Feb 20, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) and guard Marcus Paige (5) react at the end of the game. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 74-66 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Five Takeaways From UNC Beating Duke

Feb 20, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) reacts in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 74-66 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

1) We Can Beat Any Team In The Nation On Any Given Night
That’s it. It’s official. You don’t want to see us in March. I’m sick of hearing about how UNC has struggled and been a team without an identity this season. Well, how about this? I’ve come up with a pretty accurate description of this team: dangerous. That’s it, dangerous. We’re a dangerous team for your team to see on your schedule. You don’t want to see us.
This season has seen Chapel Hill topple the likes of #3 Louisville, #1 Michigan State, #11 Kentucky, #25 Pittsburgh, and #5 Duke. We’ve done it on the road and in the Dean Dome and they’ve done it in a myriad of different ways. Case in point: Kennedy Meeks dominating in the Michigan State win, Marcus Paige putting up 32 against Louisville in a victory, James Michael McAdoo owning the post against UK in our win, and JMM’s double-double to lead us in a win against Pittsburgh.
As of this victory over Duke, UNC has beaten all four of the top-four Ranked Teams in AP Pre-Season Poll. We’re the first team to ever do that. Like I said, you don’t want to see us in March…AKA very, very soon.

2) James Michael McAdoo Was The Most Important Player On The Floor Tonight
JMM was far and away the most important person on the floor tonight. You want to know why? He was guarding the best—yes, I said the best, write it Sharpie, tattoo it, and stamp it—the best player in the NCAA right now, Jabari Parker. Duke is Jabari Parker. That team will rise and fall on his performances. Though Parker played well with 17 points and 11 rebounds, he was a first-half horse. He failed to dominate the way Duke needed him to in order to win down the stretch.

So if Jabari was so important to Duke, why was JMM the most important player on the floor? It’s because he was expected to contain the best player in college basketball while also contributing majorly to UNC’s offensive bottom line. If he doesn’t give Chapel Hill a double-double offensively, like he did tonight, there’s no way the Tar Heels walk away with a victory.
There wasn’t one minute James could coast if UNC was to win. And he didn’t. UNC won and the rest is history.

3) Marcus Paige Cemented His Leadership
He was teetering on the edge of becoming the heralded leader of this team. He had major performances throughout the season and was an integral element to major wins. This team would not have been nearly as successful without him. The team’s production visibly drops when he’s not on the floor. It’s clear.
However, when I watched him tonight, I saw a killer instinct. That’s what leaders have. They know when to stomp on the gas and go. MP maintained composure and poise throughout the game. He guided his team and they followed him.

4) We Grinded Out A Victory
Was it just me or did that second half seem like it was four to five hours long? The first half flew by. The second half felt like I was having to sit through a timeshare presentation. It was a very exciting timeshare presentation mind you, but excruciatingly long—and ugly. The end was beautiful. The process to get there was ugly.
Keep in mind though, the type of wins needed to make a deep run in March are going to be ugly wins. They’re going to be grind-it-out dogfights. And we walked away tonight with a signature one in our caps.

5) Winners hit free throws
We lost the first half. We won the second half. We lost the free-throw game in the beginning. We started hitting them towards the end. At one point, we went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. Soon after, we won. It was the difference in the ball game.

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Tags: Basketball Duke North Carolina North Carolina Tar Heels

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