Watching No. 5 AP, No. 6 ESPN/USA Today North Carolina (11-2) take down Texas (9-3) by the final of 82 to 63 at the Dean Dome two things can come to mind. For the positive thinkers the fact that this team had to shake off some rust against teams much weaker than them after a week off and now are back to where they should be. For the negative people there could be a thought that this team plays up, or down, to their competition, a cardinal sin for programs looking to make it deep into March Madness. My thinking is that last night UNC took on a team that head coach Roy Williams had not beaten since coming to Chapel Hill and took care of them from the get go, looking a lot more sharp on both sides of the ball, playing Carolina ball for most of the match.
“We usually have lapses and things of that nature,” said John Henson, who added 14 points for UNC. “We had a few, but if we can play at that type of level all season, I think we’ll be fine.”
Carolina took a double digit lead half way into the first half, went to the locker rooms leading 39 to 23 and while the second half the lead fluctuated never was there a doubt to whom was going to win this game. For sophomore Harrison Barnes, who had been held to nine points the last two games, this was a nice bounce back game, scoring a season high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds. Many of his buckets came off of passes by sophomore Kendall Marshall, who finished the game with nine assists (to only 2 TOs), giving him the record for most assists in the first 50 games as a Tar Heel. In all eight players scored for UNC, three of them in double digits, and got double digit minutes in the game. If you want to find something to be worried about, after leading the team in rebounds for the first ten games John Henson has not done so two out of the last three times. However between Barnes, Henson and Tyler Zeller they combined for 29 boards, so doubtful there is much to worry there.
If you want to find the flaws in this game I could say there were two. In the first half, against a much small line up, Carolina gave up way too many offensive boards. In the second twenty minutes of the game the Heels played well but were not as fast going down the floor to execute their patented fast break. On the other hand, both from outside the arc, where the team went 4 for 7, and from the free throw line, where they hit 23 for 41, UNC did a lot better than they had in the last outings.
Now for this squad it’s the lay off for the holidays, the a couple of games to end 2011/begin 2012 and finally conference play. There is no doubt in my mind that this squad has the talent to cut down the nets when it’s all said and done, they just have to focus for each and every game, improving every time they step on the court, no matter the competition, no matter the circumstances. If they can do that this could be another long run into the NCAA Tournament for a coach Williams’ led squad.