Game Review: UNC at Virginia Tech



It’s over in Hokie land as the Tar Heels

The first half was pretty much the opposite of what I expected.  The Heels showed more hustle than they did against Florida State but still didn’t show the determination or fire I (let along Roy Williams) was looking for.  It was groundhog day again as Carolinas typical problems haunted them throughout the first half.  Failure to seal off on the outside shooter.  Complete lack of closing out underneath for the rebound.  Turning the ball over too much, missing free throws as UNC trailed VT by five at the half.

It felt a lot like the UNLV game at the start of the second half.  UNC looked good, but so did VT, and the positive difference in the Tar Heels game made it no sure thing UNC would pull off the comeback.  Harrison Barnes started to take charge around the 18 minute mark when he exploded for six straight points on the Heels first meaningful run in the last three halves of basketball.  The defense tightened up for UNC and looked a lot better than it has in a while.  Encouraging signs for Carolina all around.  Until junior Dexter Strickland went down with a knee injury that required Leslie McDonald and Desmond Hubert to come off the bench and help him off the court.

*Update* Strickland was seen walking on his own power back to the huddle late in the second half.  He did not play again after being hurt but was not needed either.  We’ll bring you more on Dexter’s condition as soon as more is known.  Check back with us at Keeping It Heel and Follow us on Twitter Follow @Keeping_It_Heel

Tons more from Cassell Coliseum, numbers to know, a look ahead and I plagiarize Monica after the break

Then the Tar Heels went on that run I predicted.  19-0 in five minutes 13 seconds at one point just seven minutes into the second half.  Dominating on both ends of the floor led by big John Henson blocked shots.  Thunderous dunks by Harrison Barnes, everybody was moving well without the ball suddenly, passing the rock and knocking down shots.  Barnes may have been the most pivotal getting the run started for the Heels, demanding the ball, taking it strong to the cup and finishing with authority.  Barnes scored the first six points of the run and seemed to fuel UNCs new found energy.

As I pointed out in my halftime reactions, I love Kendall Marshall’s sudden isolation skills.  Marshall took it to the rim several times tonight and finished very well at the basket.  Kendall’s finger roll is pretty, effective and hard to block.  UNC could really benefit from Marshall becoming a threat at taking the ball to the basket.  World’s of possibilities open up for him as a passer when teams start respecting him as a slasher.

Looking ahead: The Wolfpack head into town as UNC takes on NC State next Thursday Jan 26th Chapel Hill 7 p.m. ESPN or ESPN2.  Check back here to during the Heels break as we take a look back at the season, make some sense of everything and help you look ahead to the rest of the year.  And with national signing day right around the corner.  Keeping It Heel will have daily recruiting nuggets for you each and everyday.  Park it right here for all your UNC Tar Heels coverage.

Making Sense of it: Everybody freaked out a little bit too much after the blowout loss to Florida State including myself.  This team will be fine, they will contend for the title, it’s January not March.  As Monica would say “Sit back, relax and enjoy the show”!

Numbers to Know:

North Carolina Tar Heels
Harrison Barnes, F8-141-310-12260312127
John Henson, F8-170-00-14160061116
Tyler Zeller, F5-110-04-44111122214
Kendall Marshall, G4-70-11-104800539
Dexter Strickland, G0-10-00-001100130
Reggie Bullock, G2-102-70-033100116
P.J. Hairston, G1-21-23-323100006
James Michael McAdoo, F1-20-00-001000102
Justin Watts, G1-10-00-012000002
Stilman White, G0-10-10-000000100
Jackson Simmons, F0-00-00-000000000
Virginia Tech Hokies
Erick Green, G7-143-80-0135301017
Jarell Eddie, G-F5-124-71-2162001115
Robert Brown, G5-152-70-0113102112
Dorian Finney-Smith, F0-50-32-211010252
Victor Davila, F1-40-00-018000142
Dorenzo Hudson, G5-94-62-2110100116
Marquis Rankin, G1-40-00-002301012
Cadarian Raines, F1-20-00-012002012
C.J. Barksdale, F0-30-00-011100030

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