Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 97-57 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga. It’s always good to get a win against a tough mid-major and UT-C is favored to win the Southern Conference.
It was a sloppy first six-seven minutes of the game for the Heels, who finished with 15 turnovers on the day. But after that point, the team, led again by Joel Berry’s example, locked in on defense and then began to overwhelm the Mocs in the paint.
Isaiah Hicks once again doing a good job with active feet, not reaching in, and therefore staying out of foul trouble. His first foul came with 7:49 left in the first half. He once again finished with three fouls, so that will need to be cleaned up, but Isaiah played 27 minutes in this game.
Could it be that after several years of “soft” Carolina teams, the 2016-17 team will be hard-nosed? A trait this year’s team seems to espouse more than last year’s is a scrappy determination to get after the ball. There were so many Tar Heels diving on the floor after loose balls that even Psycho T would have been proud. Along with this will hopefully come the killer instinct to put teams away, as the Heels did on Sunday.
Who’s going to fill the void left by Theo Pinson? Kenny Williams is certainly making his case with hustle play after hustle play. He was everywhere in this game. Williams also hit his first three of the season; much earlier than his first three of his freshman year. During the post-game press conference, while looking at the stats, Coach Williams said of Kenny Williams, “Four for seven, six rebounds, 11 points, five assists, one turnover, three steals – that’s a Danny Green kind of stat sheet right there.” That’s extremely high praise for the sophomore.Just before halftime, we got a taste of the non-Theo Pinson small ball line-up: Nate Britt, Joel Berry, Kenny Williams, Justin Jackson, and Kennedy Meeks (with Isaiah Hicks subbing in for Meeks just before the half).
Luke Maye checked out with 12:16 left in the second half with a noticeable limp. Hope he’s okay.
After barely missing a double-double against Tulane (nine points, 15 rebounds), Kennedy Meeks had already achieved a double-double midway through the second half of this game and ended with 14 points and 12 rebounds. More importantly, Meeks became the 73rd Tar Heel to score 1000 points in his career.
There were 26 assists on 34 made field goals (76.5%). Friday night the total was similar: 23 assists on 34 made field goals (67.6%). This is a good sign of early team dynamics.
It’s just two games into the season, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to really like this team.
Quick Hitters from tonight’s 83-66 win over Syracuse in the Final Four:
First off – congrats to Brice Johnson. First Tar Heel to ever have 400 rebounds in one season. Broke Tyler Hansbrough’s record of 399. He has 408 for the season.
Carolina has won every game in this NCAA Tournament by at least 14 points. Tonight’s 17 point margin was the biggest for the Tar Heels in a Final Four.
The Heels had trouble getting the ball to the high post in first half. Interestingly, the guards (Joel Berry in particular) had great success penetrating the zone with dribble penetration.
3 pointers? We don’t need no stinking 3 pointers. 0-10 from 3 in the 1st half, while shooting 17-25 from 2. The team did end up hitting 4 (3 from Paige, 1 from Pinson) during a critical stretch of the 2nd That first 3 from Paige could not have come at a better time as Syracuse had cut the lead to 7. The 3 point shooting was offset by a 50-32 advantage in the paint and a 43-31 rebounding advantage.
Brice Johnson picked up his 2nd foul with 9:05 left in the 1st half and the score tied at 16. As per usual, he sat the rest of the half. This was scary – one of those things that causes you to lose in the Final Four. The Heels not only survived this stretch but pushed out to and 11 point lead by halftime.
In the tournament, it’s always fun to see an unexpected player step up. With Isaiah Hicks mired in foul trouble, Joel James had 6 quality minutes. He had 4 points, including a zone-friendly 15-footer from the free throw line. He had 3 rebounds, one of which was a huge defensive rebound.
With a minute to go in the first half, Grant Hill talked about Syracuse being worn down by the “physical play of the Tar Heels”. These guys are tough! And someone in the media thinks so!
Syracuse shot abysmally from the free throw line (4-13).
Syracuse rolled out the full-court pressure that keyed the comeback against Virginia. The first time this happened, UNC scored in about 4 seconds. Carolina did have a couple turnovers on the pressure later in the game, but handled it really well for the most part.
