Rushed Reactions: #7 Texas A&M 86, #2 North Carolina 65

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 18th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Charlotte this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Tyler Davis and Texas A&M pulled off another shocker in Charlotte by taking down #2 North Carolina.
(Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

  1. This game suddenly turned halfway through the first half. North Carolina looked like it was rolling when it led by seven points after almost nine minutes of play, but then a series of events occurred that changed the course of the game. Tyler Davis began to assert himself in the paint — he logged 13 points and seven rebounds before intermission — Luke Maye went to the bench with two fouls, and North Carolina went ice cold from the field. The result was a 19-2 run that gave Texas A&M an insurmountable 14-point edge at the break. It was only more of the same in the second half. The Tar Heels kept missing jump shots — they finished a dismal 6-of-31  from three-point range — and the Aggies cruised to a surprisingly easy victory.
  2. The Texas A&M size and length bothered the Tar Heels. Not only did North Carolina struggle to score from distance, the Heels were not able to get much going with their bread and butter in the paint either. The imposing frontline of Texas A&M — led by Davis and Robert Williams — blocked eight shots (seven in the second half) and held North Carolina to 42.6 percent shooting on two-pointers. Additionally, the Aggies did a great job in keeping North Carolina off the glass. For the season, the Tar Heels have grabbed 38.2 percent of their misses (third nationally), but today they only managed to claim nine offensive boards for a very low rate of 17.3 percent.
  3. Once again TJ Starks shined against a senior point guard. After playing well on Friday against Providence’s Kyron Cartwright, the freshman Starks more than held his own against Joel Berry tonight. Starks scored 21 points and handed out five assists while also forcing Berry into a subpar shooting night (7-of-17 FG). What was supposed to be a weakness for Billy Kennedy’s squad has actually been a strength so far in the NCAA Tournament. For Berry (21 points) and fellow senior Theo Pinson (11 assists), it’s a tough way to close out their brilliant careers. They played in two straight National Championship games — winning one — but this simply wasn’t their night.

Player of the Game. Tyler Davis, Texas A&MIt was Davis’ surge in play in the first half that helped turned the tide of this game. He was instrumental in the Aggies’ domination in the paint, and finished with 18 points (7-of-9 FG), nine boards and three blocks.

Quotable.

  • “We did a good job rebounding the ball and taking care of the ball, particularly in the first half.” – Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, on the keys to victory today.
  • “We played to our strengths.” –  Tyler Davis, talking about the Aggies’ advantage in the paint.
  • “These guys up here [Joel Berry & Theo Pinson] have taken me on some unbelievable rides. That’s what I’m thinking about right now. […] I thought it would end with them smiling, but it didn’t.” – North Carolina coach Roy Williams, on his two seniors.
  • “It’s tough, but it’s life.” –  Pinson, on his thoughts about the end of his career.

Sights and Sounds. The Charlotte pod produced yet another shocker as North Carolina couldn’t capitalized on its pseudo-home court advantage. The Tar Heels’ faithful tried to get them going at the start of the second half but even that couldn’t guide the jumpers to fall. North Carolina is now 34-2 in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of North Carolina, with the only other loss coming back in 1979 in Raleigh.

What’s Next. Texas A&M advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in three years, where the Aggies will face #3 Michigan on Thursday night at the West Regional in Los Angeles.

Brad Jenkins (325 Posts)


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