Rapid Reaction: UNC 73, Miami 64
February, 15, 2012
By Robbi Pickeral | ESPN.com
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- A quick look at seventh-ranked North Carolina’s 73-64 win over Miami at BankUnited Center on Wednesday:
What it means: The win pushed UNC’s ACC record to 9-2 and kept it in the hunt for the regular-season conference title (although it could use some help from Duke and Florida State, as all three began the day tied atop the conference standings). The loss thwarted Miami’s attempt to beat both Duke and UNC in the same season for the first time, as the Hurricanes are still trying to play -- and prove -- their way into the NCAA tournament.
How it happened: Miami connected on 42.4 percent of its shots -- including five 3-pointers -- in the first half, and few looked overly tough.
UNC, meanwhile, got zero first-half points from its backcourt, as Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and reserve James Michael McAdoo accounted for all its points. It was a stark contrast from the last time these two teams played -- last month, when UNC starting guards Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland combined for 26 points. This time, Marshall and fellow starter Reggie Bullock were 0-for-7 at the break.
The Tar Heels trailed 35-30 at halftime, then 44-36 early in the second half when Barnes started doing that make-big-shots-at-key-times thing he does. He followed a 3-pointer with a three-point play to cut his team’s deficit to 44-42, teammate P.J. Hairston added two free throws to tie it, and then, after two foul shots from UM’s Reggie Johnson, Barnes buried another 3 to give the Tar Heels a 47-46 lead with 13:06 left.
UNC led by as much as 63-55 on a Bullock 3-pointer, and the Hurricanes tried to keep it interesting when Rion Brown countered with a 3 to cut UNC’s lead to five points. But Bullock’s second 3 of the game gave the Tar Heels a 67-58 cushion with 1:31 left.
Barnes led the Tar Heels with 23 points, Henson added 14 and Bullock finished with 10.
Durand Scott led the Hurricanes with 15 points.
Number to know: The Tar Heels entered the game 6-for-26 from 3-point land in the month of February; they were 5-for-18 on Wednesday.
Injury report: Hairston, who sat out UNC’s win over Virginia on Saturday because of a sore left foot, went through the shootaround Wednesday morning, dressed for the game and checked in with 9:39 left in the first half. He finished with four points.
What’s next: The Tar Heels will play Clemson on Saturday at the Smith Center. The Hurricanes play Wake Forest, also on Saturday.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.