In UNC’s last meeting against NC State, the Tar Heels jumped out to an early lead against the Wolfpack in the Smith Center and never looked back. The Heels were in control the entire game, literally. Per kenpom.com, UNC’s minimum win probability was 83.6% leading 1-0 with 19:52 left in the first half. But while NC State’s chances of winning were extremely slim after UNC’s fast start, they still ended up winning the second half 47-44 (UNC’s 40-23 margin in the first half was what carried the Heels to victory.) So what worked and what didn’t on the February 1st UNC v. NC State game, and what can we take from it going into this matchup?
TJ Warren got his shots and points
TJ Warren, NC State’s scoring machine and de facto best player, was mostly held in check in the first half of the UNC NC State game on February 1st. Warren only had 8 points in the first half of that game, but would finish overall with 21 points to his name. His high field goal percentage of over 60% shows that the Tar Heels didn’t do a good job of shutting down the talented scorer. JP Tokoto and the rest of the Tar Heel defense need to really focus on locking down Warren later tonight because as Warren goes, so does the NC State offense.
UNC dominated the boards
The Tar Heels are one of the best teams in the nation at offensive rebounding, and that is one of the biggest reasons why UNC’s offense has been able to stay afloat while struggling from the three point line and from the charity stripe. UNC’s dominance on the glass showed against NC State, as the Heels pulled in 22 offensive rebounds and won the total rebounding battle 52-36. The Heels have to have a similar performance on Wednesday night on the glass to continue their winning streak in Raleigh.
Three pointers were not falling
Both UNC and NC State are not strong three point shooting teams, but in the first matchup this season between these two teams, the shots were not falling at a particularly high rate. Both UNC and NC State rank 10th or lower in percentage of shots as three pointers, with Ralston Turner as State’s main three point bomber and Marcus Paige as UNC’s best three point bet. Playing against each other, the teams shot a combined 5-22 from the line, good for 22% from beyond the arc. Keep an eye on the three point shooting early in this one. If NC State can get hot early from three, they could ride that hot shooting touch all the way to a victory.
Cat Barber’s big time minutes
Against the Tar Heels in the first matchup, Anthony (Cat) Barber played 33 minutes and scored 12 points on 6-14 shooting. That was the most minutes he has played since January 20th against Maryland, and the most shots he had taken in any game all season long. However, recently Barber has fallen out of NC State’s rotation, only playing more than 20 minutes once since the Heels and Wolfpack first faced off. Barber was a big part of the Pack’s effort against the Heels in the first matchup, watch and see how much he contributes later tonight.