By Adam Lucas
1. Carolina’s solid win in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, beating Virginia, 63-43.
2. Brady Manek was absolutely sensational in the first half, beating Virginia single-handedly on the way to a 33-13 halftime lead. Manek dropped 19 on the usually stingy Cavaliers in just 18 minutes of the first half, converting three three-pointers and then having good success driving to the rim when Virginia defenders swung towards him. The last time a Tar Heel beat his opponent alone in a half was Reggie Bullock in 2013 against Maryland. Bullock had 21 against the Terps’ 20 in the first half that night. Manek finished with 21 for the game, and with Carolina’s big lead throughout the night, the best news is that he only played 28 minutes.
3. As good as Manek was offensively, leaky black was quite his equal defensively. Hubert Davis made the decision to put Black on Virginia point guard Kihei Clark, and the surprise switch completely locked out Virginia’s offense. Black had a solid ten-inch height advantage over Clark, and Clark just couldn’t get into the rhythm with the ball. Black held Clark 0-4 with two turnovers in the first half. Clark made three baskets in the second half, but he still went 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 field goals in the first half 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 played a big role in distributing the ball, as RJ Davis and Caleb Love combined for 11 assists.
5. Armand Bacot continues to climb the Carolina record books. Bacot had another double-double on Thursday, giving him the 24th such game this year. It’s a school record for a single Tar Heel season, eclipsing the mark previously held by Brice Johnson. Bacot’s 11 rebounds also moved him ahead of Antawn Jamison and Sean Mai third on Carolina’s single-season rebounding 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 Johnson Puff and Justin Mc Koy at the start of the first half to have the chance to rotate all its holders on the bench at least once. McKoy had a nice jump against his old team, the Tar Heels held a +5 advantage with the subs in the game, and the rested starters came back to extend the lead the rest of the half. As the lead remained large, 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 remaining.
7. Speaking of which, I really liked Davis’ coaching in this sequence. Dunn had a tough first appearance in the game, including a turnover. Davis pulled him out of the game, let him sit on the bench and cool off for a minute, then sent him straight back to the scorer’s table to check in.
8. You know McKoy had to feel good to have a good performance against his old team. McKoy looked more confident than he has in recent weeks and dropped on a second-half three-pointer to go along with his first-half exit. He also grabbed three rebounds. Tar Heel’s reserves were able to contribute enough for the heavily used starters to get a relative break – Bacot played 34 minutes, Black and Love recorded 32, Davis had 31 and Manek those 28 minutes.
9. Turnover points continue to be a telling statistic for Carolina this year. The Heels led this category 13-5 against Virginia and are now 16-1 when they win this battle, and only 7-7 when the opponent has more points on turnovers.
10. Carolina takes on Virginia Tech tomorrow night in another late game. The Tar Heels and Hokies are scheduled to start around 9:30 p.m. Remember Dean Smith’s old axiom: It’s very hard to beat a good team three times in a season. Carolina swept Mike Young’s team in the regular season and Tech probably thinks she’s playing for her NCAA tournament life.
11. This year marks the ACC’s third 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 locate conference offices, so tournament decisions could be tied to this choice. It is quite true that hardly anyone in New York realizes that the event is in town. But it’s also true that with Notre Dame in the first quarterfinal on Thursday night, there was a great college basketball vibe at Barclays Center.