North Carolina Tar Heels Continue ACC Tear With Win Over Pittsburgh
The win streak lives on! Earlier today, the North Carolina Tar Heels knocked off No. 25 Pittsburgh to improve their ACC win streak to six games, and to move to 7-4 overall in the conference. Unlike the past five games in the streak, this one was a fight all the way to the end, but it was a fight that the Tar Heels used their momentum to come out victorious.
First off, James Michael McAdoo was a star once again, and he lead the team in scoring with 24 points. Not only did he get it done scoring-wise, but he had yet another double-double with his 12 rebounds. He constantly killed Pittsburgh with his mid-range shooting, and the opposing defense had no answer for his athleticism at the rim. If McAdoo finds a way to improve his free-throw shooting, then he will without a doubt solidify himself as one of the best forwards in the nation by the end of the season. Also, he fouled out of today’s game which is unacceptable considering the Tar Heels are going need him late in games moving forward.
As for the rest of the team, Marcus Paige came to life from beyond the arc. Fifteen of his 18 points came from three-point range, and Paige’s four steals helped the Tar Heels become dominant on the defensive end. If he can stay hot from a shooting standpoint, then I really do not see the Tar Heels losing another game for the rest of the season.
J.P. Tokoto once again proved that he is one of the most athletic forwards in the country, while Brice Johnson came off the bench and scored 13 points to maintain the momentum of the game. Johnson always seems to be the catalyst for the Tar Heels momentum, and if he can continue to make clutch blocks and monstrous dunks, then the team will continue to embrace the most important aspect of their game.
It would have been nice to see Leslie McDonald and Kennedy Meeks shake their slumps in today’s game, but as long as the stars continue to play like they have as of late, then it is really not too much of a concern for the Tar Heels. McDonald’s shots are bound to fall sooner or later, and Meeks is still just a freshman trying to make a name for himself in one of the most profound college basketball programs in the country.
The Tar Heels’ defense held Pittsburgh’s leading scorer Lamar Patterson to 16 points in today’s game, but they still left him open beyond the arc way too many times. Luckily, he was just 3-of-9 from three-point range, but the Tar Heels need to protect the outside much better if they plan to defeat Duke later in the week. Also, they committed way too many stupid turnovers throughout the game, which cannot happen as they near the postseason.
Although the Tar Heels came out of today’s game with the victory, they did not play as well as they have throughout the rest of their win streak. Like I said before, they committed way too many unnecessary turnovers, and their free-throw shooting was disgusting. They were lucky to have a sizable lead late in the game, because they failed to make clutch free throws that could have sealed the game much earlier.
As long as the Tar Heels continue to maintain their current momentum and keep up with this sense of urgency, then every game from here on out should end in their favor, but it is vital that they improve their free-throw shooting and turnover margin before March.
This was yet another win over a ranked team that the Tar Heels can put on their resumé, so their NCAA tournament hopes will most likely become a reality, but they cannot decide to roll over now. They have a tough week ahead of them, so this win was key to starting off on the right track; and if they plan to become even more relevant in March, then the Tar Heels must finish this season strong.