Wrap-up: Commodores hold off surge by Heels


UNC 65, Vanderbilt 72

Box Score

In almost too similar of fashion to Friday night’s semifinal, Carolina showed they can hang around but have yet to get over the hump of the deficit. After being down by ten at the half, the Heels opened up the second on a 10-3 run, pulling them back in a mere couple of minutes. UNC would continue to hang close and even retake the lead midway through the second half, but untimely fouls and careless ball handling would ultimately lead to the demise and second straight lose for the young team.

Takeaways:

  • Carolina has yet to realize the importance of taking care of the rock. After only 20 minutes the Heels were all ready at 11 turnovers. What’s worse is that six were unforced. The Heels finished the game with 22, a season high, with two post players, John Henson and Justin Knox, accounting for ten of those.
  • Shooting was also cold with the team shooting just over 40% from the field, including 3-11 from 3 for 27.3%. Four players who saw action for the Heels did not score a FG while all nine of Vandy’s did. This is not the balanced scoring we saw through the first two games/wins.
  • Free throws did look up a bit. For the first time in the season the Heels shots over 60%, converting on 18-27 attempts. Not where it needs to be, but at least that improved.
  • The Heels again were pushed out of their game plan early and never regained it. The much more physical man-to-man made trouble all night and the Heels were never able to get the secondary break going. This was one of the important areas UNC lead in but not by enough in UNC standards. Seeing as how difficult it’s been for Carolina to operate in the half court all season, leading fast break points 6-2 isn’t going to cut it.
  • Also in the department of statistical leads for the Heels they did not capitalize on: points in the paint, second chance points and bench points. The Heels pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, 5 more than Vandy, but were only able to score 11 second chance points. For some reason it has been a struggle for the Heels to score near the basket.
  • While Vandy’s high-scoring guard John Jenkins was shut down on the floor, he did get his points at the charity stripe. However, their preseason all-SEC selection Jeffrey Taylor woke up against the Heels. Besides seemingly being involved in every play, Taylor finished with 15 points. The Heels also had trouble with center Festus Ezeli, a player who had not ben lighting up the score board but also finished with 15. Not a good sign for the Heels when there’s athletes down low, like both Minnesota and Vandy have now had.
  • Only 8 assists for UNC as a team on 22 made FGs. Not good.

Superlatives:

  • Player of the Game: Tyler Zeller – (20 pts, 10 rebs, 2 blks, 6-6 FT) He may not have gotten a charge, but Zeller is playing like the Heels desperately need him too.
  • Stat Stuffer (aka the Danny Green award): Harrison Barnes – (11 pts, 4 rebs, 2 assts, 1 blk, 2 stls and only 1 turnover) Not a lot of options here but felt it was necessary to highlight at least one other player besides Zeller.
  • Dude can shoot: Reggie Bullock – who has quietly scored in double figures three times this season, including last night where he knocked down two 3s on 4-6 shooting. This makes the Will Graves loss not hurt so bad.
  • Friendly people maybe, but not friendly confines: It isn’t just the Rafters that’s going to be ecstatic to be out of the Coliseo de Puerto Rico and back in Chapel Hill for Tuesday’s match-up against UNC-Asheville. I will not be mad if the Heels do not participate in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off again.