Joel Berry continues to display a keen knack for when to distribute and when to get to the rack and score. Despite an unusual 0-4 from deep, Joel quietly had a really nice game – 8 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, and only 1 turnover, in 34 minutes.
Marcus Paige had one of the prettiest touch passes I’ve ever seen at the 14:11 mark of the 2nd
There were at least 3 made 3-pointers in this game that bounced on the rim multiple times before falling in.
Another great job getting key players in foul trouble. Gbinije and Richardson (the two leading scorers) both had 4 with 4:02 to go.
Syracuse was visibly fatigued in this game. By the time they went consistently to the full court press, there just wasn’t anything left in the tank. We understand experiencing that in the Final Four – 2008 against Kansas. It’s going to be hard for any team to have the energy to stay with Carolina. Especially this Syracuse team who only played 7 guys; one of which had 5 minutes, one had 19, and the other 5 players had 30 minutes or more.
The Tar Heels experienced a brain lapse midway through the 2nd It will have to be a complete 40 minute game on Monday night. Villanova will make us pay for a lull of that nature.
Syracuse made the Final Four on the strength of their defense. In their first 4 NCAA Tournament games, they had allowed 51, 50, 60, and 62 points, for an average of 55.75 points. The Heels scored 83 points tonight. In those same first 4 games, Syracuse allowed field goal percentages of 39.6, 29.7 43.6, and 41.5. The Heels shot 53.8% tonight.
Don’t look now, but Kennedy Meeks has strung together 3 strong games in a row. Tonight he had 15 points and 8 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive.
Well, we can’t call this column “The Path To Houston” anymore. Why? Because the Tar Heels have made it to the Final Four! So today (and Monday if all goes well), we’ll now call this column “The Path To Houston (Glory), Part 5”. For the second game in a row, the Tar Heels will match up for the third time this season with an ACC foe: the 10th-seeded Syracuse Orange. At this point, however, you can throw the seeds out the window because there are only 4 teams left playing, and they are all playing at an extremely high level. Here’s what you need to know for Saturday night’s match-up.
Final Four: Syracuse
10th in ACC
Stat Leaders (of contributing players)
Points: Michael Gbinije – 17.6
Assists: Michael Gbinije – 4.4
FG%: DaJuan Coleman – 54.1
Rebounds: Tyler Roberson – 8.4
Steals: Michael Gbinije – 2.0
Blocks: Tyler Lydon – 1.8
Minutes: Michael Gbinije – 37.9
Previous 2015-16 Games
Game 1 – January 9. @ Syracuse. 84-73 UNC. This was Boeheim’s first game back from suspension, was a home game for the Orange, and the Tar Heels had never gone 4-0 under Coach Williams to start ACC play. It had all the makings of the Saints first game back in the SuperDome after Hurricane Katrina, in which the Falcons didn’t stand a chance. The game was tied at 58 with 6:31 to go, and was only a 2-point game (66-64) with 3:19 to go. The Tar Heels then went on a 18-9 over those final minutes to win by 11. The key was not shooting over the vaunted Orange zone(18.8 3PT%), but attacking it from the inside. Brice Johnson had a career-high 8 assists (Paige also had 8 assists), 5 of which came in the final 8:13 of the game as he picked apart the zone from the high post. 7 of the 8 were for dunks or layups. 4 went to Isaiah Hicks who finished the night with 21 points.
Game 2 – Febrauary 29. Senior Night. @ North Carolina. 75-70 UNC. On this night, Syracuse showed a more determined effort to stop the ball from getting into the middle of the zone. Marcus Paige once again had 8 assists against the Orange. Brice Johnson had 14 & 10 for just another, ho-hum *yawn* double-double. Tar Heels led by as many as 13 in the 2nd They never trailed, but Syracuse cut the lead to 3 several times within the last 7 minutes, including :07 to go. It was Joel Berry who sent his senior teammates to a senior night victory with two free throws to ice it.
Depth – Syracuse’s doesn’t have much. Their depth is very similar to that of Duke. 5 players average 30+ minutes a game with 2 other players averaging 17 and 10 minutes a game. Despite the lack of depth, the zone helps the Orange stay out of foul trouble. At the same time, UNC’s depth and pace should wear out the thin Syracuse bench.
