UNC-DePaul: The Good & Bad

They may have not wanted to be there and were even flat in the beginning, but an unconventional vociferous crowd spurred the North Carolina Tar Heels on to an NIT first-round victory over DePaul at the Dean Smith Center on Tuesday night.

Here is a look at Carolina's 83-72 win, its 18th victory in 33 games.


Defensive pressure – Carolina's pressure defense to start the second half was reminiscent of only a few UNC games in recent history, perhaps most notably like the comeback over Sam Cassell and Florida State in 1993. UNC was all over the place on Tuesday, was as quick as any time this season, and appeared to play with a controlled helter-skelter that seemingly fits their physical attributes. UNC quickly turned a six-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead before the first TV timeout of the second half. So, it must be asked, where on earth was this approach for the first 32 games?

David Noel – Noel almost always plays a sound floor game – and gets better with each game – and sometimes shows offensive explosiveness, as he did on Tuesday. He finished with 21 points on 10-13 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds – five on the offensive end. But his tenacity and lightning quickness around the basket were extremely impressive. In time, he is going to be an exceptional player.

Raymond Felton – What can be said that hasn't already been penned in this space time and time again? He is such an intense and smart player and has unmatched passion for the game. He had 10 points and nine assists (just four turnovers) and was a key part of UNC's pressure defense. Regardless of what the scoreboard says, he's also a winner.

Melvin Scott – Scott played an excellent floor game. It appears that the Heels are smoother offensively when he gets extended minutes and his defense isn't as bad as many once thought. He tallied nine points, four assists and four steals and was very active in UNC's pressure defense that turned the game around.

Rashad McCants – McCants did what he does best, scoring 19 points as he impressively blended in with his mates. When opportunistic, McCants is the perfect compliment to a Tar Heels team that plays the way it did in the second half against the Blue Demons.

Unselfishness – The Heels were very unselfish, especially in the second half. They assisted on 21 of their 30 made field goals, many of which came in the second half explosion that changed the game. Five different Heels had at least two assists.

Field goal % - The Tar Heels shot 54.5 percent (30-55) from the floor, mainly because of so many open court baskets, especially during the run that began the second half. But their half court offense was also better than usual, as they got more open looks. It's amazing what a little movement and a screen or two can do!

54 points – For a team that didn't score many points during the regular season, a 54-point half against a reputable opponent is quite impressive. The Tar Heels put 54 on the board in the final 20 minutes – see above as to how.

Crowd – One positive thing about UNC being in the NIT is that it gave a lot of folks who normally wouldn't be able to see the Heels play get into the Dean Dome, and many sat in the fuddy duddy seats. They gave the team a huge boost, made tons of noise, and had some fun. Good for them!


Drought – The Tar Heels went 7:01 in the first half without a field goal. The drought saw a 26-18 lead turn into a 35-27 deficit. UNC was 0-7 from the floor with six turnovers during the stretch. UNC had actually gone a few games without a significant ugly stretch that accompanied most every game through February, so the return of such an empty period isn't at all a positive.

Rebounding – After outrebounding Maryland by 10 and being even with Duke on the glass in the ACC Tournament over the weekend, UNC was blasted by DePaul on the boards. The Blue Demons held a 27-10 advantage at halftime and overall finished with a 41-26 edge, including 19-8 on the offensive end. This is one reason why UNC can shoot 54.5%, get so many turnovers and still win by only 11.

Field goal % defense – DePaul had way too many good looks around the basket – in both halves. Carolina had tremendous success with its pressure defense in the second half, but when the Demons got the ball up the court they usually got a good look, often converting. DePaul made half of its 66 field goal attempts.

Needing the crowd – It's understandable the players didn't want to play and were a bit flat early on, but to need the crowd to get them going, especially after half the game had been completed isn't exactly a positive. Although, they eventually did respond very well.

Jawad Williams – Williams scored 16 points and was in on the defensive success in the second half, but he only grabbed one rebound in 31 minutes of action. As usually the tallest Tar Heel on the floor, they simply need for him to be more aggressive around the basket and to snare more boards.

Free throws – Carolina made just 13 of 21 (61.9%) free throw attempts, a problem in most games for the Tar Heels. This has been documented all year, so there is no need to rehash what has been written numerous times.


The Tar Heels will host the winner between Eastern Washington and Wyoming on Monday night at 8 p.m. The game will not be televised.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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