Friday, March 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: UNC 85, Maryland 69
By Edward Aschoff
ATLANTA -- Top-seeded North Carolina didn't need a lot of flash Friday. The Tar Heels were smart, patient and precise as they routed Maryland inside Philips Arena.
For the better part of the first half -- and parts of the second -- Maryland showed that it would be more than just a bump in UNC's road to a national No. 1 seed, but UNC showed its muscle late in the first and carried it over into the second half, going on a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach. Maryland stuck around, but the Heels stayed consistent and didn't allow the Terps to get within six points in the second half.
There was a scary moment for the Heels early in the first half when John Henson landed awkwardly on his left wrist after a hard foul by Maryland's Ashton Pankey. Henson went to the locker room about a minute later before returning with his wrist taped with about 11 minutes remaining. He played about 40 seconds before being taken out after wincing when he caught a pass.
Tests on his wrist at halftime were negative. There was no word on his injury, but he didn't return Friday.
Turning point: North Carolina's 12-0 run stretching from the first half into the second definitely helped the Heels, but Maryland's poor shooting kept the Terps from making any sort of meaningful run. Maryland shot 30.8 percent in the first half and made just one field goal in the last 10 minutes of the half. Maryland also had a span of nearly 15 minutes, beginning in the first half, when it missed 14-of-15 shots, including 10 in a row.
Key player: Before the game, UNC forward Tyler Zeller was honored with ACC's Skip Prosser Award as the conference's top scholar-athlete in men's basketball, but it was teammate Harrison Barnes who might have been the Heels' most important player Friday. He scored 15, grabbed seven rebounds, had three steals and added a block. He also didn't turn the ball over.
Key stat: North Carolina's offensive game rarely hit any sort of dry spell, as five players scored in double digits, accounting for 71 of UNC's 85 points.
Miscellaneous: UNC sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall delivered his fifth assist less than five minutes in, giving him the ACC single-season assist record. He finished the game with 12 and has 311 for the season. ... UNC has now won eight straight. ... Maryland is 3-13 all-time against UNC in the ACC tournament, having lost nine straight. ... Despite the lopsided loss, Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin had a game-high 30 points, after putting up 25 against Wake Forest on Thursday. ... UNC is now 46-13 as the tournament's top seed.
What’s next: UNC will continue its road to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament by taking on the winner of the Virginia-NC State game. The Tar Heels swept both teams during the regular season, combining to outscore both teams by 52 points. For Maryland, the Terps will miss the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. Coach Mark Turgeon ends his first season in Maryland with a 17-15 record.