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UNC 74 Miami 71

Let’s look at it this way. UNC reined in the big lead by halftime instead of waiting until the 2nd half. That’s progress right?

Actually the big lead by Miami early in this one bothered me but it didn’t. I think it had something to do with Miami hitting 6-8 three pointers and the belief that kind of raging hot perimeter shooting cannot possibly keep going. To some extent that was true. Miami was 7-20 from three after their torrid start which is a much more manageable 35% from beyond the arc. Miami jumped out early on hot shooting and less than focused UNC defense. However it is once again a slow start by the offense which allowed the gap to be so large. Miami reeled off a 16-0 run to make it 18-4. However if the offense had produced even some then perhaps we are talking about 18-12 or 18-10.  For some reason the offense, especially when facing a zone defense is like my lawn mower. It takes several tugs to get it going and even then it can sputter a bit.  Even though that was the case UNC reversed a 28-14 lead with a 25-11 run to end the half tied. All in all not bad work. Yes Miami got off a big run but UNC answered it with a solid half from Dexter Strickland and a couple of big shots from Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes.

The second half played out much more like a tug of war. UNC’s defense was simply not sharp in this one. There was a feeling as the 2nd half wore on that UNC would be unable to get a stop and if they did, it would not happen twice in a row. Miami continued to shoot threes and as the percentage there began to slide, the Canes made use of their quick guards and got shots via penetration. It was truly one of those games where you felt like the first team to miss might just lose. Fortunately for UNC that was not the case since a pair of poor decisions on the offensive end opened the door for Miami to overcome a two point deficit and take a two point lead. With over two minutes left and a 69-67 lead Reggie Bullock tool a quick and questionable shot. Miami hits two FTs to tie the game and on the next trip down Leslie McDonald jacks up a long two six seconds into the shot clock. Miami goes up two on another pair of FTs putting the Heels in a tough spot with 1:26 left.

Enter Harrison Barnes.

I really don’t understand what the deal is with Barnes. At this point I am not sure I care. Either that or I am afraid of complaining too much considering this is the fourth game Barnes has nailed a clutch shot. With UNC down two, Barnes hit an incredible fall away jumper from 15 feet out that may have been ill-advised except it looked for all the world like Barnes knew exactly what he was doing. Following a Miami miss, UNC milks the shot clock down to seven seconds. Roy calls a timdout to put Marshall back in the game who the  floats a pass to Barnes on the wing where he nails the three with one second left on the shot clock to give the Heels the lead and the game. So for 35 minutes Barnes is seemingly no better than Jason Capel and during the last five minutes he’s Michael Jordan? The point was raised here and discussed on Twitter than the difference between Barnes during most of the game and Barnes in these clutch moments is he is operating on instinct rather than thinking about it. During the Virginia Tech game when Barnes hit multiple big shots, Jay Bilas said Kendall Marshall was delivering the ball “in rhythm” which is another way of saying “passing the ball to a shooter in a way they can lock, load and fire all in one motion.” When that happens, the shooter does not think about it he simply allows the natural talent to takeover. That probably highlights why Barnes might be better off with Marshall on the court instead of Drew. However the larger point is when Barnes simply steps up and plays basketball instead of thinking about it first, you get moments like this and a understanding why he was so highly touted. I hesitate to label this a breakout moment because Barnes has had such moments before. If you take away the two shots at the end of the game and the three pointer at the end of the half, Barnes is 1-8 from the floor with two turnovers. In other words it is roughly two minutes of play UNC needed in the worst way possible balanced against 22 minutes that is lackluster. At some point you want “end of game” Barnes to walk through the door and kill “mediocre middle of the game” Barnes.  I am not sure if that ever happens but realistically these moments have to help his confidence and give him a sense of how he should be approaching the game as a whole.

One final note, this concerning the PG position which saw Kendall Marshall and Larry Drew combine for 10 points, eight assists and only two turnovers.  Drew continues to respond well to the new arrangement with five assists and zero turnovers. Marshall had a tough game which is not unexpected for a freshman. This kind of game quantifies the argument that UNC truly needs both these guys bringing their best effort. It appears the lineup change has them geared in that direction.

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125 comments to UNC 74 Miami 71

  • MakhtarsMusings

    Great post THF. I agree that they need both Drew and Marshall to be successful. I really like the way Drew has been playing since coming off the bench.

