It was another tough night on the road for Roy and the boys as the Carolina fell 76-67 against an inspired Indiana team in Bloomington.
Here are some of the highs and lows from Wednesday evenings contest:
The Carolina wing was undoubtedly the Tar Heels best played on Wednesday night. Jackson scored a team high 21 points connecting on 4-of-6 shoots from behind the arc. Jackson looked at times to be calling for the ball in an effort to keep the Tar Heels within reach of the a motivated Hoosier team thriving from the energy in Assembly Hall.
The performance should be noted as a sign that Jackson could become that scorer that Carolina goes to down the stretch in games, if not to further point to the progress that he has made over the offseason.
While the Tar Heels may have not played their best game Wednesday night, credit should be given to the team for at least hanging in there. For a large part of the first half it looked like Indiana was close to running the Tar Heels out of the gym. Fortunately, the team was able to hang tough cutting into a once 17 point deficit and make it a respectable 12 point half time cushion.
Carolina came as close as five with 3;38 to play in the game, but was unable to to climb any closer. Where a younger team may have faltered and lost by a crooked deficit--much like the last time UNC visited Bloomington--this older, much more experienced group kept trucking along to a competitive second half.
It was paramount that Carolina get off to a good start against a team who's home court is notorious for giving visitors a tough time. Unfortunately, that was not the case as UNC fell behind as much as 17 in the first half. Even more so, the start to the second half was not one that Roy would have appreciated, with his team still trailing behind 12 and 10 points in at the under 16 and 12 timeouts, respectively, Any kind of a fast start at either points would have possibly led to either a different outcome or to a closer contest down the stretch.
Lack of offensive rebounding
The pace that Roy Williams likes to play at often puts Carolina at the advantage, but when faced against a team that likes to go at the same speed, coupled by a hostile environment, the Tar Heels often have been neutralized. So was the case against Indiana, where the Hoosiers were able to use the speed of the game and their defensive intensity against Carolina.
That led to quick shots and the Tar Heel offense working out o rhythm and at a faster pace than needed. One of the most notable results of this play was the lack of offensive rebounding from UNC. The Tar Heels only pulled down 13 offensive boards--most coming in the second half--when they had found success going so prior to the trip to Bloomington. The vast majority of the struggles can be attributed to quick shots having bigs out of position, which goes along with three freshman and a largely inexperienced sophomore in Kenny Williams being asked to play a large role in the raucous that was Assembly Hall.
Losing to another high caliber opponent
Call it a tired narrative if you want, but it's become all too common place for these Carolina team to get off to poor starts against quality opponents. This is a trend that has been seen since Tyler Hansbrough and Co. left Chapel Hill in '09. From a fans perspective you would think that it would be impossible to think lightly of an Indiana team that is one of the premier programs in college basketball. I'm not sure whether the Hoosiers loss to IPFW was in play Wednesday night, but the Carolina certainly didn't come out with the energy that you would've liked and expected.
Joel Berry said after winning the Maui Invitational that he attributed the teams success last season to their realization that defense would carry them over the top. Knowing that, Berry attributed the teams 7-0 start to the understanding that defense and energy was the key to their fast start. That fact makes it all the more frustrating to see UNC to come out and play with the effort that they did tonight for the better of 35 minutes.
Like I pointed out in my three 'things to watch', there is an obvious trend to the amount of Top 25 teams Carolina has lost to on the road. Sure, there is an argument that if the Tar Heels are going to lose, let it be on the road to a top team. While that may be a philosophy for some to buy into, I'm not one of them. Say basketball in November and December doesn't matter all that you want to. Realize one thing: It's going to extremely difficult for the Tar Heels to end up in an advantageous seed and location without the quality wins on the road.