But in the second half Harrison Barnes reprised his role from last spring, bringing the team back from an eight-point deficit to overtake the Hurricanes 73-64. He scored 23 points and added six rebounds and two assists, and he rediscovered his three-point stroke by burying 3-for-7 for deep.
This performance did not constitute a strong shooting effort, mind you. The Heels hit just 38 percent overall and 28 percent from behind the arc, but both Barnes and Reggie Bullock did help counter a slump that has ravaged the team during ACC play.
Barnes and Bullock were able to offset uncharacteristically inefficient production from Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Zeller, whose play has placed him among the favorites to win conference player of the year, shot just 4-for-13 against the Canes en route to nine points and eight rebounds. Henson didn’t fare much better, converting 6-for-15 field goals for 14 points and 11 boards.
Once again, Carolina’s rebounding effort proved to be the game’s decisive factor. Miami shot slightly better from the floor (40 percent) and made more of its threes, but UNC won the glass 42-33 and accumulated 15 more free throw attempts in the process.
Many fans will process a game such as this one and conclude that Carolina’s hopes of national glory are fading. After all, heading into the night the Heels ranked dead last in the ACC shooting threes, and beating national-caliber teams will prove extremely difficult if the offense continues to be so unbalanced.
Further, because the players appear to be laboring under their own expectations — not to mention the pressure they're receiving from everyone else — it’s easy to conclude that something is wrong.
Nevertheless, Carolina has compiled a 9-2 conference record despite the shooting woes — the Heels have to be at least pretty good, right?
UNC’s next contest takes place in Chapel Hill, where they’ll host Clemson on Saturday afternoon. (The Tigers, of course, famously are 0-55 at Carolina.) Click here to view the UNC/Miami box score.