Pack ends UNC streak
Even North Carolina senior Dexter Strickland can now agree that N.C. State has what it takes to win the ACC.
When the media and ACC coaches voted the Wolfpack league favorites in the preseason, Strickland said they couldn’t be in the mix until they finally beat the Tar Heels, who had won 13 straight games in the rivalry.
No. 18 N.C. State (16-4, 5-2) did just that Saturday night, racing out to a 22-point halftime lead and going up by 28 with 13:22 left before holding on for a 91-83 win at PNC Arena.
“All these things about streaks and people making comments, on game night you have to step out there and you have to play,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “And we didn’t do that.”
In another context, the Tar Heels (13-6, 3-3) could celebrate 47 points from a bench full of underclassmen, 60.5 percent shooting in the second half and 50 points in the final 13½ minutes.
But not when it came after a dreadful first half that saw N.C. State shred UNC’s transition defense, running up a 20-0 advantage in fast break points in the first half even though Williams said he emphasized sprinting back over the last two days.
“We didn’t run back on defense,” Williams said. “They had a greater sense of urgency than we did. 20-0? You work on it, talk about it, work on it, talk about it, (and then) you don’t do it.”
N.C. State senior Lorenzo Brown (20 points, 11 assists) got the better of UNC freshman Marcus Paige (seven points, four assists) at point guard and Durham native T.J. Warren added 19 off the bench for N.C. State. Richard Howell (16 points, 14 rebounds) and C.J. Leslie (17 points, 10 rebounds) each posted double-doubles in the win.
P.J. Hairston shot 5 of 8 from behind the arc and scored 19 points for UNC, while James Michael McAdoo had 13 points and 11 rebounds despite early foul trouble. Strickland had six assists and no turnovers, but the Tar Heels’ starting backcourt combined to shoot 4 of 18 from the floor.
UNC got off to a bad start when McAdoo fouled N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie twice in the first two minutes and headed to the bench. It took UNC 3½ minutes to score and the Tar Heels trailed by 11 after six minutes.
Williams tried seemingly any combination he could with McAdoo out, at one point going with four freshmen and Hairston. With 11 minutes left, Williams finally re-inserted McAdoo, and the Tar Heels went on a 8-0 run to cut the deficit to four at 22-18 with 7:10 to play.
That was the closest the Tar Heels would get, however. The Wolfpack responded with a 22-2 run, capped off by a steal and dunk by Warren that put the home team up 42-20.
N.C. State created separation with highlight plays, including a Leslie dunk over Simmons and a behind-the-back pass from Brown to Howell. It also was helped by UNC’s ineffective offense, including a missed dunk by Brice Johnson and lots of contested jumpers by the starters, who combined to shoot 3 for 17 in the first half.
But the Wolfpack’s decisive run was also a product of its transition game, as N.C. State continually got behind UNC’s defense and outran a running team.
The second half didn’t start much better for UNC — its first three shots consisted of an airball and two missed layups. Williams even inserted third-string point guard Luke Davis, who hadn’t played since Dec. 22 against McNeese State.
When Lorenzo Brown stole the ball from Davis and converted a lay-up with 13:22 left, the Wolfpack led 61-33, their largest margin of the game.
As in UNC’s first loss of the season, when it cut a 29-point Butler lead to six before losing by 11, the Tar Heels came close to making up the deficit. UNC used a 28-9 run to get within nine with 5:21 left, but the Wolfpack scored the next eight points, including a four-point play by Scott Wood. Another 3-pointer by Wood gave N.C. State a 14-point lead with 1:42 remaining.
UNC made one last push, scoring nine straight to cut the deficit to five with 28 seconds to play on a dunk by McAdoo. But Wood, who leads the ACC in free-throw percentage, was fouled by Bullock on N.C. State’s inbounds play. Wood made both ends of a 1-and-1 to allow the sellout crowd to breathe again, and Brown went 4 of 4 from the line to seal the win.
Williams was in no mood to celebrate UNC’s second-half push.
“I’m not big on moral victories whatsoever,” Williams said. “We did try and make a comeback, but N.C. State was more prepared, they had a greater sense of urgency and they worked harder.”
No. 18 N.C. STATE 91, NORTH CAROLINA 83
|James Michael McAdoo||25||5-10||3-4||2-11||0||5||13|
Percentages: FG .465, FT .900. 3-Point Goals: 8-22, .364 (Hairston 5-8, Bullock 2-6, Paige 1-5, Strickland 0-1, Tokoto 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Hubert, Johnson, Paige, Simmons). Turnovers: 14 (Hairston 3, Paige 3, Davis 3, Tokoto 2, Bullock 2, McAdoo). Steals: 6 (Bullock 3, Hairston, McAdoo, Hubert). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .492, FT .870. 3-Point Goals: 7-13, .538 (Wood 3-6, Brown 2-2, Warren 1-2, Purvis 1-3). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 3 (Howell, Leslie, Brown). Turnovers: 16 (Leslie 7, Brown 5, Warren 2, Wood, Purvis). Steals: 9 (Leslie 3, Brown 2, Purvis, Warren, Howell, Wood). Technical Fouls: None.
A—19,577. Officials—Mike Eades, Mike Stuart, Raymond Styons.