The Tar Heels returned to the Dean Dome to face the Miami Hurricanes in the second ACC conference game of the season after dropping the conference opener to the Cavaliers in Virginia looking for redemption.
Keeping an eye on the rotation Leslie McDonald did not play after tweaking his knee in practice on Wednesday. Desmond Hubert got the start at center for UNC. Marcus Paige and Hubert were the first two starters to exit the game with P.J. Hairston and Brice Johnson entering five minutes into the game. J.P. Tokoto entered for Reggie Bullock a couple minutes later. Joel James entered at the 11:30 mark. Jackson Simmons got some early playing time entering the game at the 7:50 mark in the first half.
The Heels were sloppy in the early going with five early unforced turnovers. Defensively the intensity was better in the early going but UNC struggled to stay in front of their man giving up easy penetration. Fighting through ball screens has been a huge weakness this season but the team did a nice job in the first half of hedging off Miami’s screens and forcing them deep into the shot clock.
UNC passed the ball well in the half court giving scorers Bullock and James Michael McAdoo in good position to score and they responded. Bullock and McAdoo combined for 19 points on 7-14 shooting. Marcus Paige had a tremendous first half looking decisive and confident on the floor with four first half assists and a team leading three rebounds. Still UNC led by just two points (32-30) but could have led by much more if they didn’t turn the ball over so much.
The second half started out the same as the first with UNC sloppy on the offensive end and unfortunately that lasted the rest of the game. Miami was in attack mode passing up perimeter shots in a concerted effort to drive to the basket and did so with a lot of success. Their success driving to the basket and with the high ball screen opened up the three point shot. A play that seemed to sum up the Heels season, with about nine minutes to go Brice Johnson punched a ball into the stands, then UNC left a shooter wide open and he nailed an open three on the in bounds pass.
Roy Williams went small with four perimeter players and McAdoo at the seven minute mark, a gutsy move considering that UNC was already giving up a lot of bulk in the paint. After not getting a lift from having an extra shooter on the floor Roy went back to Johnson and Miami went on a 12-3 run to open up a nine point lead with three minutes remaining.
From the nine minute mark to the two minute mark UNC scored just two points, failing to attack the basket at all and relying solely on jump shots. The high ball screen crushed the Heels and Miami got whatever they wanted after halftime offensively. UNC led 52-51 at the nine minute mark and finished the game shooting just 3-14 from the field including 1-6 from three and losing the rebounding battle 12-6.
The Heels were consistently out muscled inside, even with Reggie Johnson sitting out Miami had a lot more bulk in the paint over Carolina. After great first halves Bullock and McAdoo were essentially shut down in the second half combining for just six points.
Once again this team wasn’t able to make the necessary defensive adjustments or play a complete 40 minute game. UNC opens ACC play 0-2 for the first time since 2009-10 national championship season and drop to 10-5 overall suffering their first loss at home this season. Miami snapped a six year losing streak to the Tar Heels.
The play of the night belonged to J.P. Tokoto who threw down a spectacular put back dunk over a Miami big man.
Final Score: UNC 58 Miami 69