Friday, January 20, 2012

Look back: Tar Heels run past Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. — No. 8 North Carolina defeated Virginia Tech 82-68 at Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night. A look back at the Tar Heels’ much-needed victory:

Why the Tar Heels won: UNC faced a lot of questions following its 90-57 loss at Florida State on Saturday. Questions about its toughness. Questions about its intensity. Questions about its mental makeup. Down 8 at Virginia Tech on Thursday night, with Cassell Coliseum rocking, the Tar Heels were in the same kind of place they found themselves in early in the second half at Florida State. But this time, UNC fought through. Harrison Barnes began what became a 19-0 run with a pair of free throws, the Heels increased the defensive pressure and UNC played like a team worthy of the high expectations that surrounded it at the start of the season. Was this a season-saver? I think that’d be too dramatic a description. But it was a crucial, much-needed victory. The Heels faced a gut check near the start of the second half and they responded with a confidence-building performance. UNC coach Roy Williams said the second half was “probably” the best his team had played all season.

The good: The Heels played with a fire and an energy during the second half that we’ve rarely seen this season. That must continue for this team to reach its potential. Barnes was sensational in the second half, when he scored 21 of his 27 points. John Henson added 16 points and 16 rebounds and Tyler Zeller added 14 and 11. UNC played well defensively during the second half, too. Virginia Tech guard Dorenzo Hudson scored 16 points and made four 3’s in the first half. In the second half? He had zero points in 10 minutes.
The bad: Hudson’s first half performance brought back the not-too-distant memories of The Deividas Dulkys Show. Dulkys, of course, made eight 3’s and scored a career-high 32 points against UNC on Saturday. UNC allowed Virginia Tech eight made 3’s in the first half, but Williams seemed less disappointed in his team’s defense and more impressed by the Hokies ability to make difficult shots. And, of course, the worst thing of all for UNC: Dexter Strickland suffered a right knee injury and left the game with 16:44 to play. He will undergo an MRI on Friday.

Key stat: The Tar Heels played about as well as they have this season during that decisive 19-0 run. The offense looked good during that stretch but what pleased Williams the most was how his team defended during that run. During that run, the Hokies were 0-for-8 from the field and committed two turnovers.
Key stat II: UNC dominated in two key facets of the game – second-chance points and points in the paint. Combined, the Heels outscored the Hokies 59-21 in those two statistical categories.

UNC player of the game: Barnes. No debate here. Barnes tonight showed why he was a preseason first-team All-American and a candidate to win national player of the year honors. He simply took over the game early in the second half, and did so when UNC most needed him – or somebody – to do so. In addition to the 27 points, Barnes had 3 steals and 6 rebounds.

Quotable: “That was my whole thing at halftime. I challenged them. I said don’t be giving me and woe-be’s, don’t be giving me any feel sorry for yourselves. Let’s play. I wasn’t going to feel sorry for us at all. And that’s the biggest thing I pushed at halftime but it was the kids deciding to go after it themselves in the second half.” –UNC coach Roy Williams, on what he told the team at  halftime when Virginia Tech led 39-34.

-- Andrew Carter


Anonymous said...

"I said don’t be giving me and woe-be’s, don’t be giving me any feel sorry for yourselves."

Whiny Roy preaching to whiny players. Priceless!

Anonymous said...

Down by 7...UP by 21..Won by 14...looks like another ACC and NCAA Championship in on the way!