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Heel Tough Blog: NC State Recap

Yesterday afternoon, with their season on the line, Carolina failed to rise to the occasion, as they fell to rival NC State, 77-69, to fall to an inexcusable 16-11 overall, and just 8-8 in the ACC. Carolina trailed 32-31 at the half, despite turning it over more times in the first 20 minutes, than they did in the first game altogether. Even still, UNC took a 54-48 lead in the second half, and it appeared that they were taking control of the game until NC State blitzed the Heels 29-15 to finish the game. Carolina is now 0-9 in Quad 1 games this season, and to make matters worse, they have led in six of those nine losses. The 11 losses for UNC, as the most ever by a preseason #1 team in the history of the AP Poll, which dates back to the 1961-62 season.

Carolina’s offensive struggles were once again on display as they shot only 35% from the field, and just 32% from behind the arc. Meanwhile, State shot 45% from the field, on 71 field goal attempts. The Pack also dominated the painted area (46-26), and points in transition (25-7), as they proved to be the tougher, better-coached, team.

The loss drops UNC to 2-6 on the road in ACC play, and they are 2-7 on the road overall, as they haven’t been able to put together quality performances away from Chapel Hill, and that’s the biggest reason, why their NCAA Tournament hopes are on thin ice.

  1. Turnovers: In the first game, Carolina committed just turnovers for the entire game. Yesterday, UNC turned it over 13 times, which led to 16 NC State points and fueled their first-half offense. The Wolfpack were 5-7 from the field in the first half off of UNC miscues, otherwise, they were 7-32 from the field. While Carolina was turning it over left and right, they only forced 3 NC State turnovers, and only scored 3 points off their miscues. We knew going in the more aggressive team was most likely to emerge as the winner, and yesterday Carolina wasn’t tough enough to limit their mistakes and wasn’t tough enough to force the Pack into turning it over.

  2. Points in the Paint: When you look at all of Carolina’s losses this season, there is a common theme, giving up points in the paint. UNC got outscored 46-26 in the painted area, as Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith’s ability to drive the lane, which opened up holes in the Tar Heel defense. On the flip side, while State was so much more successful, UNC didn’t have the same driving lanes and settled for too many contested perimeter shots.

  3. Fast Break Points: Another thing that has plagued this team all season long has been the inability to score in transition, and yesterday State outgunned Carolina to the tune of 25-7 in transition points. This team just isn’t built to run the floor, and that’s a big reason why this offense is so inefficient.

  4. Backcourt Play: We entered the season believing that the duo of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis was the best in the country, but that continues to be disproven. Davis and Love combined for 30 points, on 9-30 shooting. As for State, Jarkel Joiner was the best player on the floor, scoring 29 points on 11-21 shooting, carrying their backcourt, as Terquavion Smith struggled again, scoring 12 points on 5-16 shooting.

  5. Rotation: Hubert Davis may be cutting Pete Nance’s minutes, but his decision to keep starting him is inexcusable as Nance is hurting this team every minute he’s on the floor. Nance played 22 minutes, scoring 7 points, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Puff Johnson also played 22 points, also scored 7 points, and grabbed 7 rebounds. When you look at Carolina, it’s evident that this team is better on both ends of the floor with Puff Johnson on the court, as opposed to Pete Nance. Furthermore, D’Marco Dunn, the one guard off the bench that has played frequently, didn’t even register a minute played yesterday, which is also puzzling. This team has no idea who’s going to play going to the game, and not having a set rotation in February is bordering on coaching malpractice.

Up Next: Carolina hits the road again, as they travel to take on Notre Dame on Wednesday. The game is set for a 9 PM tip, on ESPN.

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