It was a familiar sight that many thought we wouldn’t have to see again on Wednesday as Marquette came into the Smith Center and controlled the game from start to finish, ultimately winning 83-70. The Tar Heels turned the ball over like crazy (19 times to be exact), played lackadaisical defense for the better part of the game, and simply couldn’t buy a bucket. It’s one of those games that you could maybe take in stride and learn from if it happens in November or December but for it to happen in late February is alarming, especially for a team that’s currently on the bubble fighting for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Though there weren’t many positives to draw from this one, Garrison Brooks gets the nod for player of the game after an efficient night offensively. Brooks was 8-10 from the field, scoring 18 points while adding five rebounds and two steals. He hit some timely shots to keep the Heels in it in the first half and appeared to be one of the only players on the team with a sense of urgency. While the younger bigs might have a little more size/skill, Brooks is better than any of them at working within that 10-15 feet range. That was on full display in this game as Brooks hit some mid-range jumpers while the rest of the team was ice cold.
Day’Ron Sharpe nearly recorded a double-double, adding nine points, eleven rebounds, and two blocks. Sharpe was once again a big factor in creating second chance opportunities for the Heels but that was sort of neutralized by the team’s inability to put the ball in the bucket.
Kerwin Walton wasn’t his usual self but still managed eight points on 2-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Not that it’s his fault by any means, but it almost felt like a few early misses from Walton set the tone for what would ultimately be an ugly shooting display for Carolina. Walker Kessler also continues to provide some nice production in limited play, adding ten points (5-6 from the field) and four rebounds in just nine minutes of action.
After the beatdown the Heels put on Louisville, it felt like they might have entered that late season mode that Roy Williams’ teams tend to have where everybody is locked in and playing for March. That’s not at all what we saw last night. In fact, it’s one of the laziest and low-energy games that Carolina has played all year long, and we could very well end up looking back on it as the one that prevented the Heels from going to the tournament.
That being said, the Heels’ tourney hopes are not dead by any means. However, an upcoming tilt with #11 Florida State now becomes way more important. After that, Carolina’s just got two more games, at Syracuse and at home vs. Duke.