Tar Heels threaten top-ranked Wildcats but fall a point shy | Sports
Sports
INDY Week's sports blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on | Add on  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tar Heels threaten top-ranked Wildcats but fall a point shy

Posted by on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Barnes, Zeller and Henson competed ferociously
CBS — North Carolina boasts too proud a program to console itself with near-wins, but the Tar Heels unquestionably bolstered their NCAA tournament credentials despite a 73-72 defeat to Kentucky this afternoon.

Carolina actually had possession and a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Tyler Zeller lost control of the ball in the post and, despite its bouncing fortuitously into the hands of John Henson, the big man’s jump shot was blocked.

Depending upon which angle you use to examine the stats, it’s either shocking that the Heels lost or shocking that they weren’t blown out. They addressed widespread skepticism —mine included—about their jump shooting prowess, knocking down a sensational 11-for-18 from the three-point line.

They also buried 79 percent of their free throws and notched nearly twice the number of assists as Kentucky.

But the high percentage area ultimately undid Carolina’s upset challenge. The Wildcats broke Carolina’s interior defense repeatedly, beating the Heels 36-14 on points in the paint. Roy Williams prides himself on maximizing his teams’ ability to score inside, and such a monstrous deficit occurred because UNC failed to restrain UK’s sensational athleticism and length.

The game’s flow favored Carolina for most of the first half and down the stretch, but a ghastly interval during the second half resulted in Kentucky reversing a five-point deficit and pushing out to a working margin of its own.

Like the team itself, all of UNC’s regulars both enjoyed great moments and botched opportunities to further impact the game. Kendall Marshall rose to the occasion as a playmaker (getting eight more assists) and a scorer, knocking in two threes to shrug off a recent slump. However, he had three turnovers as well, including sloppy play during the club’s most difficult stretch.

Harrison Barnes started hot but landed in foul trouble, though he finished with 14 points on 4-for-5 from behind the three-point line. Henson (10 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) and Zeller (14 points, eight rebounds) couldn’t establish physical dominance inside and didn’t finish well, but both competed vigorously against likely the longest and most talented frontcourt they’ll face all season.

Designated shooters Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston combined for 5-for-9 on threes in 33 combined minutes, and fans wondered why Hairston, in particular, received only 14 minutes of action.

Still, it’s essential to remember that these December games don’t hold much predictive value for the NCAA tournament in the spring. The Heels very nearly handed Kentucky coach John Calipari his first loss at Rupp Arena, and it was obvious to all that these were two evenly matched, heavyweight clubs in prime contention to win a national title. Isn’t that all you reasonably can ask?

Carolina’s upcoming slate of games this month gets easier, including Evansville at home on Tuesday evening. Click here to view the UNC/Kentucky box score.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Sports



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

This was a great read until we got to the World Cup part (who knows or cares, this is America) …

by ProudlyUnaffiliated on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

what i gonna to do is to be my hero and be awesome, just like them, cannot change history and …

by heartnecklace on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

wwe is too violate, if some can fix it that will be okay.

by heartnecklace on Should North Carolina State try to suplex the WWE? (Sports)

I find myself not caring about any of this. Amazing how such a "strong, proud, powerful people" could lose the …

by 10yearwalk on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

Gaffe-r is right...he f8cks up all the time. "A lot of success over the last 3 years"....less smoke blows out …

by DonGarbageBlows on Colin Clarke returns as head coach of Carolina RailHawks (Sports)

Comments

This was a great read until we got to the World Cup part (who knows or cares, this is America) …

by ProudlyUnaffiliated on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

what i gonna to do is to be my hero and be awesome, just like them, cannot change history and …

by heartnecklace on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation