Carolina rolls over State, 97–73

(photo by J.D. Lyon Jr./@tarheel_photo).

First of all, N.C. State is not a good basketball team this season. And they showed that once again tonight against a Tar Heel team that for another game was playing with out a starter. Tonight that starter was Kenny Williams. Williams was ruled out with a knee injury that occurred in practice this week. Coach Williams announced after the game that he will “likely” miss the remainder of the season. That news kind of ruined the feeling of the performance that Carolina put on tonight.

Carolina led State 12–7 four minutes into the game before Carolina made some separation by going on a 15–3 run over the next five minutes and never really looked back. That five point deficit that the Pack had was the closest they could get the rest of the night. Carolina had the lead all the way up to 29 points with just under two minutes left in the game.

UNC had four starters score in double figures. Berry, 18, Meeks, 17, Jackson, 14, and Pinson, 12. Isaiah Hicks, the only starter who didn't reach double figures, only played seven minutes and still managed to score seven points.

Carolina shot 56% for the game, while State shot only 44.2%. The stat that pretty much explains the outcome of the game was that UNC score 60 points in the paint, while State had only 22. That is the formula for winning for this UNC team. Yeah, we all love seeing those threes fall, and they will, but they have to continue to look inside first. The outside shots will come a lot easier when they get a paint touch and then teams are going to either double-team and they will kick it out to shooters or it will pretty much just be “barbecue chicken” inside.

I think we all have a lot of confidence in our bigs when they are one-on-one in the post. And I know that it may sound odd to play inside out when arguably the Tar Heels two best players both play on the perimeter but that’s just how it is and Coach Williams has always coached that way.

Tonight Kennedy had probably one of his best games of the season. He went 8–12 from the field. The turn around was on and you already know that he got the offensive rebound of his own miss and tipped it in on at least two occasions. State just didn't have an answer when he got positioning. However, he still couldn’t jump over a brick. He would be unstoppable if he could jump just in the slightest way.

Tony Bradley also had a solid game, even though he only went 2–4 from the field, he went 4–4 from the free throw line.

But for the second game in a row, I think the biggest takeaway from the game tonight was the production that UNC got from Luke Maye. Yes, Luke Maye. He just gets the job done. There’s nothing flashy about his game, although he did have thunderous dunk tonight. He finished the game 6–11 from the field, 13 points, seven rebounds and four of which were offensive. He played 23 minutes while filling in for Hicks for the majority of the game.

Coming of the loss at Duke, I think the Heels have a lot to be satisfied with after the convincing win tonight. It seems like Theo is officially back and Joel and Justin are continuing to play like All-Conference players. It definitely is a bummer that Kenny won’t be playing down this final stretch but hopefully he will be back sooner than later. Every team has to deal with some adversity throughout the season and in the end, it’s how you deal with it.

It’s a quick turn around for Carolina as they host Virginia at the Smith Center on Saturday. The Cavaliers are coming off two straight loses in the conference, so they will be coming into Saturday with something to prove. I think the Heels will be up for the challenge.

UNC (10–3) still remains in first place in the ACC after the win tonight. Some big games to play over the next two and a half weeks but it was good to get back on the winning track tonight.