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UK 68 UNC 66

Not totally unexpected and yes, it does sting. Even with that, it doesn't feel as crappy as the loss to Syracuse, particularly given the toughness this team showed not giving up after getting Kansas Gamed™ again. In fact that stands foremost as the issue that needs the quickest resolution. The common thread in two losses is UNC allowed the opposing team to reel off a some ridiculous run of points. Against Syracuse it was 22-1 to start the 2nd half. Today, UNC allowed UK rip off a 28-2 stretch to put the Heels down 19 in the first half. Obviously this brings up the "Roy never calls timeouts" debate. I am on record as somewhat agreeing with his take, especially since TV timeouts are available. That being said, I wonder with the mentality of this team if he shouldn't rethink that. Granted the Heels pretty much made it all the way back registering two stops while trailing by three. So in that respect you could argue it did not matte. Still this was a young team who was clearly shell shocked by the environment in Rupp Arena. If it had been just an 8-0 or 10-0 run, Roy is correct to hold the timeout. But when that reaches 14-0 or 16-2 with signs the team is clearly rattled, I think that is a point you might want to bring to the bench and reassure them.

The other negative which probably killed the rally was the number of missed chances at the rim. The Tar Heel interior players simply do not have good hands. I am not sure how that gets fixed but too often whether it is on the break or simply making an entry pass to Deon Thompson or Ed Davis with a clear path to score, the ball is never caught cleanly. Will Graves had similar issues. When the Heels did manage to get their mitts on the ball, they were unable to finish at the rack. Far too many missed shots at point blank range. With the score 59-56, UNC got consecutive stops and proceeded missed a shot in close and throw the ball away. Those two possessions could be multiplied four or five times. It happened over and over. In fact had the Heels been able to take advantage of those opportunities they could have pulled closer, earlier and the game could would have been more mangeable.

Other negatives? Add to the list transition defense, impatience on offense during the first half and just general inexperience.

And yet, the Heels did find a way to get back in the game. That speaks to toughness. It says something about the job the coaches did to keep the players' heads in the game. Lesser teams fold up when placed in this type of circumstances UNC did not and it will serve them well in the future. In terms of individual play, no one really played well. Certain UNC players had moments or stretches. Will Graves hit 4-7 three pointers. Tyler Zeller looked out of sorts early but was noticeably tougher in the 2nd half scoring 10 points. Everyone else was rather pedestrian. Larry Drew and Dexter Strickland followed up their sensational night versus MSU with below average outings for both. Drew was 0-4 from three. He ended up with six points, six assists and four turnovers. Strickland showed some flashes with a nice drive to the basket while scoring five points. Strickland also had three steals. Ed Davis had ten rebounds but only nine points. Needless to say the Heels did not get the all to Davis nearly enough but credit the UK defense.

From here UNC goes on to throttle Presybterian before heading to Dallas for a match-up with Texas. While losing sucks, I liked the mettled UNC showed in the 2nd half to hang around. The defense was very good and the Heels slowed the Wildcats down enough to climb back into it. Basically the game played out with the Heels' defense doing what was needed but the offense coming up short. We sort of knew that would be the case this season. The question is whether the Heels can work out their offensive issues enough to win a game like this in March or two weeks from now in Dallas. There is still not a clear indication of who the offensive go to scorer is yet. Basically UNC needs about three solid offensive options. They have two on the interior in Deon Thompson and Ed Davis but outside of that is not clear who else can be relied upon score. Wednesday night Larry Drew looked every bit the role as did Dexter Strickland. In this one the interior players underpeformed to a point and only Will Graves provided significant perimeter scoring. At some point a player or two needs to emerge in a way that changes the direction a game is heading. Assuming we see some development in that regard, I expect this team will improve on the offensive end.