Boy was that ugly. More so on the UAB end of the court and if I never have to watch that putrid, dragging style of basketball again, I will die a happy man. Nothing like watching the opposing PG dribble 30 seconds of shot clock away to push you to the brink of pulling your hair out.
The debate raged late in the season concerning whether UNC should accept a bid to the NIT or the simple attitude of hoping the Heels would not make the NIT to put us all out of our misery. But they did get in and at the time I said there was only one thing to do: Just win baby. That they have and while it has not been pretty, it has worked. More importantly, we are seeing John Henson and Larry Drew develop. The more games you play, the better. Regardless of what happens at this point, UNC has salvaged this season to a point or at the very least made us all feel good again about UNC basketball.
This game was all about Larry Drew, Deon Thompson, John Henson and some solid defense. First of all there was Henson who came out hot with four points but got saddled with his 2nd foul and sat on the bench for much of the half. During the second half, Henson the first offensive option on offense at times. He did a great job of scoring in the lane, even in traffic. I would not say it was a coming out party because Henson has already had some take notice games. However this was the first time he was leaned on as a serious offensive option after Thompson went out with four fouls. Henson responded with two huge baskets late in the game. Speaking Thompson, how does 14 points and 12 boards sound? Pretty good and surprising where the rebounds are concerned. Thompson has apparently decided he wants to play for UNC as long as he possibly can and his play has reflected that. Finally, Drew was huge overcoming a shaky first half. Drew scored four of his eleven points on a drive to the basket with UNC only up three followed by two free throws. Drew chipped in six assists as well vs three turnovers. The decision making can still be frustrating at times but overall Drew managed the game quite well.
The defense will not be talked about as much since UAB sort of puts themselves behind the eight ball with a slow tempo. There were still issues with players making open threes and Elijah Milsap's outburst during the first eight minutes of the 2nd had to be weathered. After that UNC used some zone to contain Milsap. The end result was Milsap being held scoreless until a minute left in the game. Overall the defense was tough despite some fairly tight officiating.
Now the Heels return to New York where they beat Ohio St and got throttled in the 2nd vs Syracuse. UNC gets the winner of the Virginia Tech-Rhode Island game.