Wrap-up: UNC hurts Hofstra Pride


UNC 107, Hofstra 63

Box Score

Whether it was the 80 degree weather or just some re-found confidence, it looks like some of those early season jitters are already out of the Heels. Behind a big first half by freshman Harrison Barnes, UNC was up by 12 merely five minutes into the game and never looked back. Besides a silent two minutes of play in the middle of the second half in which Hofstra outscored UNC 11-5, the Heels kept the attack coming with Larry Drew II, Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland leading breaks and second chance points picked up by the front court. Of course, the boys had a problem with another dynamic guard, this time Charles Jenkins, but the D overall looked good with almost every shot being contested. It was the Colonial Athletic Association’s POY who hung 24 on the Heels, otherwise Hofstra was held to just 63 points after scoring 102 in its opening game. UNC will take on Minnesota  in the semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tonight, and it’s safe to say that if the same team that showed up against Hofstra is there the Gophers are in trouble.

Takeaways:

  • Tyler Zeller will continue to lead off the takeaway session until he fails to register a charge in a game. He did so again against Hofstra.
  • The Pride actually shot fairly well percentage wise – for a while at least. Carolina did a lot to disrupt their offense by creating turnovers for points before allowing shots off. Also needing to be factored into that percentage is the absurd showing by Jenkins in the first half. I guess we can’t complain as Barnes answered every thing Jenkins had, plus he had the help of a stellar squad to back him up.
  • While we’re on shooting percentages, as Rafters editor Sam put it, “When did we learn how to shoot?”  The Heels shot 8-9 from 3 in the first half and finished 12-17 for 70.6 percent from behind the arc to go with a solid 56.3 percent from the entire field. Think about that. This is coming from a team that was a Thomas Thornton bucket away from not hitting a 3-pointer for the first time in a game since the mid-’90s last year.
  • One place the Heels do need to improve their shooting: the charity stripe. Carolina was a miserable 15-26 for 57.7 percent.They shot better from downtown.
  • Carolina can thank the extra pass for creating all those open looks. Of the Heels’ 40 FGs, 29 came off  assists. We said the guards needed to pick up production last week, and they did. Drew II finished with 6 assists to only 1 turnover and Kendall Marshall came roaring off the bench with 9 assists to 2 turnovers. I swear, Marshall’s bounce pass is something wicked. Zeller and John Henson also showed some nice passes out of double teams down low to set up easy baskets.
  • To add to Marshall’s nice outing off the bench, Leslie McDonald is also proving to be a nice offensive spark. McDonald finished with 16 of the bench’s 50 points.
  • All night the Heels also did a great job getting the ball down low. The team finished with 42 points in the paint and forced Hofstra’s Greg Washington to the bench due to foul trouble.
  • UNC cut down on the turnovers last night, only committing 12. Not bad.
  • Lastly, there was a scary moment early in the game when Justin Knox went up hard and came down harder. I would venture to guess every Carolina fan watching thought this was going to be a much-too-soon exit of a very promising player the team is relying on. Instead, Knox reentered the game with six minutes to go in the first half and had a very productive night.

Superlatives:

  • Player of the Game: Barnes – (19 pts, 7 rebs, 2 asts, 1 blk) Even without scoring in the second half, Barnes’ game is too good not to mention.
  • Stat Stuffer (aka the Danny Green Award): Knox (8 pts, 8 rebs, 1 ast) Barnes, Henson and Zeller may have slightly better numbers, but I am all about some Justin Knox. Of his 8 rebounds, five were offensive, he had several nice post moves resulting in shots that rimmed out and seemed to be involved in every play in the second half. He gets my vote.
  • The 6’4″ Dikembe Mutombo: Justin Watts – For his block after coming across the lane that was just pretty.
  • The 6’10” Dikembe Mutombo: John Henson – You have to acknowledge Henson’s absurd playground block that sent the ball straight to Drew, who then took three quick dribbles before hitting a streaking Strickland in stride with a bounce pass for the fast break dunk. It was just silly.
  • Big Z Charge Streak: 2 games