RICHMOND, Va. – I’m staying on the road since Tech plays up here at North Carolina Saturday, so we’ll just move right along to the next thing.
The No. 12 Tar Heels (12-5) just got pounded by No. 24 Clemson last night. Two games prior to that they lost to College of Charleston and a familiar shaggy-white-haired guy. So is this a good time or terrible time to play Carolina? Should the Tar Heels be a little shaky in their confidence, feeling vulnerable, or feisty now, with their backs against a wall? You tell me?
I kind of put that to Tech coach Paul Hewitt this morning, that Tech would be facing a wounded cat in North Carolina on Saturday, and he said so would Carolina. Not a bad point. He also said he thought Tech and Carolina’s teams had a lot of similarities, some youth in the backcourt, a good inside presence.
Carolina turned the ball over 26 times against Clemson, which matched the most by a Tar Heel team in Roy Williams’ seven years back in NC. Tech knows a little something about not securing the ball (20 turnovers vs. Georgia, 24 turnovers vs. Winston-Salem State).
The inside duo of Deon Thompson (15.1 ppg, 7 rpg) and Ed Davis (14.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg) combined for only 9 points against Clemson. Carolina trailed by as many as 23 points in that game, which the Tigers won 83-64. They were basically blown off the court at times.
Now that’s something that hasn’t happened to Tech this season. As up and down as it’s been between the Georgia loss, the Duke win and the road loss to Virginia last night, Tech shouldn’t have big cause to doubt itself and doesn’t.
The way Hewitt was talking today, his focus is on the Yellow Jackets finishing games, to play the same way when they’re up as when they down. You saw (well you didn’t, you might have heard if you listened on the radio) Tech break down offensively once Virginia built up a lead of 4 to 6 points. The Yellow Jackets got rattled, and that’s something they’ve got to iron out if Tech is going to go into the Dean Dome Saturday and turn things back around.
Would it be just like Tech to beat Duke and North Carolina in the same week, while losing to Georgia and Virginia in between? It just might be. It’s hard to predict. But until the Yellow Jackets prove they can win tough games on the road, and in the ACC, you can’t take it for granted. They haven’t won an ACC road game since March of 2008 when they won at Boston College in their last regular season game two years ago.
Some food for thought
As much as we hear Gani Lawal talk about how he thinks Tech’s frontcourt of Derrick Favors, Zachery Peacock and him, can match up with anybody in the nation, there is at least one bald-headed announcer, who doesn’t quite see it that way. Or at least Dick Vitale didn’t include Tech is his midseason picks for best frontcourts that ran in the USA Today on Wednesday.
Judging by his list, I’d think Lawal and Favors could go a long way in changing his mind if they play well against Carolina. Here’s what Dickie V had to say about what he thinks are the top five frontcourts in the nation.
Kansas: Led by Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and the Morris twins.
North Carolina: Deon Thompson and Ed Davis are positive forces while coach Roy Williams has so much young and talented depth.
Syracuse: I love the physicality of Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson to go with the smooth play of Johnson.
Kentucky: Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins and company can clean the glass and put up points in the paint.
West Virginia: Da’Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones are unsung nationally. Wellington Smith and John Flowers contribute off the bench.