Home Page banner.cb3cartoon.
Check back prior to the 2008 season for a preview and a program outlook.
Click here for Carolina baseball analysis.

Off the cuff: The victory over Alabama-Birmingham might not have been as pretty as the previous two NIT victories but it was a gratifying win that puts the Tar Heels in the tournament semi-finals... and came against a good team on the road.

Too bad most people watching on TV missed almost the entire first half. I've mentioned it before but ESPN squeezes the game times so tightly together that if anything time-consuming happens in the first game, it will affect watching the start of the second game. This time it was disastrous as Texas Tech and Ole Miss went into two overtimes. Plus, that was not a crisp game what with a technical, a slew of free throws, timeouts, time to clean the court, officials conferring. It was just awful. I've long advocated giving two and a half hours to play a game. Thus either the first game could start at 6:30 instead of 7 or the second game could start at 9:30 instead of 9.

Fans could tune into ESPN360 online to watch but the action was way behind real time - two or three minutes behind - so not only couldn't you listen to the UNC radio broadcast at the same time but you could't watch the overtime game unless you wanted to know the score before you saw it on your computer since they kept a running score and time in the corner of the screen.

You would have thought they'd switch to the Carolina game instead of taking commercial breaks. They could have made up the breaks later. Plus, they did a wrap up of the first game for a full minute before switching over to the Carolina game. Irritating. They are going to do what they want to do regardless of what the people want - kinda like Congress.

By the way, you can watch the part of the game you missed or the entire game by clicking here.

Officials made a phantom call against Marcus Ginyard in the Mississippi State game. In this game, officials made no call when not one, not two but three UAB players were in the lane for more than three seconds on one possession - a possession which ended with a foul being called on Will Graves. The foul came after one player was in the lane for a full five seconds. The UAB shooter got three free throws to tie the game at 47. Either of those two official errors could have ended Carolina's season but the Heels fought back from both bad breaks, which shows character - a word that probably no one has used to describe this UNC squad.

Tar Heels 60, UAB 55
Henson inside, late FTs seal victory

North Carolina freshman John Henson is looking like the recruit Carolina fans were expecting. Henson broke a 47-47 tie with a dunk and a baseline hook and the Tar Heels hit seven of eight free throws down the stretch to defeat homestanding Alabama-Birmingham 60-55 in the NIT quarterfinals. (3/23)

Carolina moves on to Madison Square Garden to play in the NIT semi-finals at 9 p.m. against Rhode Island.

The game was in doubt most of the way as Carolina got up by six in the first half at 12-6 but had to settle for a 25-25 tie after turning it over 11 times and shooting only 34 percent. In the second half, the Heels turned it over only four times and shot 50 percent.

The lead went back and forth until the Heels went on a 7-0 run for their largest lead of the game at 45-48 midway through the second half. But UAB came all the way back to tie it at 47-all on three free throws by Jamarr Sanders with 4:26 left.

That's when Larry Drew II found Henson open for a dunk and then Henson looped up that baseline hook to make it 51-47 Carolina. After a driving layup by Larry Drew II, who found an open lane at the end of the shot clock, UNC led 54-49. UAB trimmed it to three once the rest of the way. But Drew hit a pair of free throws in a one-and-one situation and then Dexter Strickland sank two with 25 seconds to go and Marcus Ginyard finished the UNC scoring with two more with 14 seconds left.

"Our team played awfully hard," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "I'm so proud of them."

In addition to the impressive finish, Williams noted that UAB's Sanders scored four of five threes in the first half but that Carolina defenders clamped down on him and he didn't hit another the rest of way. In fact, UAB shot only 28 percent for the game and Carolina held the Blazers without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes in the second half.

UNC senior Deon Thompson led the Heels with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Henson also scored 14 points. Drew added 11. Carolina improves to 19-16 while UAB finishes the season at 25-9.



Check out the other game articles.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on by clicking here.

© 2009 CB3media Cary, NC