Holy crap Harrison Barnes.
I really thought about just posting a picture of Barnes and letting that be it for this post. Anything I try to add to what we saw today from the freshman really sort of cheapens it. Barnes was outstanding in so many ways. 40 points, eight rebounds, 12-17 from the floor, 10-11 from the FT line and 6-8 from three. This is the Harrison Barnes we thought was coming to Chapel Hill and the Harrison Barnes many UNC fans have become convinced can throw the team on his back like Carmelo Anthony in 2003 all the way to the national title. I don't know if that will happen, heck I am not sure UNC wins versus Duke in the ACC Championship. I do know the bigger the stage and higher the stakes, Barnes' game responds accordingly.
I will touch briefly on how UNC is starting games in the ACC Tournament. First of all, I think people have forgotten that these Tar Heels started several games slowly earlier in the season. What is happening now is just a slightly more annoying version of that with the exception being UNC was not this turnover prone in the early games they simply could not produce on offense. In the past two games is it not so much the shooting that has gone south but valuing the basketball. The end result? Clemson getting off to a 14-3 start versus the Heels to go along with a poor outing by UNC to open the game versus Miami.
Still, if there is a point where you really admire this team it is their never give up, never say die, pick your cliche attitude. Yeah, they allow themselves to fall into a sizable whole and do their share of digging in said hole before climbing out. Yes, sooner or later it is going to bite them in the rear. However, it is almost like these guys' competitive instincts just take over when press against the wall. When the pressure is such as to kill most teams, the Heels thrive. They are cool under pressure in a way that belies the collective age of the team and not just Barnes. Tyler Zeller has been every bit as clutch in these two wins. Leslie McDonald's defense on Demontez Stitt at the end of regulation was a difference maker. John Henson and Kendall Marshall struggled at times but when UNC needed a three pointer or big defensive rebound, both delivered.
The bottom line is these kids know how to win, know how to reach deep down and find the level of play to get the job done. At this stage of their development that is pretty freaking awesome.