Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tudor's Take: Behind the Heels' 72 points

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Although North Carolina's 72-60 win over Oklahoma wasn't really as close as the final score indicates, the Tar Heels were in their offensive trouble range.

In the only two other games this season when they failed to score more than 73 points, the Heels' record was 1-1. There was the 73-70 loss to Florida State in the ACC Tournament semifinals at Atlanta and a 69-65 win at Miami on Feb. 15.

Several factors contributed Sunday, the most important of which was OU's defensive work against Tyler Hansbrough (eight points).

But Carolina also eased off the tempo, which Roy Williams very rarely does.

Up 61-40 with more than seven minutes left, Carolina was on pace to hit the high 70s or low 80s, depending upon the Sooners' willingness to foul and gamble to grab steals. On five straight possessions after getting that 21-point lead, the Heels turned to their clock-killing strategy. It's one of the few things this team doesn't do well. The momentum quickly changed, and had Ty Lawson not canned a couple of free throws to make it 63-49 with 4:12 to go, the final minutes could have been exciting.

A third, but less obvious, contributor was the fact that Carolina wingman Wayne Ellington finally had a poor shooting performance - 3-for-9 with four misses on five 3-point attempts. He finished with nine points after having averaged 20-plus over the past five games.

On the opposite end of the court, Ellington more than countered. For most of the game, he held OU's Willie Warren in check. Warren finished with 18 points, but seven of those came after the outcome was beyond doubt. He also committed four turnovers and rarely got an open look on 3-pointers.

The Sooners naturally preferred to cite their bad shooting luck, but Carolina had nine steals. Only Blake Griffin consistently had offensive success and much of that was the result of his six offensive rebounds.

-- Caulton Tudor


JSM said...

Why do basketball teams repeatedly cite their lack of ability to make a shot as the reason they lost. Duh...its called put the ball in the basket or you lose. If the other team prevents you from doing that they win!