So it turns out that being tall is an advantage in basketball. Who knew?
Height sure gave the Buckeyes fits, at least. Ohio State was out of sync for most of the game, shooting horribly from behind the arc and often disappearing entirely from the boards for stretches of time. Evan Turner was constantly frustrated, turning the ball over ten times and fouling out despite 23 points. For most of the game is was a good, solid performance from a young team.
And then there was the last ten minutes. Up by nineteen the Heels proceeded to rack up eight turnovers, floundered against an OSU press, and stood by helplessly as Larry Drew went 2 for 6 from the free throw line over three consecutive possessions. By the time the smoke cleared, it was a two point game with eleven seconds remaining. Thankfully, an OSU foul before the inbounds play sent Drew back to the line, where he hit both shots to put the game out of reach. Still, I expect there will be a fair amount of yelling in the locker room before tomorrow's Syracuse game.
Statistically, the Heels were the same team they were in their first three games. Lots of steals (8) and blocks (6), balanced by a huge number of turnovers (20) when UNC had the ball. Watching the game, though, there was improvement. Carolina shot well from behind the arc, which went a long way towards keeping the Buckeyes from just doubling down on UNC's big men. They also took charge of the game early, something the hadn't done in their earlier games; until those disastrous last ten minutes they showed much promise in quickly capturing a lead and holding it throughout the game. They've got thirty minutes under their belt. Perhaps tomorrow they'll go for the entire forty.
Oh, and one more thing. Look for more from P.J. Hill. Despite a thin stat line and not much notice paid to him, the team vastly improved when he was running the point rather than Evan Turner. Expect to see him take on a bigger role, in this, his senior year.