RALEIGH — So thorough was North Carolina's dominance in a 74-55 win over N.C. State on Jan. 26 in Chapel Hill that it is almost impossible to cite one single decisive factor in the outcome.
An accurate reflection of what happened could even be found in the minutes-played stats. Only two Tar Heels -- playmaker Kendall Marshall and then-new starter Reggie Bullock -- were used for more than 28 minutes.
UNC coach Roy Williams simply didn't need extensive court time from frontcourt starters Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, who combined for 19 field goals on 33 shots.
But Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried has had ample to time to sort through the Jan. 26 debris and concluded that the biggest single problem for his team was a 48-21 rebounding deficit.
"They're such a great rebounding team with their length and their talent that when all the dust settles, my opinion is you just have to find a way to keep them off the backboards," Gottfried said Monday.
"Sometimes their best offense is a missed shot - just miss it and go get it ... it's just hard to keep them from getting offensive rebounds. I think that's probably going to be the biggest key to this game."
With today's return game against the Tar Heels (23-4, 10-2 ACC) coming so quickly after the Pack's 76-62 loss to Florida State and UNC's 74-52 win over Clemson on Saturday, there's not an abundance of game-planning time.
The Pack (18-9, 7-5) didn't practice Sunday. The coaches and support staff locked away the balls Saturday night in an effort to prevent players - Scott Wood specifically - from a self-imposed marathon shot-honing session.
Normally among the most accurate spot shooters in the ACC, Wood has missed 15 of his past 17 shots and was only 4-for-12 in the first game against the Tar Heels.
Gottfried said he thought Wood looked tired against the Seminoles and although no one in the Pack's camp was happy with the performance, there was no thought of a penalty practice session.
"All of our practices are fairly demanding," Gottfried said. "But we are now late into February. There's a fine line between ... punishing guys and balancing that with the understanding that when you get to late February, the dye is cast somewhat with your team.
"We are who we are. We have to get better in certain areas, but my mindset is on teaching and preparing for Carolina rather than dwelling too much on what happened Saturday."
Logically, there's sound reason to think the Heels will have a more difficult time winning big in the RBC Center than in the Smith Center.
It's for certain NCSU has a great deal more to gain given its fragile situation in the NCAA tournament speculation.
But Gottfried pointed out Monday that the Heels haven't changed over the past 30 days. And neither has the Pack.