banner
Adam Gold

A freshman growth spurt

Posted February 23, 2013
Updated February 24, 2013

Coaches love to say that there are no freshman come March. It's a cute cliche, and I'm not sure it always applies, but I know this much; Marcus Paige grew up a ton in four weeks.

On Jan. 26, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, Paige was like a teenager on a date with Kate Upton in Carolina's 91-83 loss to the Wolfpack. He looked terrified, and played worse, scoring just seven points while turning it over three times in 29 nervous minutes. In a season where North Carolina isn't blessed with their usual array of first-round NBA draft talent, the only way the Heels are going to be a factor is if all of their better players are contributing something positive to the cause. UNC pulls away from NC State late in 76-65 win Slideshow: UNC pulls away from NC State late in 76-65 win

Four weeks later, it was a totally different story for the first year player from Marion, Iowa.

Paige scored all 14 of his points in the second half as the Tar Heels picked up their best win of the season, a 76-65 victory over rival NC State that will go a long way towards cementing UNC as an NCAA Tournament team.

Saturday was a lot more than statistics for Paige. While his eight assist, three steal and zero turnover performance screams out for attention, it was as much the timing of his contributions that were as telling as anything you'd find in a box score.

Paige: We're really starting to mature Paige: We're really starting to mature

With the Tar Heels on the ropes a bit after gagging away a 10-point, second half lead, Paige re-entered the game in what amounted to a Carolina blue line change. A careless, mistake-filled 3 1/2 minute stretch had allowed the Pack to run off a 13-2 spurt and suddenly it appeared that NC State had assumed control of the game. But Paige, the only real offensive threat in a make-shift line up on the floor at the time, drilled a left-wing three-pointer putting Carolina back on top by two and the Wolfpack momentum was stalled.

Five and a half minutes later, Paige buried another long-range jumper giving Carolina a 57-55 lead that would never be relinquished. That shot was the start of a stretch in which Paige scored 10 points, made four of five free throws and thoroughly outplayed his much more heralded opponent, Wolfpack point guard Lorenzo Brown. In all, the freshman, who just four weeks ago looked as though he couldn't draw a breath against State, played with poise and confidence and provided 11 points, a steal and an assist in a decisive 27-8 explosion that lifted North Carolina into third place in the ACC standings with four games to play.

Reggie Bullock was excellent for UNC. His 22 points and career best 13 rebounds were critical to the cause for the Tar Heels tonight. P.J. Hairston continues to be a star-in-the-making with a dozen points and a defensive effort on State forward Calvin Leslie that contributed to the pre-season player of the year's six-point, six-turnover debacle. And, James Michael McAdoo held his own against Wolfpack senior bruiser Richard Howell with a 14-point, seven-rebound night.

But, when Roy Williams and his coaching staff review this game, they're going to see that it was largely the timely excellence of Paige, the freshman, that was instrumental in that final 10-minute surge and a major factor between winning and losing.

You can grow up an awful lot in four weeks. Paige is proof of that.

18 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • plansguy Feb 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    And right now, I don't care. Roll on Heels!

  • plansguy Feb 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Ditto JG!

  • StunGunn Feb 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Only Roy knows the answer to that question, and he doesn't want to share it:)

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 24, 2013

    UNC clicked on all cylinders yesterdy. Paige did a super job.

  • StunGunn Feb 24, 2013

    When Roy had the health scare, he said was so grateful to be okay, and he would enjoy coaching more than ever before. I had my doubts as Roy is Roy, and he seemed very frustrated earlier in the season when his team couldn't run the high octane offense that is the cornerstone of his teams. Roy made adjustments to his coaching and his lineup, and just look at the results! I think this is one of Roy's best coaching jobs ever. I'm glad Roy is healthy, and I'm glad he's at the helm of his alma mater.

  • 4tarheels Feb 24, 2013

    Roy is doing a great job of coaching this year. He basically lost last year's team to the NBA and now he's taking a new group of players and got them improving at the right time of year. GO HEELS!!!

  • tarheelbb1 Feb 24, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Since Maryland is leaving the ACC, I hope they are taking Adam Gold with them.

  • kbradtech Feb 24, 2013

    WHY THE HECK DID IT TAKE 20 SOME GAMES BEFORE OL ROY MADE A CHANGE

  • hi_i_am_wade Feb 24, 2013

    The smaller lineup has better team chemistry. They work well together.

  • ncstateforever Feb 24, 2013

    Tried to edit but it wouldn't let me I know I misspelled a couple of words. criticize, and supposed.

More...

 

 

  • Golf: WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Miami

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL Soccer: Miami @ North Carolina FC

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASCAR: Auto Club 400

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: NCFC @ San Francisco

    Saturday, Apr. 8 at 10:00 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Edmonton

    Saturday, Apr. 15 at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL: NCFC @ Miami

    Saturday, Apr. 22 at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • College Basketball NCAA 3rd Round Coverage

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Maimi

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm

  • NASL: NCFC @ San Francisco

    Saturday, Apr. 8 at 10:00 pm

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Edmonton

    Saturday, Apr. 15 at 7:30 pm

  • NASL: NCFC @ Miami

    Saturday, Apr. 22 at 7:30 pm

Minor League Baseball
International League
Rochester 11:05 PT12:05 MT1:05 CT2:05 ET7:05 GMT
Syracuse 
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 11:05 PT12:05 MT1:05 CT2:05 ET7:05 GMT
Buffalo 
Pawtucket 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Lehigh Valley 
Toledo 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Indianapolis 
Norfolk 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Charlotte 
Columbus 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Louisville 
Durham 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Gwinnett 
Kia Classic (LPGA)
PosNameScoreThru
1tI. Chun-618
1tC. Kerr-618
1tM. Martin-618
4tK. Icher-418
4tM. Jutanugarn-418
4tH. Kim-418
4tA. Lee-418
4tM. Lee-418
4tM. Steen-418
10tK. Burnett-318
View Full Leaderboard
 
WGC Match Play (EURO)
Leader in BOLD/CAPS
MatchHScore
Willett v Knox0AS
Haas v Kim0AS
Thomas v Fitzpatrick0AS
Na v Wood0AS
Mickelson v Holmes0AS
Berger v Kim0AS
Day v Leishman0AS
Westwood v Perez0AS
Hatton v Cabrera Bello0AS
Wang v Howell III0AS
Garcia v Rahm0AS
Chappell v Lowry0AS
Grace v Snedeker0AS
McGirt v Sullivan0AS
McIlroy v Grillo0AS
Woodland v Kjeldsen0AS
Casey v Schwartzel0AS
An v Luiten0AS
Spieth v Moore0AS
Ikeda v Tanihara0AS
Watson v Pieters0AS
Piercy v Vegas0AS
Matsuyama v Oosthuizen0AS
Fisher v Furyk0AS
Reed v Koepka0AS
Kisner v Dufner0AS
Noren v Molinari0AS
Wiesberger v Jaidee0AS
Kuchar v Fleetwood0AS
Johnson v Steele0AS
Johnson v Walker0AS
Kaymer v Simpson0AS
View Full Leaderboard