    As for Barnes. I said it after the VA Tech game. The kid has a little ice water in those veins. I let out a huge ONIONS! when he hit that 3. I also was terrified when he jacked up the fade away. They really had some poor shot selection at the end of the game but Barnes bailed them out.

    Can we talk about Knox please? This guy give solid minutes every night out. He chipped in some key points last night and is strong down low. It’s so refreshing to have some depth in the front court for a change. I almost prefer Knox downlow over Zeller most night. Last night Z couldn’t bang with Harrison at all. Knox came in and settled things down. There is a real nice rotation taking shape.

  • MakhtarsMusings

    Oh and it was a joy to see D-Strick freelancing again and reminding us all why we loved the guy last season. That’s the guy who needs to show up every night. You can’t be timid.

  • MakhtarsMusings

    And to THF’s point about Bilas saying catch and shoot is the way to go:

    Barnes after last night:

    Is it almost easier when there’s no time left because it prevents you from thinking too much?
    “No question. You just have to catch it in rhythm and let it go. I think that kind of frees your mind a little bit and lets you just play.”

  • LarryS

    I like Knox. He’s good rebounder, strong, and a good FT shooter. And I’m glad he became available for a crucial backup in the frontcourt. But last night was the first night he has shown up, offensively, in ACC play.

    Zeller scores at a much higher rate, rebounds equally well, and is a better shot blocker. So, beyond a brief moment where Knox starting had a certain motivational value for Zeller, I think his minutes and use is about right.

    Hopefully the Miami game was the beginning of a more productive stretch for him.

  • MakhtarsMusings

    Oh I know. I’m not calling for Knox to start. Just saying that sometimes he matches up better and is able to bang more downlow. Roy did a nice job with the offense-defense substitutions last night.

  • I think last night’s matchup is where Knox is more serviceable. He definately seems to have more gonads in that kind of scenario.

  • LarryS

    I don’t mean to seem critical of Knox - I mean I really do like him - but I wish he had enough gonads last night to pull down more than 1 rebound.

  • Asheville Heel

    Agreed, Knox is tougher against the big bodies. Back to Bullock; the biggest thing I heard from people who saw him play last year in HS was he was a pure scorer and somewhat of a throwback. Specifically, he was not afraid to attack the basket and follow his own shot aggressively. This is too early to really say but he reminds me of a young Walter Davis. Man, if he is 75% that good we have a jewel on our hands down the road.

  • logic

    We can all agree the polls don’t matter. But I am loving the fact that we are…finally…getting NO respect. That’s right.

    The Tarheels usually get put in the position of having to live up to lofty expectations (sometimes too lofty - see first of this year and last).

    Now, we are getting no love, and thus there is no added pressure or arrogance as a result. I hope we keep winning and manage to stay out of the polls until late in the year.

    BTW, ESPN has Florida State at #24 in their Power Ranking.

  • MakhtarsMusings

    @LarryS…you are more than fair to call him out for only pulling down 1 board. But I feel like he came in and wore down Johnson, rendering him almost useless during the 2nd half and he was seen winded several times.

  • I feel your dislike towards Knox Larry, as there have been moments he might look disengaged. I don’t use rebounds as a total value of a post player. Miami took a lot of threes, and made quite a few, but missed 3 point shots would tend to give your wingmen and guards more rebounding opportunities than your bigs. Sometimes its just nice to have a guy who can wear a threatening opponent out, which Zeller is not aggressive enough to do, at least against bodies like that. But night for night, yes Zeller does present us with the best option.

  • LarryS

    ^^True, he has to be given credit for that. (And I’m assuming you’re talking about Johnson…not Harrison)

    ^No, it’s not a dislike of Knox at all. (I’ve posted before about how solid I thought he was) I just wanted to be honest about his somewhat slow start in ACC play. Last night was fine except for the boards, and you’re right, there were likely a lot of long RB’s as you did see the guards getting more than their fair share. Good point.

  • I think that’s what he meant Larry! lol.

  • MakhtarsMusings

    Yeah Johnson….Harrison on the brain!

  • We all have that on our minds Makhtar!

  • ugatarheel

    I know right Larry? I saw that number for Knox rebounds and had to do a double take!

