North Carolina Basketball: UNC moves on to the Sweet Sixteen, but at a price

Yesterday’s game between UNC and Creighton had a lot of story lines before its tip off, but when top seed North Carolina (31-5 ~ 14-2 in the ACC) and No. 8 Creighton (29-6 ~ 14-4 MWC) had finished playing, with the Heels winning 87 to 73, the only story line that people wanted to know was one: how bad was Kendall Marshall fractured wrist? For head coach Roy Williams’ squad this is just another injury that no one wanted and one that has to deal with as the season heads into the last two weekends of the year. Over at the Tar Heel Fan blog Brian Barbour has an interview with an orthopedic surgeon. While at the official site for UNC Athletics it was posted that the surgery went well and now it’s wait and see. On the other hand, if you listen to Marshall’s dad, it seems like Kendall will be ready for the upcoming weekend telling in a text to CBS Sports “hang on to your seatbelt“.

As far as the game was concerned let me say this: I think that Creighton came to play a bit more than just on the floor. From the swipes at John Henson’s wrist, which cost the junior power forward a technical foul for reacting, which seemed to have been no accident as the Bluejays winked at his bench afterwards. To then a Creighton player hitting senior center Tyler Zeller which should have been a flagrant foul, to finally the shove to Marshall that caused the fracture, it just felt like this game should have been reeled in somewhat by the refs. Not saying that at anytime the Bluejays players did anything to get anyone hurt, just saying that maybe if the first two incidents had been handled a bit better than the one that caused Marshall his injury might not have happened.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1oGKlJHQug&version=3&hl=en_US]

To be noted, it was just after the technical that UNC went from playing ok to playing a lot better, as though the “incident” woke up the proverbial sleeping dog. But now let’s talk about the game itself, which had plenty of great performances, beginning with the return of Henson, where the forward got a double double, with 13 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks, Zeller added 11 points and six rebounds while the third man in that rotation, James McAdoo, had nine points, four rebounds, three blocks as well as a pair of steals that led to fast break pointss. The front court looked very good in this game on both side of the ball. There is no doubt that this trio will someday, for the first two probably next season, be at the next level making a living playing basketball.

In the back court once again Marshall had a double double, his fifth in six games, with 18 points and 11 assists, however at half time coach Williams was not happy with the floor general’s turnovers, in which he had four in all. Reggie Bullock also had a good game, scoring 13 points to go with eight rebounds. On the other hand, P.J. Hairston had a bland game against Creighton, scoring just four points on 1 for 3 shooting from beyond the arc. Finally we have Harrison Barnes, once again taking just a couple of shots more than he should have, but hitting two treys in a row when the Bluejays had cut the lead from 19 to a dozen points. In all the small forward scored 17 points, as all the starters were in double digits.

For the coaching staff and the team they now begin to work on their next opponent, No. 13 Ohio, which they will meet up in St. Louis on Friday. And of course the squad and the fan base will all be waiting on any news about Marshall.