By Adam Lucas
1. It might not be March yet, but it feels like March. Carolina jumped out to an early lead and then survived a late Florida State surge to pick up a key win they needed, 77-66.
2. It will be interesting to hear Hubert Davis in the aftermath. It felt like the three-point shooting covered up a game that wasn’t Carolina’s best. But the perimeter shooting was so good that some of the other “disciplines and details,” as the head coach often says, were outweighed. The Tar Heels were 14-for-29 from the arc (but just 3-for-11 in the second half, when things got tighter). The Tar Heels are now 9-0 when shooting at least 35 percent from three-point range this season and survived pressure from a team that just came off a 25-point comeback and made the crowd believe it was possible again. The Tar Heels had just enough poise to win.
3. Leak black has been playing very well under the radar for the past month, and on Monday he broke out. His finish with authority with 90 seconds remaining felt like it sealed the match. Black had 18 points (on 6-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds to go with his three assists. He has nine or more rebounds in six of his last nine games and continues to play very good defense.
4. Anyone who says they thought those first-half stats would lead to an 18-point Carolina lead is lying: a made two-point field goal after 15:56, zero points for Armando Bacottwo made two-point baskets in the half, two points in the paint, Bacot limited to eight minutes due to fouls.
5. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. The Tar Heels shot 11-for-18 from three in the first half, a whopping 61.1 percent. The 11 three-pointers made are more than Carolina made in all but one full ACC game this year (15 against Clemson) and more than Carolina made in all but two games overall this year (15 also against The Citadel).
6. It’s been a tough three days for Bacot after dealing with Virginia’s post double and Florida State’s length. He is a combined 4-10 (0-for-4 on Monday) with 14 rebounds in those two games. The Tar Heels will need more in the post against Duke on Saturday night. Another striking statistic: Carolina was outscored 28-14 in the paint by FSU. The 14 tied a season low, which was matched against Gardner-Webb.
7. Carolina’s defense on the edge has been better this past week. The Tar Heels entered the Virginia game with 11 blocks in the last four games. But they have scored ten in the last two games. A big part of that is Nance, who has five in the last two games after collecting five in the previous six games. Even when he didn’t get the block on Monday, he affected several shots.
8. The legend of Lemon Oreos continues to grow. A Tar Heel fan in the Tucker Center stands had a giant Fathead out of a package of Nance-approved cookies. There was also a special delivery of Lemon Oreos waiting for the team when they checked into their hotel in Tallahassee on Sunday night. Nance had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Noles and hit three of his six three-pointers.
9. This is what it’s all about Hubert Davis and his use of the bench: he’s going to use whichever player he feels is the best matchup for that opponent at that particular time. That’s how Dontrez Styles–an athletic player who could match the Seminoles’ played ten minutes on Monday. That put him in good position to succeed, and he had some solid minutes, finishing with four points and one rebound.
10. Black played in his 152nd career game on Monday night. That ties Deon Thompson for Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference record.
11. And now attention turns to a big Saturday night in the Smith Center against Duke. In addition to it being Senior Day, the Tar Heels are playing for ACC Tournament seeding and to build a better NCAA Tournament resume. The most likely scenario for the Tar Heels is a seven seed in Greensboro, but there are combinations that would put the Heels in the eighth spot.