337 – Syracuse’s rank in defensive rebounding percentage. 3 – North Carolina’s rank in offensive rebounding percentage. The Tar Heels must exploit this advantage.
In the last 6 NCAA Tournament games as NRG Stadium in Houston (Where the Final Four will be played), the competing teams shot a combined 27.6% from 3. Guess who relies on that shot? Syracuse, Oklahoma, and Villanova. Guess who doesn’t rely on that shot? The North Carolina men’s basketball team. Advantage Tar Heels.
The Record Book
Brice Johnson needs 1 rebound to set the Carolina record for most rebounds in a season. He currently has 399 and is tied with Tyler Hansbrough. This would also make Brice the only player in program history with 400 rebounds in a season.
Marcus Paige has made 292 3-pointers in his career. He is already #1, but could be the first Tar Heel to hit 300.
Syracuse Key Reserves
Points per game
Adj. Offensive Efficiency (Rank)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency (Rank)
Offensive Reb Rate
Defensive Reb Rate
Carolina’s 3 point shooting. In the first two games against Syracuse, the Tar Heels shot 18.8% and 24.0% from downtown. So far in the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels, as a team have shot 38.2% (26-68) on 3-pointers. Though they’ve done a good job getting to the middle of the Syracuse zone this year, if Carolina can hit 3s and extend the zone, this game could get ugly.
How do Syracuse’s freshmen handle the Final Four stage? From a Syracuse standpoint, it will be interesting to see how freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon (who have both been playing well) respond to playing in this Final Four atmosphere. Will the lights overwhelm them, or are they too young to know any better? Richardson, while inefficient, has been a big time scorer. Lydon has really come on of late, especially on the defensive end. Although he comes off the bench, Lydon is getting starter’s minutes.
Main Key to the Game:
Though Carolina has been shooting the 3 ball better, the most important piece of this game will be getting Brice Johnson the ball early and often at the free throw line. From there he can take (and make) that 15-footer all day or pick the zone apart. Carolina’s ability (or inability) to get the ball to the middle of the zone most likely determines which of these teams will be playing for the national championship on Monday night.
This is it. The final weekend of the 2015-16 college basketball season. No matter what happens in NRG Stadium, this will be the final time we will see this edition of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, and Joel James will only pull on their Tar Heel #5, #11, and #42 jerseys once more, maybe (hopefully) twice more. As fans, we find it easy to get wrapped up in defining a season by the final game. Whether or not Carolina can win tomorrow against Syracuse and subsequently knock off Villanova or Oklahoma on Monday night, this will go down as one of my favorite (if not the favorite) teams of all time. So here’s what I want to say: before we get enraptured in the games this weekend, make sure to take time to stop, appreciate this team, and soak it up.
Make sure to think back on the careers and development of Paige, Johnson, and James.
The biggest thing I’ll remember from this year is the Marcus Paige emotional roller coaster. Here is my stream-of-consciousness thinking of Mr. Paige’s senior year thus far: “Marcus is finally healthy and primed for a huge All-American senior year; reminiscent of his sophomore campaign! He broke his hand. Oh no! Which hand??? His non-shooting hand? Okay. Whew. Dodged a bullet. When will he come back? How will the team play until then? 5-1 with an undesirable, but understandable loss in a true road game at Northern Iowa. How will he look when he finally suits up? 20 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover in 34 minutes at home against Maryland, an early contender for the national championship? We’ll take it. Marcus is ready to go. Then the slump. Poor Marcus. His shot looks so pretty, why won’t it go in? He’s not hitting his free throws either. Oh man he hit a couple 3s this game, he’s back!! Nope he’s not. Well the good news is Marcus is still doing everything else he should as a teammate. I just hate for his senior year to play out this way. Maybe, just maybe he’ll pick up in March. Yes – 4 of 7 from deep against Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals. Here we go. Marcus is on in March. Spoke to soon. 0-7 from deep against Virginia. But man did he do a number guarding Brogdon. 2 solid, but unspectacular, games to start the NCAA tournament. But then Indiana, ohhhhh the Indiana game. With each successive 3 to start the game, I jumped higher and yelled louder. 21 points, 6 assists, 0 turnovers. That’s Marcus Paige. He’s back.” Marcus might score 30 points against Syracuse or he might score 0. The Tar Heels might win and the same stats are possible against Oklahoma/Villanova. Either way, Marcus Paige will be one of my five favorite Tar Heels of all time.
