Duke wasn’t the only Triangle powerhouse to win their only game of the week, as NC State and North Carolina also managed victories in Week 4.
NC State (5-2)
December 4: NC State 69, UConn 65
No. 25 NC State trailed by 11 points early on, but then fought back and put in a polished performance to come out on top of the Huskies. The Wolfpack were led by forward C.J Leslie, who has awoken from his early season stupor, grabbing 16 points and 13 rebounds, recording his third straight double-double. Senior Richard Howell added another 13 points and 10 rebounds as he too continued his recent strong play. Junior guard Lorenzo Brown had 16 points, five assists and two blocks as the NC State starters enjoyed a very good day offensively.
Analysis: Coming into this week having lost two of their last three, the Wolfpack were desperate to add a W to their tally. While their passing continues to look suspect, on account of their 12 turnovers, the rebounding has been impressive as they grabbed 37 rebounds, but more importantly 16 offensive rebounds – which contributed heavily to their second chance points. The only negative for NC State against the Huskies was the team’s poor free throw shooting, as the club hit just 61.9 percent of their attempts.
Upcoming: December 8 vs Cleveland State; December 15 vs. Norfolk State
December 1: UAB 84, North Carolina 102
After the Indiana loss last week, No. 20 North Carolina bounced back with a balanced offensive show in a win over UAB. In his first career start, Leslie McDonald had a career-high 24 points to go with five assists and three rebounds. Michael James McAdoo also impressed with 15 points and 12 rebounds. P.J. Hairston returned after a minor injury and was impactful with 16 points in his 23 minutes on court. In spite of the win, the Tar Heels struggled defensively and were unable to pull away until late in the second half, showing that they are still a work in progress.
Analysis: While this win will definitely increase North Carolina’s confidence, the team is still deficient in key areas. As Indiana and even UAB were able to exploit, the lack of a tight defense has hurt the Tar Heels, as they’re offensive efforts are cancelled out by sometimes-subpar defense. The 20 turnovers against UAB marked a new high and this should come as a worry because against stronger teams, mistakes such as these could prove fatal. However, one of the bright spots was the improved free throw percentage up to 86 percent, something the Tar Heels have struggled with in the season to date.
Upcoming: December 8 vs East Tennessee State; December 15 vs. East Carolina