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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels could never put the game against Long Island out of reach. Long Island didn't shoot well but they were scrappy. The 18 turnovers hurt the Tar Heels but it especially hurt them because of the type of turnovers they were. Probably half of them were long, ill-advised passes that resulted in runouts and scores by the Blackbirds.

I think the turnovers were an anamoly, caused by the team's inexperience in NCAA tournament play and the aggressive style of the Blackbirds that might have surprised the Carolina players a bit.

But the three-point shooting is going to have to improve for Carolina to go any further. Leslie McDonald's shooting was abysmal as he went zero for seven including five misses from three-point land. Harrison Barnes was only two of 10 from beyond the arc.

Tyler Zeller and John Henson were dominant inside with career highs of 32 and 28 respectively but that won't continue against taller and more talented teams. But to Carolina's credit, they exploited the matchup.

By the way, it was good to see a team named the Blackbirds. The Rocky Mount high school team was called the Blackbirds for many years before some ultra-sensitive, black power ethno-centric race baiters in the late 1960s somehow came to the conclusion that it was a racist name. The current nickname is a pretty cool one though - the Gryphons, which are mythological half eagle, half lion creatures.

Another off the cuff comment, could you believe that Jim Nantz, the TV announcer calling the game, didn't know Dennis Wuycik? I guess if you are younger, you might not either because he may be the best forgotten player in Carolina history. Nantz said that the last time two Tar Heels scored at least 25 points in an NCAA tournament game was 1972 when Bob McAdoo scored 30 and Dennis "Wychek" scored 25. Wychek? It's pronounced Why-sick. He was just a two-time All-ACC first team selection and an All-American his senior year. Today he is the publisher of prepstars.com.

Tar Heels 102, LIU 87
UNC dominates inside to win 102-87

Tyler Zeller scored a career high 32 points and John Henson scored a career high 28 points as North Carolina's height helped the Tar Heels dominate inside to defeat a tenacious Long Island team 102-87. (3/18)

The NCAA tournament game in Charlotte figured to be an easy one for North Carolina but Long Island kept coming back from big deficits to make the game interesting. The Tar Heels got out to a quick 12-2 lead and kept the lead around 10 for much of the first half.

But after the Tar Heels got up by 12 at 33-21 with less than eight minutes to go in the half, the Blackbirds outscored UNC 12-0 to tie it. During that stretch, Carolina had lapses on offense and defense, making turnovers, taking quick shots and not getting back on defense.

UNC's Harrison Barnes took over during the last five minutes of the half scoring 11 points and giving the Heels a 53-42 edge at intermission.

A 13-3 run in just over three minutes to start the second half gave Carolina its biggest lead at 66-45. The Heels scored the first six points of the half and Henson scored the last six points of the run. "We had some really good moments," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "The first few minutes of the second half were good." But Williams said he wasn't pleased with the turnovers, three-point shooting and the defensive lapses.

Another lapse resulted in an 18-7 Blackbird run to bring Long Island to within striking distance at 77-67 with less than 10 minutes to play.

But Zeller took over, either scoring inside or getting fouled and hitting free throws. He scored 16 of his 32 points in the last nine minutes as the Tar Heels kept the lead between 10 and 16 points the rest of the way.

While the Tar Heels shot 51 percent from the floor and 74 percent from the foul line, they also turned the ball over 18 times and managed only three of 17 from beyond the arc. Barnes added 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Tar Heels (27-7) who advance to a Sunday 12:15 p.m. matchup with Washington in Charlotte to try to make it to the Sweet 16.



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