Carolina could stand to have a few more games like this. For a while it seemed like everything was going wrong; UNC couldn't score, Maryland couldn't miss. The Tar Heels were coughing the ball out at an unhealthy rate, the fans were... less than welcoming, and Tyler Zeller picked up his fourth foul with just under twelve minutes remaining. Then to make sure the deck was fully stacked against a UNC win, Kendall Marshall went to the bench with his fourth, with eight-and-a half minutes left and a precarious two point lead. It was time to get worried.
Except it really wasn't. Maryland was exhausted. Maryland was in foul trouble as well. Maryland did not have Harrison Barnes. Barnes didn't take the game over in Marshall's absence, but he was the constant threat, bring the ball up more than Stilman White, and drawing the defense to the extent that John Henson and Reggie Bullock could score. The Terrapins could only tread water, and on Zeller's and Marshall's return, they finally collapsed.
It took a lot of work to get there, however. Kendall Marshall had five turnovers in the first twelve minutes of the game. UNC was completely stymied by Alex Len, heretofore unheard of freshman center, who would finish with 12 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks. The team was out-of-sync early, with only Zeller playing close to well on offense. Frankly, they were rather lucky to only be down three at halftime, a fact the Heels backed up by almost immediately going down nine three minutes into the second.
But they held firm, and clawed back. Reggie Bullock was a bit of a revelation during this. Yes, Terrell Stoglin would finish with twenty points, and was beating Bullock off the dribble at the start, but he responded. Stoglin would hit only one of his nine three-pointers and shoot 8 of 21 from the field. Meanwhile Bullock was pulling down key offensive rebounds and otherwise keeping the team together when things looked like they could fall apart with two starters benched with foul trouble.
Was it a great game for Carolina? Not really. Maryland played better than one would expect, and it took the Heels too long to respond. But respond they did. The Terps, who tried to outrun UNC most of the game, were eventually worn down by a team that held strong and for the most part remained patient. It wasn't a great game, but it was a necessary one. And the Heels are a better team for having won it.