“In my opinion, there’s not a lot I can say,” UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference. “It was a butt-kicking is what it was.”
James Michael McAdoo picked up his second foul with 18:02 left on the clock, stripping UNC of its primary post scorer and allowing the Wolfpack to feed off its frenzied crowd to build a 22-10 lead. McAdoo returned following the second media timeout and scored his first points on a dunk, prompting an 8-0 UNC run.
Then came the third media timeout with 7:50 left on the clock. When the horn sounded to resume play, the Wolfpack asserted itself and the Tar Heels wilted.
N.C. State forced UNC into poor shot selections and beat its opponent down the floor in transition while churning out a 27-4 run to essentially put the game away before halftime.
“Coming out of that one media timeout, we kind of just lost our sense of urgency,” McAdoo said.
UNC missed 11 of its 13 shots during that five-minute stretch, while the Wolfpack converted nine of its 10 field attempts. Seven of those baskets were either dunks or layups.
“We didn’t run back on defense,” Williams said when asked about the first half collapse. “They had a greater sense of urgency than we did. It was 20-0 in fast break. When you work on it and talk about it, work on it and talk about it and you don’t do it… I’m not into moral victories and I’m not into this pansy kind of crap; we stunk.”
N.C. State finished the game with a 39-19 edge in fast break points, highlighting the glaring difference in the two halves.
“They were getting easy transition buckets,” junior wing Reggie Bullock said. “We weren’t getting back in transition… They were just playing a game we want to play as a Carolina team in getting out and running people. They were just doing that to us.”
The Wolfpack not only won the stat sheet during the first half, it also won in the intangible categories, such as hustle plays.
“We had a loose ball at the center line and we’re reaching down to pick it up and T.J. Warren comes from behind and dives in there and gets the ball,” Williams said. “That was the game, the way I looked at it.”
The sense of urgency angle has been stuck on repeat with this edition of the Tar Heels, prompting many to ask what it will take to end that problem once and for all.
“I think it just comes with showing up ready to play and doing whatever you have to do,” McAdoo said. “When the ball is tipped up, you’ve got to want it more than the other team. It doesn’t matter if they’ve got 20,000 fans or if nobody’s watching. If there’s a scoreboard and they’re keeping score, we need to be ready to play and take pride in everything we do.”
While there will undoubtedly be plenty of people that look to UNC’s second-half rally as a positive, Williams made a point to crush that belief.
“I don’t care about learning experiences,” Williams said. “Learning experiences – that’s for babies. By God, you’ve got to play. We’ve had enough learning experiences. We’ve got to play.”