Feb. 20, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
Before dismissing Tuesday night by saying that Georgia Tech was bound to pull a no-show somewhere along the line, credit ought to be given to the other team in McCamish Pavilion.
Tech didn’t so much fail to show up as the Tar Heels finally did, and for several critical minutes in the second half they played quite a game of plunder-and-run.
In winning 70-58 a game that they led by 22 points in the second half, the smaller Tar Heels spread the floor, and Tech was left spread thin.
The kicker was the bigger Jackets scored two more 3-pointers than the Tar Heels, but lost this one in the paint. There, UNC had a 34-22 edge in points.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. While playing for the third time in six days, the home team was a little slow, but more importantly the Jackets did not capitalize on their size offensively and they were victimized by it defensively.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams has gone with a smaller lineup lately in an attempt to jazz up his so-so team. Although it did not pay off in losses at Miami and Duke, which are both pretty good, the Heels (18-8, 8-5) have since scored 93 on a Virginia squad that had not given up more than 69, and then left Tech g(r)asping.
All those Tar Hells running around kept pulling Tech defenders out of position, and next thing you knew, “center” James Michael McAdoo (22 points, 11 rebounds) or a teammate went slashing to the hoop for another uncontested score. McAdoo was a tough cover for big Daniel Miller, who was often left out in space like a fish out of water.
“Give North Carolina credit; they took control of the game,” Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “They’re good. Their quickness, in particular McAdoo at [center], gave us some problems.
“We didn’t take care of the ball . . . we can talk about the three games in six days . . . but don’t take anything away from North Carolina. Coach [Williams] has them playing extremely well.”
Freshmen Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden scored 12 points each, and with a late push, the Jackets pulled within 12. But while they lost the ACC opener by one more point than that to Miami, they were more competitive in that one.
Tech was in this one up to halftime. The Jackets trailed 36-30 at that point only because they missed all six of their free throws in the first half.
North Carolina is rarely known for defense, but as the Jackets turned the ball over seven times in the first eight-plus minutes of the second half, six of those miscues were UNC steals. Before long, Tech trailed 66-44, and with former Jackets Chris Bosh and Anthony Morrow in the house but ineligible, the outcome was decided.
The Tar Heels had 14 steals overall, and the Jackets finished with 19 turnovers. Tech turned the ball over on 26.4 percent of its possession. UNC had nine turnovers (12.5 percent).
In the second half, Tech’s age or lack thereof showed.
That disparity in turnovers, UNC’s 10-point edge in free throw shooting, and the vexing disparity of points in the paint made this the first game in which at some point in the second half you could say that the Jackets were mismatched to a fatal degree.
Tech out-rebounded North Carolina 43-38, which points to effort, and Miller had 12 caroms and three blocked shots.
But he also had four turnovers, and Tech’s starters combined for 15. Gregory lamented the Jackets not finding their bigs more often (Miller took just five shots, and Kammeon Holsey six), but the dagger in this game came in the form of impetuousness.
As in Chapel Hill, the Jackets were pulled into UNC’s pace – although not as dramatically as up there – and they got loose with the ball. Each team had 72 possessions, but UNC got off eight more shots – 66 to Tech’s 58.
That tracks back to turnovers. Both teams made 25 shots, but the Jackets made 10 fewer free throws, which was somewhat like coughing the ball up.
“With the lack of experience we have, when you want it sometimes you go too fast and that’s what happens,” Gregory said. “We’re just not at a point right now, unfortunately, to be good enough to make up for some of the glaring mistakes that we made.
“Turnovers and empty possessions,” the Tech coach sighed. “[And] if you get to the foul line, but miss, it’s just as good [or bad] as a turnover.”