Working stiffs throughout the Triangle owe a thank you to UNC's men's basketball team. The Tar Heels, who didn't tip off until 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday night against Oregon, effectively ended the competition by halftime and cruised to a lopsided 98-69 victory in the semifinal at the Maui Invitational.
Oregon was determined to run with UNC, and in fact they were run right out of the Lahaina Civic Center.
As he did on Monday, senior wing Danny Green again led the way for the Heels, drilling five three-pointers in the first half en route to 21 points on a torrid 8-12 from the field. As he has done throughout the early season, Green contributed in a multitude of areas against the Ducks. His line included eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Green is playing so well, in fact, that one wonders how Roy Williams will handle the starting lineup when fellow senior Marcus Ginyard returns to the lineup next month. Ginyard essentially started ahead of Green last year, but so far this season Green has been the team's best overall player.
It's difficult to imagine Green will be demoted to the bench, yet Ginyard is regarded by many — and most importantly, Williams — as the club's best individual defensive player. Hmmm. …
Along with Green, Tyler Hansbrough shot 12-14 on free throws largely comprising his 16-point effort, and freshman forward Ed Davis notched his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Moving ahead, UNC advanced to Wednesday night's championship game against Notre Dame, which survived a late comeback by Texas to set up a clash between two of the nation's most popular athletic programs.
Despite playing for the third time in three days, rest shouldn't be an issue for the Heels. Against Oregon, Green played 26 minutes while no other starter spent more than 22 minutes on the court. The Irish, meanwhile, were pushed to the limit by Texas in a grueling game.
Notre Dame will attempt to stretch UNC's pressure defense by combining hot three-point shooting with the efforts of All-American big man Luke Harangody. The Irish don't boast UNC's speed or overall size, however, and clearly Carolina's plan will be to create a fast-paced tempo and force Notre Dame to expend a great deal of energy throughout the contest.
To view the UNC/Oregon carnage in full box score glory, click here.