Ankle injury? What ankle injury?
I imagine that is what Kentucky folks were thinking as they watched Ty Lawson go from human to cheetah speed out there and have their heads explode as they attempt to envision what Lawson could do if the ankle were not injured. With Lawson back in the lineup, UNC overcame a very poor first half of shooting to open up a huge lead on Kentucky in the second half on their way to what ended up being a nine point win.
Overall this was another solid outing, especially considering the hostile environment at Rupp Arena. It turned out to be another good day for the defense which forced 19 turnovers and had 12 steals. UK was held under 50% shooting and the Heels completely controlled the boards. UNC had a lot of energy on the defensive end. I also noticed UNC limited any second chances for UK by grabbing defensive rebounds. However it was their intensity and activity in disrupting UK that most impressed me.
The offense came out a tad sluggish and definitely a little off in terms of shooting. This, more than anything else, contributed to UNC only being up five at halftime after only hitting 11-34 in the first 20 minutes including a stretch of bad shooting that rivaled OT versus Georgetown. The offense was just out of sync in the first half with Lawson committing three of his four turnovers in the first stanza and every Heels unable to hit the broadside of a barn with a sawed off shotgun. In fact, the only Heels worth a grain of salt on the offensive end in the first half was Danny Green who hit two big threes to keep UK at bay. The second half was night and day. UNC found it’s offense and executed more consistently led by Lawson who got the fast break going with some great shooting from Wayne Ellington. Tyler Hansbrough was frustrated all afternoon by physical defense which appears to be the way he is going to be played regardless of whether fouls will be call or not. Hansbrough still nailed the double-double thanks to lots of FT shooting and his tenacity on the boards might be a more important stat in a game like this than his ability to score. And the fact UNC can get great offensive production with Hansbrough only taking eight shots bodes extremely well for this team going forward.
In the end UNC simply worn down the Wildcats and flex come offensive muscle in the second half to blow open a closer than expected game. I think we are still waiting to see UNC put together a complete effort on both ends of the floor. The next opportunity for that is yet another road game against Penn.