So at least we can talk some of the Tar Heel fans down off the ledge now.
UNC dominated the first half to get a 21 point lead and in the second half did not play at the same level to end up with the 13 point win. Tyler Hansbrough had the big game everyone assumed he would have to erase memories of that horrible night against Gonzaga. Hansbrough dropped 27 points and nine rebounds. Brandan Wright had a strong game with 19 points and eight rebounds on 9 of 10 shooting. Reyshawn Terry showed up with 10 points and eight boards but also committed five turnovers. Ty Lawson probably had his finest game to this point with 14 points and six assists. Lawson still is struggling with turnovers committing four but he also logged 24 minutes at the point which may be his highest total to date.
Despite the win, the two huge bugaboos UNC has dealt with in almost every game is perimeter defense and 40 minutes of focus/intensity. It was obvious Roy Williams was not happy with the effort in the second half. This team has a tendency to get totally off track in terms of their focus and allowed a Tennessee team which they had knocked down for what amounts to a TKO to get up off the mat. Now, the Vols never really threatened UNC but it all had the feel of a boxing match where the guy keeps hanging around and punching away even though he is bloodied. I can imagine Roy pointing out to them that Tennessee was down by 15-20 points but kept going after it despite the score. UNC seemed satisfied after getting up by 20 and as the season goes on it is imperative that this team applies the full balance of their talent to the last minute of the game. This is obviously not happening and it leads to some really sloppy play to the tune of 24 turnovers. Tennessee only committed 11. The other part of the equation is the perimeter defense which was once again non-existent. The Vols shot almost 50% from the arc hitting 15 of 31 for the game and 11 for 21 in the second half alone. Obviously this ties into the lack of effort and intensity that UNC held Tennessee to a respectable 4 for 10 in the first half then allowed them to go hog wild from three point range in the second half.
So in short it was good to get the win but at the same time there are nagging issues and the fact UNC has yet to put together a full game against someone worth their weight in basketball talent is disturbing. Wednesday night against the presumptive #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes would be a good place to find out if such an effort is possible.
- The flagrant foul on JuJuan Smith against Tyler Hansbrough did not warrant an ejection in my opinion. Smith clearly took a swipe at the ball but after he missed it he grabbed Hansbrough’s jersey and pull him down rather violently. The refs made an immediate flagrant foul call and even stepped in front of Hansbrough to keep him from retaliating. Of course Roy Williams was also on the floor to keep Hansbrough out of trouble as well.
- ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb asked the rather stupid question as to when Roy Williams would par his rotation down to nine players to which I would say: “Doug, Roy is one of the best coaches in the country, so I imagine he will do it when he feels like it.” Seriously I think the answer to that question is January. I expect we will see musical player changes for the next month or so since after the next two opponents UNC does not meet anyone to worry about until January. The start of ACC play should also bring a consistent rotation from the coaching staff.
- Ty Lawson showed some of the moves which make him one potentially one of the best PGs in the conference. His turnovers are still a huge concern but he is able to make some incredible plays.
- Lawson and Deon Thompson obviously ditched the headbands. Seems to have worked for Lawson.