Three Things: Carolina 70, Georgia Tech 58
It wasn't pretty, but it was a must-win for the Tar Heels. Here are three quick takeaways from Tuesday's game in Atlanta.
James Michael McAdoo had one of his finest games as a Tar Heel Tuesday, with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He had his mid-range jumper going and was able to slash to the basket seemingly at will. Before the game, it appeared that Carolina's new smaller lineup might struggle against Georgia Tech's bigger front line. While P.J. Hairston didn't score at the same clip as in recent outings, McAdoo simply outworked the Jackets. On the defensive end, he did a tremendous job getting his hands into passing lanes (four steals) and turning those deflections into Tar Heel baskets. Georgia Tech fans' chant of "airball" after a McAdoo free throw attempt (which wasn't in fact an airball; it grazed the loud Hank McCamish Pavilion rims) only seemed to motivate the sophomore.
Dexter as distributor
Dexter Strickland had his finest game in recent memory on Tuesday, and he didn't have to put up a ton of points to do so. Strickland tallied 7 assists against no turnovers, doing a great job of recognizing his teammates and getting them the ball with prime opportunities to score. Perhaps Dexter is realizing that with Hairston and Bullock in the starting lineup, he doesn't need to pressure himself to score. He also willed in a wild basket directly after Daniel Miller rejected his layup attempt.
Leslie answers the bell
Leslie McDonald can't have been happy with his performances of late (two points in 20 minutes at Duke; seven in 18 vs. Virginia and a combined 1-7 from behind the arc). The junior came off the bench to score 15 points (nine in the first half) and shoot 4-6 from three. Georgia Tech held an early lead, but a couple of three-point baskets from McDonald kept the Tar Heels close. Even when he wasn't shooting, McDonald was impacting the game. He had two big assists and a block during the first half.
And a bonus, fourth thing
As mentioned above, Carolina did a great job of getting into passing lanes and disrupting the Georgia Tech offense. The Jackets preferred a slower tempo, but the active defensive hands only, well, played right into the Tar Heel hands. Carolina had 14 steals, and turned those into 15 points (by my count).