Former college basketball coach Denny Kuiper breaks down UNC’s 79-73 win over No. 20 UNLV.
This was North Carolina's most impressive game thus far in the season. It was obvious the Tar Heels had a higher sense of urgency than they did earlier in the season. That urgency translated to a better effort on the defensive end of the floor.
I was most impressed that the Heels had contributions from several players. UNC got the victory thanks to a bunch of guys doing their job and making winning plays. Also, UNC got this win with one of its best players, Reggie Bullock, out with a concussion.
Let's go to the 3 pointers to take a closer look at the game.
No. 1: UNC’s Defense
The Tar Heels played harder and with more intensity than they have at any time this season, maybe even the past few years. I think they have to play that way to be successful. They are not as offensively talented as they were in past years. Their offense alone is not enough for them to win big games. The big question is: Will the players continue that approach on defense in the upcoming games?
While the Heels were focused on defense, UNLV was casual and sloppy on offense, especially in the first half. The Runnin’ Rebels had 11 first-half turnovers, some of which were unforced. They took too many early shots and played too much one-on one.
What we had in this game was one team, (UNC) that had its back against the wall and came out fighting, while the other team (UNLV) was feeling pretty good about itself and did not have that edge necessary to win a big game on the road.
No. 2 : UNC's Team Chemistry On The Floor
As a coach you are always trying to figure out how your team has to play to be successful. You are trying to figure out who has to do what on the floor: Who has to shoot, who has to make plays and who has to do the little things that help you win games? Roy Williams may have gotten a few answers to those questions on Saturday.
The Tar Heels had five players in double figures. While I don't think they have many guys – except maybe James Michael McAdoo - that they can count for double figure points each and every game, they have several players who can get their points in any given game. If the team can be unselfish and accept that type of mentality, UNC will be very difficult to defend. Against UNLV, the Tar Heels had that attitude.
It also is rather obvious that the Heels must become a real good defensive team to win against the best. That is a departure from the great UNC teams of the past several years.
No. 3 McAdoo and P.J. Hairston
McAdoo is a good player, but is not ready to become a dominant player game in and game out. Sometimes the media anoints a player special status before he has earned it or is ready for it.
Sometimes, I get the sense McAdoo is trying to live up to that anointment and is putting too much pressure on himself. He just needs to focus on playing hard and letting the game come to him. If he does that he will get his points and rebounds.
Hairston really impressed me this game. Her is known as a shooter and in the past if he wasn't making shots he wasn't doing a lot to help his team. I have been critical of him for that. But not on Saturday. He was active on defense and on the boards. Hairston also took two charges. In short, he made winning plays. You have to applaud him fot that effort.
UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett didn’t have a great game, but I came away with a very positive rating of him. He is extremely talented. He is very skilled with the ball for a big man. Plus, a couple of those dunks were awesome. Only a handful of players in college basketball could have done that. He probably will be in the NBA very soon.