This was a very strange game. It was a game that had you only seen the box score you would have assumed it looked far different than it did watching it unfold.
On one hand you had three Tar Heels score 20 or more points and two of those players scored 20 or more points in a half. John Henson covered the first half scoring 20 and ending with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. Tyler Zeller pulled his weight and then some in the 2nd half posting 25 after halftime on his way to 32 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. If that wasn't enough Harrison Barnes hit 24 points and 16 rebounds. Kendall Marshall dropped 10 assists versus two turnovers and Dexter Strickland chipped in nine points. UNC shot 50% from the floor and hit an unbelievable 31-42 FTs. The only complaints from a stats standpoint is 18 turnovers and poor three point shooting. In other words the offense was pretty good. The main issue was a lot of bad decisions with some of the passing and the shot selection became far too perimeter oriented. I imagine the film session tomorrow will include all those long passes which were intercepted. I think the issue most of UNC fans had was the lapses on offense. It could have been a great offensive performance instead it was just good due to some poor "mental" stretches.
On defense I am not sure the Heels played as badly on that end as the score might indicate. LIU took advantage of the UNC turnovers to get some points and it seems like anytime UNC gets into a game with a team willing to run with them the defense suffers a bit. Basically, UNC's transition defense is not all that great or rather could stand to be better at times. LIU did end up with some open shots they just did not hit and there were moments where UNC players simply did not close out properly on three point shooters. This is the last game UNC can afford that kind of absence to detail in the defensive execution or execution in general.
Survive and advance is the name of the game at this point. If you remember 2007, a team this one has been compared to, UNC jumped out on Eastern Kentucky in a #1 vs #16 game. The Heels were up 39-15 and early in the second half EKU closed it to 48-44 before UNC woke up and closed them out. The common thread with this team and that one is both were putting mostly freshmen and sophomores on the floor. Youth in the NCAA Tournament often produces inconsistent results. In the case of this team, they seem to have adopted Barnes' personality of playing good only in stretches. They also have shown the annoying propensity to play to the level of the competition. LIU is a decent team but when UNC went up 31-19 that half should have buried them then and there. It didn't happen but it should be noted the Heels responded at that point and to open the second half. Consistency will be needed from this point forward regardless of the opponent.