Talking Points: Second-round knockout
Posted March 10, 2013
1. Seth Curry scored 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting and essentially had North Carolina playing catch-up the entire first half all by himself.
"[Curry] just toyed with us," said Roy Williams. "He stepped back, he goes through, he could see open shots. He was in complete control on the offensive end and we were a step slow staying in front of him."
2. Not that teams can't recover from inauspicious starts, it's just that Duke's thoroughly aggressive play never allowed the Tar Heels to do anything other than react.
Curry's brilliant start obscured the Blue Devils collectively shooting 69 percent in the opening half. Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton knocked down crowd hushing three-pointers. Mason Plumlee chipped in eight points and helped Duke pull down 61 percnet of North Carolina's missed shots.
The advanced statistics of the first half are even more eye-opening, with Duke effectively shooting 78.8% from the field and running an offensive efficiency of 128.0.
3. When Curry cooled off, Plumlee heated up. The senior had a 10-point burst after halftime and wrapped up the night with 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 13 rebounds.
Through a combination of adjusting for the perimeter shooters and Ryan Kelly taking away the opportunity to double-team, Plumlee thrived at the expense of James Michael McAdoo.
4. North Carolina was 1-of-14 from beyond the arc and didn't make that three-pointer until P.J. Hairston knocked one down with 5:04 left in the game. While the Tar Heels took their share of rushed shots in responding to Duke's opening barrage, credit has to go to the Blue Devils for pressuring the perimeter the entire night.
The Tar Heels actually had 13 more shot attempts than Duke, but wound up only hitting 34 percent for game.
Duke's commitment to making everything difficult for the Tar Heels allowed them to survive a field goal drought of their own that lasted for nearly seven minutes in the second half.
5. After the game, Williams did not want the loss to define what North Carolina had accomplished since the initial meeting with Duke in Durham. The Heels won't play again until 9:30 p.m. on the Friday of the ACC Tournament, which certainly provides them time to forget what happened on Saturday and give guys like McAdoo some time to rest.
Obviously North Carolina would have rather won the game but getting waxed can be a liberating experience. Burn the film, look at the improvement over the last three weeks and have confidence everything will click again in Greensboro. Who knows, maybe the Heels will get the rubber match against Duke on Saturday?
As for the NCAA Tournament, the ceiling for this team is probably the Sweet Sixteen. It's cliché, but everything rides on the match-ups. North Carolina can deal with bigger squads, provided their interiors are offensively challenged like Georgia Tech and Maryland.