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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballGeorgia Tech Yellow JacketsNorth Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina Tar Heels Prove They Can Grind Out Win





Shots weren’t falling, players were riddled with foul trouble, and North Carolina overcame it all to pick up their second straight ACC victory (78-65) at Georgia Tech Wednesday.

This game was incredibly important for the Tar Heels for multiple reasons. The Tar Heels desperately needed another conference victory, they had to show they could win on the road, and they needed a win without having everything go right. The Tar Heels found out they could win when the game doesn’t go according to plan.

The Tar Heels were held to only 44 percent shooting and had to play much slower than they probably wanted. However, Carolina was able to run their offense in the half court successfully enough to counter Georgia Tech, slowing the game down. The Yellow Jackets clearly did not want to run with the Tar Heels and kept the game close for about 30 minutes. Tech’s pace did not allow Marcus Paige to run up-and-down and the offense took some time to get rolling.

What helped counter the lack of offense was a strong defensive effort that carried over from the Clemson game over the weekend. North Carolina held Georgia Tech to only 43 percent shooting and 4-of-15 from behind the arc. This played a big role in allowing UNC to figure things out on offense. Finally, Carolina started hitting shots and that gave the team the confidence they needed. The offense actually played surprisingly well in sets, as is evident with the 20 team assists.

North Carolina took all of it in and expanded on a one-point halftime lead slowly, but surely. Paige shook off a couple less-than-great performances and did a little bit of everything en route to 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

James Michael McAdoo, despite sitting much of the second half with four fouls, notched a team-high 17 points before fouling out. Kennedy Meeks also continued his recent solid play with nine points and a team-high 10 boards. He could be a key player down the stretch as North Carolina tries to find a way into NCAA tournament. Carolina also hit its free throws — 15-of-21 — going against their season average of around 61 percent.

It may not have been pretty for coach Roy Williams and his Tar Heels, but picking up the win Wednesday could be as important as any other victory this season.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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