UNC-Wyoming: The Good & Bad

North Carolina's 90-74 victory over Wyoming in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Dean E. Smith Center on Monday night was just part of the night's story. A jam-packed house of 20,235 Tar Heels fans turned out to show a different kind if support.

UNC generally always fills up its massive arena, but on this night the fans weren't so typical. They were loud and spirited and had a tremendous impact on the game.

Here is a look at the good and bad of UNC's 19th victory in 34 games.


The fans – At no time in recent history have the fans been better at the Dean Dome. They came early, stayed until the end, were extremely loud, sang school songs, cheered, chanted, were incredibly supportive in every imaginable way, and they almost exclusively wore Carolina blue. To hear that arena chanting, "Tar….. Heels…. Tar… Heels…. Tar …. Heels…." was a truly amazing experience.

It seemed like nearly half the student body was in attendance and many fans that don't normally get to see games at UNC were also there. As Carolina guard Melvin Scott noticed, "there were families out there."

Raymond Felton – He just keeps amazing and amazing. What a sensational player already, and in time, he can be as good as he wants. He had 15 points, 14 assists (two turnovers) and three blocked shots. What a floor general. What a leader. What a fighter. What a smooth player. What an amazing athlete.

Melvin Scott – Scott once again had a terrific game. He scored a career-high 20 points, breaking his previous high of 19 set in a victory over Maryland in the ACC tournament earlier this month. He also had no turnovers, meaning in his last 134 minutes Scott has coughed up the ball just once. His presence makes the Heels a much better ballhandling team, more patient offensively, and he gives them more firepower. He is also playing excellent defense, certainly much better than many want to give him credit for.

David Noel – While he still has plenty of learning to do, it's pretty amazing how polished Noel already is considering the walk on is just now giving hoops his full attention. He scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and did an excellent job on Wyoming monster big man Uche Nsonwu-Amadi. An impressive young man, Noel should one day be a top-notch defensive player.

Jawad Williams – Williams finished with 13 points (3-5 from beyond the arc) and four assists. He really floated well and looked very comfortable with UNC's approach. However, he only snagged three rebounds, which is an area he must become more consistent in over the offseason.

Rashad McCants – McCants and his sweet stroke (great ball rotation) scored 20 points and hauled in six boards. He also had three assists and three steals. This was one of his most fluid games of the year, and clearly one of his best on the floor, especially on defense. However, he still must learn to consistently get his derriere down when defending.

Unselfishness – Twenty-seven assists on 34 field goals! That's unselfish, folks. The Heels did a terrific job of spreading the ball around, and even without Felton's remarkable numbers, the rest of the team still had 13 assists on 20 buckets. The Heels had wonderful spacing in the open court and moved the ball around well, which made getting open easier, and for alert teammates to find Heels for baskets.

Aggressiveness – The Tar Heels were aggressive on both ends of the floor. They registered seven blocked shots and 11 steals, and other than a few stretches, made the Cowboys work hard for most of their looks. The crowd clearly gave the team reason to keep up their level of effort, especially considering only 30 minutes came from the bench.

Energy – The Heels had great energy, which is a major reason why they were so aggressive. Much of the energy came from the sellout crowd and the players' desire to win for the fans, and much came from within.

Showtime – Too bad the game wasn't on television because Carolina was quite impressive in a highlight film kind of way. Alley-oop dunks, great open-court passes, reverse layups, sweet 3-pointers – you name it, they did it.

Matt Doherty – A lot of folks won't want to credit Doherty for the team's energy since halftime of the DePaul game, saying instead it is solely because of the energy the fans have given the team. And many of the players are citing the fans as to why they are playing at such a high level. But the fact remains, Doherty is the coach, and he is ultimately responsible for the team's effort. If he can be criticized when the Heels are flat, he deserves applause when they are not.


Drought – The Heels went six minutes without a point in the second half. During that period the Pokes scored 16 points, and cut a 59-37 game to 59-55. It was not as typical as many ugly stretches the Heels experienced earlier in the season. They weren't completely flat on offense, but it did appear the Heels let up quite a bit after taking the 22-point lead, which prompted Wyoming to call a timeout. Scott, incidentally, was off the floor for 4 ½ minutes of the drought.

18-0 run – The Pokes' run coincided with UNC's drought and ultimately reached 21-2, cutting the margin to 61-58 with 9:22 left in the game. UNC's defense was awful during this stretch. Wyoming made three 3s and also got three free throws after being fouled (by Scott) while attempting a trey. The Cowboys also made five of six from the line during this period as all four of UNC's fouls were in the act of shooting.

Rebounding – Wyoming was definitely a bigger team and had a load inside in Nsonwu-Amadi, but the Heels were still outrebounded 39-27, including 12-7 on the offensive end.

Traffic – According to so many accounts, the traffic was terrible. It took this scribe four hours to get to the Dean Dome from Wilmington, which usually takes about 2 ½ hours. Some fans said they didn't get into the arena until well after the game started even though they were in Chapel Hill by 7 p.m. – an hour before the game actually started. The university must do a better job of moving traffic along better. The police and traffic security personnel were rude and had an almost belligerent attitude and approach, which didn't help matters.


The Tar Heels will host Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2. The winner will play in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City next week.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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