Wrap-up: Heels sloppily slap ‘Canes
UNC 73, The U 56
What a weird game last night. UNC was stone cold on offense, but coupled that with some great D to stumble to an almost 20-point victory over Miami. The bulk of the scoring came, not from the Heels’ vaunted front court, but from its guards — one of which hadn’t hit double-figure scoring all season.
Instead of driving and dishing in the first half, Kendal Marshall — the notorious single-digit scorer himself — was driving and scoring. With about two minutes left in the first period, he took three consecutive possessions and: 1)drove for lay-up 2)drove for lay-up and 3) drove the lane and dished a gimme to Henson (who missed.) He was on fire. Dexter Strickland seemingly couldn’t miss from 19 feet. He drained several long 2s last night. He’s been knocking down that shot with some consistency this year, but last night he was dialed in. I still can’t help but think if he were taking those shots from one foot back (behind the 3pt line) that he’d be bricking them. Something about the arc with that kid.
- Henson and Barnes were a disappearing act on offense last night. Henson ended up with 11, but scored six of those points the last two minutes he was in the game. He wasn’t very aggressive and was missing from close range. Barnes was just completely cold. He started settling for 3-pointers (0-5) and it just got worse from there. He was the only starter not to hit double figures. His inconsistency is the only thing holding him back from being one of the top players in college basketball. He was an efficient, absolute beast against BC Saturday, then last night stumbled a bit. He still gets the benefit of a doubt because of his slow start last year. The good games are starting to pile up more often than not.
- The Heels played really good defense, like, really good. The team combined for 10 steals and hassled Miami to 17 turnovers, and this was a Miami team whose strength was its senior guards. Reggie Bullock has emerged as probably the second-best defender on the team behind Strickland. He’s got quickness and length and will just shut down ball handlers if they attempt to drive on him. Strickland might get more steals, but Reggie prevents opponents from even trying to pass it to his mark. He’s sort of like the Nnamdi Asomugha of basketball defenders, while Strickland is Darrelle Revis.
- Carolina’s 3-point shooting woes returned, with the team shooting 12.5 percent on the game — 12.5 percent!! The good news was Miami was almost as terrible, shooting 18.8 percent. That number will need to improve as the Heels head to Tallahassee to play the long and athletic Florida State. If Carolina can’t establish an outside threat, it will be tougher to keep pounding inside against the Seminoles.
- The Tyler Zeller shot-put is back. Zeller’s baby hook has morphed into a spin-around-in-one-motion-and-chuck-it-at-the-rim do-hicky. It works, though.
- Miami, while not a top-tier team nationally, is one of the better teams talent-wise in the ACC this year behind UNC and Duke. Last Saturday Miami narrowly lost to Virginia, widely held as the third best in the conference. It’s truly a down year in the ACC – again.
Player of the Game: Kendall Marshall (12 pts, 2 rebs, 8 asts, 2 stls) Marshall was on fire in the first half. He’s become much better at deciding when he should take it to the hoop himself vs. dishing it. In the past some of his drives have felt kind of forced, as if he was hearing Roy in his head say “Kendall you need to drive it sometimes.” As Marshall establishes himself as a threat to score, it will open up things for the rest of the team.
Stat Stuffer: Tyler Zeller (16 pts, 10 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl) Zeller contributed in his usual way, and then added juuuuuuuust a little bit of everything else. We’re giving this award to him for that sweet little dime to Henson under the rim.