Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 85, N.C. State 84 (OT)

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 27th, 2014

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Three Key Takeaways.

North Carolina's Marcus Paige Outdueled N.C. State's T.J. Warren. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

North Carolina’s Marcus Paige Outdueled N.C. State’s T.J. Warren.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  1. North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and N.C. State’s T.J. Warren put on a show for the ages. The two stars seemingly traded baskets for the entire second half and overtime of this one. After being held to four points on 2-of-6 shooting in the first half, Paige exploded for 31 more after the break, the last two coming on a game-winning driving layup with less than a second to go. Warren was equally unstoppable, finishing with a game-high 36 points that included two free throws that tied the game and forced the extra session with two seconds left in regulation. To put these performances in perspective, the previous scoring high in an ACC game this year was the 34 put up by Warren in a home game with Wake Forest, so this one game now has the top two individual scoring totals of the season. Paige was red-hot from the perimeter, hitting 7-of-10 from three after halftime. Most of the bombs seemed to come just when North Carolina looked to be in trouble, with perhaps the biggest coming in overtime to cut a six-point Wolfpack lead in half with 2:40 to go. The Tar Heels tried multiple defenders and three different zone defenses to corral Warren down the stretch, but nothing seemed to slow down the ACC’s leading scorer as he scored 19 of N.C. State’s last 27 points in the final nine minutes of action.
  2. N.C. State Looks Headed To The NIT. The Wolfpack lost another chance to get an eye-popping win much like they did at Syracuse 15 days earlier. Not only do they lack a marquee win, but N.C. State is now winless in eight games against the RPI top 50. Even if the Wolfpack wins out to go 10-8 in the ACC regular season, their best win will have been over Pittsburgh, which is currently #45 in the RPI. With that resume it would likely take at least a run to the ACC Tournament finals for N.C. State to get any consideration from the NCAA Selection Committee. But considering the Wolfpack’s modest preseason expectations, even an NIT bid would be a positive thing for such a young team.
  3. North Carolina is one tough basketball team. On a night when a lot of things went against them, the Tar Heels found a way to win for the 10th straight time. They didn’t come out of the gate with much energy, perhaps feeling the effects of playing five games in 12 days. They faced a desperate N.C. State team, playing well in front of a fired-up crowd at a packed PNC Arena. And they were facing a great player in Warren, having a career night. Despite all of that, North Carolina pulled out an emotional last second win led by its star guard, Paige. This is not a fluke situation at all. North Carolina is playing like a team that is capable of beating anyone in March. They may not be the most talented Tar Heels team that Roy Williams has coached in Chapel Hill, but they are surely one of his tougher squads.

Star of the Game. Marcus Paige, North Carolina. It’s hard not to make it a shared award with Warren, but Paige gets it for making one more play — the game-winner.

Quotable.

  • “Off the charts. [His] second half is as good as I’ve ever seen.” – North Carolina coach Roy Williams, on the performance of Marcus Paige.
  • “I’m extremely proud of my team. Although I’m disappointed [in the loss] I loved the effort.” –  N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried, on the Wolfpack’s play.
  • “T.J. [Warren] is as good a player as we’ve played against all year ” – Williams, on Warren’s performance.

Sights and Sounds. The Wolfpack fans were loud all night and geared up for a court rushing, but Marcus Paige simply would not let it happen.

N.C. State Fans Were Primed For a Court Rush Before Marcus Paige Denied Them The Chance. (Brad Jenkins/RTC)

N.C. State Fans Were Primed For a Court Rush Before Marcus Paige Denied Them The Chance.
(Brad Jenkins/RTC)

What’s Next?

  • North Carolina will try to continue its winning ways on the road against last place Virginia Tech (Saturday – 2:30 PM ET – ACCN).
  • N.C. State will be looking for a season sweep when it hosts Miami (Saturday – 12:00 PM ET – ACCN). The Wolfpack hung on to win the first meeting, 56-55, in Coral Gables three weeks ago.
Brad Jenkins (75 Posts)


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