Wrap up: Tar Heels TCB at UMD
UNC 79, Maryland 68
‘Twas the Wednesday before senior night, with Duke on the schedge;
Maryland on the bubble, fans ready to jump from the ledge;
With a young Heels team, probably looking to week’s end;
The makings of a trap game, sure to upend.
Ok that’s all I’ve got for you. Before the game last night, I was extremely concerned about the Heels heading to College Park prior to the end of season showdown with Duke in Chapel Hill. Maryland desperately needed to beat Carolina to have a shot at making the Big Dance, while UNC is comfortably in and could use a big win against Duke to improve its seed.
Fears were absolved by a 15-2 run over the end of the first half and beginning of the second. Both P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock continued to pour in points, while it was Marcus Paige who killed a late rally by the Terps by burying a 3-pointer to make a six-point deficit into a nine-point one. Simply put, this team WOULD NOT have been able to handle the environment in the Comcast Center earlier in the season — possibly even a month ago — but it stopped several runs by the Terps and came away with a nice win.
- Even though he made the arena-silencing trey that sparked the team to put away the Terps for good, Paige didn’t have his best game. He has a season-high eight turnovers to only three assists. Things had gotten really ugly just before that big three, with Paige turning the ball over twice when Maryland full-court pressed, leading to Maryland buckets. While not the cream of the ACC, Maryland isn’t exactly a slouch at home, having already beaten Duke and N.C. State there, so in the end it was comforting to know that Paige could have a bad game against a good team and Carolina could still pull out the win.
- Reggie Bullock, the Sheriff, might need to be re-nicknamed the Silent Assassin. Seemingly always outshone by Hairston or McAdoo, depending on the game, Bullock continues to roll up his sleeves and do work. Last night he finished with his third double-double in the last four games and just filled up the box score(19 pts, 12 reb, 2 ast, 3 stls). When you look at his stats in ACC play, he’s practically second on the team in everything, which might explain how he somehow flys under the radar. He plays the most minutes per game (33.4), is a very close second to McAdoo in rebounding (6.9 pg to 7.4), and has the highest field goal percentage from the floor and from three on the team. He does everything, and he does everything well.
- P.J. showing some hustle! How exciting was it to see Hairston flying over the scorer’s table? Some switch has been flipped in the sophomore since he was inserted in the starting lineup. Hairston has been giving much more consistent effort in the past seven games, although he still let Jake Layman take him to the hoop for a jam. C’mon, P.J.! Jake LAYMAN!?
- Once again the Heels kept 7’1″ Alex Len in check as he finished with eight points and seven rebounds after notching 10 points in the meeting in Chapel Hill. While Maryland’s size did give Carolina some fits on the defensive boards at times, the fact that the Heels kept pace (33 rebounds to Maryland’s 34) with the much larger Terps is encouraging.
Player of the Game: P.J. Hairston (22 pts, 8 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl) While P.J. didn’t light it up from three like he can (2-7), he was schoolin’ Terps off the dribble makin’ ’em look like tortoises. Copyright that.
Stat Stuffer: Reggie Bullock (19 pts, 12 reb, 2 ast, 3 stls) Reggie went 4-6 from downtown. Every time he lets it fly you think it’s going in. It feels really good to be able to name a stat stuffer these past few games.