I have some thoughts on the Al Groh hire which I’ll post up in another blog. (I think its a great hire for a variety of reasons.)
UNC ramped up the pressure in the second half, outscoring the Jackets 43-31 and at one point completely erasing a nearly 20 point lead to take control with under two minutes left.
But the Jacket dug deep and answered the challenge, hitting free throws and playing just enough defense (without fouling) to regain the advantage and a 73-71 win.
At times, the Jackets seemed to lose focus on offense with Shumpert or Peacock trying to play 1-on-1 basketball to get points. Combined with UNC’s Will Graves suddenly finding his three point range, it very nearly cost the Jackets their first win at UNC since…oh…about 1996.
In the end, Shumpert’s 30 points and 6 assists combined with Lawal’s double double (12 points, 12 rebounds) to secure a rare gut check win for the Jackets.
If the Jackets can continue to play like they did today, this team can be fun to watch. To do that, they must be consistent. No more head scratching losses against teams like UGA or UVA.
Lets see where we go from here…its time to build on success rather than grow complacent and lose momentum.
Right now I’m watching the Jackets play on the road against defending national champ North Carolina.
The WVU vs Syracuse game delayed TV coverage of our game, but when they cut over the Jackets had a good lead and were playing some really good basketball. The defensive effort and intensity from the Duke game was still there and the offense was moving the ball around to create shots. We actually looked pretty well coached on both sides of the ball as we built the lead up to 20 points.
The really impressive part of the 20 point lead was the fact that Derrick Favors spent a majority of the first half on the bench, because of foul trouble.
The Heels made a run late and pull to within 14 points as the half ran out, largely because the Jackets lost focus on offense and took some bad shots. But there have been some solid possessions and even a few fast breaks that have been converted. Iman Shumpert even finished the half with a great finger tip roller off an inbounds pass as the clock expired. Imagine that…scoring off an inbounds play under pressure. How often has Tech accomplished that lately?
There is alot of time basketball left in this game, but if the Jackets can continue to play well and hold on to beat UNC on the road it would give them wins over Duke and UNC in their last four games. (Yes…the losses to UGA and UVA need to be answered for…)
Still…42-28 looks pretty good when you are on the road in front of a UNC crowd that is waiting for any reason to get loud and rowdy.
Look for an update after the game and post up your thoughts on how the Jackets are playing on the road. Sure would be nice to get that elusive ACC road victory that we’ve missed the past year (or two?).