Coming off a good win against Clemson on Sunday night it’s once again time for UNC to head out on the road for another ACC match up. This time North Carolina (12-7 & 2-4 in the ACC) will be taking on Georgia Tech (11-9 & 2-5 in the ACC) at the McCamish Pavillion tonight, with tip off being at 7:00 p.m. EST (TV coverage on ESPN2), in what will be head coach Roy Williams‘ 900th game at the helm of a team.
As any that follows this team will know that Atlanta has been a place where Carolina has a hard time winning, but UNC needs this win to keep the momentum going from the good win against the Tigers on Sunday. With UNC playing 3 out of 4 at home the Tar Heels need the wins in this stretch of the conference play if they want to get back to .500 in league play and be able to play in the big dance come March.
Truth be told, after the travel nightmare for the Tar Heels, being able to play is a win itself, as the squad arrived at the hotel just before 2:00 am. Weather being a mess or not, bad traveling or worst, this is a game that coach Williams’ squad must focus on and take. And in order to do so the team must play with the same intensity and focus as they did against Clemson over the weekend. This means that the leaders, sophomore shooting guard Marcus Paige and junior power forward James McAdoo, have to once again show the rest of the players the way by being the best on the court.
This means that senior shooting guard Leslie McDonald has to hit the shots that are there for him, while passing on the ones that are not. It means that sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto has to play within himself, doing a good job on the defensive side while not being a liability on the offensive side of the ball. It means that each player that enters the game has to hold its own on both sides of the ball, and that no one can be a liability. Everyone needs to play with a sense of urgency, each and every player donning the Carolina blue must feel that this game is just important as any other, no matter what the opponent’s record, no matter the opposition’s talent.
As a team, all of the Tar Heels have to be focused, have to be ready to out do everything and anything that the opponents do. On offense this means being crisp with their passes and sharp with their shots. It means making the extra pass and not settling for a bad one. On defense this entails not giving up the easy drive or the open three pointer. The basics will be grabbing all 50-50 balls, hitting their free throws and not turning over the ball.
I truly believe this group is an emotional squad, and if someone can take the leadership role and push everyone forward this team can compete with anyone in the nation. To be in each and every game from the tip off to the final whistle. It means being the best you can be.
Those are not just words, it’s a reality that Carolina has shown three times this season. On the other hand, when there is no one leading the way this team can lose versus anyone, and this too we have seen in 2013-14. What they now must do on a consistent basis is to be that same emotional squad no matter who is in front of them and no matter if they are favorite or not.
The Vegas book makers have UNC has a four points favorite, and while I think they game is going to be tight, I believe that North Carolina will be able to pull away from Georgia Tech and win the game by a bit more than that. In the end it’s Carolina taking this one by the final of 67 to 60.