- Free-throw shooting: You could have guessed that one. Free-throw shooting is very important down the stretch in close ball-games. With better free-throw shooting they likely would have made the lead to great for Duke to overcome. They absolutely must get in the gym and improve. The two I would make shoot the most are John Henson and Dexter Strickland because they absolutely scare me when they go to the line
The Tar Heels are definitely on the rise, but they need to improve in some key areas. Here are my three key areas of improvements as we head into the second half of the season:
This edition of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry is in the books. It did not end well for the Heels, but there is a lot to take from last night's game.
Going into the season, nobody would have picked North Carolina in Wednesday night's game in Cameron. Not only did they take it to the wire, but they had an early lead that grew to 16 points and was fourteen points at the half.
The Tar Heels rolled into Durham and took an early 8-0 lead. The Heels were up by 14 at halftime, but it just was not enough as Duke won 79-73. The Tar Heels dominated inside but Nolan Smith and Seth Curry combined for 56 of Duke's 79 points.
Tyler Hansbrough and Bobby Frasor know how.
In four years at North Carolina Hansbrough and Frasor never lost to the Blue Devils at Cameron. They know what it takes. The key ingredient is toughness and icy veins.
Toughness is key and Hansbrough always brought that to the court. The Blue Devils will get up in your face on defense and the crowd will be right behind you. They may deliver a Gerald Henderson-type blow to the face, but regardless the Heels must be tough tonight.
Everybody is included in this, but the big men need to show a toughness like we have never seen before. Tyler Zeller and John Henson are both great players, but sometimes they can get pushed around down low. Part of it is due to size, but nonetheless with a little more toughness they will be hard to beat.
The Heels also must demonstrate that they have ice in their veins. They cannot let the pressure of the crowd to get to them. In Cameron, Duke uses tremendous on the ball pressure which is backed up by the crowd making it very difficult for ball-handlers. There will be signs and chants about everybody, but Harrison Barnes in particular must not let it get to them.
Since the Heels pulled Barnes to Chapel Hill, the Cameron Crazies will be extra excited to chant about Barnes. He must take it and feed off of it.
As a team, the Heels must show toughness and have ice in their veins to win in Cameron tonight. Just ask Hansbrough and Frasor. They know what it takes.
The biggest rivalry in college sports continues Wednesday night when the the Tar Heels roll into Durham. Not only is it a heated rivalry, but they are playing for first place in the ACC. The Heels lead the series 130-99 all-time. Coming off of two losses to Duke last year, the Tar Heels are looking for the win.
Eric Montross and Tyler Hansbrough's bloody faces will forever be remembered in the North Carolina-Duke rivalry. Perhaps, it is because we American's just love a good fight, but these are two of the most remembered and played back clips from the rivalry.
In Eric Montross' case, the blood was a result of a long day's work banging inside against Duke's big men. He is especially remembered for knocking in two free throws while the cameras zoomed in on the cuts on his face.
If you do not know the name do not feel bad. Brian Baker had only been the UNC defensive line coach since Jan. 10 of this year. He was the replacement for Charlie Coiner who replaced John Blake when he resigned during the investigation. Baker had been a big help in finalizing recruiting, and was expected to be great in player development.
None of that matters any more because he accepted more money and will be joining the Dallas Cowboys as the defensive line coach. Baker had been the defensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers this past season so he will acclimate well. In fact, it was the Panthers beat writer, Darin Gantt, for the Charlotte Observer who confirmed the reports.
Expect Butch Davis to make another hire soon.
Follow us on Twitter.