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Heel Tough Blog: NC State Recap

Updated: Jan 12

Mike Stewart - AP

For the third straight game, Carolina went on the road in the ACC and earned a quad-1 victory, after they took down NC State 67-54 in PNC Arena. During this three-game winning streak, UNC has allowed 57 points or less in all three games, and the 54 were a season-low tonight for the Wolfpack. The Tar Heels only had two players score in double figures, led by R.J. Davis, and his game-high 16 points, on 6-19 shooting, but he was 4-10 from behind the arc. The other Tar Heel in double figures was Elliot Cadeau, who scored 11 points and handed out 6 assists in 33 minutes of action. Harrison Ingram went to the foul line in the final seconds with a chance to reach the double-digit scoring plateau, but he missed them both, which robbed him of a double-double, as Ingram grabbed 19 rebounds, setting a new career high, surpassing the 15 rebounds he grabbed at Pittsburgh last week. 

Carolina led 30-28 at the half, and the only reason why the game was even that close was because State was 10-15 from the foul line, and Carolina turned it over 7 times. In the second half, Carolina cleaned up the turnovers, only committing 4, and quit putting the Wolfpack at the foul line, while getting to the line themselves. UNC was just 1-2 from the charity stripe in the first half, but they were 11-18 in the second half, which isn’t pretty, but was more than enough to help Carolina pull away. State shot just 27% for the game, which is a new program low, against UNC, just another sign that this Tar Heel team is committed to being the best defensive team they can be.

Ever since Carolina took its first lead at 17-16, it felt like they were on the doorstep of putting the game away, but never could. The lead would stay between 3-7 points, before a 10-0 run, made a 52-48 game, a 62-48 game, and effectively ended the game. Carolina held State without a field goal for the last 5:02 in the first half, and they went the last 3:48 of the game without a field goal as well. 

In a week in college basketball where the #1, #2, #3, and #5 teams all lost on the road, Carolina just finished off a 3-0 road stretch in ACC play, making it known that the Tar Heels are not only the team to beat in the ACC, but they’ve also emerged as legitimate national title contenders: 

  1. Harrison Ingram: The defense will get its love in the next bullet point, but Carolina wouldn’t have won the game if it wasn’t for the efforts of Harrison Ingram. Ingram scored 9 points on 4-9 shooting, but he did grab 19 rebounds, with 10 coming in the first half, and 9 in the second half. It makes the second time in the last three games that he grabbed 10+ rebounds, and it’s the fourth double-digit rebounding game of the season. Ingram’s effort and intensity set the tone on the end of the floor, and when Armando Bacot left the game with foul trouble, he took it to another level, making sure they didn’t lose a step. Ingram arrived as the most coveted transfer that Hubert Davis brought in over the summer, and it’s fair to say that he’s lived up to the hype, and then some. 

  2. Defense: It was another stellar defensive effort tonight from UNC, holding State to 27% from the field, including 2-21 from behind the arc. In the three ACC road games that Carolina has played so far, they’ve allowed only 8 made triples. Over their last 5 games, Carolina is allowing 59.0 points per game, and holding opponents to 33% shooting from the field, and 22% from behind the arc. The 27% shooting is the lowest ever against UNC in the ACC era. 

  3. Rebounding: Carolina won the rebounding battle again, 49-42, in large part because of Harrison Ingram. Jalen Washington grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench, while Bacot hauled in 5, and even R.J. Davis added 4. UNC won the defensive rebounding margin 36-28, and even though they gave up 14 offensive rebounds, they only allowed 8 second-chance points, Just like the defensive improvement, I don’t think anyone saw Carolina turning back the clock and being one of the best rebounding teams in the ACC, but after outrebounding their opponent in three straight road games, its fair to say that UNC is as good a  rebounding team the ACC has to offer. 

  4. Elliot Cadeau: In the toughest environment he’s played in so far, Cadeau arguably had his best game at the college level, scoring 11 points, and handing out 6 assists in 33 minutes. Cadeau had a rough stretch in the opening segment of the second half. Seeing a 7-point lead, dwindle down to 2, and after a brief stint on the bench, Cadeau responded, driving to the basket, and finding his open teammates. For Carolina to reach its full potential they are going to need continued growth and development from the reclassified freshman, and tonight was another step in the right direction for him individually. 

  5. Continued Dominance in Raleigh: Carolina is now 165-80 all-time against NC State, the most wins against a single opponent. UNC is now 69-48 in Raleigh, including 19-6 in PNC Arena.  In the last 43 games, Carolina is 37-6. 

Up Next: UNC returns home for the first time since December, as they host Syracuse on Saturday. That game is set to tip at 12 PM on ESPN.

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