Raise your hand if you thought Marcus Paige would have the struggles he’s had this year and yet, the Tar Heels would find themselves in the Final Four as the favorites to cut down the nets. The reason is because of two words: Brice Johnson. Let me use some numbers, so that we can try to wrap our heads around what a historical year he’s had. With his next rebound (just one), Johnson will have 400 for the season and will become the single-season rebounding leader in North Carolina Men’s Basketball history (and is on the doorstep of moving into the top 10 in ACC single season history). Just stop and think about that. For every rebounder that’s ever put on a UNC jersey, he has the most rebounds in any one season. And it’s not just this season. Brice is 1 of only 8 Tar Heels to have 1000 career rebounds. The others on the list are some gentlemen named Hansbrough, Perkins, Lynch, Cunningham, Jamison, Kupchak, and Daugherty. Heard of any of them? He’s currently number 6 on that list and has a realistic shot to move past Antawn Jamison for 5th. And it’s not just the rebounds, it’s also the points. Brice has scored 648 points this year, good to tie him with NBA champion Harrison Barnes’ 2011-12 campaign for 18th in one season. He will definitely continue moving up this list; whether UNC plays 1 or 2 more games will determine exactly how much further. Along similar lines, Johnson has moved into 19th on the career scoring list, again with extremely realistic chances to continue moving up. This also means that this team boasts 2 of the top 20 scorers in Carolina history (Paige is currently at #12). The combination of scoring and rebounding a lot means that Johnson has accumulated 23 double-doubles this season, again the most in a single-season in UNC history. He currently is averaging 17.1 ppg and 10.5 rpg this year. Only 4 Tar Heels have averaged a double-double since 1975-76. Their names? Antawn Jamison, Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, John Henson. Mr. Brice Johnson, we thank you for giving us one of the greatest single years any player has ever had in Chapel Hill. I think all that yelling Roy has done just might have made a difference.
I will remember this year as the year that the “not tough” Tar Heels suffered 6 losses (to this point), but only by a combined 22 points. And they never lost by more than 6. And they had a lead at some point in EVERY GAME THEY PLAYED. In fact, the Heels also had a least a tie in the 2nd half of every game they played. Probably the most impressive of these stats is that, of Carolina’s 38 games to date, they’ve held a 2nd half lead in every game but one (@ Virginia).
I will remember the collapse at home to Duke. As that game wore on, and the Heels struggled to create separation, I thought, “there’s no way we lose this game”. However, there were images of Austin Rivers floating in the back of my head. I will readily admit that after that loss, I really wondered what this team would amount to come tournament time. But now we have answer. The Tar Heels of the 2016 ACC Tournament were a thing of beauty. This team is tough.
I will remember this as a Carolina team that returned almost completely intact (we miss you JP!) and added a couple nice pieces in Luke Maye and Kenny Williams. I will remember this as the year that a Carolina team with no “superstars” and possible NCAA sanctions looming moved past several years of uncertainty (early departures after 2011-12, the PJ Hairston debacle, Paige’s injury-riddled junior year, etc), joined together, and rose above it all to make the Final Four with as good a shot as you’re going to get at winning a national championship.
It’s been a great year. We still have 1, maybe 2, games left. So soak it up Tar Heel fans and let’s enjoy this epilogue.
Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-74 win over Notre Dame in the Elite 8:
First off, biggest play of the game was the steal by Theo Pinson with 12:22 left in the game. Although Marcus Paige had just hit a jumper to stop a 12-0 Notre Dame run and put the Tar Heels back in the lead 53-52, the Irish had all the momentum. Theo’s steal ignited the bench and things progressed positively from there.
