This is definitely not the start to ACC play that the Tar Heels were hoping for. For the first time in eight years, the Tar Heels went on the road to PNC Arena and dropped a game to the NC State. Despite fighting back twice during the second half, a pair of late misses from Caleb Love and R.J. Davis left them short of completing the comeback and avoiding their first loss in the last seven meetings with the Wolfpack.
After a much more efficient performance against Kentucky holding on to the basketball, the Tar Heels turned the ball over eighteen times in this one, leading to 19 points off of turnovers for the Wolfpack. They dominated the second half on the boards to finish with a +11 margin on the glass for the night, pulling down 18 offensive rebounds. Unfortunately, they were only able to produce 17 points off of those offensive rebounds and combined with the 2-12 mark from three, there was just a little too much to overcome in this one for the win. Here is some other noteworthy things from this game:
Armando Bacot: He continued his elevated level of play on Tuesday night, as he led the team in scoring once again, dropping 16 points on 7-9 shooting. Bacot has taken a tremendous leap from last year and this stretch is helping him to continue to hold off the freshman duo of Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler that has met, if not exceeded, expectations so far.
Missed Opportunities: The Tar Heels late run was sparked by some nice finishes inside, but was thwarted by some important perimeter misses. Both R.J. Davis and Caleb Love had solid looks late to tie the game on the final possession, but both also had good looks that would have cut the lead to two in the final two minutes. It understandable that these guys are freshman, but these are shots that you have to be able to knock down in that situation.
Trouble Stopping Dribble Drive: This was one of the main reasons that the Wolfpack were able to establish so much offensive momentum early in the first half and showed up again in the late stretch from the Wolfpack allowed them to establish the cushion that was ultimately too much to overcome. Caleb Love and R.J. Davis has to be better than they were in this game at preventing the dribble drive because when the defense crashes as often as they did in this game, the three-point shot will be as open as it was in this game. This is the first game where this has been a major concern, but is something that can’t become a major issue if this Tar Heel team wants to succeed.
Andrew Platek: He had another strong showing off the bench for the Tar Heels, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting and drawing two important charges late in the first half. With the slow starts continuing to be an issue, he has settled into the role as the spark off the bench and will have to continue to thrive in that role unless this team can suddenly flip the switch and become a team that starts fast, something that seems unlikely.
Up Next: ACC play continues next Wednesday after a Christmas break, as the team will travel to Atlanta to square off against Georgia Tech at 8:00 PM on the Regional Sports Network.