Wrap-Up: Illini Shoot Lights Out Against Heels


(Photo by N&O, Justin Knox pictured)

Illinois 79, UNC 67

Box Score

Despite a deadly, momentum-killing 3-pointer by Illinois guard D.J. Richardson at the buzzer to end the first, the feeling one got during halftime last night wasn’t that bad. Sure, UNC was down seven, but because of the inspired play of John Henson, the fact that Tyler Zeller sat out the last nine minutes of the half, and that Illinois was shooting close 70 percent from three, it seemed  as though the Heels were poised for a comeback. Illinois couldn’t keep shooting that well, right?

Wrong.

Then came the second half. Dexter Strickland tallied the first points from the Carolina backcourt with 18 minutes left. Wait? Is that right? Didn’t someone hit a three? No. It’s definitely right.  A 16-8 run to start the second half had the Heels down 15. The wheels appeared to come off at times, from Kendall Marshall (in never-before-seen bad form) throwing the ball to no one out of bounds to the innumerable touch fouls on defense — if you call that defense.

One bright spot, however, was the play of Henson, who in the course of two days somehow learned a spin move. Also is the fact that UNC managed to hang around until the final minutes. At many points in the second half, there was potential for the game to get incredibly out of hand. Illinois’ lead never broke 16, however, and with UNC’s streaky play, the game didn’t feel out of reach until being down by 11 with two minutes remaining.

Takeaways

  • Free throws, free throws, free throws. The Heels liability at the line (47.1% last night) will not win them any games in the ACC.
  • Barnes still can’t find the rhythm he showed in the first half against Hofstra, when he scored 19 points. He seems to be forcing his offense and too often settles for a jump shot. At 6’8″, he should be driving to the hoop more.
  • Speaking of which, the whole Tar Heels team should be driving more. UNC should be getting to the rim and shooting more than 17 free throws a game, especially if they’re going to hit less than half of them. The only guard that appears to drive consistently is Kendall Marshall, who frankly needs to get more playing time. Too often the Heels settle for jumpers and threes.
  • And on the note of 3-pointers, does Carolina really need Larry Drew (2-12, 16% on the season) taking any?
  • It didn’t matter who took them for Illinois. The Illini shot 66.7 percent on 8-12 from beyond the arc.
  • I guess Demetri McCamey really did take that game personally.
  • Kendall Marshall looked rattled last night. Can’t say it’s super surprising as it was his first true road game, but he had shown so much poise that I was hopeful he’d be ready to take over the team very soon. It looks like Drew for a while longer.
  • Jimmy Dykes, we don’t care what you draw on your dry erase board. Really, we don’t.
  • Who would have thought that UNC’s thinnest part of its roster (frontcourt) would be the brightest spot of the year? Well, except for its free throw shooting of course (0-6).
  • Carolina plays Kentucky on Saturday. Whiskey anyone?

Superlatives

Player of the Game: John Henson (8-11 FG, 16 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk) The second game in a row Henson is bestowed the honor

Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. the Danny Green Award): There will be no recipient this week. Henson would be the closest.

The Billy Packer Award: Jimmy Dykes. Dykes sealed the hatred of the Rafters not by completely shitting all over Carolina throughout the game, which he did, but with his idiotic YouTube-Instructional Video-Sitcom analogy about basketball in November and later due to his drawing a basketball on a dry erase board. Seriously?