It is about time! The North Carolina Tar Heels have finally received their first ACC victory, and they did it in style. In the 82-71 victory over Boston College, every single part of the Tar Heels’ game was on fire, and the Eagles really did not stand a chance from the tip-off. Although it was a close game throughout, there was not one point in the game in which there was a doubt in the Tar Heels’ chances of coming out victorious.
At the start of the game, I am sure every Tar Heel fan was caught by surprise when they saw the team’s starting lineup. Leslie McDonald got the start at shooting guard in place of Nate Britt, and Jackson Simmons received his first career start replacing Joel James. This was actually a very smart idea by head coach Roy Williams, because McDonald has been one of the team’s most prolific scorers in the past few games, and Simmons is virtually a no-mistake guy. Although Simmons was pretty much invisible in today’s game, his start allowed guys like James, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks to come off the bench without pressure. James is still struggling to find his touch, but Johnson and Meeks were terrific. They had eight and 10 points respectively and played a huge role on the defensive end. The in-game announcers on ESPN even said that when Meeks scores in double-digits this season the Tar Heels are undefeated (5-0). It was nice to see the Tar Heels go back to their balanced style of play, and this was certainly an all-around team victory.
Now to talk about the two stars of the game from the Tar Heels’ lineup. Marcus Paige finally had a conference breakout game and got himself back on track with a team-leading 21 points. He also knocked down two clutch threes and created all of the team’s momentum with a huge first-half scoring show. Paige was not the only player to get back on track as James Michael McAdoo is finally showing his true potential as well. With 17 points, four blocks and a 6-for-9 shooting display, McAdoo was a key part to the Tar Heels’ first conference win. He was a menace on both ends of the court, and if he can continue to play this way then the team should have no problem adding to their conference win column. Also, aside from Paige and McAdoo, J.P. Tokoto scored a solid 14 points, but it could have been more considering his two missed dunks.
Tar Heel country can finally take a deep breath and set their sights on a much brighter future. The Tar Heels face off on the road against Virginia on Monday, and if they play like they did today then it should be yet another ACC victory. Even though this season could have gone much better than it has, the Tar Heels are back on track and are ready to take on the next obstacle.