Wrap-up: Longhorns hook Heels


Photo by N& O

Texas 78, UNC 76

Box Score

Apologies for the lateness of this wrap-up. Funny how it’s always tougher to write them after a loss, huh? I know losing by two on a shot Cory Joseph pulled out of his ass hurts, but it’s over. It’s done. Let’s move on. There were some very bright spots to this game. Teachable moment, anyone?

UNC came back from a 10-point deficit and eventually to a 7-point lead. That’s a 17-point swing, ladies and gents. Good teams make that kind of swing. And this year’s squad is learning to be a good team. At this point it’s clear that at it’s current level of play, UNC will both amaze and dumbfound us all season. It’ll probably take some lumps in the ACC, but also provide some exciting games, potentially against top teams — like uh, I don’t know, name any top team in the ACC you’d love Carolina to bring the whoopin’ stick out for.

Now if Carolina were to raise its level of play? The sky is the limit. There’s too much talent and athleticism on this team to overlook. The Heels are getting better and better, hopefully to be playing their best come March. As long as you make the tournament (still not a lock) it doesn’t matter how you start the season, only how you finish.

Takeaways

  • For once, UNC outshot its opponent from the charity stripe! Yes, that’s correct. Carolina shot 75 percent to Texas’ 68 percent. It was clear the Heels needed to improve in this category and it appears they’ve put their work in recently. Let’s hope it keeps up.
  • Texas is a Top-10 rebounding team in the country, and Zeller was in foul trouble most of the game. Even though the final tally had Texas only outrebound UNC by 6, the impact was much deeper. Texas had 15 offensive boards to UNC’s 10. That’s too many second chances to give up.
  • We’ve been screaming it at The Rafters all season that Dexter Strickland has improved exponentially. He finally showed it against the Longhorns exploding for 18 points. He creates havoc on defense and gets in the open floor. He actually guarded Cory Joseph very well on that last shot. It turns out you can’t do much about a guy who’s hurling a hail Mary off-balance while fading away.
  • More on Dexter. Adam Lucas gives evidence to Strickland’s improved D. Dex has 10 percent of the team’s steals, twice  as much as anyone else on the team.
  • Also from that Lucas piece above. Kendall Marshall’s assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90) is very, verrrry close to Larry Drew’s (1.87).
  • In a previous wrap-up, I indicated that Drew would definitely be the starter until further notice. Well, consider this notice. Marshall ditched his sorry play from the three previous games and became the driving, dishing phenom he was recruited to be. How about that touch pass back to Henson for the jam? Unconscious.
  • Marshall needs to get significant additional playing time. He actually started the second half against Texas and after his performance it’s going to get harder and harder to justify staring LDII.
  • Reggie Bullock made a great un-freshmanlike decision. Marshall found Bullock under the rim. After Bullock caught it, he took two fakes, realized he was well defended and brought the ball back out and passed back to Marshall.  (My mistake. Earlier this bullet said this play led to the Marshall-Henson dump off, that wasn’t actually the same play)
  • Can’t believe it took me this long to mention this. Harrison Barnes absolutely nailed a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game at 76. Without hesitation – but with much breath-holding in many living rooms I’m sure – Barnes took the shot for which he has a less-than-favorable percentage this season and swished it. Clutch.
  • Interesting sight several times during the game when Marshall was in. Strickland would bring the ball up the court. Not sure if this was mandated by Roy or Strickland was just in the zone and demanding it.

Superlatives

Player of the Game – Easy. Dexter Strickland. Strickland stepped up in a big way when UNC needed it. Still very curious about him bringing the ball up the court so many times in the game.

No stat stuffer this game

Poetry in Motion – the play mentioned above involving Marshall and Henson.

Changing of the Guard – This goes to Marshall and Strickland. If both can keep up their level of play and potentially increase it the UNC backcourt might have found its identity.