Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Cause and effect can be a slippery notion when operating in small sample sizes, but the North Carolina Tar Heels sure have looked a lot better since Coach Roy Williams switched to a smaller lineup featuring guards Marcus Paige, Dexter Strickland and P.J. Hairston.
Carolina has now won three straight, punctuated by a Saturday payback win over NC State. In those three games, the Tar Heels reserve forwards have combined for just 74 minutes of playing time. Leslie McDonald, North Carolina's sixth man guard, has logged 54 minutes all on his own.
The only nominal big man left in Williams' starting lineup is James Michael McAdoo, and even he is more of a tweener.
So, what's been the difference?
Other than a renewed focus on the three ball, Carolina's guard-heavy lineup has done a much better job getting to the free-throw line. The Tar Heels' number of free-throw attempts as a percentage of field-goal attempts is exactly five percentage points higher over the past three games (33.3 percent) than it is over the course of the entire season (28.3 percent).