Box Score: Carolina 81, State 71
There's not much to say. North Carolina is a much better team than NC State, and they showed it tonight. The Wolfpack gave a good-but-not-great effort (the team had an Off Eff of 111 for the game, which is about their average). They shot well from 3-point range (over 40%) and hit 11-12 free throws. They kept the pace where they wanted it and had a typically good turnover rate.
None of it mattered.
North Carolina shot 49% for the game, weathered a quick start from the Wolfpack, and generally coasted through the second half. Ray Felton scored 21 points and added 7 assists without committing a single turnover.
The Pack kept the score down but didn't play well enough in the second half to take advantage. I noted in the game preview that the Heels probably needed to be held under 80 points, and if not for a lot of FTs at the end of the game, the Heels wouldn't have reached that mark. So NC State did a good job to that extent. The game featured just 64 possessions for both teams, which is low even for NCSU, but by no means uncomfortably low.
It would have been wrong to expect NC State to repeat its Maryland game performance, but in hindsight it seems that's the only way they'd have beaten the Heels.
On a sidenote: Ilian Evtimov scored 3 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 35 minutes tonight. Engin Atsur scored 14 points, although he needed 14 shot attempts to do it. Are these two guys getting too much playing time?
I recently began looking at production on a points-per-minute basis, and those numbers aren't very complimentary of the Europeans. Among the ten Wolfpack players who get legitimate playing time, Evtimov and Atsur rank 9th and 10th in points-per-minute, respectively.
Only Julius Hodge has logged more minutes for NC State than Ev and Atsur. Clearly the coaches feel that they're critical to our offensive gameplan, and I'll readily admit that these guys offer more than just points (especially Evtimov). But both are slow, neither one plays great defense, and they tend to disappear when they're not making shots. More playing time for Cam Bennerman, Gavin Grant, Andrew Brackman or whoever would probably come at a cost of efficiency and turnovers...on the other hand, the Wolfpack would have more quickness and athleticism on the floor. I think it's fair to say the Wolfpack bench deserves a longer look, and that should come at the expense of Ilian Evtimov and Engin Atsur.