1. Not sure what you can say about Bryce Cotton, who was everything Carolina had heard he was, and probably a little more. Once he heated up in the second half, the Tar Heels threw a bushel of defenses at him, including straight man to man, 3-2 zone, 1-3-1 zone, and a little bit of trapping. First, he scored over it, and then, once the Tar Heels were completely devoted to stopping him, he started to beat the defense with the pass, finding teammates in the middle of the zone. It was every bit as much a dominant performance as the one put on by Weber State's Harold Arceneaux in 1999, when "The Show" scored 36.
The Tar Heels defeated him, though, with a balanced attack that put five players in double figures for the seventh time this season. Marcus Paige led the team with 19 points, and James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson added 16.
2. Brice Johnson hasn't always banged around in the paint, but he was ferocious over the final couple minutes. The sophomore came up with two big blocked shots, a hoop, a clutch offensive rebound basket and a tough defensive rebound all in the final 4:23.
3. Roy Williams mentioned two areas of emphasis on Sunday after the NCAA tournament selection show: rebounding and running the floor. The Tar Heels did a much, much better job in those two areas than they had done during the recent two-game slide. Carolina grabbed the offensive rebound on almost half (9) of their 21 missed field goals in the first half. And then, on perhaps the biggest play of the game, James Michael McAdoo followed his own missed free throw, grabbed the offensive board, and drew a foul that sent him to the line with 1.7 seconds left. McAdoo made a gigantic ensuing front end of the one-and-one and then the Tar Heels were able to watch the final second melt away.
In transition, the Tar Heels showed a willingness to sprint downcourt even after made baskets. The Tar Heels got 10 points within six seconds of a Providence shot or turnover. However, six of those points came in the first six minutes of the half, and the Friars defended more effectively in transition--even pulling every player off the free throw line while shooting free throws to get extra hands back--as the game progressed. Providence was much more effective in the second half getting back on defense.
4. Desmond Hubert did a solid job in relief of Carolina's foul-plagued big men in the first half. Hubert was good against the high Providence ball screen defensively. Unfortunately, he was called for a dubious illegal screen call at midcourt with under a minute to play and the Tar Heels holding the ball up by five points with the chance to go two-for-one. Instead, the Friars got the chance to go two-for-one and went into half trailing by just three.
5. One of the best things about the win was the fact that now J.P. Tokoto won't have to hear about what could have been a costly turnover with 1:23 left and the Tar Heels down by one. Tokoto was consistently solid, shooting 4-of-6, grabbing four rebounds, and handing out six assists. He deserved better than that finish, and he got it.