Myriad of Misfires

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 14 North Carolina was shooting 56.0 percent from the floor when a pair of James Michael McAdoo free throws knotted the score with top-ranked Indiana at 31-31 late in the first half. What followed was a shooting drought of tragic proportions.

The Tar Heels had connected on 14 of their first 25 field goal attempts up until the 4:14 mark. The next trip down the floor, however, resulted in the first of many misses – this one an errant jumper by Marcus Paige.

UNC missed six of its final eight shots of the half in falling behind 46-37 at the break. But while the lid may have been working its way on the rim during that stretch, it was cemented on during the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Six different Tar Heels combined to miss their first 11 shots to fall behind 59-37 with 15:01 to play. It appeared as though Reggie Bullock may have ended the slump with a tip-in shortly thereafter, but the drought had another good five minutes left to run. UNC failed to connect on its next eight shots, falling behind at that point 68-41.

Over a 14-minute, 21-second stretch, North Carolina made three of 28 field goal attempts – that's 10.7 percent. In the opening 10 minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels shot just five percent (1-of-20).

"We knew they were going to hit us," McAdoo said following the game. "Coming out in the second half, they just got us on our heels and we never got back to where we were for the first 15 or 16 minutes of the game."

It's misleading, of course, to suggest that the entire reason for Indiana's 37-10 run was North Carolina's poor shooting. Dexter Strickland offered a telling response when asked what happened after UNC tied the game at 31-31 and the proverbial wheels fell off.

"I have absolutely no clue, sir," the senior guard said. "I can't answer that question."

Strickland then pointed to poor defense, mental mistakes, an inability to get the 50-50 balls or loose rebounds and Indiana's effort to fight through UNC's screens to prevent open looks.

Freshman point guard Marcus Paige suggested that Indiana's late run in the first half shifted the tide and then its initial scores after halftime ignited the team.

"They started getting a lot of open looks and we kind of folded at that point," Paige said. "And then we didn't start getting great shots until later in the game when it didn't matter. For a stretch we didn't get great shots. We didn't get great looks in the first part of the second half, so that really hurt us. "

While there were other factors involved, the run does come back to UNC's inability to knock down a critical shot to stem Indiana's charge.

Their defense won the battle against our offense," Roy Williams said, adding, "We sort of panicked."

While the players should have worked within the flow of the game, they instead pressed and tried to do too much at times in an effort to close the ever-widening gap on the scoreboard.

"Every kid is a good kid and when we're down, they think they can score a basket that is going to give us 25 points in one shot," Williams said. "The more mature you get, you get down, you play better, you play stronger together as a team and good things can happen for you."

McAdoo agreed with his head coach and provided further explanation.

"When they were going on that run, we were kind of all looking to each other when we should have been coming together as a team and looking at each other as a team," McAdoo said. "Knowing that not one person -- not me, not anyone – had to make one spectacular play that was going to bring us back. It was definitely something that we had to do and just chip away."

North Carolina closed the game by converting nine of its 16 field goal attempts. By that time, however, the Tar Heels were well on their way to the worst nonconference loss of Williams's tenure in Chapel Hill.

Follow IC on Twitter @InsideCarolina.
Like IC on Facebook InsideCarolina.

Inside Carolina Top Stories