Matt Patton is an RTC microsite writer. He filed this report after Sunday afternoon’s ACC Tournament championship game.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Shootout: Despite both teams coming in known for their defense, the 2013 ACC Tournament championship game will be remembered for its offensive showing. Specifically, the last 10 minutes of the first half was a shooting clinic for the ages. The two teams (led by PJ Hairston, Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney-Jones) combined for 10 threes in the 10 minutes. As a result, North Carolina cut the Miami lead to three with just over two minutes to play, until a shot clock violation gave the Hurricanes the space they needed to go for the throat.
- Miami’s Versatility: The Hurricanes showed a versatility that should terrify opponents who find themselves in Miami’s regional. Miami went small two separate times, at the end of its win against Boston College and the end of the first half of the championship game. Both times Miami’s offense flourished. It’s no secret the Hurricanes’ defense is elite. Miami has the experience to win close games. The postgame press conference made one thing very clear: Jim Larranaga has this team in a great place. The leaders trust him and trust themselves no matter what the opponent is doing.
- North Carolina’s Turnaround: Just a little over two months ago, the Tar Heels looked like outside shots to make the Big Dance. They were sitting 0-2 in ACC play facing a road game against Florida State. A month after that the Tar Heels took a beating in Coral Gables before Roy Williams moved PJ Hairston into the starting lineup. The move worked out, as North Carolina’s only two losses the rest of the season came against Duke. While Hairston’s addition was the obvious change, Marcus Paige‘s improvement is just as important, if not more so. Paige played 30 minutes or more in every game except for North Carolina’s win over Maryland when he got into foul trouble. Over the 11 games in the smaller lineup, Paige averaged more than five assists per game on top of nine and a half points per outing. He cut down on turnovers dramatically — the win at Maryland notwithstanding. It’s no secret Roy Williams’ offense runs a lot smoother with a good point guard.
Star of the Game: Shane Larkin proved to be the best player on the floor. He finished with 28 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals. He shot 8-of-15 from the floor, 4-of-7 from three and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Whenever Miami needed to make a play, he delivered either a bucket or a dime on command. He also played the full 40 minutes, meaning he missed a total of four of the possible 120 minutes over the course of his three days in Greensboro.