By Adam Lucas
1. Carolina did what it had to do to earn an 85-61 win over Boston College in the second round of the ACC Tournament. Carolina has now won 16 of the last 17 against the Eagles.
2. As before, the big story between now and tomorrow’s 7 p.m. game becomes the strength of At Armando Bacot’s ankle. The Tar Heel big man twisted his left ankle in the first half and went to the locker room for the rest of the first period. He came back and played the first 5:33 of the second half, but was clearly restricted and had no lift. Carolina will need Bacot as much as they can get against Virginia (the late game graphic on ESPN that had UNC vs. Clemson was wrong). He had ten points and six rebounds in 18 minutes against BC.
3. Carolina ran a formidable attack in the first half. It’s quite simple: the shots are in. And as you know by now if you’ve watched this team, when the shots come in, they’re tough to beat. Caleb Love led the heels with 22 of 9 for 20 points from the field, and RD Davis added 18 on 7-for-12 shooting. Carolina’s offense also went 10-for-23 from the three-point line, a healthy 43.5 percent.
4. As has often happened with this year’s team, the right attack led to more intensity in defense. After a few days of intense practice after the game against Duke, the Tar Heels were completely locked down defensively and defied nearly every Boston College pass and shot in the first 20 minutes.
5. Pete Nance added an element of rim protection to Carolina’s defense. Nance had four blocks on Wednesday, including a couple of aggressive plays that denied what at first seemed like an easy Eagle basket. Nance now has ten blocks over the last four games. He had ten blocks in 17 ACC games before that. Nance was also efficient offensively and did all his work in the midrange, where he had ten points.
6. A defensive adjustment in the first half changed the course of the game. Makai Ashton-Langford started the game 3-3 from the field and whistled all three. But then the Tar Heels changed leaky black at Ashton-Langford, and it was just 1 for 3 the rest of the half and one for its next six as Carolina built the biggest lead the Tar Heels had in any game of the ACC. Ashton-Langford didn’t score a basket in the second half before five minutes remained in the game.
7. Something very unexpected happened Wednesday night: the Tar Heels fired Boston College out of a zone. The Eagles attempted to go to a 1-3-1 look midway through the first half, but a quick offensive rebound from Carolina that led to a field goal and a three-pointer quickly persuaded Earl Grant that it was was a bad idea. The Tar Heels weren’t as successful against the zone in the second half, when they were too stagnant on offense. Of course, a zone won’t be an issue tomorrow night against Virginia.
8. Restless night for Johnson Puffbut a very late emergent story is the emergence of Dontrez Styles. The Kinston native wasn’t flashy, but he didn’t hurt Carolina on the bench either. Wednesday night’s highlight for Styles was a wonderful pass to Nance for an assist, and he also added a basic drive for a slam with two minutes left.
9. Styles was part of a UNC bench contingent that gave the Heels solid minutes. D’Marco Dunn hit some three-pointers, Seth Trimble scored on a practice and the Tar Heel bench contributed 17 points. As everyone knows, you need to get production off the bench to win four games in four days. We even had a sighting of the Biscuit Boys – or at least partial Biscuit Boys, since the (ridiculous) rules limit the number of players who can dress up and Have Farris And Beau-Maye were in the stands in street clothes – in the last minute.
10. This year marks the first season of a seat change for the ACC tournament. Traditionally, all tickets for a school are grouped by section, so there is a block of seats for each school. But this year, each school received a handful of tickets in the “right” sections, leading to a very different arena of thrills.
11. Even with the change, it’s still Greensboro, which still feels great (and was a fitting place for Jim Boeheim to practice his last game). Next year, the ACC Tournament returns to Washington, DC (which also happens to be the site of Carolina’s last ACC Tournament title in 2016). The following sites have not been announced.
12. Officials wore pink whistles in tribute to the 22-year-old daughter of Roger Ayers, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The condition is thought to have been caught early.