James Michael McAdoo scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half on Sunday against Florida State. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — Don’t look know but North Carolina has won five consecutive games – its longest winning streak of the season. Here's the story about the latest victory, a 79-58 win against Florida State.
And as always, the look back …
Three things to take away from the Tar Heels victory:
1. It’s March, and UNC is playing its best basketball of the season.
Roy Williams said all along that he believed his team would improve as the season progressed. And he was right. The Tar Heels are much better than they were even a month ago – and they’re a completely different team than the one that was blown out November and December at Indiana and Texas. UNC can still improve in a lot of ways but isn’t this what Tar Heels fans wanted to see – the team playing the best it has all season in the first week of March?
2. That said, the easy games are over.
UNC did on Sunday what good teams should do against weaker competition: The Tar Heels took control of the game in the first half, and never allowed the Seminoles back in the game. Florida State entered the season with high hopes after winning the ACC tournament a season ago. But it hasn’t been the Seminoles year. And they didn’t offer UNC much of a challenge. But now the season becomes significantly more difficult for UNC. The Heels travel this week to Maryland for a game on Wednesday night. The Terrapins are in desperate need of a win to bolster their NCAA tournament resume. After that, UNC returns home to host Duke on Saturday. And then the tournaments begin.
3. Offensively, this might have been UNC’s best game of the season.
The Tar Heels shot 55.4 percent – a season high for an ACC game – and made nine of their 15 3-point attempts. James Michael McAdoo generated offense inside the paint and out of it, and finished with a game-high 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston both shot well from the outside and both made four 3-pointers. When those three play well together offensively, UNC becomes significantly more difficult to defend. They combined for 57 points, and nearly outscored Florida State by themselves.
UNC dominated, especially when it came to shooting and taking care of the ball. The Tar Heels also did a better job of getting to the three throw line.
The Tar Heels blew the game open midway through the first half and never allowed the Seminoles back in it.
--After North Carolina’s victory at Clemson on Thursday, UNC coach Roy Williams expressed frustration with James Michael McAdoo’s struggles to finish scoring opportunities around the basket. McAdoo got the message, apparently. Offensively, he was much more aggressive – and successful – on Sunday than he had been in UNC’s two previous games. McAdoo’s 10 made field goals tied his season high, and were his most since he made 10 in UNC’s season-opening victory against Gardner-Webb. “I knew I needed to play,” McAdoo said.
--During the final seconds on Sunday, some members of the UNC student section began chanting the name of Andrew Wiggins, a high school senior who is considered by some to be the best prospect in the country. There was one problem, though: Wiggins was not in attendance. He will reportedly visit UNC when it hosts Duke on Saturday. Upon hearing the Wiggins chant, Williams walked toward the UNC student section and motioned for the chant to stop. “He’s not even here,” Williams shouted.
--Reggie Bullock, UNC’s junior guard, was again the team’s leading rebounder on Sunday. He finished with 10 rebounds, and was also second on the team with five assists. Bullock, who scored 20 points against Florida State, led UNC with nine rebounds on Thursday at Clemson. His double-double on Sunday was his third of the season, and second in UNC’s past three games.
--UNC during a halftime ceremony on Sunday recognized Phil Ford and Bill Guthridge. Ford, a three-time first-team All-American during his years as the Tar Heels’ point guard, was in November inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Guthridge, who for 30 years was a UNC assistant coach under Dean Smith, will in May be inducted into the North Carolina Sports of Hall of Fame.
“I think James Michael was aggressive early in the game, but I think our whole team was. I think that was good for us. And then again, the ball’s going into the basket, it makes everybody feel even a little more aggressive – and you can do more things.” –UNC coach Roy Williams
“Very few teams have really tried to post P.J. – and try to post us up a little bit with the smaller lineup. And I thought that Florida State did that quite a bit in the second half with Turpin, Okaro, and some of those guys. And we didn’t handle that very well. So we’ve got to do a better job of fronting the post.” –Williams
“Last year at times when I shot the ball, I was like, I know this is not going in, after it came out of my hands. But this year, my whole confidence has just shot up with my 3-point shot, and getting to the basket and just making shots for my team.” –UNC sophomore guard P.J. Hairston
“If everybody buys in on the defensive end, I believe that we can continue winning games for the rest of the season … we’re definitely going to score the ball. So if we just focus in on defense and live on the backboards by going small, I believe that we can continue this run for a long time.” –UNC junior guard Reggie Bullock
UNC plays at Maryland on Wednesday night. At 20-9, and 8-8 in the ACC, the Terrapins have work to do to make the NCAA tournament. A victory against UNC would be significant.