Taking care of business.
That is pretty much what this was and I'll explain why. I realize there was some folks in the comments section on the game thread treating this as though it was a step back from the Kentucky game or some kind bad omen for the rest of the season. Why? They beat the crap out of a bad team just like they are supposed to do. Did they sleepwalk in the 2nd half? Sure, but I can recall plenty of instances of the 2008 and 2009 teams going to bed after building a big lead. The difference between those teams and this one is those guys were so overclocked offensively they would score 10 points in 90 seconds almost by accident. Unfortunately, you will not see that from this team. That does not mean the offense won't pick up at some point but right now the perimeter scoring seems to an issue they cannot quite get a handle on. I don't know why and I doubt Roy Williams can tell you why either other than saying "the more you see the ball go in the basket the more you see the ball go in the basket." UNC was 3-21 from beyond the arc with plenty of open looks to go around. Harrison Barnes and Leslie McDonald were a combined 0-9 out there. However, five more made shots from three and the Heels would have shot 38% and we are not having this conversation. There were at least five good open looks out there, the shot simply did not fall. Barnes had at least three but they did not drop. I have to believe sooner or later they will but for now it seems like a slump that just won't end.
Other than that, I am not put off by that much in this game. Yes, Evansville is probably not a good offensive team but still UNC held leading scorer Colt Ryan to 9 points on 2-14 shooting and 1-8 from beyond the arc. Ryan came in shooting 56% from three and may have been a little on the high side statistically with a game like this serving to bring him back to level a little bit. The defense was good from what I saw with the exception of the defensive rebounding. UNC surrendered 12 offensive boards against a team that lacked real size. Anytime you hold a team under 50 points and in the low 30% range for shooting, you are doing something right on defense. Like the UK game, UNC got big points from the interior. Tyler Zeller made the most of his homecoming with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Justin Knox had his best game as a Tar Heel offensively speaking with 13 points. The offense was spread across multiple players just below double figures. The same was true of the assists. What does that mean? From where I sit, it looks like an offense that is just in the cusp in terms of scoring. Again, the shots are there they just are not falling. Hopefully that starts happening. Oh and did anyone notice UNC was 26-36 from the free throw line for a cool 72%. Not a bad night of work from the charity stripe.
One more thing as it pertains to UNC winning this game and how the Heels played the game. Roy Williams pointed out that this was a game played after a big win. He was very happy that the team responded with proper respect for Evansville and did not have a letdown game. I would agree. This was not a step back and the Heels did build on some of the good things they did on Saturday, especially on defense and with the interior offense. Roy also noted that the players have exams going on and shifting focus like that can prove a little difficult at times. Don't believe me? Take a look at the 2009 season after the Heels throttled Michigan St. I did not go back and look but I think I noted at the time how UNC appeared to be out of sync or focus coming off the exam break following the MSU game. In some of those games they seem to go through the motions and at times the defense was not very good(such as giving up 45 points in the 2nd half to Evansville.) Since this is a young team still working out its identity and a fair number of offensive issues, it should not surprise anyone if they have games or stretches where it isn't always pretty. That was the case tonight and UNC still opened up a 30-plus lead at one point in the 2nd half. I also thought it was a fairly dead atmosphere in Roberts Stadium. Some folks will complain about the Heels' energy level but not every game is going to be as amped up as it was versus Kentucky in front of the home crowd. Listening to the 2nd half on the radio, that building was dead quiet at times and Evansville had clearly given up. Still UNC recovered from a bad eight minute stretch to open the half by putting some points up and making sure Evansville never got anywhere near the zip code where "back in the game" lives.
The bottom line here is UNC took care of business and did so in dominating fashion. I understand the need to be critical of how the team looks and a fan's predilection to worry about how a team will function vs ACC caliber competition vs a team like Evansville. However, there is something to be said for playing well enough to essentially end the game by halftime. The alternative is UNC struggling against a bad team. If the Heels blowing out a team like Evansville is reason to be gravely concerned, I imagine some of you would have been on a ledge had the game been a single digit win. This team is a work in progress we hope will continue to improve and more of these pressing issues will be ironed out sooner rather than later. Until then, my advice is to take what the Heels are giving you thus far which is some signs of promise.