First and foremost, this is a game the defense won. After the Hokies staked a 12-0 lead and took a six point lead into halftime, UNC held Virginia Tech to 10-32 shooting in the second half and overtime. That included not a single Virginia Tech three point shot in the second half and 0-4 from beyond the arc in overtime. A big piece of that defensive effort was shutting down the nation's leading scorer in Erick Green. Coming into the game Green had scored under 20 points once all season and was shooting 49% from the floor. A combination of Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald chased Green all over the court, got some help on screen and held Green to 16 points on 7-21 shooting. In addition the Tar Heels forced Green to give up the ball to players who were less capable of scorers. Strickland, in particular, was as close to his old form defensively as he has been at any point since injuring his knee a year ago.
On the offensive end, UNC struggled from the opening tip. In the end it was a career game from Marcus Paige who had 19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and was UNC's only legitimate three point threat on the day. Reggie Bullock, who is mired in a shooting slump, managed 11 points but was 3-13 from the floor and 1-8 from three. Leslie McDonald returned to do solid work on the defensive end but missed all five of his three point attempts. It would have helped tremendously if P.J. Hairston had been taking and making those threes in addition to the other things he brings to the court.
Then there was James Michael McAdoo who had a good and bad game all at the same time. McAdoo started the game by missing a dunk and committing two turnovers. That earned him some serious bench time. When he did return he was key to piercing the Hokies' zone defense by consistently hitting a free throw line jumper. On the day, McAdoo was 8-12 from the floor and 6-9 from the FT line for 22 points to go with 10 rebounds. McAdoo also committed five turnovers and lost the ball on plenty of other occasions. In fact, McAdoo committed an inexcusable turnover with UNC up two and the ball with 57 seconds left. McAdoo put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket only to lose the ball preventing UNC from burning clock. So it is hard to get a read on McAdoo. Clearly he scored and rebounded according to expectations but he also hurts the team by not taking care of the ball.
Yes, UNC should have played better but walking away with a win without Hariston and a lackluster day from Bullock is something the Heels will take every day of the week and twice on Sunday. It was also a solid defensive effort, especially the handiwork on Green which essentially got UNC over the hump in a game where the offense struggled to survive.