I suppose it’s helpful in a sense to go ahead and get the losing out of the way early, rather than drag out the affair over the course of a tight 40 minutes of basketball. Easier on the emotions. So to some extent, NC State did us all a favor on Saturday afternoon by quickly falling behind by double figures and showing no ability whatsoever to rally.
A Caleb Love three-point play put the Tar Heels up by 10 barely four-and-a-half minutes into the game, and that was it, basically. NC State cut the lead to eight a couple times in the next couple of minutes, but once UNC re-established a double-digit lead with 11 minutes left, it would never again relinquish it.
Hey, sure does make the recaps easy!
With the way the Tar Heels played offensively, State would have needed a herculean effort just to stay within striking distance, and that didn’t happen. Jericole Hellems and Terquavion Smith had fine afternoons, but the Pack got very little from anyone else.
UNC shot a preposterous 10-15 from three in the first half to bury State and finished the day 15-27. Give the Heels credit, they were light’s out. They averaged about 1.5 points per possession in that opening half, which is about the upper limit of efficiency over any extended period of time.
This was, uh, not the sort of result that Kevin Keatts needed right now. Losing the game, fine, sure, that was expected. Losing like this, though? It is not going to help him with folks who might be on the fence about him. Like me, for example.
If his job was safe coming into this game, then this is the sort of embarrassing result that could potentially change the picture. I don’t know that it will—or even if it should—but February may have just become a bit more important to his future.