The crucial juncture of the game was the 12-0 Notre Dame run midway through the 2nd half to take a 52-51 lead. Rather than packing it in, the veteran Tar Heels responded in kind, with a 12-0 run of their own and never looked back. All of this run happened with Brice Johnson on the bench, having just picked up fouls 2 & 3 (the latter of which was a technical).
Getting back to Theo Pinson, he provided a huge spark this evening. His stat line was solid, but not overly impressive if you didn’t see the game: 6 points on 2-2 shooting, 2 rebounds (both offensive), 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers. But if you did see the game, you know how important every one of those stats was. Almost all of this stat line came in 2 critical stretches of the 2nd half – all after the Brice Johnson technical. Stretch #1 (12:22-8:37). Situation: Notre Dame has just reeled off the 12-0 run to take the lead and gain momentum. Carolina could fold, or respond. Enter Theo: The 1 steal in the stat line is the aforementioned biggest play of the game at 12:22. Subsequently, although he missed both free throws (which provided the craziest play of the game when Isaiah Hicks had a left-handed tip-in from 5 feet out off the 2nd miss), he drew the 3rd foul on Zach Auguste at 10:57. He then secured his first two points with a lay-up at 10:01 while guarded by the now-saddled-with-3-fouls Zach Auguste who couldn’t play aggressive defense. Next, at 9:21, off a beautiful, standard-issue Kennedy Meeks full court outlet pass, Pinson threw a nice alley-oop to Hicks for one of his 4 assists. Then, at 8:40, he corralled an offensive rebound in traffic (with all 5 Notre Dame players surrounding him) and put it back for points 3 and 4. Stretch #2 (2:07-1:39). Situation: The Tar Heels are maintaining a pretty comfortable 10 point cushion, but the game is not out of reach. Enter Theo: At 2:07, Justin Jackson snags an offensive rebound and kicks it back out to a wide-open Pinson at the top of the key. Pause. Syracuse was in the exact same situation just a few hours earlier. Up 6, Tyler Lydon got an offensive rebound and kicked it out to a wide-open Michael Gbinije at the top of the key. He promptly fired a 3. With a fresh 30 on the shot clock. Up 6. With 2:37 to in the Elite 8. Would Theo suffer the same fate? No, he pulled the ball out, found Berry and the Tar Heels ran clock until the Irish decided it was time to start fouling. At 1:54, Justin Jackson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Theo had a tip-out to Joel Berry for offensive rebound number 2. To wrap up stretch #2, Pinson was fouled at 1:39 and sank both free throws in a 1-and-1 situation to give Carolina a 12 point lead. Mr. Theo Pinson earned his trip to the press conference on this night.
With 25 points and 12 rebounds tonight, Brice Johnson broke a record and tied a record. The double-double was his 23rd of the season and is the most by a Tar Heel in one season. The 12 rebounds gives him 399 on the season, which places Brice in a tie with Tyler Hansbrough’s 2007-08 season for the most by a Tar Heel in one season. Should Brice secure 1 rebound against Syracuse he would hold the single-season rebound record and be the only Tar Heel to ever get 400 in a season.
At this point, I’m convinced Marcus Paige was sandbagging all season. In all seriousness, so glad for Marcus and the re-start that the tournament has allowed him.
Coming into the game this Tar Heel team had the best assist-to-turnover ratio and the lowest turnovers per game average of any Tar Heel team since turnovers were first recorded in 1981-82. Carolina only had 6 turnovers tonight (versus 17 assists), so both those numbers should continue to improve.
Big play when Demetrius Jackson hurt his ankle. He was clearly at least somewhat hobbled and Joel Berry was able to take advantage on several drives to the hoop.
This is the first time I remember seeing Brice’s emotions affect the game in such a monumental way. Getting a 2nd foul was no big deal, but the subsequent technical foul (& therefore 3rd personal) which sent him to the bench really hurt. It was in the middle of the Notre Dame 12-0 run and could have potentially effectively ended the North Carolina men’s basketball season. Fortunately, his teammates picked him up and it didn’t end up hurting. Brice was quick to take the blame at the top of the press conference.
Another solid game from Kennedy Meeks. Although he only played 15 minutes, he scored 10 points on 4-4 shooting and hit both free throws he shot.
