Tar Heel Post
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. 
Let break the game down a little bit. In the first half, Tyler Zeller played as tough as we have seen him play all year. He got several easy baskets because Kendall Marshall was driving into the lane at will, if he could only convert a few of those shots. 

The team defense was incredible for most of the game, and I would give team defensive MVP to Harrison Barnes for effectively shutting down Kyle Singler.

The second half was a different story. John Henson did not play very smart to start the second half. His travels should have been simple kick-outs and his jump shot must improve before he feels so comfortable taking that shot. Marshall was not driving the lane near as well, and North Carolina was not hitting their shots. Granted, it was not the old Tar Heel team we were seeing, but they were not hitting the shots they had been hitting the last few games. Credit Duke's defense, but also North Carolina's inexperience. 

The Heels were also visibly tired, and on top of that in foul trouble. Hopefully, how tired they were played a role in the lack of them hitting a three-pointer in the second half. If not that was just a poor performance.

Nolan Smith had an incredible game, but Strickland also made some dumb plays on him defensively. In the first half, Seth Curry was driving nowhere, but Strickland decides to help-out, leaving Nolan Smith wide open on the wing. Smith drains the three. Strickland has the athleticism to guard the best wings in the country, but the smarts are not there, yet. Once his brain catches up with his speed, watch out.

What I am trying to say is that the Heels did not play the perfect game and lose by six to a much better Duke team. Instead, the Heels are a very similar team to the Blue Devils, according to talent. The Heels also have room to get better, and they will. 

The second half of the season should be a relative breeze, with a few bumps in the road, for both teams up until the big end-of-the-season match-up. Will the Heels improve on the details mentioned? If they do, my money's on the Heels.

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02/10/2011 9:13pm

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