Freshman wing Reggie Bullock (16 points) jumpstarted the Tar Heel party with four 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes, and then classmate Harrison Barnes took over and shut the building down in setting a career-high for the second straight game with 26 points on 9-of-15 (4-of-7 on 3-pointers) shooting.
Boston College (14-8, 4-4 ACC) led 18-13 before the Tar Heels (16-5, 6-1 ACC) blitzed the Eagles with the 22-4 spurt that allowed the boys in blue to build a 49-35 halftime margin. North Carolina opened the second half with a 14-5 run that essentially put the game away with 16 minutes still remaining on the clock.
Tuesday marked the first time that UNC had scored 100 points in an ACC game since posting 104 against Georgia Tech on Feb. 28, 2009. North Carolina’s 32-point margin serves as the largest ACC road win since a 110-76 victory at Virginia on Jan. 29, 2005.
Barnes added six rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes of action, bringing his two-game totals to 51 points on 19-of-31 (7-of-14 on 3-pointers) shooting, 12 rebounds, two assists and just two turnovers.
Tyler Zeller contributed 18 points, six rebounds and three steals for North Carolina, while John Henson scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Larry Drew complimented Kendall Marshall’s 6:2 assist-turnover ratio with a strong 9:1 mark of his own.
Joe Trapani paced the Eagles with 25 points and 15 rebounds, and Corey Raji added 16 points and six rebounds.
North Carolina shot 57.4 percent (39-of-68) from the floor, while holding Boston College to 35.3 percent shooting (24-of-68, 13-of-33 on 3-pointers). The Tar Heels outrebounded the Eagles, 39-32.
INSIDE THE GAME
Wiping Away the Ugly
Despite a 5-1 ACC record heading into Tuesday night’s game, North Carolina certainly hadn’t won any awards for winning gracefully or played well enough to warrant media attention for officially turning the corner. But the Tar Heels kept winning in league play, notching road wins at Virginia and Miami along the way.
Last Friday, UNC head coach Roy Williams spent a significant portion of his weekly press conference answering questions about his team’s performance in relation to that record, and offered this closing note on the topic: “I keep telling them, ‘One of these nights we’re going to play great.’”
That foreshadowing set the stage for this road trip to Boston as the Tar Heels finally clicked on all cylinders – mixing defensive intensity and hustle with a lethal offensive touch to throttle the Eagles on their home floor.
North Carolina outscored Boston College 42-18 in the paint, 20-12 in second-chance points and 38-11 in bench scoring. The Eagles led the ACC and ranked seventh nationally in committing 10.6 turnovers per outing heading into this game, but the Tar Heels forced 16 turnovers and scored 33 points off those errors.
The typical Roy Williams-directed transition game has been on the sidelines for the better part of two seasons, but UNC posted a 24-2 advantage in fast break points. The eighth-year head coach indicated that his squad only ran two offensive set plays in the first half due to the success of the transition game.
This is just another win for North Carolina, but somehow it carries a little more weight than the other five ACC victories. Winning with your “A” game tends to do that.
“Coming into this season, there were just a lot of question marks about our team and how well we were going to do in the ACC,” Barnes told reporters during his postgame interview. “We’ve quieted a lot of that extra talk and we just went out there and played basketball. It hasn’t been pretty, but we grinded it out.”
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie…
Boston College had grabbed control of Tuesday night’s contest with hot early shooting and an effective zone defense, building an 18-13 lead less than eight minutes in. Then Reggie Bullock entered the game and changed everything.
The freshman wing knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers to provide a personal 9-0 spurt to move North Carolina out front 22-18 and the Tar Heels never looked back. Bullock added another 3-pointer 90 seconds later minutes later before scoring his first 2-pointer on a offensive rebound putback and then stealing a pass that resulted in a Dexter Strickland transition dunk.
“Sometimes I can feel when I’m getting hot,” Bullock said. “I told Kendall [Marshall] before the game that I was feeling it a little bit, so it paid off while I was in the game.”
In all, Bullock scored 14 of UNC’s points in a pivotal 26-7 first-half run that helped the Tar Heels take a 49-35 lead into halftime.
“The big difference to me in the whole game was in the first half with Reggie Bullock off the bench,” Williams said. “We were down five or six, and all of a sudden, Reggie makes four threes and that changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Bullock’s shooting display forced Boston College head coach to switch from zone to man-to-man coverage, which helped to loosen the interior for UNC’s post players. He connected on six of his nine field goals, including a 4-of-7 mark from long range.
The Kinston, N.C. native had a similar start two weeks ago against Clemson, scoring 16 of his career-high 18 points in the first half.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
North Carolina’s backcourt has taken healthy doses of criticism this season for allowing opposing guards to post career numbers or at least flirt in that direction far too often – consider College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock (28 points), Texas’s Corey Joseph (21 points), Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney (28 points) and Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert (30 points) as examples.
Reggie Jackson looked to be another addition to that list on Tuesday. After all, the junior guard was having a breakout season and ranked second in scoring in league play with 18.3 points per game.
But Dexter Strickland and his teammates effectively shut down the high-flying Eagle, allowing him to score only four first-half points on two incredibly difficult field goal attempts – one a 15-footer from the right wing and the next a guarded fall-away from outside the free throw line.
Jackson ended up with six points on 2-of-10 shooting and three assists against three turnovers.