Wednesday Recap: Tar Heels Too Potent for Texas

December 22nd, 2011

In each of North Carolina's last two games sophomore forward Harrison Barnes shot 4-for-12 from the field and scored nine points. Some may have been concerned given the fact that those performances came against Appalachian State and Nicholls State, ignoring the fact that the Tar Heels still managed to win both games by comfortable margins. Barnes is fine, as he showed in North Carolina's 82-63 win over Texas by scoring a season-high 26 points and grabbing ten rebounds in just 25 minutes of action. With an offensive rating for the night of 177.5 it's probably fair to say that this was his most efficient performance of the season to date, with the visiting Longhorns not having much of an answer for either Barnes of his teammates. 

"Everyone only looks at the points, but I look at what we're doing defensively, and I really thought he was more active tonight," said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams of Barnes' performance. "If he's attacking the basket, I like that. I also like when he shoots the three-point shot. He's got a wide variety of options, and hopefully we moving forward where we can use all of them."

One of the big concerns for Rick Barnes' team was the play of their big men, as Texas doesn't have a talent the caliber of either Gary Johnson or Tristan Thompson on this year's roster. Sure enough they were handled on the glass, as North Carolina grabbed 22 offensive boards and out-rebounded texas 49-34. John Henson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Tyler Zeller finished with eight points and 11 rebounds as UNC outscored Texas 42-26 in the paint. J'Covan Brown and Jonathan Holmes scored 16 apiece but when the other three starters combine to score just one point it doesn't matter much if they get 16 from someone off the bench like they did from Sheldon McClellan on Wednesday. 

"We have got to get somebody that is going to run our team and run our offense," said Barnes. "We are starting three guards, so it's not like it should be a problem, but we are not playing with a purpose on the offensive end. We've got a long ways to go, but we've enough guys that want to do this thing and we'll get it fixed."  

In the matchup of stellar point guards Kendall Marshall was far more effective than Myck Kabongo, racking up nine assist to just two turnovers while the freshman played just 15 minutes and turned the ball over four times (one assist). Texas, due to their lack of star power, has to have a group effort every night out especially when it comes to hitting the boards. They didn't get that, or North Carolina didn't allow them to do so, and the Longhorns paid for it dearly. With the number of weapons that North Carolina has, a fight that could be a bit more equitable in a couple of months didn't play out that way in Chapel Hill. 

Other Notable Happenings

1. Seton Hall wins at Dayton to move to 10-1 thanks in part to Patrik Auda.
In previous seasons senior power forward Herb Pope picking up his fourth foul would be the beginning of the end for the Seton Hall Pirates. But in a sign of just how much things have changed in South Orange that was not to be, much to the detriment of the Dayton Flyers. The big reason why: Patrik Auda, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help lead the Pirates to the 69-64 victory in their first road game of the season. The sophomore from the Czech Republic also blocked three shots on the night, and the Flyers really didn't have an answer for him defensively.

Pope finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes before fouling out late while Jordan Theodore (14 points, eight assists) and Aaron Cosby (13 points) also reached double figures. Seton Hall shot 54% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc on the night as well as assisting on 19 of their 27 made baskets. Dayton hung tough due in part to their eight-point edge at the foul line but it wasn't enough to keep The Hall from moving to 10-1 on the season. With Big East play beginning next week there's reason for optimism with regards to Kevin Willard's program, and they're talented enough to make a run at an NCAA Tournament berth. 

2. Ole Miss falls to Middle Tennessee but the bigger deal is Murphy Holloway's ankle.
Kermit Davis' Blue Raiders were expected by many to beat Ole Miss and move to 11-2 on the season, and that they did by the final score of 68-56. Middle Tennessee outscored Ole Miss 42-29 in the second half with Raymond Cintron knocking down some huge three-pointers in scoring a team-high 18 points. But the game turned for the Rebels with 10:09 remaining, when leading scorer Murphy Holloway went down with a left ankle injury.

At that point the game was tied at 42, but Ole Miss would not score another field goal until Terrance Henry's jumper with 3:36 remaining made the score 60-50 in favor of Middle Tennessee. Freshman Jelan Kendrick is still working his way into the flow of things, and despite his talents it's clear that the Rebels need Holloway on the floor in order to be effective offensively. Holloway will undergo x-rays on Thursday, and if he's out for an extended amount of time the Rebels will be in some trouble.   

3. Alabama finally gets some shots to fall as they jumped Oklahoma State early.
As ESPN color commentator Fran Fraschilla pointed out early in the Crimson Tide's 69-52 win over Oklahoma State it's not that Alabama can't shoot that's the issue. The shots simply weren't falling for Anthony Grant's team, and that changed in a hurry as the Tide raced out to a 19-4 lead with 14:26 remaining in the first half. Alabama shot 57% from the field in the first half on their way to a 40-22 halftime lead, and Trevor Releford led three starters in double figures with 19 points as the Tide played well without the injured JaMychal Green (shoulder). Freshman Trevor Lacey started in Green's place and took full advantage, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Green's expected back in the near future, and with he and Tony Mitchell up front the Tide need their guards to shoot the ball well in order to reach their full potential. Safe to say that 7-for-15 from deep is a nice step in that direction. 

Quick Hitters

1. If one were to make a list of schizophrenic college basketball teams this season Loyola Marymount would without a doubt be on that list. The Lions' achievement on Wednesday: a 69-45 loss at Morgan State with the Bears picking up their second victory of the season. LMU may pull an upset or two in WCC play, but their inconsistency may doom them to the bottom half of the standings. 

2. Duquesne picked up a good win as they ended George Mason's 18-game home win streak by the final score of 75-64. Sean Johnson scored 15 points while T.J. McConnell and Eric Evans scored 12 apiece. McConnell's playmaking ability helped keep the Patriots at bay as they looked to come back in the second half.  

3. Despite leading by 12 points at one point in the second half Arizona State dropped to 2-6 at home, losing 68-65 to Fresno State. Kevin Olekaibe's three-pointer with 29.9 seconds remaining gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, negating a 22-point outing from Keala King. 

4. Freshman Amir Garrett made his debut for St. John's, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds in 15 minutes of action. The Red Storm had a serious fight on their hands against UT-Pan American but they did enough late to escape with the 66-61 victory. D'Angelo Harrison and God'sgift Achiuwa combined to score 43 of their 66 points.  

5. Something to take out of Penn State's 74-67 win over Cornell is the play of Jermaine Marshall, who scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. Patrick Chambers needs someone to be a consistent sidekick for Tim Frazier, and hopefully Marshall took a step in that direction. 

6. Houston Baptist picked up a good win as they beat Santa Clara 72-71 in Houston. Tyler Russell scored 19 points and Art Bernardi added 16 for the Huskies, who watched Evan Roquemore miss a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining to remain ahead. 

7. No undefeated teams lost on Wednesday but unfortunately for Hartford no winless teams got off the schneid either. The Hawks dropped an 89-86 double overtime result at Marist despite 23 points and eight rebounds from Nate Sikma. Isaiah Morton led the Red Foxes with 23 points while Chavaughn Lewis added 16, seven rebounds and three steals off the bench. 

Three Notable Performances

1. F Mike Scott (Virginia)
33 points, 14 rebounds and two assists in Virginia's 83-77 win at Seattle.

2. F Wendell McKines (New Mexico State)
23 points and 17 rebounds in the Aggies' 82-62 win over McNeese State. 

3. G Rayvonte Rice (Drake)
29 points (12-18 FG), five rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the Bulldogs' 87-64 win over Central Arkansas.