P.J. Hairston was in the midst of one of his best halves at North Carolina before suffering a concussion. ROBERT WILLETT
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — North Carolina’s 82-70 victory against Boston College on Tuesday night isn’t likely to go down as one of the Tar Heels’ most memorable. Still, it was a game the Heels had to have. And they got it done amid some adversity, as I wrote about in this story.
Time for the look back …
Three things to take away from UNC’s victory:
1. P.J. Hairston made the most of his minutes – again.
Hairston played just 12 minutes before suffering a concussion that forced him from the game with about four minutes remaining in the first half. Again, though, he made the most of his time. He made all four of his official 3-point attempts (and missed one when a defender fouled him in the process) and he ignited UNC after the Heels’ slow start. The Tar Heels were down 8-2 early, but then Hairston made a pair of 3s, Reggie Bullock made another, and UNC was on its way. The only downside to Hairston’s performance? We’ll never know how good it could have been had he been able to play the whole game. He was in the midst of one of his finest halves of the season before the concussion.
2. This was a nice bounce-back win.
A loss tonight could have been potentially catastrophic for the Heels. And it wasn’t out of the question. The Eagles’ poor record is somewhat deceiving, given they were in a position to win several games they lost. Boston College lost by just a point against Miami. The Eagles played N.C. State close to the final minute, and lost to Maryland by five. But after the Heels took control of this game in the first half, they pretty much remained in control of it. Boston College never cut UNC’s lead into single digits. Perhaps the most important thing about UNC’s performance tonight is that …
3. The victory sets the Heels up nicely for an important part of the schedule.
Let’s look ahead a little bit, shall we? UNC hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday, and then hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday. The Tar Heels should win both of those games and, if they do, they’d be 6-3 in the ACC entering back-to-back road games at Miami and at Duke. UNC’s victory tonight was important for a variety of reasons, perhaps none more so than the fact that it will allow the Heels to build some momentum before two of the most difficult games they have left.
UNC won all of them. The Heels shot better, turned it over at a lesser rate and got to the free throw line more often. Most important: UNC did a significantly better job when it came to offensive rebounding. The Heels turned their 13 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.
UNC was in control for the majority of time on Tuesday. Once the Heels took the lead, they never relinquished it.
UNC PLAYER OF THE GAME
No one was better than Hairston when he was in the game. After he left, though, James Michael McAdoo was UNC’s best player. He finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He took 20 shots from the field, but McAdoo needs to be aggressive offensively. And McAdoo was, especially after Hairston suffered the concussion.
OBSERVATIONS AND NOTES
--Not only was this an overall bounce-back game for UNC, but it was also one for two players in desperate need of one. The Tar Heels’ backcourt duo of Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland combined for one of their worst games of the season on Saturday at N.C. State. They both played far better on Tuesday night. Paige finished with eight points, six assists and one turnover. Strickland, meanwhile, finished with 14 points, the most he’s scored against an ACC opponent.
--Jackson Simmons continues to provide a lift off the bench for UNC. He played 21 minutes on Tuesday, made four of his five attempts from the field and finished with eight points. Simmons tied James Michael McAdoo for the team lead in offensive rebounds. Both had three.
--Had Hairston not suffered his concussion, it was clear that his playing time would have likely increased significantly compared to UNC’s previous two games. Hairston entered Tuesday night after playing 17 minutes each in back-to-back games. He entered the game on Tuesday night with 16:50 to play and sat out only about a minute more until suffering his injury four minutes before halftime.
--The Heels were dominant in rebounding on Tuesday night. Their 13 offensive rebounds led to 20 second-chance points, and UNC outscored Boston College 20-10 in points off of offensive rebounds. The Eagles finished with just seven offensive rebounds.
--For the first time this season, UNC has scored 80 points in consecutive games.
“I didn’t really like the look on our guys’ faces. But they handled the adversity. They handled some tough times. And now you’ve got Reggie in foul trouble and you’ve got Dexter in foul trouble. But the bottom line is we made some shots that we had to have.” –Roy Williams
“He didn’t have an opportunity to hustle tonight, he had an opportunity to make a bunch of shots. But I tell every kid when I go in your home, and I tell them the first day of practice, the second day of practice, and 25 times a year that I’ve never seen a player miss a shot, I’ve never seen a player want to make a turnover. The two things that I go wacko about is lack of effort and lack of concentration. And I would like to have a sign that I can hold up that says number 21 is not hustling, or 21 is not concentrating. So I don’t think I challenged him. It’s just something they hear from me every single day. And they know that from day one.” –Roy Williams, on P.J. Hairston and hustle
“I tell you what, he looked like he was about as hot as I’ve ever seen him in my life. And we would have liked to have had him longer. They feel like he does have a concussion, so who knows what the next step is going to be.” –Roy Williams, on Hairston
“It was scary. Because I thought he’d be all right, and then he kind of did the little stumble. So all of us were pretty worried. But he seems like he’s going all right, and hopefully he’ll be all right in the next 24, 48 hours. It was scary.” –Marcus Paige, on Hairston
“He saw me down on that ground for that one ball. That’s stuff we’ve got to do.” –James Michael McAdoo, on hustle plays and how he hoped Williams noticed one of his
UNC hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday at the Smith Center. The Hokies are 2-4 in the ACC and have lost six of their past eight. Erick Green, Virginia Tech’s senior guard, leads the nation in scoring with 25.2 points per game.