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: Carolina seems to be peaking just as the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule is about to begin. The Heels appear to be 10 deep, especially evidenced by Leslie McDonald's 14 points and Justin Watts' 10 points in the 78-55 win over Rutgers.

But there are at least three troubling trends. First, the free throw shooting is poor at 64.5 percent. Compare that with the 2009 team that shot 75 percent and the 2008 team that shot 76 percent.

Second, Harrison Barnes has not settled in as the star Carolina needs him to be. He's shooting just 36 percent from the field, which is second worst on the team, even though he has more minutes played than any other Tar Heel. Against Rutgers he hit just three of nine shots.

Finally, John Henson seems to still be bothered by a thumb injury. He managed seven points and four blocked shots against Rutgers but he seemed limited and seemed to be favoring the hand.

Still, the team has survived with strong play from Tyler Zeller and Dexter Strickland, and good bench play. Against Rutgers, the Carolina bench outscored the Scarlet Knights bench 38-13.

Tar Heels 78, Rutgers 55
Carolina's team effort leads to rout

If someone said that no starters for North Carolina scored in double figures, you might ask how bad the Heels lost. But that's just what happened and the Heels didn't lose. In fact, Carolina played one of its best games of the season in dissecting Rutgers 78-55 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (12/28)

The first half was particularly impressive as the Tar Heels shot 57 percent and got the lead up to 22 points before settling for a 42-22 halftime edge.

With less than six minutes gone, UNC had its first double-figure lead at 14-2 following a three by Reggie Bullock. Back-to-back threes by reserve Leslie McDonald midway through the half put the Heels up 24-8. A 15-5 run late in the half ended with a reserve layup by Larry Drew II and a 42-20 lead.

Rutgers trimmed the lead to 15 early in the second half but a 7-0 run by Carolina put the lead back up to 22 points. During that stretch Harrision Barnes drilled a three and then picked off a pass and threw to Dexter Strickland who went in for a contested layup.

The margin never got closer than 18 the rest of the way. Carolina worked the lead up to 27 points following a Justin Watts three and a Justin Knox dunk follow which capped an 11-2 run.

Carolina's bench, led by reserves McDonald (14 points) and Watts (10 points), outscored the Scarlet Knights' bench 38-13. The Tar Heels hit 11 of 23 three-point shots while Rutgers was just five of 22.

"When the ball goes in the basket, everything looks better," UNC coach Roy Williams said. But he pointed out that the Heels turned the ball over 16 times and failed to get back on defense numerous times, especially in the second half.

The Heels also shot poorly from the free throw line as they were just nine of 18 from the charity stripe. But Carolina, led by Tyler Zeller's 11 boards, outrebounded Rutgers 46-31 and looked more fluid, comfortable and confident as a team.

A total of 10 Tar Heels saw at least 15 minutes of playing time.

Jonathan Mitchell scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights (9-3), who had won six in a row.

UNC, which plays Saint Francis Sunday afternoon at home, moves to 9-3.

Photo Gallery


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

© 2009 CB3media Cary, NC