By Adam Lucas
1. Solid win for Carolina in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, thumping Virginia, 63-43.
2. Brady Manek was absolutely sensational in the first half, outscoring Virginia all by himself on the way to a 33-13 halftime lead. Manek dropped 19 on the usually stingy Cavaliers in just 18 first half minutes, converting three three-point shots and then having good success driving to the rim when Virginia defenders went flying at him. The last time a Tar Heel outscored the opponent by himself in any half was Reggie Bullock in 2013 against Maryland. Bullock put up 21 against the Terps’ 20 in the first half on that evening. Manek finished with 21 for the game, and with the big Carolina lead throughout the night, the best news is he played just 28 minutes.
3. As good as Manek was offensively, Leaky Black was every bit his game-changing equal defensively. Hubert Davis made the decision to put Black on Virginia point guard Kihei Clark, and the surprise switch completely locked down the Virginia offense. Black had a solid ten-inch height advantage on Clark, and Clark simply couldn’t get into any rhythm with the ball. Black held Clark to 0-for-4 with two turnovers in the first half. Clark did make three baskets in the second half, but he still finished 3-for-9 with three turnovers.
4. Carolina shared the ball very well on Thursday night. The Tar Heels handed out ten assists on 13 first half field goals and finished the game with 17 assists on 25 baskets. The Tar Heel starting backcourt didn’t shoot the ball as well as they normally do, but they were a big part of distributing the ball, as RJ Davis and Caleb Love combined for 11 assists.
5. Armando Bacot continue to climb the Carolina record books. Bacot had another double-double on Thursday, giving him the 24th such game this year. That’s a Tar Heel single season school record, eclipsing the mark previously held by Brice Johnson. Bacot’s 11 rebounds also moved him past Antawn Jamison and Sean May onto third place on Carolina’s single-season rebound list. Bacot currently has 398 boards. The only players ahead of him are Tyler Hansbrough (399) and Johnson (416).
6. With a possible busy weekend in Brooklyn, Hubert Davis went to his bench earlier in the first half, inserting Puff Johnson and justin mckoy early in the first half to get the chance to rotate all his starters to the bench at least once. McKoy swished a nice jumper against his former team, the Tar Heels held a +5 advantage with the subs in the game, and the rested starters came back to stretch the lead the rest of the half. As the lead stayed sizable, the Tar Heels will also be able to rotate personnel more frequently in the second half, including an appearance for D’Marco Dunn with seven minutes left.
7. Speaking of which, really liked the coaching by Davis in that stretch. Dunn had a rough first appearance in the game, including a turnover. Davis removed him from the game, let him sit on the bench and calm down for a minute, and then sent him right back to the scorer’s table to check in.
8. You know it had to feel good for McKoy to have a good performance against his former team. McKoy looked more confident than he has in recent weeks, and dropped in a second half corner three-pointer to go with his first half ouput. He also grabbed three rebounds. The Tar Heel reserves were able to contribute enough that the much-used starters got a relative break–Bacot played 34 minutes, Black and Love logged 32, Davis had 31 and Manek those 28 minutes.
9. Points off turnovers continues to be a telling stat for Carolina this year. The Heels led that category 13-5 against Virginia and are now 16-1 when they win that battle, and just 7-7 when the opponent has more points off turnovers.
10. Carolina will face Virginia Tech tomorrow night in another late one. The Tar Heels and Hokies should tip off around 9:30 pm Remember Dean Smith’s old axiom: it’s very hard to beat a good time three times in one season. Carolina swept Mike Young’s team in the regular season and Tech likely feels it is playing for its NCAA Tournament life.
11. This year marks the third ACC trip to Brooklyn for the ACC Tournament. Future sites are undecided with the exception of the trip to Greensboro for the 2023 event. Keep in mind that the league is also currently evaluating where it wants to base the conference offices, so tournament decisions could be related to that choice. It’s completely true that virtually no one in New York City realizes the event is in town. But it’s also true that with Notre Dame in the first quarterfinal on Thursday night, there was a good college basketball atmosphere in the Barclays Center.