While the Terps certainly did put up a fight against the top seed, the Heels' talent was simply too overwhelming Friday. Whereas in the previous two meetings this season one or two members of North Carolina's star-studded lineup had led their team to victory, Friday's quarterfinal defeat of Maryland was a total team effort.
Five Tar Heels registered double figures in the win, even as first team All-ACC selection John Henson sat out most of the game after aggravating his left wrist minutes after tipoff. Point guard extraordinaire Kendall Marshall led the way with 12 points, three rebounds and 13 assists, bringing his assist total to 311 on the season and effectively passing the mark set by Georgia Tech's Craig Neal for the most assists in a single season by an ACC player.
Harrison Barnes added 15 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Zeller chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds and Henson's replacement, freshman James Michael McAdoo, had an impressive showing with 14 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
While the Carolina frontcourt certainly had it going (15-of-29) throughout the game, Maryland's big men were in shambles for forty minutes.
The frontcourt scored a grand total of seven points on the afternoon, all of which came from redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey. The other Maryland bigs: Alex Len, James Padgett and Berend Weijs, shot a combined 0-of-7 from the field in the loss.
I thought their interior defense was great, said Turgeon of the Tar Heels. Their length gives us problems our [post] guys were just out of it. [Ashton] Pankey is the only one that played. Alex played not very well. James was out of it all day we couldn't get anything around the basket.
We just couldn't make any shots, said Padgett.
Even Pankey, the Terps' lone scorer in the frontcourt, expressed the bigs' frustration inside against the size of Carolina. They have so much length and athleticism so it was kinda hard for our team. You know, we basically have one seven-footer, he said. Me and [James] Padgett are pretty athletic, if I say so myself, but they have a great team.
Maryland, whose deficit floated around the teens for most of the second half, began to put together a comeback midway through the second half. An Ashton Pankey layup with 12:19 remaining pulled the Terps within 54-47 as part of a 16-8 Maryland run. Yet, just as quickly as the momentum had seemed to swing in Maryland's favor, Carolina roared back, opening up their lead to 63-47 in less than two minutes.
Well they're pretty good; that's what happened, said Turgeon. They make scoring look real easy you can't stop it. You need like 19 timeouts to beat Carolina.
All of the sudden they started hitting shots and we started slacking on defense, said Weijs of the Carolina run. We let up a little bit. And when you play Carolina, they get coached by a great coach, they got all the talent in the world. So, it's hard for us to get back.
There's a lot of things that they can do that other teams can't do, said Faust. They're a great running team; that's what makes them so good.
Carolina won the battle of the boards, grabbing 41 rebounds to Maryland's 34. Pankey's eight rebounds led the way for a frontcourt that managed only 14 boards on the afternoon. Marshall's 12 assists led the Carolina charge that registered 19 fast break points to Maryland's five.
As for what comes next, even Turgeon is not too sure.
I don't know, said Turgeon when asked of his team's postseason chances. We had to fight so hard just to do what we did. We need the weekend just to sit back and talk about it for these kids to do what we did, I'm really proud of them.
o Maryland shot 38.7 percent (24-of-62) from the field as a team
o Carolina shot 50.8 percent (31-of-61) from the field as a team
o The Heels were an above-average 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from long range
o Neither team was great from the line: Carolina (16-of-26), 61.5 percent and Maryland (13-of-21), 61.9 percent