While Duke is off to a spectacular start to the season, sitting at 7-0 after a great week, its Triangle counterparts both had a rough time in the ACC/B1G challenge this week.
No. 18 NC State (4-2)
November 23: UNC Asheville 80, NC State 82
In a nail-biting finish, NC State was able to hold off UNC Asheville to clinch a two-point win in a game they trailed most of the way. Senior Richard Howell starred for the Wolfpack, scoring 23 points including two pivotal free throws with five seconds left along with 15 rebounds to pull his team through. Junior Lorenzo Brown added another 18 points but the biggest performance from NC State’s point of view came from struggling center C.J Leslie. He scored 14 points to go with his 11 rebounds in a much-improved performance that will give head coach Mark Gottfried optimism for the future. However, the team’s 19 turnovers is something that will have to change fast as UNCA was able to score 31 points off of them.
November 27: NC State 72, Michigan 79
In another tight game, the No. 18 Wolfpack were beaten by No. 3 Michigan, which was led by guard Trey Burke. Burke scored 18 points and dished out 11 assists without a turnover in an extremely strong showing. For NC State, TJ Warren was the top scorer with 18 points and C.J Leslie continued to impress with a 16 point, 10 rebound performance, his second double-double of the week.
Analysis: With another 1-1 week, NC State will slide down the rankings, but overall offensively they had a very good week. They shot 56% and 57% in the respective games and if C.J Leslie’s performances are anything to go by, then the offense looks to be in great shape for the rest of the season. However, the 19 turnovers in the first game and 13 in the second continue to affect the team defensively, something Gottfried will have to work on before next week.
Upcoming: December 4 vs Connecticut
No. 14 UNC (5-2)
November 27: North Carolina 59, Indiana 83
In a matchup with the No. 1 team in the country, No. 14 North Carolina was destroyed by Indiana in a 24-point loss. 7-foot sophomore Cody Zeller was immense as he scored 20 points on 8-13 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in a dominating performance. He was assisted by 19 point efforts from Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey. Dexter Strickland was the top-scorer for the Tar Heels with 14, but on a night where North Carolina shot just 37.7% from the field, there were not any other performances of note. The Tar Heels were without sophomore guard PJ Hairston, a presence that was definitely missed.
Analysis: With the only game of the week being a heavy defeat, North Carolina will drop in the rankings further and will continue to do so until it can rectify their problems. The Tar Heels’ free throw shooting continues to be abysmal (43 percent in this game) and a high turnover rate has resulted in some worry. James Michael McAdoo’s strong start to the season came to a halt with his 4-15 shooting on the night. Coach Roy Williams and the rest of his team will be desperately hoping that this is just a minor blip for the sophomore who’s been one of their mainstays this season.
Upcoming: December 1 vs UAB