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Lucas: Rapid Reactions

Lucas: Rapid Reactions

By Adam Lucas

1. Carolina's ball movement was exceptional, especially in the first half. Carolina piled up 17 assists on 23 first half field goals. The Tar Heels weren't as efficient in the second half, but still finished with 25 assists on 33 field goals overall. 

A big part of that success was interior passing, as Carolina's big men continually found each other for easy baskets. Not coincidentally, the Tar Heels shot 60.0% from the field. Nine different Tar Heels finished with at least one assist, and the team total was led by J.P. Tokoto (5), Marcus Paige (5) and Brice Johnson (4). 

2. Something you might not have expected to see, given the absence of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald: Carolina shot Oakland out of its zone defense before ten minutes had elapsed in the second half. This is part of the above, but the Tar Heel ball movement was exceptional, and it happened in various ways. First, it was James Michael McAdoo getting the ball at the free throw line and finding a soft spot in the Grizzlies' zone. Then it was Kennedy Meeks reversing the ball from the baseline and finding Marcus Paige for a three-pointer.

In the way the Tar Heels attacked the zone and the way they seemed to have a good sense of where their teammates would be, you could see some benefits of the NCAA's rule allowing more preseason practices.

3. Carolina's defense was mostly stellar, but special mention goes to J.P. Tokoto and James Michael McAdoo for their efforts against Oakland three-point bomber Travis Bader in the first half. Bader shot just 1-for-8 in the first 20 minutes and had trouble with the combination of Tokoto's athleticism and McAdoo's size. It wasn't just physical ability that made the UNC defense so smothering--it was effort, with the Tar Heels seemingly diving on every loose ball. That also translated into some easy offensive opportunities.

"Our defense helped us get the break going," Roy Williams said after the game.

With some pieces in different places in the game, it was encouraging to watch McAdoo defend the small forward position. One game doesn't definitively prove whether he can defend every small forward in the ACC, but he did a solid job and still managed to grab a team-high nine defensive rebounds, so he wasn't just drifting around the perimeter.

Adam Lucas is a GoHeels columnist and the editor of CAROLINA.