Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
UNC hands on by a thread for much of the game before the defensive dam finally breaks and Miami pulls away late.
This game pretty much played out like the Virginia game in the respect UNC found a way to hang around until a key sequence with three minutes left where defensive deficiencies gave Miami too many opportunities and the Hurricanes capitalized. Couple that with another huge offensive drought and what you got was an 0-2 start in ACC play.
On the defensive end, there were players on Miami's team UNC simply had trouble guarding. Marcus Paige could not stay in front of Shane Larkin and with Miami using a high ball screen he was getting free reign into the lane with opened up all sort of chances from the perimeter. UNC did not have anyone to match Justin Gamble's size as he backed Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson down repeatedly. Then there was Kenny Kadji who, at 6-11 and range all over the court was tough to cover. As much as the way UNC plays defense is a problem, the fact certain players cannot be guarded one-on-one creates all sorts of issues. What is interesting is Larkin and Durand Scott were a combined 7-19 from the floor, 3-9 from three and six turnovers vs six assists. That points to a fairly solid defensive effort from the backcourt however the other players on the court simply killed UNC pure and simple.
When it came to the offense, UNC got some nice production from Brice Johnson with 10 points and even Marcus Paige had a fairly nice line with 10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds versus three turnovers. The problem was what happens when Reggie Bullock gets no help and he himself cannot provide the offensive spark. Bullock nailed a trio of threes in the first half but in the second only scored two points. Miami did a good job locking him down and while he did find some open teammates at times, he did not hit shots when he needed them. James Michael McAdoo was decent in the first half then imploded in the second half on 1-7 shooting. Without those two and P.J, Hairston continuing to be a total enigma offensively, UNC was one or two bad defensive possessions away from losing control of the game which is exactly what happened.
UNC falls to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in ACC play with a very, very rough stretch of games ahead on the road at Florida State before facing Maryland and Georgia Tech at home then traveling to Raleigh to play NC State. If there is any good news it is the fact this team doesn't look like a squad that is playing with poor effort and they show plenty of fight. I also think every player on that team wants to play well and win but are not doing everything they can on a team level to correct certain issues. The problem is execution and being able to make, what are at times, simple plays. At this stage you have to hope it simply gets better. That a light bulb comes on and the team somehow meshes together and the level of play is raised from where it is at now. If not, the path from here is not going to be a pretty one.