UNC Game Review: Tar Heels vs Miami Hurricanes


The stage was set, Carolina back in the state of Florida for the first time since the 33 point beat down by FSU.  The ACC is anyone’s game, UNC coming off a devastating loss to Duke and a win over Virginia.  Can Miami pull off the magic they had in Cameron Indoor just a week ago when they knocked off Duke?

How it went down: UNC doubled teamed Reggie Johnson to start the game surprised me considering the talent the Heels have inside.  The Heels dominated on the offensive boards early grabbing a second chance opportunity on the first three possessions.  Still they only turned it into two points, impatience the reason as the offense was only reset one time.   Harrison Barnes seemed to make a concerted effort to get going offensively early.  Barnes attempted three shots inside the first five minutes and looked active.  UNC was able to get Miami in foul trouble early, Johnson picked up two quick fouls in the first five minutes.  Barnes also seems to be crashing the boards a lot harder.

UNC struggled to convert good inside shots early, combined with a poor conversion percentage on second chance opportunities, kept Miami in the game early.  Kenny Kadji is a very good overall player and plays extremely well in Miamis offense.  Kadji scored seven of Miami’s first 12 points, showing he can post up and hit the jumper.   Miami continued to play with high energy and took advantage of their opportunities, extending the lead to seven at the eight minute mark.

More of the same through the next four minutes of play as Miami extended the lead to nine.  Carolina could not get a run going as Miami had an answer for every Tar Heel basket.  Miami maintained their lead and led at the break with the score Miami 35 UNC 30.  I expected to see a much better half of basketball our of Carolina.  Instead, UNC trails at the half with the ACC lead at stake.

Throughout the first half the thought that kept coming across my mind was this.  The Tar Heels seem timid to the point that they are scared to take a loss, instead of attacking to win.

Carolina came out in a full court trap in the second half.  The move baffled Miami so much they burned a timeout before the clock even started in the half.  UNC came out and executed better early in the half with the emphasis of getting the ball inside.  Some pretty finishes by Tyler Zeller and John Henson were early highlights.  As soon as UNC cut the lead to just two, Miami went on a 6-0 run and extended the lead back to eight.

UNC went on its first run of the half around the 15 minute mark.  The Heels finally tied the game at 44 at the 13:23 mark and took the lead 30 seconds later.  The most puzzling call I’ve heard in a while came on the ensuing Miami possession.  Miami was called for a charging foul, yet the shot counted because the ball left his hands first?  That’s got to the college basketball’s dumbest rule.  What’s the penalty for the foul again?  The reward for taking the foul?

The only reason UNC was even in this game was the massive amount of offensive rebounds it collected.  At the 11 minute mark in the second half the Heels already had collected 20.  Kadji went down at the 10:40 mark after a Henson rebound, catching an elbow in the face.  He quickly came back into the game after a scary moment on the sidelines.

The action was fast and furious for much of the second half in a back and forth match up.  I like the strategy that Miami employed in the second half.  Every time the Heels went on a mini-run and extended the lead to more than five or six.  The Hurricanes quickly called a timeout to regroup.

Barnes started to take the team on his back mid way through the second half.  Mixing in threes and aggressive drives to the basket, Barnes seemed intent on leading the Heels to victory.  The Heels were a much more patient team and when UNC went deep into the shot clock, it was Barnes that took charge.

It remained anybody’s game with Miami hanging around and refusing still to let UNC take over.  A five point game with three minutes to go, presented yet another tight end of game situation.  Up six, Henson came down with a huge offensive rebound off a Barnes miss.  Marshall drove and kicked it to a wide open Reggie Bullock who nailed a three pointer with 1:34 remaining putting the Heels up nine.   Miami worked it down to six with 43 seconds remaining, all UNC had to do was close it out.  And this time their would be no heartbreak as UNC held on for the win!

A good, tough, ACC road win that keeps Carolina top the conference tied with Duke and Florida State.  It wasn’t pretty by any means, but a conference win on the road, is a conference win on the road.

Final Score: UNC 73 Miami 64

Biggest Takeaways:  UNC struggles at taking away the other teams best player on defense.  Kadji took the Heels to school early while the Tar Heel defense was concerned with Johnson.  James Michael McAdoo seems past the days of running around clueless and looks ready to contribute.  He looks fluid on both ends of the floor and confident with the basketball in his hands.  Finishing at the rim and converting on easy layup, and uncontested shots inside of five feet is a big problem right now.  Most of the time it comes down to the shot being rushed or pushed like the shooter is over anxious.  Henson is one of the biggest offenders and although he can knock it down, he’s falling in love with that mid range J too much.  With his length and athleticism he needs to put it on the floor and take it strong more often.

Player of the Game: Marshall scored his first point on a FT with nine minutes to go in the game.  So much for my pregame predictionHarrison Barnes looked good on both ends of the floor and did a nice job rebounding the ball.   Barnes finished with six boards to go along with 23 points in a strong performance. 

Looking ahead: Carolina heads back home to face Clemson Saturday at 4pm.  Miami plays Wake Forest at home on Saturday at 1pm.

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Box Score

North Carolina Tar Heels
Harrison Barnes, F9-203-72-3462000223
John Henson, F6-150-02-24112131014
Reggie Bullock, G4-92-50-0370012310
Tyler Zeller, F4-130-01-448221049
Kendall Marshall, G0-60-45-622920205
Justin Watts, G2-20-00-011001004
P.J. Hairston, G1-30-22-224120104
James Michael McAdoo, F0-10-04-613110024
Stilman White, G0-00-00-000000010
Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Durand Scott, G7-121-30-0142102315
Kenny Kadji, F-C5-151-22-2360001213
Reggie Johnson, C3-71-14-47101013311
Malcolm Grant, G1-61-60-002100423
Shane Larkin, G0-20-10-000200220
Trey McKinney Jones, G4-93-50-0132202211
DeQuan Jones, G-F3-50-00-023001126
Rion Brown, G2-71-50-215101045