Talking points: Tight finishes, small lineups and a lost rivalry
Posted February 17, 2013
1. After months of inconsistent play and fan frustration over Roy Williams' lineup rotation, North Carolina is suddenly the ACC team with renewed energy and intriguing potential after just two games with a new starting lineup.
Williams went small against Virginia and once again P.J. Hairston benefitted the most. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 29 points, including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc, and pulled down seven rebounds. Reggie Bullock hit a trio of 3-pointers, but really helped the Tar Heels in sharing the ball and grabbing four steals against the Cavaliers. Slideshow: Hairston leads UNC over Virginia
2. The Heels got off to a slow start against Virginia, but Williams still stuck with a tighter distribution of minutes. Only Leslie McDonald and Brice Johnson got double-digit minutes off the bench. Despite the recent success of a strategy Williams admittedly pondered of using four or five games ago, he wasn't interested in explaining why he didn't go with it sooner.
“Sometimes you guys don’t have to know everything," Williams said. “I have reasons, and those reasons will stay with me.”
3. NC State doesn't seem all that interested in making life easy on themselves or on their fans. Feel free to send them the therapy bills at the end of the season.
The Wolfpack have been on the correct side of these coin-flip games in wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech, which is in stark contrast to last second tip-ins from Maryland and Miami earlier in conference play. But if they continue to play with fire like this, NC State is eventually going to get burned at the wrong time in March. Slideshow: NC State survives Virginia Tech in OT
4. The Wolfpack went to the free throw line 43 times on Saturday afternoon, while the Hokies only took seven trips. You'd think the disparity in calls, mainly due to NC State's work in the paint, would kill some of the complaining about officials. Think again.
Jarrell Eddie committed an obvious lane violation following Erick Green's intentionally missed free throw. Eddie's tip-in sent the game to overtime. Commence the internet outrage.
5. Tyler Lewis scored in double figures for the third time in the last four games and provided some much needed spark for the Wolfpack against Virginia Tech. Much was asked of Lewis following Lorenzo Brown's injury and the freshman has stepped up nicely. This is a huge development for Mark Gottfried, who can now use Lewis' success to push Rodney Purvis.
Meanwhile, Richard Howell also notched his 15th double-double of the year after not practicing all week due to a foot injury. The senior has been NC State's most reliable and most important player this season.
6. However Mason Plumlee goes, so goes Duke. The main contender for ACC Player of the Year followed up a less than spectacular game against North Carolina with an invisible game against Maryland. Plumlee finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds in the loss.
7. Maryland turned the ball over 27 times against the Blue Devils, begging them to snatch victory away. Quinn Cook made a costly mistake at the end with a reach-in with 3 seconds to go, putting Seth Allen at the line for the win.
8. Did you enjoy that, Maryland? Cherish it, because it's highly possible y'all will never see Duke in College Park again. Let's hope the money keeps the Terps warm at night while Minnesota comes to town instead.