This was the first big test of the new small ball lineup for the North Carolina Tar Heels against a Georgia Tech team that is big inside. The Tar Heels were able to neutralize the size advantage and take advantage of a weak scoring team defeating the Yellow Jackets 70-58, let’s take a look at how it all played out.
UNC had trouble scoring to start the game facing a tough Yellow Jacket defense, the Tar Heels attempted six three’s in their first ten total attempts. The Heels settled down and dictated the tempo and held the lead for the majority of the first half despite the fact that only James Michael McAdoo, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald scored in the first fifteen minutes of this game.
Reggie Bullock attempted just one shot in the first half going scoreless in yet another quiet showing, Bullock hasn’t looked like himself for most of the last two weeks. Bullock, Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland finished the half a combined 0-9 from the field and just two points. Bullock finally hit his first basket five minutes into the second half.
The Tar Heels exploited Tech over and over again running a slip screen play with McAdoo that worked pretty much every single time they ran the play in the first half with James Michael leading the way with 15 points and nine rebounds at the half way point. UNC shot just 37.8% from the field and just 3-12 from three, without the slip screens constantly working Carolina’s offense would have been non existent in the first half.
UNC struggled to score to open the second half and Roy Williams for the second time in the game curiously took out two of his top scorers with Hairston and Bullock coming out of the game. In the first half Roy took McAdoo out with them and UNC was unable to do anything for a long stretch. Despite finally starting Hairston, Roy continues to roll out odd lineups.
The Tar Heels started to pull away expanding their lead to 12 with 13 minutes remaining after forcing three turnovers in four Georgia Tech possessions that led to transition baskets. The Tar Heel defense was simply great in the second half, UNC held GT scoreless for over five minutes at one point and seven minutes without a field goal. That drought was far too much for the Yellow Jackets to come back from and Carolina won easily. Final Score: UNC 70 GT 58 improving to 18-8 (8-5 ACC).
Player of the game: James Michael McAdoo had an outstanding all around game with 22 points on 9-19 from the field to go along with 11 rebounds and four steals. Honorable mention goes to Leslie McDonald who played his best game of the season with 15 points on 5-8 shooting including 4-6 from three.
Up Next: UNC faces NC State on Saturday at home one of their last chances to add a quality win to their NCAA Tournament resume.