The “burn” offense. Great tactic from Mike Brey. Certainly a source of frustration for the Heels in the 1st Also allowed the Irish to stay in the game while Zach Auguste was on the bench in foul trouble. All the same, for the most part, the Heels showed great defensive patience and stayed dialed in for the full shot clock. I should also say, I’m not sure Notre Dame was still using this tactic down 12 with 5 minutes to go. I think they should have abandoned this approach much sooner than they did, but that’s why they pay Mike Brey and not Isaac Schade.
Tonight, the Irish had the highest FG% (55.1%) against the Tar Heels all season. Previous to this, the Heels had held 28 straight opponents under 45%. This was only the 2nd time all season a team has shot over 50% against Carolina.
Hats off to Notre Dame. Back-to-back Elite 8s. Came in with a great game plan tonight and executed it. They are a classy program, who works hard and plays the game well. Certainly going to miss watching the departing players in the ACC.
Welcome to the 2016 ACC Tournament, Round 2! What a testament to the depth and talent in the conference. On the second day of Elite 8 games, the only four teams in play are all from the ACC: Virginia vs. Syracuse and North Carolina vs. Notre Dame. It’s highly possible that the Tar Heels could repeat the path they took in the semifinals and finals of the ACC Tournament. They play Notre Dame tonight (ACC Tournament semifinals) and, with a win, would most likely play Virginia (ACC Tournament final) in the Final Four next Saturday.
Elite Eight: Notre Dame
6th in ACC
Points: Demetrius Jackson – 15.5
Assists: Demetrius Jackson – 4.7
FG%: Zach Auguste – 55.9
Rebounds: Zach Auguste – 10.9
Steals: Demetrius Jackson – 1.2
Blocks: Demetrius Jackson – 1.1
Minutes: Steve Vasturia – 36.0
Previous 2015-16 ND / UNC Games
February 6. UNC @ ND. Notre Dame won 80-76. UNC led by at many as 15 and 9 at the half. The Heels let off the accelerator in the 2nd half and lost by 4.
March 11. ACC Tournament semifinal. North Carolina won 78-47. The Heels were locked in defensively and the game was effectively over by halftime. The Tar Heels had a 24-0 run at one point in this game.
Bonzie Colson has started most of the season for Notre Dame, but Coach Mike Brey has inserted Matt Farrell into the starting lineup throughout the NCAA Tournament. As he says, this gives them “another ball handler on the floor…and that’s kind of helped and taken a little pressure off Demetrius that we have another ball handler on the floor to start a game”. The problem for the Irish is that while this gives them another ball handler, it eliminates their height advantage in the backcourt and doesn’t seem to provide any matchup difficulties for the Tar Heels in the frontcourt.
While North Carolina has won every tournament game by double digits, Notre Dame has played three very close games. In fact, Notre Dame has been behind in the 2nd half of every game they’ve played. Michigan last held a lead with 4:32 remaining. Both Stephen F. Austin and Wisconsin held leads with under :30 left.
This is Notre Dame’s 2nd straight Elite 8. They lost to Kentucky in the same round last year.
By the numbers, Notre Dame’s defense is by far the worst of the 4 units in adjusted efficiency. UNC is 2nd on offense and 16th on defense. ND is 10th on offense but 154th on defense.
While having a very efficient offense, Notre Dame plays at a much slower pace (318th in the country) that do the Tar Heels (50th). It will be interesting to see which team can exert their will.
There has been a lot of talk from Notre Dame about 2014-15 when Duke beat them handily before Notre Dame got revenge later in the postseason. They are hoping to do the same to North Carolina after the Heels’ 31 point victory a few weeks ago. If I were Roy Williams (and I’m most decidedly not), I would counter by reminding my team of the 2008-09 season. Carolina played Michigan St. in the Big 10/ACC Challenge and won 98-63 (35 point victory). When the teams met again for the National Championship later that season, there was a lot of talk of revenge, but the Heels won 89-72 in a game that never felt that close.
