From top to bottom, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said earlier this week, the ACC is probably the best it has been in the 10 seasons he’s been the head coach of the Tar Heels.
“If you take somebody lightly in this league right now, you’re going to lose,’’ he said. “I don’t care who you are or who you are playing.”
Which is why he knows his team (12-5, 2-2 ACC) faces a tough task against Georgia Tech on Wednesday night -- even though the Yellow Jackets have yet to win a conference game.
Although Tech is 0-4 in league play, it played then-No. 20 NC State close for most of the game, took Virginia Tech to overtime and led then-No. 3 Duke at halftime before succumbing. It also boasted a six-game nonconference winning streak before it lost to Miami in its ACC opener.
“Obviously there is a frustration, and as well there should be, but I think our guys understand where we’re at and what we need to do,’’ Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory said. “I think they understand that four or five possessions a game is the difference in wins and losses in this league, and … we have to mature a little bit and understand that that’s how close games are going to be -- so that’s what, one or two possessions a half? And young guys have got to learn that.”
A few things to watch during Wednesday’s 9 p.m. tipoff at the Smith Center:
The Yellow Jackets currently start three rookies. Forward Robert Carter Jr. is Tech’s leading rebounder (6.7 per game) and is averaging 9.9 points; guard/forward Marcus Georges-Hunt is the team’s leading scorer at 10.7 points per game; and guard Chris Bolden earned his first start at Duke, where he scored 20 points. He’s averaging 10.8 points and making 44.4 percent of his 3-pointers in ACC play.
“I was pleased with how he performed,” Gregory said of Bolden, “and we need him to continue to do that.”
The Tar Heels showed what they could be during the first half of Saturday’s win over Maryland -- aggressive defensively, accurate offensively, cohesive -- and a huge part of that was the play of Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo. Bullock, the starting wing, scored 21 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-for-9 shooting; McAdoo, a forward, was 5-for-7 with 11 points.
In the second half, however, the duo combined to make only 4 of their 15 shots; the Tar Heels need more consistency out of them.
The sixth men
Tech’s Kammeon Holsey started 31 games last season, but has been key coming off the bench this season, averaging 8.7 points and 19 minutes per game.
UNC reserve P.J. Hairston, meanwhile, has been an important spark for the Tar Heels, averaging 11.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. But after scoring a career-high 23 points at Florida State, he was only 1-for-8 against the Terrapins.