Talking Points: Heels, Canes set for ACC Championship
Posted March 16, 2013
Updated March 17, 2013
1. ACC Commissioner John Swofford knows what butters the bread. The potential of Florida State and Miami winning back-to-back ACC Championships.
All joking aside, North Carolina saved a potential crowd disaster for Greensboro Coliseum by advancing to Sunday's championship game. With all the talk of the ACC Tournament inevitably moving to Madison Square Garden, it's hard to top the energy in this building when the locals play well.
Let's also take this time to remind everyone that the Tar Heels started conference play 0-2, didn't have any talent on the roster and Roy Williams was out of touch with today's basketball. Yet here they are, one game away from a tournament title. Funny how that works out.
2. Hey, remember Dez Wells? Apparently he used up all of his point-making ability after scoring a combined 51 in Maryland's wins over Wake Forest and Duke.
Reggie Bullock had something to do with Wells coming back down to earth. It took 15 minutes for the Raleigh native to make a bucket, and he was limited to 2-of-5 shooting in the first half. Wells was slightly better in the second half, but finished with 15 points.
3. Dexter Strickland is known for his his #YOLO style of play in social media circles. In non-Twitter speak, the reference to "you only live once" has to do with his tendency to take shots without much care or worry.
It paid off for the Heels in the first half, as Strickland knocked down six jumpers. His production cooled off once Marcus Paige picked up his fourth foul in the second half, and he was forced into running the offense.
4. Speaking of Paige, the freshman kept his poise and was key to keeping North Carolina out in front of the Terrapins as the clock wound down. After subbing back into the game with 4:09 to go, Paige was 2-of-2 from the field and added a free throw.
Maryland inbounded the ball down three with 10.9 seconds left in the game. Their final play and shot selection was…not very good.
5. P.J. Hairston started despite needing eight stitches to close a cut to the webbing of his non-shooting hand in Friday night's win over Florida State. While he wasn't the same player thanks to a heavily wrapped hand, he played 36 minutes and hit a couple 3-pointers.
6. After consecutive games of active defense and efficient production out of the veterans, NC State ran into a Miami squad that looked every bit the ACC's best team throughout the regular season.
With Lorenzo Brown mired in a shooting slump and uncharacteristically turning the ball over, the Hurricanes' backcourt was far superior to the Wolfpack's. Meanwhile, Richard Howell had to power through a thigh bruise to grab 11 rebounds.
Without any rebounding help for Howell, Miami pulled down nearly 40 percent of its misses in the 2nd half to keep the NC State's transition game in check.
7. You gotta guard Durand Scott too, pal.
Heading into Saturday's semifinal against the Wolfpack, Scott was 19-of-47 in his last five games and just 2-of-6 against Boston College on Friday. He exploded in the first half, going 7-of-11 for 19 points.
Scott spent the rest of the game killing NC State's momentum.
Scott Wood finally got on the board with a 4-point play with 1:02 left in the first half, and followed it up with another 3-pointer few seconds later. The Pack were still down 12 to the Hurricanes, but the team and crowd seemingly got back into the contest. Scott opened up the second half with a 3-point play and a dunk to stem the tide.
NC State tried to swing things back their way after Rodney Purvis made crucial back-to-back buckets. Wood followed it up with a 3-pointer and cut Miami's lead to 50-44 with 11:45 to go. Scott answered again with a long rebound and another 3-pointer.
Scott had 32 points, including five buckets from beyond the arc, when the final buzzer sounded.
8. The Wolfpack didn't get their first transition bucket until there was 16:58 left in the game. In an effort to slow NC State down, Miami did some crafty gamesmanship by knocking the ball out of bounds after made baskets before they eventually got a warning from the officials.
9. NC State was 14-of-25 from the free throw line. That's rather self-explanitory.
10. Questions about NC State's lack of depth and it's effect on the Wolfpack's possible post season success have been around all season, but watching Miami rotate guys in and out really made the issue stand out. To their credit, the players don't believe fatigued played a role in the loss.
"It could have been a factor a number of things, but we just couldn’t get it going," said C.J. Leslie. "We got it going late. It was just one of those things where we had one of those games that we normally don’t have."
"I can only speak for myself, but I’m going to say the fatigue wasn’t a factor considering we get pretty catered to, afterwards," said Wood. "So once you get into the game no one is caring if you’re tired or not, everybody is tired at the end of the season."
With days off in the NCAA Tournament, NC State has one final opportunity to prove the critics wrong.