UNC 66 OSU 55

Can UNC win amid adversity?  Yes

Can the Heels win in an ugly game where the offense is not clicking?  The answer after tonight is a resounding “Yes.”

UNC went to Columbus and had Ty Lawson as a spectator, struggled to find an offense but got a career night from Wayne Ellington and great second half play from Deon Thompson to overcome the lack of scoring.  Tyler Hansbrough had a very bad game which has not been unusual for him when playing teams that can pack a zone and bring a taller player on him.  The offense is

The story of this game is the UNC defense and rebounding.  Roy Williams had been talking all week about one of his Kansas teams that shot 29% from the floor and still won because the other team shot 22%.  That was the kind of game this was against OSU and this win is owed almost entirely to the things UNC did limiting the Buckeyes.  Consider these highlights from the box score:

  • OSU only shot 27% from the floor going 19-70.  Ten of those 19 were three points, seven of them in the first half.
  • The Buckeyes went 10 minutes without a FG and had UNC been executing on offense they would have taken a 20 point lead with ease.
  • UNC out rebounded OSU 58-42 and 18-12 on the offensive end.
  • The Buckeyes leading scorer, seven footer Kosta Koufos came in averaging 18.6 ppg but went 1-10 for only four points against the Heels.
  • Alex Stepheson has three blocks and nine rebounds.  Marcus Ginyard and Ellington had eight boards and Deon Thompson had seven.  Hansbrough had 11 including five offensive boards.

The bottom line is in this game and the one versus BYU, when the defense needed to step up and compensate for the lack of an offense it has happened.  UNC came to Columbus with Lawson on the bench and their offense altered by his absence.  They face a OSU team using a zone to slow down the game and cover Hansbrough which in turn made finding open shots difficult.  With so much inconsistency on the offensive end, the play of the defense gave UNC the edge they needed to win a very tough game in front of a hostile crowd.  It seems like we have seen parts of this team play well in different games.  If they can get everyone healthy and execute on both ends they will be what we expected them to be this season.

And let me say Wayne Ellington continues to impress.  The 23 points included a dagger to the Buckeye chances with the shot clock dwindling.  He also came back following a nasty fall which hobbled him for a bit but did not compromise that nice stroke.  The offense also did a great job of solving the zone without the benefit of Lawson’s penetration.  Credit to Roy for having the Heels work the ball patiently against the zone to look for openings and creating some by flashing someone into the middle of the paint to disrupt it.  Thompson scored some points doing this as did Ginyard.

In one respect, there is an expectation that UNC should do what Duke did to Wisconsin and really thrash OSU but it should be noted UNC was playing without Lawson and that dramatically alters how well they do anything on offense.  I think had Lawson played, UNC would have won by a greater margin.  Irregardless of this factor, games like this are far more instructional than thrashing another team by 20.  UNC will be a better team down the road having been in these early tests and getting the win makes it more fun.

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11 Responses to UNC 66 OSU 55

  1. Howard says:

    One thing that worries me about Lawson being out is that the team will become used to playing without him, and then when he comes back in, it will be like a new team. And those first few games might just be quite difficult because of that. But again, maybe not.

  2. C. Michael says:

    “Irregardless” is not a word. Sorry, I hate to nitpick, you have a great blog, but that is one of my pet peeves. ;)

    In response to Howard’s post, I don’t think two games is long enough to make the Heels forget how to play fast, and, IMO, it is a lot easier to go from slow-to-fast, than vice versa.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Really? I hear smart people use it all the time.

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    people who use a their first initial with a period is one of mine–what r ya gonna do?

  5. C. Michael says:

    Ir- is a negative prefix, as in irrespective or irresistable. Regardless is already a negative, as it means to be without regard, and is commonly used in place of ‘nevertheless.’ By combining the two you create a double negative.

  6. 52BigGameJames says:

    good grammar without good manners seems pointless-next time, try a pm!

  7. C. Michael says:

    I fail to see how anything I have written would qualify as “poor manners.” I simply corrected a mistake that is commonly made, but I was in no way malicious with my wording. And I disagree with your implication that it should have been done privately. This is a public, forum, and as such public corrections are completely legitimate, so long as they are done tactfully.

  8. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Your fine. I took no offense to it. Believe or not I do hold a BA in English from one of the fine UNC system campuses.

  9. 52BigGameJames says:

    we agree to disagree–moving on…

  10. Wayne says:

    I figure if the N.Y. Times uses a word incorrectly or uses a word that isn’t a word, they should be ambushed. But when a guy who loves UNC sports enough to spend his time and money to give many other Carolina fans a very good blog, maybe he should get a pass for an occasional grammar glitch. Keep up the good work THF. Your efforts are appreciated!

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    I think UNC would have won by that margin if Hansbrough would have shot as many free-throws as he deserves. It is hard to watch him get hit and take it as just being “part of the game”, while their guard drives to the basket, gets followed into the lane by Ellington’s defense, and goes to the free-throw line on what appeared to be minute contact to finish off a 3-point play. That kind of inconsistent officiating sends a message that it’s ok to foul if it is Hansbrough, because you have to in order to have a chance to stop him, but you are a fragile guard and if you get touched on your way to the basket, we are going to punish that defender. Both of those philosophies hurt us because we are a strong, energetic team, not the kind of team to flop around just for the sake of selling a foul, and our guards do not try to drive the lane and suspend their bodies into the defense.

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