Wrap-up: Heels handle Hokies at home
UNC 64, Va. Tech 61
So the Heels aren’t winning any beauty contests out on the court, but they are still walking away with Ws. Much like the game Saturday at Virginia, the Heels had to overcome offensive struggles and a deficit to defeat Virginia Tech for the team’s 300th win in the Dean Dome.
The Heels are proving to be a second half team. After looking anemic in the first, UNC outscored Va. Tech by ten in the final period and kept the Hokies in check, not counting Malcolm Delaney’s 28 points of course. But besides jumping Dook in the ACC ranking for the first time in the past two seasons, something else monumental may have happened in Chapel Hill last night.
- Kendall Marshall is starting to separate himself from Larry Drew II. The Rafters has always thought Drew to be a competent PG, but Marshall is undeniably built better to lead a team. For just the second time this season, Marshall eclipsed Drew in playing time (24 to 16) and did so while committing zero turnovers. Zero. Larry only had one himself. But Marshall dished out nine assists to Drew’s three and added nine points to Drew’s three. Not to mention it was the second team squad led by Marshall that was able to get things started in the first half to keep it close.
- We mentioned the first half is something Roy won’t soon let the boys forget. And like the rest of this season the culprit is easily turnovers and all-around poor execution. In the past the zone defense has given UNC fits, and Virginia Tech – a team that does not usually show zone – exploited that weakness. Of the Heels’ 17 turnovers last night, 11 were in the first half, four belonged to Harrison Barnes (who finished with six) and six happened before the first TV timeout.
- John Henson and Tyler Zeller controlled the paint again last night. The two combined for 33 while UNC outscored VT in the paint 36-14. Amazing how what was seen as a threat to the Heels in the preseason has become its strength and most consistent threat on offense.
- Speaking of Henson, isn’t it nice to have a legitimate shot blocker. UNC hasn’t seen one of those in ages. Carolina has had talented big men in recent history (Tyler Hansbrough, Sean May, Marvin Williams, Jawad Williams, Ed Davis, Deon Thompson) but none have been the presence that Henson has this season. John had four last night to bring his season total to 44.
- Harrison Barnes, while streaky at times (re: 6 TOs), showed last night that he can be relied on in crunch time. His two big threes in the last four minutes again showed the kid has talent. In fact, eight of his 12 points were in the final four minutes and he proved that late three against Texas is no fluke. Just in time for ACC season.
Player of the game: Kendall Marshall (9 pts, 9 asts, 3 stls, 2 rebs) – The reason UNC was able to make their comeback. It’s starting to become a point guard by committee in Chapel Hill (even though The Rafters despises that term) but Marshall is showing every game that he’s skilled beyond his freshmen status.
Stat stuffer (AKA the Danny Green award): John Henson (17 pts, 8 rebs, 4 blks, 2 asts) – Only missed twice from the field. Had big plays. Fun to watch on the defensive end.
CHARGE!: Big Z is back with his charges. After drawing a contested one late in what may have been the no-charge area underneath the basket, could Z be getting a reputation like, say, Dook!? Nah. Z actually draws charges.
Beautiful music: The Marshall to Henson combo is becoming potent. I know you saw that backdoor alley-oop. UNC hasn’t pulled that off consistently since the 2005 NCAA championship team. This might be the duo to bring it back.