The Tar Heels didn’t have any timeouts remaining in the final seconds of their overtime win against NC State, but they were still well prepared for what was to come. According to Marcus Paige’s account, they call it a “Go.”
(Normally UNC coach Roy Williams’ philosophy with seven seconds or more remaining in a one-possession game is to let his team play through without calling a timeout. Against State, it was a moot point, but there were 7.7 seconds left.)
“That’s something we’ve practiced,” Paige said. “With that much time, you want to try to get an early ball screen somewhere between the halfcourt line and the 3-point line and then just attack with shooters in the corner.”
Brice Johnson provided the screen that rubbed NC State’s Desmond Lee off from Paige. NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg and T.J. Warren both seemed confused about their defensive assignments, and both ended up a step slow to prevent Paige’s game-winning layup with 0.9 seconds left.
The result begs the question, are teams better off playing through in the final seconds after a made basket than calling a timeout? Paige likes being able to “Go.”
“Yeah because [with a timeout] then the defense they can zone, they can try some different things, they can get favorable matchups,” Paige said. “When you just get it out and go, you’re putting pressure on them, you’re putting pressure on the officials to make a call in the moment rather than having time to regroup, because they’re human, too.
“It puts pressure on us as well, but we like attack mode to make us make a play instead of giving them a chance to do something funky on defense.”
Paige has the right mentality for late-game situations. It’s always better to attack. Remember the 2007 Elite Eight loss to Georgetown? Wayne Ellington, then a freshman, had a chance to win it in regulation, but he hovered on the perimeter and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Paige had just finished making five 3-pointers in the second half against State and two more in overtime. But knowing the game's circumstances he said he had no intentions of pulling up for a jumper.
“I just knew we were in the bonus, I was going to the basket,” Paige said. “I wasn’t going to settle for a jump shot. I know I had hit a bunch of 3s in a row, but you have to put pressure on the refs to make a decision. Then once the lane kind of parted and I got a step on Vanderberg, I knew I had a chance.”
And Carolina had its 10th win in a row all because Paige attacked.