UNC Basketball: Takeaways from Win Over Arkansas


The Tar Heels are headed to Los Angeles for the Sweet 16 after a 87-78 win over #5 seed Arkansas in the Round of 32. Junior guard Marcus Paige led Carolina 22 points, one of four players in double figures for the Tar Heels. Here are a few takeaways from the Heels victory:

Marcus Paige is playing his best basketball of the season

The All-ACC guard outstanding late season run continued in the Heels Round of 32 win with 22 points, 20 of them coming in the 2nd half. The guard has now scored in double figures in 8 of the team’s last 9 games including three 20 plus games. He is averaging 16.5 points per game over the run. Not only has he been effective on the offensive end but he has also been one of the team’s best defenders, he had 5 steals in the win over Razorbacks. It is great seeing Paige play at this elite level once again because when he does he is one of the best players in the nation and gives the Heels the chance to beat any team in the country.

Justin Jackson has developed into a reliable 3rd possibly 2nd option

Over the season the Tar Heels usual first option was to go down low to Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson or let Paige or J.P. Tokoto try to create something on the perimeter. However, with the emergence of Justin Jackson the team has found another reliable option on the offensive end that they did not have earlier in the season. Against Arkansas the forward scored 14 of his 16 points in the 2nd half, his 10th double figure scoring game in the last 11 games for Carolina. Over that stretch Jackson has become more aggressive attacking the basket with floaters and pull-up jumpers to go along with his improving outside shot. Now know that they can count on the scoring from Jackson every game it makes the Heels a more balanced and dangerous team to deal with.

The small lineup worked

Against the Razorbacks pressure defense Coach Williams went to a small lineup that featured at least two point guards and sometimes all three on the court at the same time for the majority of the game. Going small allowed the Heels to beat the Razorbacks press down the floor by having multiple ball handlers on the floor. The team got a huge lift from point guard Nate Britt who played a season-high 23 minutes and had 10 first half points while also having some key moments late in the 2nd half. Also, big for the Heels was the zero turnover performance by J.P. Tokoto, sometimes the forward has been criticized this season for making careless or costly turnovers but he was at his best in this game also dishing out a team-high 8 assists and chipping in 13 points. Despite going small and giving up their usual size advantage the Heels still outscored them in the paint 40-24.

A good defense effort   

The Razorbacks only averaged 12 turnovers per game this season but in their loss to the Heels they turned it over a season-high 21 times. Four of the five Carolina starters had multiple steals in the game. As a team Arkansas only shoot 36% from the field, they had shot 44% as team for the season before the game. The Hogs best player, SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis scored 18 points on only 5-15 shooting from the floor after shooting 54% this season. However, going forward the Heels will need to figure out a way to defend without fouling especially if Meeks is out for anytime due to his knee.