A couple records that might be broken tonight:
Brice Johnson has 387 rebounds this season. This is 12 shy of tying Tyler Hansbrough for the most by a Tar Heel in one season. Tyler has 399 in 2007-08. Should Brice break the record, he would be the first Tar Heel to have 400 rebounds in a seson.
Brice also has 22 double-doubles (points and rebounds) on the season. He is tied with Billy Cunningham for the most for a Tar Heel in one season. Cunningham achieved this in 1963-64.
Notre Dame Starters (**Colson usually starts but Farrell has been starting in the NCAA Tournament)
Notre Dame Key Reserves
Points per game
Adj. Offensive Efficiency (Rank)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency (Rank)
Offensive Reb Rate
Defensive Reb Rate
X-Factor: Notre Dame’s starting lineup change. Can Carolina take advantage of the now even more pronounced frontcourt size advantage before Bonzie Colson comes in off the bench? Justin Jackson (6’8”) will most likely match up with Steve Vasturia (6’5”) – advantage Jackson. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson (both 6’10”) will, in some form, match up with Zach Auguste (6’10”) and VJ Beachem (6’8”). The Heels need to attack whomever Beachem is guarding. The question for Carolina is whether Meeks will be quick enough to follow either Auguste or Beachem or whether Roy Williams will need to bring in Isaiah Hicks or go small with Theo Pinson. The personnel chess match between Coach Williams and Coach Brey will be interesting and go a long way to determining which of these teams will head to the Final Four next Saturday.
Main Key to the Game: Stop me if this sounds familiar to Friday’s game against Indiana: Stop Demetrius Jackson’s dribble penetration (Friday it was Yogi Ferrell). Staying in front of Jackson (without fouling) is top priority tonight. If other players have to help off, that leaves shooters open outside for 3s and, with the defensive rotations required, also leaves the offensive glass vulnerable.
Quick Hitters from Carolina’s 101-86 victory over Indiana in the Sweet 16:
Oh hello there, Marcus Paige, good to see the real you. Paige was 4-4 from 3. BEFORE THE FIRST MEDIA TIMEOUT. Unreal. Marcus finished 6-9 from 3, granted two of those misses were near the end of the game on a possession when the Heels were jacking up shots. Along the way to scoring 21 points tonight, Marcus passed Michael Jordan for 12th on the UNC career scoring list. Brice Johnson has moved up to 19th, so this team has 2 players (heck, roommates) who are top 20 in UNC history in career scoring.
This game marks the first time the Heels have scored 100 after the first week of the NCAA Tournament.
Probably the biggest storyline all week was Indiana’s ability to shoot a high volume and percentage on 3 pointers. They did shoot 41.9% (13-31) for the game, but that was neutralized by Carolina’s 55% (11-20). To be honest, Carolina’s percentage would have been even better were it not for end of game possessions in which Carolina was playing run-the-shot-clock-down-and-shoot-a-3-at-the-buzzer offense.
The Tar Heels had 3 turnovers in their final 5 possessions of the 1st half and 7 total for the half. At least 5 of those turnovers were traveling calls. The Heels cleaned this up and only had 2 turnovers in the entire second half.
The story of the first couple minutes of the 1st half was Marcus Pagie’s shooting. The story in that same time frame of the 2nd half was Indiana’s fouling. UNC reached the bonus with 16:35 left and eventually the double bonus with 12:52 to go.
With 15:20 left in the game, Kennedy Meeks stepped around to poke away an entry pass seemingly leading to a run-out. Yogi Ferrell came up the loose ball before Nate Britt could get to it. At this point there were five players beneath the free throw line – 4 Hoosiers and a Brice Johnson. Ferrell had what looked to be a gimmie layup, but Johnson came flying in from the opposite wing to block the shot (we’ll just skip the part where Troy Williams finished the possession with a 3).
Though it probably wouldn’t have helped Indiana overcome so great a deficit, it’s worth noting that Robert Johnson didn’t play at all tonight for the Hoosiers.
You might have already realized this, but with the ACC sweep of Friday night (Virginia, Notre Dame, and Syracuse in addition to Carolina), the conference has secured half the spots in the Elite Eight and is also guaranteed 2 teams in the Final Four and 1 team in the National Championship game. Also, with the way things are laid out, it’s highly possible that the Heels will have to replicate the semifinal (Notre Dame) and final (Virginia) of the ACC Tournament in order to reach the National Championship game.
