Silly season – great game

UNC 80-69 over NC State

Silly season is always open on social media. Sports rivalries only add content. That’s what you would expect if you picked up a Twitter feed or fan sites sharing thoughts about Saturday’s game between North Carolina and NC State. Leaky Black committed a foul on Terquavion Smith in the second half of the game that officials thought necessitated him being disqualified. Video shows Smith jumping and extending above Black’s attempted block and (natural) downward movement causes Black’s hand to hit Smith in the face. I do not believe there was any intent to harm Smith. Black has never been that type of player. This is a long-standing rivalry between local schools that has almost always been a tough, physical game, even when the scores were not close. But the games between these two teams are not usually dirty, and that was not the case this time. Hubert Davis and Kevin Keats are both passionate about their teams and seem to care about their players. I have never witnessed either employing dirty play or allowing players on the court that intentionally harm an opponent. Both teams play tough, but they play the right way.

UNC won this one their way. Coming into the game, the Tar Heels lead the conference in getting to the free throw line and the Wolfpack put the opposing team on the line a lot. This did not change on Saturday. NC State made more field goals than UNC, but fouls put UNC in the bonus early in each half and the Tar Heels took advantage, making 36 of 39 from the line.

Overall, North Carolina finally played defense for a full game. RJ Davis and Black lead the way, but this was a very good team effort. NC State constantly hounded the UNC on defense, but simply committed too many fouls. Armando Bacot and Davis lead the offense for UNC. Bacot also passed Tyler Hansborough to become the all-time leading rebounder at for the Tar Heels. D.J. Burns was impressive for NC State with 18 points on 8-14 shooting. Jarkel Joiner also added 18 points for the Wolfpack.

Overall, this game was not pretty, but the intensity and crowd participation exceeded expectations for meetings between these local rivals.