Talking Points: Critical wins for Heels & Pack
Posted January 26, 2014
1. Perhaps Clemson was under the impression that "no show" thing at North Carolina also applied to conference basketball games. The Tigers never threatened to notch their first win in Chapel Hill in 57 attempts and were out-worked by the Tar Heels throughout the contest.
Roy Williams has publicly demanded more investment in effort and a greater sense of urgency from his team after starting 1-4 in the ACC. He got it, as the Tar Heels dropped 80 points on a Clemson squad that was giving up just under 56 points-per-game. North Carolina also overcame a sluggish start on the glass to beat Clemson 37-31 in rebounding, including 23 on the defensive end.
2. James Michael McAdoo put together what many have dubbed his best game of the season, putting up 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. The junior was aggressive early and set the tone for the rest of the evening.
He wasn't done with the highlights, including a two-handed dunk early in the second half. At one point McAdoo was besting Clemson on his own.
3. Following brutal losses to Virginia and Duke, to go along with a gut punch at Wake Forest, there was some open talk about NC State's season potentially unraveling. While the reaction was somewhat knee-jerk, it was equally understandable considering the Wolfpack was run out of Cameron Indoor Stadium and essentially toast by the first media timeout against the Cavaliers.
But the true barometer for NC State was this current stretch of home games against Maryland, Georgia Tech and Florida State. The Wolfpack knocked out the Terrapins without TJ Warren last Monday and overcame horrendous defense in the first half against the Yellow Jackets to win in overtime on Sunday.
In each victory, the Wolfpack didn't implode when it looked like the opposition was ready to put the game away. Plenty of NC State fans and observers have seen that movie before with much more talented teams.
This group has shown fight. Evidence comes in the form of TJ Warren's production in overtime, Tyler Lewis' huge 3-pointers midway through the second half and Jordan Vandenberg forcing turnovers in the paint.
4. NC State made it unnecessarily difficult for themselves thanks to shaky defense. Quentin Stephens, averaging just 3.7 points-per-game, lit the Pack up early. Daniel Miller dunked his way to a career-high 21 points and dominated the glass with 14 rebounds.
When Mark Gottfried hit his team with a gas face and timeout early in the second half, it perfectly captured the state of things inside PNC Arena.
Gottfried adjusted by going 2-3 zone for good chunks of the second half. While the trade-off for putting a smaller roster on the perimeter resulted in offensive rebounds for Georgia Tech, their overall possessions became less efficient and NC State rallied into a lead.