The North Carolina Tar Heels got a much needed win against their Triangle rival, the NC State Wolfpack. The two teams split their two games on the season with the Tar Heels losing the first match-up 91-83. Let’s check the key stats that allowed UNC to prevail in Chapel Hill.
Looking at the statistics, the Heels played a pretty even game with the Wolfpack. There are very few numbers that truly stand out from this game. One of the few is that UNC only turned the ball over 9 times in the game. Six of them came from James Michael McAdoo. Marcus Paige had 8 assists and 0 turnovers. That means that Paige is maturing and making better decisions which is huge for everyone’s development. What is not going to show up on the stat book is how well he played in this game. In the Tar Heels’ first meeting with NC State in Raleigh, Paige looked like he was out of his league. In this meeting he showed just how far he has come along and that he can be UNC’s point guard of the future.
Another interesting statistic is that UNC only had 12 personal fouls in the game. This resulted in NC State only getting to the free throw line for 13 attempts. NC State only converted on 6 of those free throws. This is obviously a result of the young Tar Heel team maturing mentally as defenders. Defense has been a problematic issue for the Tar Heels all season long. The free throw line is a great place for opponents to score points against the Tar Heels because they are young and lack discipline. In a huge game like this one North Carolina showed discipline and kept the Wolfpack away from the charity stripe.
To go along with the defensive theme, the Wolfpack shot 5-16 from the 3-point arc. That equals 31%. North Carolina’s previous average of opponents 3-point percentage in ACC play was 38.3. More than 7% difference can make a huge deal in any game and the Tar Heels stepped up their perimeter defense to hold a winning edge. In their previous match-up this season NC State shot 53.8%. It goes without saying that if the Heels had of held them to 31% in the first game, they probably would have won it.
Lastly, a large part of the Tar Heels win was the fact that UNC has such a deep bench. Roy Williams is able to rotate 10 players for considerable minutes. Granted 4 of those 10 played for less than 10 minutes in this game, but those are still valuable resting minutes for other players. NC State only played 7 players the entire game with one of those players, Tyler Lewis, only getting 5 minutes. When a game is close, a team that is better rested is going to have an edge.