Final Score: UNC 96, Boston College 66
Let’s never speak of this game again. After a 2-2 start in ACC play with its two losses by a combined 5 points, the Eagles ran into a UNC offensive juggernaut tonight in the Dean Dome. There were three main issues for the Eagles in this one: rebounding and matchup issues, which led to Luke Maye detonating.
At the under eight timeout, the ACC Network showed a graphic with the rebounding numbers on it. UNC had 45 rebounds, including 19 offensive rebounds. BC had 16 rebounds total. For those of you keeping track at home, UNC had more offensive rebounds than BC did total rebounds. That’s not good at all. UNC is the third best rebounding team in the country, so this isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. However, rebounding has been a strength for Jim Christian’s squad this year, including +1 in an upset of then #1 Duke, equal rebounding against then #25 Clemson, and +1 in a near upset at UVA, so to see the Eagles fail miserably in the rebounding battle is not a good sign going forward.
UNC went with a smaller lineup tonight, going with Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Cameron Johnson, and Luke Maye. With BC’s tight rotation, especially in the backcourt, this was dangerous right from the start. This pushed Steffon Mitchell, BC’s best interior defender, off of Luke Maye, UNC’s best frontcourt player, and essentially forced Nik Popovic, who is limited athletically, to guard one of the best stretch 4’s in the country in Luke Maye. Almost the entire game I found myself frustrated with the matchups, but there was really no better way to guard the Tar Heels. They had no guard or wing that they could go to which would push Mitchell to the 5. That’s where not having Deontae Hawkins really comes back to hurt Jim Christian. If Hawkins could have guarded Pinson, the Eagles would have matched up with the Tar Heels much more efficiently. On the other hand, against Duke, the Eagles were able to stick Popovic on Wendell Carter, who mostly stays in the paint, and were able to put Mitchell on Marvin Bagley III, the Blue Devils’ best interior offensive weapon. I will try to chalk this one up to a bad matchup for the Eagles, which can be traced back to JC. He hasn’t recruited at a high enough level because BC just doesn’t have ACC level players off the bench. Having AJ Turner or Hawkins would go a long way, and I expect them to be much better next year, especially if they are able to land Jarius Hamilton to join their 2018 class with Wynston Tabbs. That, with their entire roster returning from this year, would give the Eagles a much needed rotational boost for next year and would allow Jim Christian and Co. to match up with more ACC teams.
The hero on UNC’s national championship run had a career day today against BC. He finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds and probably would have had a lot more if the game had been closer. BC had no answer for him, especially at the end of the half as he was hitting fadeaway threes off of down-screens followed by a 35 footer from Trae Young range. Down 15 at the half, the Eagles were able to cut the Tar Heel lead to 10 before Maye got going again and hit big shot after big shot to get the lead back up to 20.
The Eagles will look to bounce back against Dartmouth on Saturday.