The final 25 minutes of Wednesday night’s matchup between North Carolina and N.C. State was highlighted by a shootout for the ages for ACC fans. T.J. Warren of the Wolfpack and UNC’s Marcus Paige traded buckets on seemingly every possession throughout the second half and overtime, resembling what one would expect in a duel between Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
And it didn’t disappoint. At least, not after halftime.
While Warren contributed 10 points to the box score in the opening half, Paige went into the break with only four points. A UNC win seemed unlikely with Roy Williams’ best player on track for a single-digit scoring night on the road in a hostile environment.
The rest of the game was a different story, and based on history, that shouldn’t be a major surprise.
In 28 contests this season, Paige has scored nine points or fewer in the first half and double digits in the second half a total of 15 times. In fact, the sophomore point guard has reached double figures in first-half scoring on only six occasions this year, compared to 16 times in the second half.
While Paige’s hand seems to get hot after halftime, he’s even better in overtime. North Carolina has found itself in that situation twice this year, and in the extra periods against Davidson and N.C. State, Paige averaged 10.5 points per five minutes. The trend was taken to another level against the Pack when he dropped three points in the first half of OT and added seven more in the closing two-and-a-half minutes.
Bottom line: Marcus Paige is a second-half guy. For a deeper look, take a glance at this breakdown of the All-ACC candidate’s scoring averages: