Kendall Marshall drives against Eric Smith #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the third round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Can you be disappointed with a twenty-five point win? Because despite the score, this game had some pretty lackluster performances from the Heels.
It helped that South Carolina gave this game away practically from the start, turning the ball over on their first four possessions. The Gamecocks would cough the ball up 17 times in the first half, a feat which had folks pointing out during the break that Carolina was "only" up thirteen points. UNC also let their southern neighbors hang around too long in the second half as well, extending the lead for good only with a Harrison Barnes dunk at the 13:37 mark.
And yet, Carolina didn't really do anything wrong. Roy Williams wasn't pulling starters and chewing them out on the sidelines. The stats looked good, with the Heels shooting 46% from the floor and turning the ball over a mere ten times. Kendall Marshall continued to put on a clinic, with 14 assists that went over, around, and through USC defenders while and having only one turnover. He also had six steals. Harrison Barnes led all scorers with an effortless 21, Blue Steel entered the game at the appropriate time – what's not to love?
Little things, I guess. UNC was out rebounded by their opponents, and Tyler Zeller was a low 4 of 12 from the field, often the victim of blocked shots. You can't point to much being wrong, though, and are just left with a genera feeling of dissatisfaction. Perhaps my expectations are too high; perhaps the Heels were saving something for the tough stretch ahead. That doesn't sound like them, however.
One unalloyed bright point however – P.J. Hairston. The freshman took over where Reggie Bullock left last week, hitting five of his eight three-point attempts on his way to a career-high 19 points. With Bullock going 0-4 from the floor, we may just have to accept that UNC's threes are going to come in streaks, based on which player's shots are falling on any given night. Hairston ended his game with a nasty collision with the post after a flagrant foul from Malik Cooke on a fast break; he left under his own power and appears to be fine.
UNC will have to play better against UNLV if they want a comfortable win, but for tonight this effort more than sufficed. It feels odd to leave a 25-point win over an SEC team unhappy, though. I may have to temper my expectations though, or stop watching games on Thanksgiving leftovers; either one my cure the indigestion this game left me.