Tar Heels winning despite offensive futility: thoughts on Saturday's 48-46 epic | Sports
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tar Heels winning despite offensive futility: thoughts on Saturday's 48-46 epic

Posted by on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Perhaps bizarre rituals will be necessary to ignite UNCs offense
It says something that North Carolina continues to win games despite record-setting problems changing the numbers on the scoreboard. The Tar Heels delivered the most recent example of the trend on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, trudging past Boston College 48-46.

Carolina’s 48-point effort was the most anemic scoring output in program history at the Dean Smith Center, which opened in 1986. And still, UNC has elevated its conference record to 10-2 and now stands at 20-6 overall.

Breaking down the team’s offense, the pattern is highly discouraging. Since the first half of the Duke game—140 total minutes of game time—UNC has shot miserably from the field and especially from the three-point stripe. The club’s struggles continued into the BC contest, as Carolina connected on only 37 percent from the floor and 18 percent from deep.

Much of the difficulty pertains to the wing players: Harrison Barnes, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock. Barnes has been playing better overall but has hit a slump from the perimeter, while the other three wings aren’t producing much of anything on offense.

But that’s the catch. As much as Strickland is a liability in a halfcourt offense, he played sensational defense at times against the Eagles and contributes heavily to club’s identity as a defensive fortress.

Boston College managed only 27 percent field goal shooting, a dreadful number and a very surprising one for a team that has been highly efficient all season. John Henson and Tyler Zeller bolster a tremendous one-two defensive punch on the interior, spearheading perhaps Carolina’s finest defense since Roy Williams arrived in Chapel Hill and at least since the 2005 season.

The question now is when, or even if, UNC will begin to hit some shots. The Heels may be able to eke out victories over weak ACC foes, but N.C. State in Raleigh and Maryland (always a tough matchup) and Duke at home will pose much more difficult challenges. At the minimum, it’s very difficult to envision the current version of the Tar Heels winning two games in the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the final 16.

Carolina’s next opportunity to get well will be Wednesday night against the Wolfpack. To view the UNC/BC box score, click here.

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