CHAPEL HILL — No. 3 North Carolina defeated Boston College 83-60 in the ACC opener for both teams. A look back at the highlights and lowlights from the Smith Center:
Why the Tar Heels won: North Carolina used a 10-0 run to take control in the first half, and then opened the second half on a 10-2 run. Outside of those two stretches, this was a surprisingly a pretty even game. Boston College, with its 12 first-year players and nine freshmen, showed some toughness and didn’t really go away. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, played well in stretches but had too many mental lapses, coach Roy Williams said. UNC won comfortably and should have. Even so, it was probably a tad closer than the 23-point final margin indicated.
The good: The Heels dominated in the paint, where they outscored the Eagles 46-26. And Harrison Barnes had one of his better games of the season. He finished with 25 points, made 10 of his 15 shots, and had one highlight-worthy dunk that brought the crowd to its feet during the first half. In fact, UNC’s entire front court played well. The big three of Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller combined to score 59 points and they made 23 of their 36 field goal attempts.
The bad: Williams and his players spoke a lot about raising their intensity entering ACC play but the Tar Heels were a bit sluggish to start. About eight-and-a-half minutes into the game, UNC led just 15-14 before going on that 10-0 run. Plus, the Heels allowed Boston College to hang around. UNC built a 21-point lead early in the second half, only to see the Eagles cut it nine with about nine minutes to play. That frustrated Williams. So, too, did his team’s defensive lapses in the second half, when UNC failed to properly play screens that led to three Eagles’ baskets. The Tar Heels’ bench has been solid for much of the season but it was unproductive on Saturday. Reggie Bullock, James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston combined to make 4 of their 19 attempts from the field and they scored 11 points as a group.
Key stat: The Tar Heels made 23 of their 35 field-goal attempts inside the paint. But they were just 8-for-31 outside of the lane. And just 3-for-17 on 2-point shots outside of the paint. If the Heels shoot better from the outside – both beyond the arc and inside of it, then UNC wins by at least 30.
Key stat II: Barnes, Zeller and Henson combined for 59 points and made 23 of their 36 shots from the field. When the Big Three are playing that well, UNC will be difficult to beat.
UNC player of the game: Barnes. Finished with 25 points and did it in a variety of ways – on the inside and from the outside. He made 3 of his 4 3-point attempts and also picked his moments to go to the basket and be aggressive.
Quotable: “You can’t make that pass. We have a lob for a dunk and you throw it over the backboard. I told him at 61, I can make that pass. Never had a guy that does a better job looking up and having the vision on the court that he does. But I really got ticked off there for a couple of minutes when it got down to nine or 10. But it wasn’t because it got to nine or 10. It was because we decided not to help down in the post, and Kendall goes and helps down in the post and his guy makes a three. And we say go over the screen, Harrison went below the screen, his guy makes a three. Next time he goes below the screen, Z steps out and help and they throw it Z’s man for a layup. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes.” –UNC coach Roy Williams, first on his frustration with Kendall Marshall’s errant lob to Harrison Barnes, and then on his team’s defensive lapses in the second half.
Photo: Boston College's Gabe Moton fouls UNC's Harrison Barnes in the second half. ROBERT WILLETT - firstname.lastname@example.org