CORAL GABLES, Fla. — No. 8 North Carolina defeated Miami 73-64 here on Wednesday night at the BankUnited Center. The look back:
Why the Tar Heels won: UNC trailed by nine at one point during the first half, by five at halftime and then by eight early in the second half. But the Tar Heels started making some shots and came up with some key defensive stops. Harrison Barnes scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and Reggie Bullock scored all 10 of his half. After falling behind by eight, the Heels forced four consecutive Miami turnovers. Those allowed UNC with the chance to get back into the game, and it took advantage. Then the Heels gradually pulled away.
The good: Harrison Barnes in the second half. Reggie Bullock in the second half. The Heels’ overall team defense in the second half. UNC rebounded exceptionally well – especially on the offensive end. The Heels had 23 second-chance points for the second-consecutive game, and they had more offensive rebounds (24) than defensive (22) for the first time since 2010. Between points off turnovers and second-chance points, the UNC outscored Miami 37-22. UNC also received some nice contributions from its bench. Not a lot of scoring, but P.J. Hairston, Justin Watts and James Michael McAdoo all had positive contributions.
The bad: The Tar Heels’ sluggish start. The poor perimeter shooting (UNC made just 5 of its 18 3-point attempts, and missed all six of its 3’s in the first half). For whatever reason, the Heels lately haven’t gotten off to great starts on the road against weaker teams. In two of the Heels’ past three road games before Wednesday night, they trailed at the half. In the other one, against Wake, UNC struggled but still held a comfortable halftime lead.
Key stat: The 23 second-chance points. That tied the season-high (set against Virginia on Saturday) in that category. Naturally, the Heels had a lot of second chance opportunities given how poorly they shot. Even so, their best offense at times was converting a missed shot into a layup or a dunk.
Key stat II: Miami shot 14 3-pointers during the second half, and made five of them. In the second half, though, the Hurricanes had less of an opportunity to shoot in part because UNC better defended the perimeter. The Hurricanes took five fewer 3’s in the second half than in the first, and their lack of opportunities from the outside helped turn the game in UNC’s favor.
UNC player of the game: Barnes. He didn’t shoot a great percentage in the second half – just 5-for-13 – but he was the most aggressive player on the court and he seemed to spark the Heels with his offense. Fourteen of his 23 points came in the second half, when he made three 3’s.
Quotable: “If I knew what it was, I would have already tried to solve it. The kids got to step up and make shots. I got mad and screamed at P.J. one time – ‘Make a dadgum shot.’ You know, it’s a pretty easy game. And if you’re a great shooter you ought to be able to shoot the ball in a game and in practice out in the backyard when the wind’s blowing. So I still think we’re going to make them and we’re going to show it. But we’ve got to do it.” –UNC coach Roy Williams on his team’s shooting woes.