UNC Basketball Game Review: Tar Heels vs Maryland Terrapins


While everyone is busy looking ahead to Saturday’s rematch with arch rival Duke.  North Carolina needed to stay focused as this game against the Maryland Terrapins is essentially an ACC conference championship game for the Tar Heels.  If UNC wants to win the conference outright, a win against MD was a must.  The Terps are fighting to bring their conference record to .500 and needs to close out the season with wins against Carolina and Virginia.  In my game preview I predicted a blowout for UNC and in my opinion, they need to kill the Terps before their trip down the road to Durham.

How it went down: Senior night was flat out awesome, Roy Williams started three walk ons with Tyler Zeller and Justin Watts and they played well.  Personally, I love senior night and I love seeing the seniors that work so hard in practice for the last four years get rewarded with a start in front of the home crowd.  To top it off, the Heels were sporting those awesome grew Carolina jerseys that I absolutely love.  The regular starters entered the game at the 18 minute mark tied at 2 all.

Carolina dominated the boards early and controlled the tempo behind outstanding interior defense led by John Henson who tallied 3 blocked shots within the first 10 mins of action.   UNC had trouble converting easy shots and a seven point advantage at the 6:36 mark could have easily been a 15-20 point lead.  Instead the Tar Heels lack of converting shots they should make every time kept Gary Williams and company in the game.

The Tar Heels buckled down defensively after a couple Terrell Stoglin baskets cut the lead to six.  The Heels applied more perimeter pressure and extended the lead to ten.  Roy inserted freshman Desmond Hubert into the game at the 3:30 mark in the first.  With the recent improvement of James Michael McAdoo, this is another head scratching rotational move by Williams.  After connecting on his first shot of the game, Harrison Barnes had a quiet first half.  Barnes picked up 2 quick fouls and was almost invisible offensively. Zeller had a terrific first half with 15 pts and 5 rebounds including 3 on the offensive glass.

Kendall Marshall struggled keeping his man in front of him defensively.  Someone needs to tell him to play off his man a little more when he’s at a disadvantage in the quickness department.  The first half ended with, UNC buckling down and taking a 11 point lead into half time.  Score at the half UNC 36 MD 25.

In the second half, Maryland came out looking good, quickly cutting the lead to just six.  Barnes picked up a quick third foul after scoring just two points in the first half.  Impatience on the offensive end got the better of the Heels for the first couple minutes of the half.  The team seemed in a rush to score quickly and put MD away early and it backfired.  Marshall picked up his fourth assists on a pass to Barnes at the 17:25 mark and broke the record for most assists in a single season for UNC.

The next few minutes remained back and forth in a scrappy second half.  UNC extended the lead to 14 by the 11 minute mark after Marshall started to find the bigs inside for a few easy buckets.  The lead extended to 21 points on a Reggie Bullock three pointer at the nine minute mark.  The Tar Heels absolutely dominated on both ends of the floor for the rest of the game leading by as many as 30 points.  The last 10 minutes of this game is the way UNC needs to play in the tournament.

Key Takeaways: UNC again struggled at converting easy shots near the basket and wide open perimeter jumpers.  The Tar Heels can win against a team like MD but cannot expect to go deep in the tourney unless they convert those shots.  I’ll expand on this in a future column but I believe if John Henson came back for his senior year he would be the best player in the nation.  His offensive game looks better and better and he’s starting to figure out how to utilize his amazing athleticism.  Another year in Chapel Hill could do wonders for him.  Zeller continues to be the rock for the Tar Heels.  The ball needs to be in his hands every single time the opposing team goes on a run.  PJ Hairston continues to struggle and missed four WIDE open three point jumpers that seemed to enrage Roy.

Player of the gameTyler Zeller made another strong case of ACC Player of the Year with a terrific performance tonight.  Z finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 offensive in the perfect senior night game.

Up Next: As if I need to even tell you UNC travels to Duke for the regular season finale on Saturday with the ACC regular season title up for grabs.  Starting tomorrow Keeping It Heel will begin previewing the most important game of the regular season.  Maryland closes out the regular season against Virginia on Sunday.

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