Sunday, December 18, 2011

UNC 97, Appalachian State 82: The look back

CHAPEL HILL - No. 5 North Carolina defeated Appalachian State 97-82 here at the Smith Center on Saturday night. It was an easy win, but one that didn’t come as smoothly as Tar Heels coach Roy Williams would have preferred.

A look back at UNC’s victory against the Mountaineers:

Why the Tar Heels won: North Carolina dominated the middle portion of the game. The Heels led 34-30 with 4:32 to play in the first half. Over the next 14 minutes and 17 seconds, UNC outscored the Mountaineers 42-17. That was pretty much the game right there. The Tar Heels were sloppy when they allowed Appalachian State back in the game in the middle of the first half. And UNC was sloppy again in the final 10:15, when Appalachian outscored Carolina by 14 points. But the Tar Heels were so dominant in the middle it didn’t matter.

The good: UNC converted a high number of its chances. The Heels were just 2-for-10 from 3-point range but they still managed to shoot 54.5 percent overall. So, obviously, they converted a high rate of their shots inside the 3-point line. The Tar Heels should have dominated in the paint and they did, outscoring the Mountaineers 54-24 there. Tyler Zeller finished with 31 points - one short of tying his career high - and 10 rebounds.

The bad: Twice it appeared that UNC was going to completely blow out Appalachian State, and both times the Tar Heels failed to close the deal. They led by 12 in the first half before allowing Appalachian State to go on a 15-7 run to make it a 4-point game. Then UNC built a 29-point lead and took the foot off the gas coming down the stretch. This was an easy win - make no mistake about it - but still: Williams was frustrated by how his team played at times. The Mountaineers shot well from the perimeter, where they made 9 of their 20 3-point attempts, and they also took advantage of some of the Tar Heels’ sloppiness.

Key stat: That one’s easy this game. The Tar Heels’ dominance in the paint, where they outscored Appalachian by 30 points, was the obvious difference.

Key stat II: The Tar Heels went 6:35 without a field goal during one stretch of the second half. This was after they’d built that 29-point lead. Think Williams will be emphasizing the mistakes of that drought in an upcoming film session? Me too.

UNC player of the game: Zeller. Williams didn’t agree afterward that this was Zeller’s best game of the season. Still, he played well and finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Quotable: "OK, it was a W. It’s Christmas time. I’m not going to be Scrooge, by any means. We were really good for about the last four minutes of the first half and the first four or five minutes of the second half. And then we went brain dead there for a while." - UNC coach Roy Williams

-- Andrew Carter

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vanderbilt visits Davidson

The Davidson Wildcats get a visit from the SEC's Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. today in Belk Arena (ESPN3).

The Wildcats (6-1) have been getting solid play from forward Jake Cohen, who scored 26 points and had five rebounds against Wofford last week, then scored 16 and had seven rebounds against Furman. He shot 75 percent in those two Southern Conference victories and was named the league's player of the week.

The Commodores (5-3) might have star center Festus Ezeli back in the lineup for the game. Ezeli hurt his knee in the preseason and has missed all eight games so far. But he has been practicing this week and, according to the Associated Press, coach Kevin Stallings is debating about whether to give him some minutes tonight.

Vanderbilt has been ranked as high as seventh nationally, but has lost two straight and fallen out of the Top 25 with those defeats against Xavier and Louisville. -- David Scott