Brice Johnson recorded his 22nd double-double this season. That ties him for the most ever in a season by a Tar Heel with the great Billy Cunningham. Incidentally.
Speaking of Brice and records: he now has over 1,000 rebounds for his career (1,006) which only 7 other Tar Heels have done. He also has 387 rebounds this season. Tyler Hansbrough holds the record for the most in one season with 399. There’s a very good chance Brice Johnson could become the first player in program history with 400 rebounds in a season.
Tip of the cap to Yogi Ferrell. What a career. An incredible basketball player and leader; a seemingly even better young man.
I love stats. Therefore I love records. Therefore I also love tracking the potential breaking of records. With the regular season wrapped up, and on the eve of the Tar Heels’ first ACC Tournament game, I thought it would be fun to open up the Carolina record book and see where current players stand in different Tar Heel stat categories.
We already know that Marcus Paige has set the Tar Heel record for made 3-pointers in a career (273 and counting – Incidentally, can you imagine what that number would be if he had been healthy all year and shot the ball around his normal 3-point percentage?). Let’s see where Marcus and Brice Johnson rank in some other stat categories (both career and single-season records) as they wrap up their time in Chapel Hill. We’ll also check in on the progress of some of their underclassmen teammates who are working their way into the Tar Heel record books.
Remember, Carolina could have as many 9 or as few as 2 games left. The ability for this group of Tar Heels to continue moving up the leaderboards depends on the number of games remaining.
Note: All stats (career & single-season) are updated through the end of the 2015-16 regular season.
Marcus Paige – 1718 (#16)
Brice Johnson – 1559 (#25)
Needs 68 points to tie Eric Montross for #20
If he achieves this, there will be 2 of the top 20 UNC scorers of all time graduating together
Career – 953 (#8)
47 shy of 1000 for his career, which only 7 other Tar Heels have done. And it’s a prestigious list – Hansbrough, Perkins, Lynch, Cunningham, Jamison, Kupchak, Daugherty
This year – 334 (#T-14)
Needs 65 rebounds to tie Tyler Hansbrough for the single season record.
It’s possible that Brice could become the first Tar Heel with 400 rebounds in a season.
Marcus Paige – 330-389 – 84.8% (#2)
Marcus started the year #1 all time, and currently sits .1% behind Shammond Williams.
Nate Britt – 146-176 – 83.0% (#11)
Joel Berry – 100-122 – 82.0% (#14)
If this holds through the remaining seasons of Britt and Berry’s careers, this team would have 3 of the top 15 FT% shooters in Tar Heel history.
Career Field Goal % (Career)
Brice Johnson – 655-1150 – 57.0% (#15)
Kennedy Meeks – 375-670 – 56.0% (#T-17)
Isaiah Hicks – 217-388 – 55.9% (#19)
If this holds through the remaining seasons of Meeks and Hicks’ careers, this team will have 3 of the top 20 in FG% in Tar Heel history.
Double-Doubles (Points/Rebounds) (Single Season)
Has 19 this year. Single season record is 22.
Also, if current averages hold (16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg), Brice would become the first player since John Henson in 2010-11 to average a double-double for the year. He would be only the 4th player to do so in the 2000’s (Henson, Hansbrough, May) and only 5th since 1975-76 (add in Jamison in 97-98).
Marcus Paige – 566 (#10)
This one is sad for me because he has a chance to pass Kendall Marshall (581, #8) who would have destroyed the Tar Heel record books in terms of assists if he had stuck around another couple years. That reminds me of how absolutely ridiculous Marshall was. If Marshall had stayed, he had a chance to surpass Ed Cota for 1st in Tar Heel career assists (who, by the way, is 3rd all time in NCAA history).
Brice Johnson – 141 (5 behind Brad Daugherty for #10)
Marcus Paige – 193 (#5)
We’ll check in again with these records (and any others that have come to light in the remaining games) after the season is over.
Any records I’m missing? Any other stats or records you want to know about? Leave a comment or drop me an email (email@example.com).