Kris Lang – Lang's effort was inspiring. The senior center played 27 minutes scoring 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots. His extended game now includes a 12-foot jump hook and can square and face the basket with 10-12-foot jumpers. He does a great job of getting position on the blocks and gives maximum effort at all times.
Jason Capel – Capel's shooting difficulties have been well documented but his effort, attitude and floor play hasn't. He didn't do a terrible job defending Tayshaun Prince even though the UK star scored 31 points. Prince is an excellent player and was red hot. He would have lit up anyone. A couple of his 3s were with a hand in the face and another was from about 35 feet. UNC fans need to stop ridiculing Capel. His attributes should be respected and his effort applauded.
Brian Bersticker – Give credit to the seldom-used senior for his effort and level of play. He scored six points, hauled in four rebounds, had an assist and played with a skip in his step not seen since before the first of his two broken foot injuries.
Early flow – The Heels played with confidence for most of the first half. They had quality spacing on offense, had excellent movement and swung the ball around well. They appeared more alert than in previous games, which led to baskets from all over the floor. The second half, however, was a different story.
Matt Doherty – The hounds going after Doherty need to understand the struggles aren't necessarily his responsibility. But in the game, Doherty made a few questionable personnel decisions. With Lang missing the outset of the second half, Doherty should have inserted Brian Morrison for Manuel. Bersticker is a drop off from Lang, especially offensively, and with the other four starters, gave UNC few options to score unless they broke down UK using total teamwork and that didn't happen. The athletic Morrison could have created and may have gone off, which could have narrowed the final margin, if not changed the result. Doherty also gave Jawad Williams too many minutes. The raw and uncomfortable Williams would be better off playing fewer minutes and learning from the bench. Doherty also must sit Adam Boone, who played just seven minutes and did a nice job breaking the press once and nailed a big 3-pointer. But he was beaten off the dribble nearly every time his man got the ball and is too slow for this level.
Jason Capel – Capel's lack of athleticism makes it difficult for him to score on anything other than pull-up jumpers, J's off screens, layups and free throws. He had another poor game from the field (2-8) and tallied just 11 points. His rebounding, however, and effort continued as strong points. The masses were right, he is better suited to be a third option, not the go-to role.
Brian Morrison – Morrison has exceptional potential and is capable of taking over a game but he can also dig the Heels into a quick whole with his erratic play, as he did on Saturday with seven turnovers. He is quick, has hops and reacts well but leaves his feet too often without having a plan in mind. Morrison is the key to UNC's season.
Jackie Manuel/Will Johnson – Few teams win when two starters go scoreless as Manuel and Johnson did. Manuel, in need of improving his ball handling and jump shot, also had four turnovers and just one assist. Johnson isn't aggressive enough and needs to look at the basket more often. He also has a nice looking jumper and should use it more.
Melvin Scott – Scott only turned the ball over twice but had just three assists and was 3-9 from the field. Although he has been a positive surprise he still has trouble consistently running the offense. He dribbles into trouble and misses open men. In time, he will improve.
Creativity – The Heels once again struggled to get quality looks attempting to come from behind. UNC doesn't have anyone – yet – capable of consistently putting the ball on the floor and creating, which they desperately need. Morrison has the potential but the others don't. Thus, the Heels need to have a more active approach to comebacks.
The Tar Heels next play on Sunday, Dec. 16, when they host Binghamton at 1:30 p.m. at the Smith Center. UNC not only needs a victory but an easy win would do a lot for this team.
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.