Raymond Felton – Felton set the tone early with his unselfish play. He totaled only five points, but handed out 11 assists with just a pair of turnovers. Not only did he please the crowd with some flashy moves, but continued to show why he has emerged as a leader, and what makes him such a special player and competitor.
Unselfishness – Felton's play was apparently contagious, as the Heels were extremely unselfish, assisting on 31 of their 34 field goals, and did so with a panache not seen too often in the Dean Dome in some time. Their five alley-oop slams were all after gorgeous, perfectly timed feeds. In fact, almost every one of Carolina's 10 dunks followed a stylistic pass. Even on many of UNC's other baskets, open looks were passed up for even better shot attempts.
David Noel – It would have been easy for Noel to play a bit recklessly in a game like this, but that isn't the improving freshman's nature. He played a tremendous floor game, made excellent decisions, and didn't force things. He finished with just eight points, but did grab eight rebounds and had four assists with only one turnover.
Damion Grant – No doubt Grant struggled at times (hands), but the 17 minutes of playing time were extremely valuable. He fought hard, kept his composure, and even had a sweet turnaround jumper off the blocks. He finished with seven points and six rebounds, and an increase in confidence.
Phillip McLamb – Any time a walk-on that seldom plays scores six points in three minutes during mop up duty he deserves a mention!
Fun – The Tar Heels needed to have a fun victory and got one. So it won't help their overall RPI this week, so what! This team needed to have some fun, period. If the Heels make the NCAAs they will have to knock off Georgia Tech, N.C. State, and Duke, so the RPI will take care of itself.
Jackie Manuel – The Florida sophomore plays with so much intensity and has tremendous passion, but he only occasionally isn't a negative issue offensively. He was charged with five turnovers, but should have had six, and they weren't pretty. On a night when the rest of the team was almost flawless, Manuel had a tough outing. He also tends to try to do too much on possessions when on the floor with reserves. For example, with a lineup that also included Will Johnson, Jonathan Holmes, Grant and Melvin Scott, Manuel got a pass on the right perimeter near the baseline early in the possession. Instead of kicking it back out so the Heels could work for a quality shot, he put the ball on the floor and tried to take it to the hole despite no apparent opening. He lost the ball, which led to an A&T basket. In fact, A&T scored eight points off of his turnovers.
Manuel is a great defensive player and a crucial component to the Tar Heels' success, but he is limited offensively with an occasional solid performance, and until he learns to make better decisions with the ball, he will hurt UNC on offense as much as he helps.
Rebounding – Rarely will a Carolina club play a team as small as the 0-21 Aggies, yet these Heels still managed to only outrebound them 41-37, and allowed 14 offensive boards. On an evening in which the team played with intensity, it has to be a concern they didn't dominate on the glass.
Inbounds play/steal – UNC has had trouble getting anything off its inbounds plays. They have a couple of buckets, but are generally been forced to use timeouts due to an inability to get the ball in, had it stolen, or toss it beyond the top of the key. They actually had an inbounds pass stolen on Tuesday, and it led to an A&T 3-pointer. The score was 68-27, so it wasn't a grave mistake, but it was ugly nonetheless. (Hey, in a win like this, I have to put something in the "Bad.")
Free throws – The Heels were 14-21 (66.7%), which isn't all that bad, but they still need to be at 70% at least.
The Tar Heels next visit College Park, Md., to take on the Terrapins for a 2 p.m. tip. This will be UNC's first game in Maryland's new arena. The game will be televised by Raycom and is available nationally on ESPN Full Court.
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.