UNC 59, IU 83
If you’re not a little worried about this year’s vintage of Tar Heel Basketball, you must have watched a different game than I did on Tuesday night. After hanging with the No. 1-ranked Hoosiers for 16 minutes, the wheels came off and Butler Game 2.0 was in full effect. What’s troubling is that after going punch-for-punch and tying the game at 31, suddenly a different, more timid team checked in after the last media timeout of the first half, and the fighter that had begun the game never got back up off the mat.
The turning point came with the Heels down 33-31 with about 4 minutes left in the first. Marcus Paige missed a jumper that turned into fast break opportunity for Indiana. Dexter Strickland intentionally fouled Victor Oladipo which then triggered the media timeout. Oladipo hit both free throws to put IU up by four, but as you may remember, this is when the different Heels team showed up.
After J.P. Tokoto managed to get a steal, seemingly taking away the advantage IU was getting from the intentional foul, the contest turned into a track meet, with Indiana proving the swiftest. Cody Zeller, Oladipo and Will Sheehey would all drop easy dunks in the next few minutes. The most depressing moment came when Zeller missed a point blank lay-up, retrieved his own miss without ANY disruption by a Heels player and dunked it home with about a minute to go. There would be no comeback.
- What happened to the 3-pointers? UNC came into the game averaging 22 3-point attempts per contest. Against Indiana the Heels put up a measly eight attempts, going 1-8. EIGHT ATTEMPTS?! P.J. Hairston wasn’t playing, but he doesn’t average 14 attempts by himself. Leslie McDonald only took one attempt in 22 minutes of action. Reggie Bullock seemed very reluctant to shoot and he had the most attempts on the team with three. What’s mind boggling about it is that UNC was behind for a majority of the game, which you would think would cause them to shoot MORE threes.
- Brice Johnson continues to impress. Despite the horrifying image of seeing Johnson matched up with Cody Zeller at times Tuesday, he continued to find ways to score, finishing with 10 points in 16 minutes. He has a nice touch within around five feet of the basket, and can toss in those little jumpers without using the backboard. He also does a great job of keeping the ball high, away from defenders’ prying hands. He needs to start. He’s earned it. Desmond Hubert isn’t seeing the floor much despite currently getting the nod and doesn’t contribute in a way that Johnson couldn’t. Johnson has six blocks to Hubert’s nine and has more than double the rebounds, 32 to 14 respectively. And those numbers don’t even bring in to account for the scoring differential: 62 total points for Johnson, 6 for Hubert.
- Leadership is still lacking. There was a time in the second half where McAdoo seemed to be fired up and trying to get his teammates in the game, but it was short-lived. One among several candidates needs to emerge as the vocal leader for this team to have any shot at a successful season. Ideally, that leader would be Marcus Paige, but his grasp of the offense might be hindering that development right now. The other likely options are McAdoo, as the team’s best player, or Strickland, the senior with the most experience.
- McAdoo settles when he gets frustrated. When the game started getting out of hand, and even before it did, JMM was settling for jump shots about 10 feet out from the basket. Indiana was allowed to set up camp in the lane on defense and get rebound after rebound without much contention. Roy Williams’ offense runs best through the deep post and catching and settling for mid-range jumpers won’t get it done. McAdoo needs to assert himself more in the back-to-the-basket part of his game in order to open up the high-post and perimeter reads that result from that position.
Player of the Game: Brice Johnson (5-7 FG, 10 pts, 2 rbs, 1 blk) It’s hard to hand out player of the game in a demolishing but Johnson was efficient in only 16 minutes of burn. The Rafters’ expert analysis team wonders if the coaching staff is worried about his body standing up to the rigors of more minutes because he’s clearly one of the Heels’ best offensive weapons.
Play of the Game: Marcus Paige alley-oop to Johnson. Just when we thought Indiana was going to be the only team fast-breaking on Tuesday, Paige lofted a pass to a streaking Johnson for an alley-oop slam.
Stat of note: UNC was 1-8 from three-point land. After nearly every news outlet and blog pegged UNC as a 3-point shooting team this year, the Heels barely took any attempts in a blowout loss. What. the. hell?