    As for last nights games, at least the turn overs were cut back down, assists were up and we out rebounded our opponent (although it’s hard to see how when you look at the player’s individual rebounding numbers). We actually had a decent FG percentage (better then Miami’s overall despite their torrid 3 pt shooting numbers) as well, and we were excellent at the foul line last night. Honestly this falling behind issue is no different to me then the problems we used to have with letting a team back in to the game when we were up by double digits and more. It’s all an issue of mental focus and it has plagued us long before this team or even last year. Apparently Roy doesn’t know how to teach his kids to play hard and stay focused all game long. I don’t think anything is ever going to fix that but hiring an assistant to handle coaching EFFORT and FOCUS (Roy admitted last year that he hasn’t ever had to do it and doesn’t really no how), or a change of head coach. I’m also starting to think that our opponents three point shooting ability has as much to do with their mentality when approaching our defense as anything we are doing or not doing on defense. UNC has a long standing rep for not defending the 3pt line well (whether that is based in fact or not is irrelevant, for this argument perception IS reality). Because of that rep, people get jacked up when they face us and anticipate having a good shooting night against us. Because they approach it with a positive attitude more of their shots go in then would otherwise happen. I see our guys get a hand in the face a lot of times and the shot still falls. Consider that shot Miami put up with 3 seconds left on the shot clock from beyond the NBA line with Dexter’s hand in the guys face and it STILL went in. Like Elmore said, there really isn’t anything you can do about something like that. As long as they keep winning my criticism is pretty muted. Right now I don’t care what the games look like as long as there is a check mark in the win column at the end of the night.

  • Is now pondering Saturday’s matchup with NC State. I know all hell will break loose in Raleigh if we defeat them. NC State & Maryland I think will present some odd matchups for us. They both seem, regardless of record, like well balanced teams. Im going to go ahead & say we need our focus and fortitude to be on full display with those teams. A little more of our game against Kentucky minded would be what we need.

    When I say odd matchups, I mean, we have seemingly played against teams that go guard oriented as their game plan approach. NC State & Maryland will opt for post play, but with viable peremiter scoring, much like us I suppose. While we have had our hearts racing watching us defend guards that light it up, we have been fairly successful at beating them. NC State will be first of its kind for us, but if we play like we did against Kentucky, then the template for success is being enforced here.

  • That’s what it looks like to me UGATARHEEL. And yes, at this point we just need to get those W’s.

  • logic

    ^^Agreed JBowling:

    I think the NCSU game could be dangerous (of course, all of them are for this team).

    You have the rivalry for one. Also, State has played stretches where they are far better than their W-L record (like another team we know). Finally, some of these guys played in a pick up game at NCCU over the summer. I believe the UNC team won both games, but State had a big lead in one - may give them some confidence and a chip on their shoulder?

  • Heel in Purple

    ^Guarentee one or more of State’s freshman go off BIG on Saturday. However, in those games over the summer, Barnes made it his mission it seemed to send a “You ain’t sh*t” right at Leslie. And Bullock basically castrated Brown.

    JB, you really do get pissed about officiating, don’t you? State, based on their talent level, really should be in the top half of the league. It’s a home game, and a rival. Can’t Wait (Bart Scott Voice).

  • Heel in Purple, I agree. I thought State would be higher up the ACC ladder than they are. And about officiating, yes I have my moments. They are usually brought on by the physical nature of the way teams are allowed to play defense on us. I watch other ACC teams, and the same type of contact seems a little less allowed. And it is hard for me to swallow things like watching Drew get over’n'backed on a fastbreak with a no call in front of the official, and then seeing Strickland called for a clean swipe at a steal. Not to mention Bullock getting knocked down on a 3 point field goal with no call. I have seen many ACC games where the ref blows the whistle on that one.

    Also, there are numerous youtube videos of another ACC team getting by with a certain type of play. I can’t find any of those for UNC that illustrate how we get favorable officiating.

    I miss being so good that it is irrelevant. Of course, 4-1 helps alleviate any officiating issues. LOL

  • scl11

    “Can’t Wait (Bart Scott Voice).”

    Hopefully UNC does not come out in the first half the way the Jets did……..

  • NativeMTNHeel

    A couple of interesting ACC matchups tonight involving three teams which we play 5 upcoming games against: BC@Duke and UMD@UVA.

  • Andy In Omaha

    Losing to State is not an option……

  • Silent Sam

    It’s nice to see there is someone, other than me, who posts on this site and who refers to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as “VPI”!