TMA: Dunks, curses, fouls and bench play

February, 5, 2012
2/05/12
3:00
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The Morning After: Thoughts, notes and anything else that didn’t quite make this space after North Carolina’s latest game (in this case, No. 6 UNC’s 83-74 win at Maryland on Saturday).

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland fans were none too happy when North Carolina forward John Henson ended Saturday’s 83-74 win at Comcast Center with an emphatic dunk -- even though the sixth-ranked Tar Heels were already leading by seven.

UNC coach Roy Williams would have preferred that the game end differently, as well.

“I told [Maryland coach Mark Turgeon] they weren’t fouling, I wish -- and it’s not a big deal, they’re kids -- but I probably would have liked it better if John wouldn’t have gone in and dunked it,’’ Williams said. “But the guy was trying to block his shot. If they had been standing out there at the center line, I would have been disappointed in John. And that was just because of my feelings for Turg, I didn’t want it to end like that.”

Henson, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, said he didn’t regret the decision.

“Instinct just kind of kicked in," the junior said. “I didn't necessarily want to dunk, but I saw him [Terps freshman Alex Len] running at me and I was under the basket, so instinct just kicked in and that's how it happened."

Dunk or no, Williams said the Tar Heels “really felt good in the locker room” after coming back from a second-half nine-point deficit.

But it was a bittersweet victory for Williams, who considers Turgeon -- his former assistant at Kansas -- like family.

“The game’s over, and I’m elated, and I look over, and I see Mark coming towards me,” Williams said. “If you’ve ever coached, and you put your life into it 24-7 every day, you know that there’s nothing you can do. That’s a guy I care a great deal about, and he’s a wonderful person, and he’s going to do great things with his program. He understands that I love my kids, and there’s more of them than there is him, but it’s a sad feeling when I got down there and started to shake hands.”

Calling out the screamer: During the national anthem, a fan bellowed a four-letter curse -- “[Expletive] UNC!” during the national anthem, which Williams called “completely inappropriate.”

“Somebody told me the Maryland people went and got the person out of the stands, and I think that’s what we ought to do, and I congratulate them,’’ Williams said.

Big night for Marshall: It's tough to determine what was more impressive: point guard Kendall Marshall's career-high tying 16 assists, or the fact that he played the final 7:18 without picking up a fifth foul.

“I told him he had to be smart because we needed him in the game,” said Williams, who pulled Marshall out for a little over a minute after the sophomore picked up his fourth. “… I just didn’t want to get the crowd back into it. I thought Kendall could play intelligently enough to stay away from his fifth foul.”

And he did -- although it was a nail-biting situation, considering his most experienced backup, Dexter Strickland, is out for the season with a torn ACL.

“He is as good as I’ve ever seen,” Turgeon said of Marshall. “He’s something else -- 16 assists. He had six turnovers which is not his style. I like to think I can see things being a former point guard. He sees things coming on the break and he’s really at another level.”

Bench woes continue: UNC’s bench was outscored 24-6 on Saturday. In the four games since Strickland, the starting shooting guard, tore his ACL and Reggie Bullock moved into the starting lineup, UNC’s reserves have been outscored 80-42.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

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