Last nights UNC-State game was a classic. We saw two great players go at it in a big time duel. Some great effort. Awesome crowd. And, of course some drama from the refs. These are a few of my takeaways from last night’s tilt.
1) Marcus Paige is one bad dude. He continued his pattern of slow first halves and strong second halves. But, this time he took it to another level. Paige scored 31 in the 2nd half after only having 4 in the first 20 minutes. It is the 12th time this season he had 10 or more points in the 2nd half, after scoring 4 or less in the first. He is always there when the Heels need him and last night was no different. He hit 7 threes and the game winning layup.
2) State is improved, but just not there. No doubt the Pack is playing better than they were when they started 1-4 in the ACC. This young team is improving. Guys like Anya and Washington are getting better inside. They also are better with Tyler Lewis at the point and Ralston Turner has played a bigger role. But, they just can’t get over the hump against good teams. The close losses to Cuse and UNC could very well keep them out of the NCAA Tourney. And, they are 0-8 against Top 50 RPI teams.
3) TJ Warren is The ACC Player Of The Year. Warren was huge last night too, but it was in a losing effort. However, I still hope it wins him some ACC Player of The Year support. He leads all Power Conference players in scoring by a margin of 3 points per game. He averages over 5 points more than any other player in ACC competition. Leads the ACC in scoring and FG pct. He also averages 7 rebounds and 2 steals a game on a team that doesn’t offer another solid consistent scoring option.
4) UNC will be dangerous in March. Yes, the FT shooting is a concern in the Big Dance. But, they have developed so many other ways to get baskets. They continue to hit the Offensive Boards and produce second chances. (19 vs State). They are getting better at creating transition opportunities and scoring easy baskets. They often score off Turnovers. And, in the 2nd half, Paige seems to be an offense unto himself. All these ways of scoring, might make up for their 3 pt and FT shooting woes.