Does anyone remember the Florida State game?
Where to begin?
How about Tyler Freaking Hansbrough who willed this team to win. I know that some of the rival fan bases have made light of that concept but how else would you describe it? 39 points, 13 rebounds and with UNC up three in the second overtime Tyler Hansbrough playing about 40 feet from the basket gets a hand in to knock the ball away from Clemson’s David Potter then dives on the floor after the ball and gets fouled by Potter leading to a pair of free throws that made it a five point game to virtually put it away. And while I am biased let me say I don’t care what Kevin Love is doing at UCLA, Michael Beasley at Kansas State or anyone else in the country. Hansbrough is the national player of the year, period.
As for the game. UNC did about as much wrong as they could do, especially in the first half. The Heels came out of the gate turning the ball over and still unable to hit shots. The Heels had 13 first half turnovers, shot under 40% and was probably fortunate to only be down 11 at the break. Matters only improved slightly in the second half with UNC getting to back to six points but UNC simply could not stop Cliff Hammonds(playing the role of Sam Cassell) from hitting shots. At one point Hammonds drove right down the middle of the lane in the half court to get a layup which put Clemson up 14 with eight minutes left. Even down to three minutes left UNC was trailing by eleven and hope was fleeting. That is when Roy broke out a bottle of The Magic of Carmichael which was last seen on the UNC bench with three minutes to go against Duke in 2005. At this point, Danny Green decided to show up hitting two threes amid more Hansbrough being Hansbrough and it was Quentin Thomas driving in for the game tying layup to get the game to OT. In the two OTs is was all on Hansbrough who had 13 of the 21 Tar Heel points after regulation. Even above that, UNC stepped up to play defense and all of this without Marcus Ginyard on the floor after he left with a tweaked ankle. Hammonds who lit the Heels up was scoreless after the three with 1:20 left to give Clemson a five point lead. That left Clemson relying on other players who seemed to be in the habit of hitting shots despite UNC playing tremendous defense. Take for example the Terence Oglesby lean in three on Ellington with one second on the shot clock. While Clemson continued to shot fairly well(48%) in the second half, UNC limited the three point looks after the break and also forced 11 Tiger turnovers to turn the tide of the game. The Heels went the final 30 minutes of the game only committing seven turnovers themselves after giving the ball away in the first half.
And as for the question in my post from last night, let me say that we found Wayne Ellington and he answered the bell after starting the game 0-4. From that point Ellington went 9-18 the rest of the way including 5-9 from three point range. Danny Green was not great all game but when it was on the line he hit the two big threes to bring UNC all the way back. But enough cannot be said about the play of Quentin Thomas. Due to the injury to Marcus Ginyard, Thomas was the only serviceable point guard UNC had and he did not disappoint playing the 2nd half and two overtimes while committing only two tunovers. All totaled Thomas had six points, nine assists and five TOs in 45 minutes for a guy who is nowhere near used to playing 45 minutes. Thomas also had the big drive and shot to tie the game at 82 followed by a solid defensive effort. He then stepped up and hit two free throws to tie the game at 90 in the first OT. And while getting Ty Lawson back as soon as possible is paramount I think the gap between the two has been significantly reduced. I am confident in Thomas subbing in for Lawson 7-10 minutes per game when the latter returns now.
At any rate, I will take it. Clemson did everything they needed to do for 37 minutes in this game to break the long streak but over the final three minutes of regulation and ten minutes of OT, the Tigers were outscored 35-14 by a UNC team that found their confidence and toughness at exactly the right moment. It was a great performance by Clemson but in the end UNC pulled out another classic comeback win at home. After three plus halves of basketball versus Duke and Clemson, UNC somehow found a way to become the team we all thought they were just in time to stun Clemson and keep pace with Duke and also keep pace in the race for a #1 seed considering UCLA dropped one versus Washington earlier. Now UNC needs to get back up and take care of Virginia in Charlottesville, most likely without Ty Lawson who Roy said after this game that Lawson would likely not play versus UVa. But even if that is the case, it is my highest hope that the Heels found themselves during this furious comeback win and it carries over until 11:30 PM on April 7th.