Gut. Check. Win.
That was a great win.
A lot of things went wrong on this game. The officiating was horrible on both ends which I guess evened out. UNC continues to have problems hitting shots on the road which may not matter on neutral courts in March. Kendall Marshall was both really good(tons of assists) and really bad(tons of turnovers) in the first half. UNC got beat up a little bit and was in an absolute fight in front of one the most classless group of fans in the ACC. With all of this going on, the final ten minutes of the game found the Heels in a worst case scenario. Tyler Zeller, who had been the Heels best player in this game, was saddled with four fouls at the 11:49 mark. Thirty seconds later, Maryland went up five and UNC was facing the next seven minutes without the best offensive option on the floor. No long after that Marshall picked up his fourth foul and after a couple of minutes on the bench returned to play the rest of the way. At this point UNC really needed to make plays without Zeller and knowing Marshall was going to be a liability on defense.
The main thrust of UNC's attack came from a combination of Harrison Barnes and John Henson who hit a number of big shots. Reggie Bullock played his rear end off grabbing key rebounds and at one point P.J. Hairston came through with a putback off a Barnes miss. It wasn't always pretty. The Heels missed shots they should have made but hit shots when they really needed them overcoming some intense game pressure to get it done. Oh and that suspect free throw shooting was not suspect at all when it counted. UNC was 5-6 from the line in the last minutes to salt the game away. It was a tough game and while we can debate the caliber of the opponent, UNC could have easily folded amid a whole host of major setbacks but they didn't. And it's not like anything came easy. It's not like UNC was getting easy baskets. UNC responded to missed shots by making plays on defense. Overall it is important for this team to have a tight game where they dealt with adversity and made plays to win the game.
At this point I think we will all cope a little better if we grab hold of an important point. UNC is prone to play and shoot poorly on the road. I don't know to what extent this will be an issue in postseason neutral court games but it is clearly an issue in hostile environments. Yes, UNC dug a hole but the more important takeaway is they climbed out of it with Zeller and Marshall in foul trouble and Barnes having sprained his left ankle again. Yes it would be nice if they didn't dig said holes in the first place but it happens. The response is far more important than the play that led to the hole. Spending the better part of the first half whining about effort and calling the players "girls" and "divas" and referring to Henson as a "spoiled rich kid" is neither constructive nor is it acceptable on this blog.
In short, it is a darn good thing these players deal with adversity better than the fans do.