Friday, March 16, 2012
Rapid Reaction: UNC 77, Vermont 58
By Robbi Pickeral
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Instant analysis from North Carolina's win against Vermont:
Overview: Unlike the ACC tournament final last weekend, the top-seeded Tar Heels didn’t even bother to have starting forward John Henson (who missed his third straight game because of a sprained left wrist) in uniform in case of an “emergency” situation.
And despite some sloppy play early, they didn’t need their 6-foot-11 ACC Defensive Player of the Year to advance.
UNC shot poorly early and committed 24 turnovers. But it got a career-high 17 points from freshman James Michael McAdoo, who started his third straight game in place of Henson, and created a much-needed energy-boost for his team in the second half.
Turning point(s): Leading 19-17, the Tar Heels finally created some much-needed separation with a 12-4 run that included seven points from senior 7-footer Tyler Zeller. That gave UNC its first double-digit lead (31-21) with about 2 ½ minutes left in the first half.
Then, with UNC still only ahead by 13, McAdoo converted a pair of three-point plays, and freshman P.J. Hairston added a 3-pointer for a 9-2 run that pushed the Tar Heels ahead 57-37 with about 8 ½ minutes left.
Key player: Zeller finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. He also blocked two Vermont players on the same possession with 14:40 left, further stuffing the stat sheet.
Key stat: Vermont shot worse than 40 percent for the game, and made only 3 of 18 3-point attempts.
Miscellaneous: It was surprising how many empty seats there were for this game, considering Greensboro Coliseum is only about an hour’s drive from Chapel Hill, N.C. … UNC point guard Kendall Marshall’s four first-half assists pushed him past Southern’s Avery Johnson for fourth on the NCAA’s all-time list for assists in a season. Marshall, who already set the school and ACC records this season, entered the game with 330, and finished with 10. ... UNC forward Harrison Barnes had made only 4 of his 23 3-point attempts over his pevious six games. He was 1-for-3 on Friday.
What’s next: UNC will play eighth-seeded Creighton -- which topped Alabama 58-57 in the early game -- on Sunday at Greensboro Coliseum. The winner will advance to the Midwest Region semifinals in St. Louis.