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November 21, 2012
It was a tale of two halves Tuesday night when the Heels played against the Butler Bulldogs.
In the first half, it was a team that was lost, confused, out-hustled, and out-played. It was the total opposite from what fans saw on Monday night against Mississippi State (winning 95-49 Monday night) and it should be a lesson for a young team to learn from.
UNC (4-1) will play in the third place game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational against Chaminade Wednesday in the third place game at 7:30 eastern time after losing to Butler 82-71.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
As mentioned before, this was a game of two halves. UNC looked like they were lost, confused, and were out-hustled all throughout the first half, as they fell behind early by double digits, which eventually led to a 35-18 halftime lead by Butler.
Rotnei Clarke started drilling baskets behind the arc early in the first half, as he hit 3 three point field goals, which only set the tone for the rest of the game. However, the way that UNC played seemed to just not be the way Roy Williams wanted to play against this team.
Butler came into the game cut and dry about what they were and what they wanted to do, but the fact that they out played UNC all throughout the first half seemed to shock many.
The loose balls seemed to go Butler's way, and allowing so many easy turnovers (UNC had 15 turnovers in the game), and getting out-rebounded 36-27 didn't help the Heels Tuesday night.
What one had to notice was the way Butler seemed to run circles around the Tar Heel defenders, as on more than one occasion, the Heels defender lost his man, allowing Butler to shoot a wide open jumper.
Joel James seemed to struggle tremendously Tuesday, as Butler used his big body against him and wearing him down physically, which eventually led to him not playing most of the second half.
North Carolina's Marcus Paige also struggled defensively, having to shadow Rotnei Clark most of the first half and being worn down physically. Midway through the first half, Marcus was seen bent over and gasping for air as Clark just ran around the arc looking for his shot.
However, the Heels showed heart, even though the first half was a half to forget. Down 60-31 midway through the second half, the Heels stayed strong and fought their way back. Shots started to fall, they played intense defense, and started attacking the rim on a regular basis.
"We just dug too big a hole against a very, very good team," said Coach Williams.
"In the first half, they really kicked us. In the second half, we're trying to make comebacks, but they were making shots."
The Heels clawed their way back and were able to cut the lead to 78-71, but that was as close as they could get, as they just didn't have enough time to pull off the comeback.
P.J. Hairston led the charge in the second half, when he was able to hit two key 3 pointers. But what was more impressive, was the way he attacked the rim and get to the free throw line. This seems to be what Roy Williams has been looking for from him and hopefully will continue against Chaminade.
NO CAKE WALK
Chaminade is a division II school, but is one that the Heels shouldn't take lightly. Chaminade (3-2) were able to knock off Texas 86-73 Monday night, behind DeAndre Haskins who scored 32 points for the Silverswords.
DeAndre has been averaging 25 points and 7 rebounds a game, which the Heels will try to limit him offensively Wednesday night.
Even though the Silverswords shot better against Illinois than they did against Texas (37.1 percent compared to 36.8 percent), they were not able to attack the basket and get to the free throw line as much as they did against Texas (34-39 against Texas, compared to 6 of 12 against Illinois).
To recreate their magic from 30 years ago, in what has been known as one of the greatest upsets in college basketball when they took down then No. 1 Virginia, they will need to attack the basket and hope the Heels miss shots (32 percent and zero free throws) like they did in the first half against Butler.
The loss Tuesday night will be a learning experience for the young Tar Heels and is one that they had to learn at some point. UNC hopes to not make the same mistakes against Chaminade before they head to Indiana next week.
On paper, Chaminade looks like a team that could potentially match up with UNC, as they have been averaging 80 points a game, shooting 41 percent from the field, grabbing over 35 rebounds a game, and creating five steals a game.
They will need to limit their turnovers Wednesday night, as they have been averaging over 15 turnovers a game, which North Carolina feeds on and will try to create, allowing them to get out in transition.
Chaminade will have to focus on James Michael McAdoo, as he looks to bounce back from two straight average games and looking a little lost in the offense. Last night, McAdoo was able to give the Heels 10 points, but just looked like he was trying too hard and forcing what wasn't there.
UNC and Chaminade have only faced off once before as the Heels defeated them 115-70 on Nov. 24, 2008. The loss against Butler was only North Carolina's third loss in this tournament and they will be looking to bounce back with a strong performance before they head back home.