CHAPEL HILL — No. 6 North Carolina defeated Maryland 88-64 on Wednesday night at the Smith Center. A look back at the Tar Heels’ senior night victory:
Why the Tar Heels won: Aside from being the better team, UNC increased its offensive tempo during the second half while also increasing its defensive intensity. Maryland trailed throughout the game, and by 11 at halftime, but the Terrapins twice made it a six-point game early in the second half. After the second of those times, though, UNC began a 31-10 run to seize control of the game. Tyler Zeller was spectacular in his final home game for UNC, finishing with 30 points and eight rebounds. UNC, meanwhile, held Terrell Stoglin, the leading scorer in the ACC, to 16 points on 4-for-18 shooting.
The good: In his final home game, Zeller played one of his better games of the season. The 30 points were a career-high for a conference game, and he was 20-of-23 from the free throw line – setting Smith Center records in the process for most made free throws and most free throw attempts. Kendall Marshall, meanwhile, finished with eight assists and broke Ed Cota’s school record for assists in a single season. Marshall now has 289, breaking Cota’s record of 285, which he set during the 1999-00 season.
The bad: UNC wasn’t all that sharp, especially offensively. If the Heels had executed to their potential, Marshall wouldn’t have had to wait so long to break Cota’s record. He didn’t do that until a couple of minutes into the second half, mainly because the Heels failed to capitalize on numerous scoring chances in the first half. The Tar Heels shot 39.4 percent and again struggled from the perimeter, where they made 5 of 19 attempts from beyond the 3-point line.
Key stat: When the Tar Heels increased the defensive intensity during the second half, it led to a rash of Maryland turnovers. The Terrapins turned it over 21 times, and UNC converted those into 21 points. Overall, UNC outscored Maryland 21-2 in points off of turnovers.
Key stat II: Zeller was 20-of-23 from the free throw line while Maryland as a team finished 13-of-21 from the line. Zeller has faced his share of double teams this season, and he faced plenty on Wednesday night. He did a good job of making strong moves, drawing contact and getting to the line.
Player of the game: Zeller. No shock here. He gave a performance to remember in his final home game. The 30 points were two short of tying his career high. His previous high in a conference game had been 25 – both against Maryland last season and against Virginia at home earlier this season.
Quotable: “He’s got a little bit of that Ichabod Crane clumsiness to him that gets his arm, legs and head going every direction. So opposing defensive players have a lot of things that they can foul.” –Williams on Zeller’s ability to draw fouls on Wednesday night