Wrap-Up: UNC Remains Undefeated in Chapel Hill


UNC 75, Clemson 65

Box Score

55-0!

Apologies for the lateness on this post, but really, if you’re a regular reader you have to have noticed the irregularity in how quickly we get these up, so on with the show.

One advantage of writing this late post is that I can get little tid-bits like the one below and also not feeling I have to recount the game perfectly, as numerous news stories probably already have. Haven’t you ever sat down and wondered just how in the world UNC hasn’t lost to Clemson at home — EVER? Every coach and every player always says something like “the streak doesn’t have anything to do with our team, this year.” It’s always played down by everyone involved in the game. Well, except for John Henson.

“You don’t want to be that one team that breaks the streak,” Henson said , “and fortunately we’re not the team.”

Neither was the 8-20 team lead by Jason Capel and two freshmen you might remember named Jackie Manuel and Jawad Williams. Neither was any team for that matter.

Yes, no matter how good or bad UNC and Clemson are in a given year, there’s always a certain anxiousness surrounding a game at the Smith Center. Will this be the year? Well, 2011 wasn’t, and here’s one Tar Heel that will be happy for it to stay that way forever. While I’ve never considered Clemson a true “rival” of Carolina’s, there’s a level of comfort the Streak provides that might just make the world feel different if it were to break. I promise I’m not superstitious, but in the words of Michael Scott, maybe just a little ‘stitious.

Takeaways

  • The most obvious thing to take from this game is the change to the starting line-up. Kendall Marshall started in place of Larry Drew II, in a move that made a large percentage of the Carolina faithful happy. Adam Lucas (@TarHeelMonthly) tweeted that the Smith Center was as loud as it had been all season when Marshall was announced before the game. The move was good because the starters seem to function better offensively when Marshall’s in the game, perhaps evidenced by the 46-point first half. The move may have also had an effect on the bench.
  • That bench effect was the inspired play of Larry Drew coming in as a reserve. Drew shot 50 percent from the field in putting up 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Drew definitely found a higher gear than his normal pace of play. He did, however, only have 1 assist to 2 turnovers, so I think Marshall keeps starting. Marshall tallied only 5 points, but also 5 assists and 3 turnovers. The position will likely continue to be handled by both players fairly evenly, as Drew plays much better defense.
  • Another potential move in the works could work to help the Heels improve on offense. If he hadn’t been sidelined with a lung injury, Leslie McDonald would have started over Dexter Strickland Tuesday night. McDonald (7.7) and Strickland (8.4) average a very similar number of points, but McDonald is more of an outside threat and gives the offense a different element for opposing defenses to worry about. I like the move, but also like Strickland’s defensive pressure and speed in the open court. It’s a tough decision, but it looks like Roy will give Leslie a go when he’s healthy.
  • Reggie Bullock had a coming out party. Bullock already had a career high in the first half and finished with 18 points in 18 minutes of play. He also had 5 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals. You know he’s gonna get some love in the superlatives.
  • Harrison Barnes would have had another solid game (13 pts, 6 rebs), if it hadn’t been for his turnovers. Barnes coughed it up six times and during stretches looked lackadaisical. Buck up, Harrison, and get your head in it.
  • John Henson and Tyler Zeller brought the block party. They continually stymied Clemson’s Jerai Grant (its best big man), who finished with only 2 points. Henson tallied five and Zeller added three of his own.

Superlatives

Player of the Game: Reggie Bullock (18 pts, 5 rebs, 2 ast, 2stl) Considering two of his five boards were offensive, the kid was everywhere in his 18 minutes of PT. If Bullock had played starters’ minutes (say 30), Reggie would have tallied 30 pts, 9 rebs, 3 ast, 3 stl)

Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. The Danny Green Award): John Henson (14 pts, 8 rebs, 2 ast, 5 blk, 1 stl) Henson is a regular for the big DG award but what was most impressive is he did all of his damage without committing a single turnover.

Block Party: As mentioned above, Henson and Zeller combined for a lethal defensive force against Clemson’s Jerai Grant. Sit down, and come back when you’re ready to play with the big boys.

BMOC: Kendall Marshall for the ovation he received upon being announced as a starter. We know it’s still a split job, but I bet that had to feel good.