Tonight’s UNC game against Miami was the very definition of a battle. The Tar Heels started the game incredibly sloppy, missing their first several shots. Miami jumped out to a 14-0 lead when Roy Williams sent five subs to the scorer’s table. The “blue team” helped fight UNC back into the game until the starters returned to finish the job.
No player on either team had a better night than Theo Pinson. It was just the latest in Pinson’s recent double-double streak that he’s been on. He was a force to be reckoned with in the game against Miami, scoring 25 points, pulling down 11 rebounds, dishing out three assists, and grabbing three steals. He made both his three-point attempts, if you want to pile on to his achievements for the night.
The game had a rock fight feel throughout, as it wasn’t until the very end of the game that the Tar Heels began to pull away. Officiating seemed to bounce between no-holds-barred street ball and calling the lightest contact. Joel Berry II was whistled for a flagrant foul while going up for a shot when his elbow made contact with the defender’s face, which I’m not sure has ever been called ever. Alas.
Cameron Johnson was second behind Theo in points with 13 while Kenny Williams and Berry tied with 11 a piece. Luke Maye had a fairly atrocious night offensively, going 1-15 from the field, but he did lead the team in rebounding with 13. Carolina also got good minutes out of their bench, including during the stretch when Roy subbed out all the starters. Garrison Brooks scored five points and Sterling Manley scored four points, and even Aaron Rohlman and Brandon Huffman got a basket late in the game. The bench totaled 20 of UNC’s points in all.
The Hurricanes had a chance to go to the locker room at halftime with a lead before they fouled Johnson shooting a prayer as time expired from about midcourt. Cam sank all three of his free throws to put the Heels ahead 32-31 at the break. UNC managed to limit their turnovers in the game with only eight, which was the same number the Canes committed as well. Both teams racked up points down low with Carolina accumulating 42 of their points in the paint and 17 points on second-chance shots.
Now the Heels have to look ahead to the game everyone wanted to see. It’s Carolina vs Duke in the semifinals. Of course, these teams come into the ACC Tournament having split the season series 1-1 so far. Both teams have won at home. UNC will be looking for revenge after letting one slip away in Durham last week. If Pinson plays the way he did tonight while also defending Marvin Bagley down low, it’s very possible that the Heels find themselves playing for the championship on Saturday. Here’s hoping!