Every once in a while, you need those ugly wins and that is exactly what the Tar Heels got on Wednesday night in the Smith Center against the Boston College Eagles in a 58-47 win. The win completed the season sweep of the Eagles and sent the Tar Heels to 21-1 in Chapel Hill since the start of last season, but this was the team’s second lowest scoring output of the season in what may have been the worst offensive performance of the season.
The Tar Heels shot just 29.1% from the field in this one, handing the program their first win in a game where the team shot below 30% from the field. That was in large part because of another tough shooting night for the Eagles, who shot just 33.3% from the field and was just 1-16 from the outside. The big difference for the Tar Heels was the ability to get to the free throw line for the second straight game, as the team converted on 20 of their 25 attempts from the charity stripe as opposed to Boston College, who got to the free throw line just eight times total on the night.
This is now back-to-back games where the Tar Heels have had to grind out victories in games where they simply didn’t play their best, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The defensive effort deserves some credit here once again, as they held Boston College to just 47 points, the lowest number that they have allowed in a game this season and held them without a basket in the final 7:13 of the game. As Coach Davis said after the game, the Eagles certainly missed some good looks, but this defensive effort allowed them to eek this one out.
Free Throws: As we talked about above, this was a huge factor once again in this one and really was the difference in the game. The Tar Heels converted 20 of 25 free throw attempts on the night, the second straight win for the team that involved 20 or more points from the charity stripe. On the contrary, the Tar Heels did a good job of limiting the fouls on the other end, allowing Boston College to reach the free throw line just eight times.
Second Half Defense: Don’t get it wrong, the Tar Heels had a solid first half defensively as well, but this team really turned up the heat in the second half to help complete the victory. Boston College shot just 6-28 from the field in the second half, including 0-9 from deep. The Tar Heels held the Eagles without a field goal in their last eleven attempts and scoreless overall for the final 7:13 of the game. This Tar Heel defense deserves all of the praise for leading this team to a win tonight.
Leaky Black: It’s no secret that Black has been a bit of a liabilty for this Tar Heel team on the offensive end of the floor at times this season, but for the second straight game on Wednesday night, he had some important contributions. He finished with eight points, including a three to open the scoring for the Tar Heels in the first half and had one of the most important plays of the night on the layup with 3:33 to go that really felt like it put the game out of reach. These last two games have shown just how important his contributions offensively are to this team being able to win close games.
Rebounding: To say it wasn’t a great start on the glass for the Tar Heels tonight would be an understatement, but they fought back and finish the night strong, pulling down the ones that matter the most down the stretch. At one point in the first half, Boston College held an 11-4 edge and they were up 21-17 on the boards at the half, but the Tar Heels battled back to finish +6 on glass, led by a big night from Armando Bacot, who may have struggled to score the ball, but had some of the most important rebounds on the night on the way to a 17 rebound performance.
Fatigue: In the last two games, the Tar Heel starters have combined to play 352 minutes to a bench that has played just 47 minutes combined in that stretch, leading to some visible fatigue. It became very obvious down the stretch where the Tar Heels slowed the pace to a crawl as opposed to what we saw earlier on and some of the shots that simply weren’t falling can be attributed to the fatigue factor. This team is really missing the depth pieces of Dawson Garcia and Anthony Harris this week, but this extra day of rest in between Saturday’s meeting with NC State will be a blessing.
Up Next: The Tar Heels get that extra day of rest as they get set to welcome the NC State Wolfpack to the Smith Center on Saturday at 2:00 PM where Roy Williams will be honored. The will be on ACC Network.