There are only so many times that I have heard the Smith Center roar. You can probably count on your fingers the moments in the Roy Williams era that have sent the crowd into a frenzy. The most obvious example would be Marvin Williams’s put-back against Duke in 2005 or the scene after a Tyler Hansbrough buzzer beater.
Saturday night, in front of an awesome force of Heel’s fans wearing white, the Smith Center roared. It roared after Paige through that lob to Bryce Johnston and the crowd went crazy. As a fan, I was thrilled to be a part of that moment. It was a statement game for North Carolina and one of their best wins at home in a while.
Kentucky looked flustered by the home crowd, especially early in the game. Julius Randle, the Harrison Twins, and James Young all looked out of sync playing in their first road game. But they hung tough and never excepted defeat until the final whistle.
Neither team shot many threes, so it was a classic, grind it out style basketball game. Both teams established the post and attacked the interior and each team struggled with foul trouble with their big men. Cauley-Stein and Randle’s foul trouble played a big part in North Carolina’s victory.
UNC also had their share of foul trouble and had to reach deep into their bench for quality minutes. Jackson Simmons played a key role as well as Desmond Hubert in bringing home the victory. Also credit James Michael McAdoo, who played his best game this season, and Marcus Paige, who carried UNC to victory.
In all, it was a great night to be a Carolina basketball fan. The team showed fight, toughness, and the execution to win that can only be found in an experienced team, not a young squad full of freshman. The home crowd did their part, the team played hard and in the end, the Smith Center roared.