That was a great college basketball game.
I am not going to play the moral victory card. I wanted that win. I was excited they got the final possession with a chance to win. Of course the only player in college basketball who can block John Henson is probably Anthony Davis which is what happened. Yes, Tyler Zeller needs to hold onto the ball and execute. Yes, UNC had a major brain freeze by not fouling there. However what UNC takes away from this game is they went into the one of the most hostile environments in college basketball against a team they could very well see at the end of March or early April and they were in position to win the game. If you cannot get the win, you take that and focus on getting better to, if UNC faces this team again they can do to them what the 1993 team did to Michigan after losing to them in December, 1992.
If you want to point to a stretch of the game where UNC lost control it was when they were ahead 56-52 and went scoreless for five minutes. That is the kind of drought you simply cannot have and had Kentucky been more efficient on offense, it could have really gone bad for the Heels. The problem in that stretch was there were good shots that simply didn't fall. Another concern is the turnovers. UNC had 13 which isn't a lot but they did not force many and did not force Kentucky to commit fouls which also hurt. The latter may have had something to do with UNC taking more perimeter shots which they hit. UNC simply had trouble scoring on the interior and some of that had to do with Zeller having trouble holding onto the basketball. In a bit of a reverse UNC was more of a perimeter oriented team. That is not the formula UNC necessarily wants to employ on a regular basis but it worked here.
Speaking of the three point shooting, I think we can officially rest easy about the three point shooting. UNC went 11-18 from three. Harrison Barnes was 4-5, P.J. Hairston was 3-4, Kendall Marshall was 2-4 and Reggie Bullock was 2-5. Bullock and Marshall hitting threes are probably the most encouraging, especially Marshall. The knock on Marshall is his lack of a shot makes him easier to guard. He hit two today along with a jumper in the lane to go along with eight assists. If Marshall can do that consistently it will help tremendously.
In short, it is okay to be pissed. UNC could have won the game. Heck, UNC probably should have won the game. However national titles are not won in December and at the very least we know after a tough win against Wisconsin and a hard fought loss on the road versus Kentucky, the loss to UNLV was a bump in the road. This loss should fire the team up and the things they did well should give them confidence. At any rate, UNC looked like a title contender today and that is the most important takeaway from this game.