Three Things: Carolina 62, Maryland 52
1. It will be masked by his 1-of-7 shooting performance, but Marcus Paige quietly had a very steady floor game for the Tar Heels against Maryland. Less than a month ago, Paige was essentially sharing the primary ball handling duties with Dexter Strickland. But in the closing minutes of Saturday's game, it was Paige with the ball in his hands.
He had a pair of spectacular possessions, once flummoxing a pair of Terp defenders with two behind the back dribbles, and later finding James Michael McAdoo with a slick blind pass for a dunk. Paige finished with six assists and no turnovers. His defense also continues to improve. As Roy Williams noted, "I felt like Marcus slapped away almost every ball in the first half." Paige has won three of the last five defensive awards from the coaches.
2. Desmond Hubert has turned into Carolina's best post defender. As he has done multiple times this season, he set the early tone with a quick blocked shot, and his hard work on Alex Len prevented the Maryland center from establishing good position on the block. Len finished just 4-of-7. "Desmond did a terrific job of walling him up and forcing him to take tough shots," Paige said. Hubert isn't flashy and won't make as many spectacular defensive plays as, for example, John Henson, but he is a good communicator and fun to watch off the ball.
3. One of the few question marks about how Hubert Davis would adapt to the bench was how he would prepare scouting reports, something he hadn't had to do before. Davis had scouting duties for the Terps, and put together a terrific plan, which he conveyed to the team in an impressive session in which he spoke without notes.
One of the highlights was the way Carolina attacked Len, choosing to double him, but not immediately on the catch. "We talked about how you don't want to double him early, because he is big enough to pass out of it," Paige said. "Once he started dribbling and put it on the floor, we had the strong side guard go double him, and that frustrated him early."