Wrap-Up: Heels outlast ‘Canes


UNC 74, Miami 71

Box Score

Full disclosure: this wrap-up will be pretty sub-par. Being in D.C., my satellite was wiped out during the thundersnow Wednesday night. I came home around halftime planning to watch the game I thought I was recording. When I discovered the television hadn’t received signal for almost four hours I had to resort to streaming the game online, which luckily WAS working. Took a long time just now basically to tell you I only caught the last 11 minutes or so of the hard-fought match the Heels endured against a Miami team that is a lot better than its record.

A couple of things have become clear. We can count on every game being exciting this season. That is, if you find the close games exciting. The blowouts will be few and far between (fingers-crossed for Wake Forest). Another thing is this team is extraordinarily resilient. Already this season UNC has come back from several double-digit deficits in the second half. This time, however, they decided not to wait that long, tying the game by halftime.

In the end, it came down to Harrison Barnes, once again, hitting a couple of clutch shots in the final minutes for the Heels to come out on top. Barnes has been quoted saying he loves playing in the final minutes. It shows. It also is apparent that when it goes to the wire, the Heels are looking for Barnes.

Takeaways

  • The Heels continued their even scoring. Barnes led the team with 13, and Strickland was second with 12. At this point I’m not entirely sure why this has been the case recently, not that it’s necessarily bad from a consistency standpoint. It’s good not to count on one player for a significant percentage of points. What it could come down to is the leadership question that’s been lingering all season. No single player has emerged as the true team leader. When you think of the 2009 team, you think Hansbrough. Even though Lawson and others outshone Psycho-T at times, it was his effort and drive that “lead” the team. No one on this edition of Carolina hoops seems to have taken that mantle.
  • Barnes = clutch. He’s now proven that in four separate games: Texas, Virginia Tech, Clemson and now Miami. Barnes seems to thrive near the end of regulation. Whatever confidence he had in high school, knowing he was the best player on the floor, must somehow return in the final two minutes of the game at this level. His next step is playing with that mental state for 40 minutes.
  • Strickland showed the intensity that had us so high on him early in the season. Roy must know something we don’t because in the previous game he was thinking of starting Leslie McDonald in Strickland’s place.
  • Free-throw shooting has suddenly become one of UNC’s assets. This might have something to do with the fact that John Henson doesn’t see the floor in the final four minutes of games unless it’s on defense.

Superlatives

Player of the Game: Harrison Barnes (13 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl) Barnes has proven he’s the man in the clutch. He’s the guy that should be taking any last shots and now everyone knows it. Still needs to cut down on his turnovers.

Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. the Danny Green Award): Dexter Strickland (12 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast) Thought about Henson (8 pt, 7 reb, 4 blk) here but went with Strick because he had less turnovers (two to Henson’s three).

Extra Award for Clutchness Because We Might Be in Love: Harrison. Fucking. Barnes.