North Carolina Tar Heels: Devin Thomas

The Tar Heels vs. the ACC

October, 30, 2013
The Tar Heels were picked to finish third in the ACC behind Duke and Syracuse by a media poll. The league's depth this season should make it so that wins and losses will be as hard as ever to predict. With that in mind, here are advantages and disadvantages for the Heels against each of their league opponents:


Advantage: The Heels should again enjoy a big rebounding edge over the Eagles.

Disadvantage: Stopping guard Olivier Hanlan (the ACC’s 2013 Freshman of the Year) will be a challenge.


Advantage: Um, history? The only meeting is in Chapel Hill, where it’s Heels 56, Tigers 0.

Disadvantage: Complacency knowing their undefeated record vs. Clemson at home.


Advantage: Frontcourt should dominate Blue Devils’ glaring weakness in the paint.

Disadvantage: Matching up with Duke wings Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon and Jabari Parker.


Advantage: P.J. Hairston has averaged 18.2 points in four career games vs. the Noles.

Disadvantage: No. 3 Heels lost by 33 at unranked FSU in 2012 -- anything can happen in Tallahassee.


Advantage: James Michael McAdoo stung the Jackets with an 18-point, 10-rebound average last season.

Disadvantage: Tennessee transfer Trae Golden adds experience to a talented young lineup.


Advantage: Avoiding final trip to College Park during the Terps’ year-long ACC swan song.

Disadvantage: Terps will likely be more motivated to win in their final shot at UNC.


Advantage: The Canes are starting from scratch with a completely overhauled roster.

Disadvantage: Unknown commodities can be hard to prepare against.


Advantage: State will have fewer offensive weapons to defend than last season.

Disadvantage: T.J. Warren (14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds per game vs. Heels last season) is still one of them.


Advantage: McAdoo presents matchup problem for the Irish frontcourt.

Disadvantage: South Bend is poised to become one of the most difficult places to play in the ACC.


Advantage: UNC can use its fast pace to bury a team not known for running.

Disadvantage: The Heels typically encounter trouble against teams as physical as Pitt.


Advantage: The starting lineups are about even, so deeper Heels bench could be key to beating Orange.

Disadvantage: The length of the Cuse zone is hard to play against the first time.


Advantage: Marcus Paige, who enjoyed a 17-point breakout game vs. Cavs last season, should own the point guard matchup.

Disadvantage: Joe Harris is a problem. He shot 70 percent from the field and averaged 23 points in two meetings last season.


Advantage: Young Hokies still don’t have an abundance of talent (or the defense) to compete at a high level.

Disadvantage: Two of Tech’s three wins vs. Heels since joining the ACC came in Blacksburg, the site of their only meeting this season.


Advantage: The Heels have won seven of the last nine meetings with Deacs by an average margin of 20 points.

Disadvantage: Travis McKie and Devin Thomas are a formidable rebounding duo.

Back to a blowout for Tar Heels

February, 5, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- P.J. Hairston came back. Reggie Bullock got his shot back. And James Michael McAdoo’s sore back? That didn’t seem to be an issue as North Carolina blew out Wake Forest 87-62 on Tuesday night.

The question now: Are the Tar Heels ready to get back to meeting even bigger challenges, as they prepare to face two top-10 foes on the road (Miami, then Duke) over the next nine days?

“I couldn’t tell you,” McAdoo said when asked how close his team, which has now won six of its past seven games, is to reaching its potential. “When we show up to play, we’re a great team. We’ve had our ups and downs; I feel like our highs are getting higher, and our lows aren’t coming as often as [they used to].”

“I feel like if we keep playing, we’ll be all right.”

There were few lows Tuesday night, as junior wing Bullock (23 points) and McAdoo (20) each scored 20 or more points in the same game for the first time this season; the Tar Heels outscored the Deacons 26-12 on turnovers; and the Tar Heels (16-6, 6-3 ACC) set a season-high for points in an ACC game.

“It was a good night for us,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

One without injuries or cold spurts or an extra period or drama.

[+] EnlargeJames Michael McAdoo
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesA sore back didn't keep James Michael McAdoo from scoring 20 in the victory over Wake Forest.
Tuesday's shellacking concluded what was supposed to be one of the Tar Heels’ “easier” week-long stretches, schedule-wise; after all, their matchups were against three squads hovering near the bottom of the ACC standings.

But it wasn’t all that easy.

Last Tuesday, the Tar Heels won at Boston College -- despite losing Hairston, a key reserve, in the first half to a concussion.

Playing without Hairston on Saturday, it took overtime to beat Virginia Tech at home.

And leading up to the game against the Deacons, there was some doubt that Hairston would play because of flu-like symptoms, and some worry about the health of other teammates (McAdoo’s aforementioned back; starting center Desmond Hubert also had the flu).

“If you would have asked me around 11 o’clock [Monday] if I would have been able to play, I probably wouldn’t have answered the question because that’s how bad I was feeling,” said Hairston, who finished with 11 points. “Honestly, that’s probably the worst I’ve ever felt when I’ve gotten sick before because I usually don’t get sick like that.”

He didn’t look like he was feeling the after-effects of either the flu or his concussion, though, particularly during UNC’s 15-1 first-half-ending run, during which Wake failed to score a field goal for the final 5:54. Hairston scored four points -- including one of his two 3-pointers -- during that run, while Bullock added seven points during the breakaway.

“I believe the score was 32-26 at one time,” said Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik, referring to the score just before UNC began that run, “and we had the ball on a break. And I believe we turned it over. We can’t just give teams that many more possessions and that many easy points on turnovers.”

In the end, Wake (10-12, 3-7) got a double-double from forward Devin Thomas (11 points, 13 rebounds) but dropped to 0-6 on the road in ACC play. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, shot 51.6 percent for the game -- led by Bullock, who made 7 of his 10 shots after a frustrating 3-for-13 outing last weekend.

The junior said he knows his team has a challenging stretch coming up. But he also believes the Tar Heels are close to reaching their potential.

To being back, so to speak.

“We still are right around the corner from it,” he said. “In the game today there were some great stretches that we had, but there were still some stretches we could have done a lot better. Once we just put the whole game together fully, I feel like we’ll be a top-25 team.”