in the ACC Player of the Year talks after the night he
had against N.C. State.
After scoring just 4 points in the first half, Paige dropped 31
in the second half and overtime including the game winner that
buried N.C. State and propelled UNC to the win.
Paige has come up big when the Tar Heels have needed him. He had
a bad first half, as did the rest of his teammates, against Florida
State a couple games ago, but turned it around in the second half
(16 points after halftime) in that one to erase a large deficit and
get the victory.
He did the same against Duke (all 13 points scored in the second
half) later that week in what was probably the most exciting game of
the season for UNC fans until the State game.
This Carolina team isn't one that is filled with veterans that
know what they're doing from years of experience. This is a group
that is led by a second year player who struggled quite a bit in his
first season but has, just like nearly every big game this season,
shown extreme resolve in his second frame.
Paige's leadership, more than his points, and his reliability
have been the determining factor in UNC's remarkable turnaround.
Many believed they would eventually get back the services of their
best scoring talent P.J. Hairston and when they didn't, the
emotional toll clearly hit this team harder than any of them will
ever let on.
But Paige has quickly gotten everyone on board, assumed the alpha
dog role when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop and everyone
else has been able to move on because of it.
With all the context that surrounds Paige's production during one
of the more difficult off-the-court years UNC basketball has
endured, it's hard not to see him as one of a handful of guys that
could win ACC POY.
Better at home...
This is not a good Virginia Tech basketball team.
The Hokies have lost 13 of their last 14 games and are 2-13 in
the ACC, sitting dead last in the conference standings.
However, even with all the losses, like most teams, they are much
better at home than on the road and this game with UNC will serve as
Virginia Tech's Senior Night. The Hokies have only lost two ACC
games at home by more than 10 points (Syracuse and Maryland).
As they prepare to send off their leading scorer, Charlotte
native Jarell Eddie, Virginia Tech's fans, just like the
ones in the PNC Arena, should be at full throttle and ready to give
every ounce of support they have against one of the ACC's blue blood
Paige is clearly the first scoring option and oftentimes
James Michael McAdoo is the second one to get his touches.
The Heels had real trouble finding guys, outside of those two,
that could put points on the board but that issue has largely fixed
itself because of two reasons.
For starters, three guys have gotten better at getting the stat
sheet stuffed for varying reasons. J.P. Tokoto has simply
developed a better all-around game that is built around an improved
mid-range jumper, Kennedy Meeks has lost some weight and
gained some athleticism that helps showcase his plethora of post
moves down low more often and Brice Johnson has improved
his consistency, on defense, to a point that is nowhere near where
it could be, but far improved from where it was when Roy Williams was reluctant to leave him in for large stretches of
The second reason is the defense. Williams talked earlier in the
year about getting a better effort from his guys. He has that now
and he also feels like his team plays with a better sense of
vs. #19/21 North Carolina
Date: Saturday, March 1, 2014 Time: 2:30 PM EST Venue:Cassell
Coliseum (9,847) TV:ACC Network Radio:Tar Heel Sports
Network & SiriusXM (Sirius
117/XM 193) Series:
UNC leads the all-time series with Virginia Tech, 63-13. Last Meeting: North Carolina beat Virginia Tech, 72-60, on
February 2, 2013, in Chapel Hill.
Virginia Tech at a glance Location:
Blacksburg, Va. Nickname:
Chicago Maroon & Burnt Orange Conference:
Cassell Coliseum (9,847) 2012-2013 Record:
13-19 (4-14) Last Game:
Virginia Tech lost 66-48 at #6 Duke on Tuesday night. More on the Hokies: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Jarrell Eddie F - Joey Van Zegeren F - Trevor Thompson
G - Devin Wilson G - Will Johnston
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Jarrell
PPG) Adam Smith (11.0 PPG)
Rebounding: Jarrell Eddie (5.3
RPG) Joey Van Zegeren (5.1 RPG)
Assists: Devin Wilson (4.7
APG) Adam Smith (2.1 APG)
Points Per Game: 64.6 Rebounds Per Game: 37.5 Assist Per Game: 11.2 Field Goal Percentage: .412 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .367
North Carolina at a glance Last starting line-up
(against N.C. State)
F - James Michael McAdoo F - J.P. Tokoto F - Kennedy Meeks
G - Leslie McDonald G - Marcus Paige
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Marcus Paige (17.5 PPG)
James Michael McAdoo (14.2 PPG)
Rebounding: James Michael
McAdoo (6.9 RPG)
Brice Johnson (6.3 RPG)
(4.6 APG) J.P. Tokoto (3.0 APG)
Points Per Game:
77.3 Rebounds Per Game: 41.0 Assist Per Game: 15.9 Field Goal Percentage: .462 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .342
urgency. He's talked about every possession, every moment, every
loose ball, every rebound and every pass as an opportunity to make a
difference in the larger moment of the game. He says it has to be
the most important moment of the game, every time.
That appears to have gotten through to his players and a good
majority of their offense comes from playing good defense. The zone
schemes they've implemented has given them a chance against more
athletic foes that can break them down off the dribble. That a team
as young as UNC can stick to those zone principles pretty well is a
testament to how in tune this team is with Williams and his coaching