Closer Look: North Carolina

Perhaps too much hype was foisted upon the shoulders of Harrison Barnes coming into the season.

After all, Barnes earned a spot on the Associated Press' preseason All-American team despite never playing a minute of college basketball. That's something no other freshman had ever done.

And, to this point in the 2010-11 campaign, Barnes has shown the inconsistency that comes with youth.

The freshman also has demonstrated a willingness, and knack, for making big shots in clutch situations.

Barnes was at it again, sinking the decisive 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to lift North Carolina to a 74-71 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.

The victory kept the Tar Heels (14-5, 4-1) a half-game behind co-conference leaders Florida State and Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Barnes finished with 13 points, including Carolina's final five. He hit a jumper with 1:13 left to tie the score, 71-71. After Miami big man Reggie Johnson missed a shot at the other end, it set the stage for Barnes' game- winner.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: North Carolina improved to 2-0 with Kendall Marshall starting at point guard. Tar Heel fans had been clamoring for Marshall to replace embattled incumbent Larry Drew II in the lineup. Although coach Roy Williams is not the type to accede to popular opinion, as evidenced by his chastisement of critical callers to his radio show following a Jan. 15 loss at Georgia Tech, he did replace Drew with Marshall before the Heels' game against Clemson. In five ACC games, Marshall has 25 assists.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- A horrendous effort defending the 3-pointer did not prevent North Carolina from tallying a 74-71 victory at Miami. The Hurricanes came out hot, and finished with 13 3-pointers to tie a season high. Miami did much of that damage early, sinking five 3-pointers in the first 10:38 of the game to take a 26-12 advantage. The Heels battled back to tie it, 39-39, going to halftime, setting up a contentious second half.

-- Sophomore F John Henson scored eight points against Miami, snapping a streak of three consecutive double-digit performances, but he did block four shots. Henson has 15 blocked shots in North Carolina's first five ACC games.

-- Freshman F Harrison Barnes was having a rough shooting night before a final five-point flurry to help North Carolina escape with an ACC road victory. Barnes was only 2-of-9 from the floor before hitting a pivotal jumper and 3-pointer at the tail end of the victory over the Hurricanes.

-- Upset by callers to his radio show the night before, coach Roy Williams went off in the post-game press conference following the win over Clemson. Callers to his show had questions about the team's defense and substitution patterns in the loss to Georgia Tech.

Reports in both the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer quoted the coach as saying, "Everybody was talking about being Carolina fans for nine million years and how bad we were. I don't give a damn how long you've been a Carolina fans, those are kids in the locker room, and they played their buns off tonight."

He finished up his outburst with this admonition: "Don't call me next week and say how good we are. Just keep your damn phone calls to yourself."

-- Freshman F Harrison Barnes has been up and down in his shooting and was hitting only 37.4 percent from the field through 18 games. But he also was Carolina's second-leading scorer (11.8 points per game) behind only junior F Tyler Zeller (14.1 points per game).

BY THE NUMBERS: 22.2 -- Sophomore G Dexter Strickland's shooting percentage (4-of-18) in North Carolina's first four ACC games through Jan. 22.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's tough. When you come off the bench, you can see how the game's going, see the flow of the game, see things in the other team. But when you're starting, you're basically just getting thrown out there. It's a tough adjustment." -- Freshman G Kendall Marshall, on his new role as a starter in the backcourt.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME:
--vs. North Carolina State, Jan. 29
KEY MATCHUPS:
The Wolfpack has the talent up front in veteran F Tracy Smith and freshman F C.J. Leslie to give the Tar Heels problems. The 'Pack also has two of the ACC's top 3-point threats in sophomore G Scott Wood and freshman G Ryan Harrow.

FUTURES MARKET: The situation in the backcourt looks to hold the key to Carolina's fortunes. If freshman Kendall Marshall continues his steady play and sophomore Leslie McDonald emerges as a threat to score from the perimeter, that could take the pressure off the inside game.

PLAYER NOTES
-- Sophomore G Leslie McDonald returned after missing North Carolina's Jan. 18 game against Clemson because of a bruised back. McDonald, arguably North Carolina's top reserve before the injury, totaled six points, three rebounds and an assist in 12 minutes off the bench against the Hurricanes.

-- Junior F Tyler Zeller not only is North Carolina's top scorer (14.1 points per game) but also the team's best free throw shooter. He was hitting 75.5 percent from the stripe (77-of-102) through 18 games ending Jan. 22.

-- Freshman G Kendall Marshall had five assists against three turnovers against Clemson in his first career start. That gave him a team-best 2.64 assist-to-turnover ratio through 18 games.


Pack Pride Top Stories