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UNC 75, N.C. State 63

I'll say this for Sidney Lowe – he goes out swinging. In what was most likely his last home game against Carolina, he brought his team in fired up and playing with heart. It turns out that heart manifests himself in a lot of rough play under the basket that put Tyler Zeller to the floor multiple times, and eventually a technical foul for Lowe when he objected to a clean double block from Henson and Zeller. Said foul, coming with 1:29 remaining, extended a run that Harrison Barnes sparked with two dunks and a dagger of a three, and pretty much ended any hope of a Wolfpack comeback. But before that, it was a pretty good game.

The Wolfpack started with the sensible plan of doubling the UNC bigs whenever they got the ball, and hounding Barnes, who would start 0 for 6 from the field, relentlessly. It worked well through the first half. Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald did a yeoman's job keeping UNC in the game, finishing the half with nine and five points respectively, and John Henson rebounded well, especially with Zeller benched with three fouls. But the defense was unusually lax, allowing a lot of penetration from State, and the Heels went into halftime only up two.

The second half went better, even if the Heels offense only came in spurts. Strickland would finish with 13 points, and Kendall Marshall 14. Zeller would play most of the second half before picking up his fourth foul; and Henson turned into an absolute beast, finishing with 15 rebounds and 6 blocks. But even with all of that, State was able to claw back to cut the deficit to 60-56; Lorenzo Brown was a big part of that, and even Jordan Vandenberg was playing with authority at that point. However, this was the point at which Barnes took over, leaving the Wolfpack in shambles. On two straight possessions he snatched rebounds above the rim and dunked them home; he followed that with a dagger of a three as the shot clock expired, and suddenly the lead was seven and Lowe was primed to be T'd up.

All in all, it was a slight improvement offensively over the last few games. The team still struggles to find the basket, but Strickland found his drive and McDonald his shot, if only for the twelve minutes of playing time he received. It was good to see that when Henson, Zeller, and Barnes were stymied, Marshall and his fellow guards could score enough on their own to stay in the game, but the team still looked disjointed, and defenses tougher than State will be a bit more troublesome. Still, beating the Wolfpack is always fun, and winning ten straight is even better. The games only get tougher from here, so a strong win, even if it took awhile, is just what the doctor ordered.

Tar Heels vs Wolfpack boxscore