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 Tar Heels lacked some intensity against Florida State but found it against Virginia Tech. UNC actually played well in the first half but trailed by five at 39-34, due in great part to a three-point barrage by Virginia Tech.

UNC coach Roy Williams put the words "Poise, Toughness, Confidence" up on the board at the half. As Williams put it, "the kids decided to go after it."

Defense was the key with a big rebounding edge and contested shots but it all started on the practice floor after the Florida State game. The Heels, Williams said, were "rewarded for working extra hard in practice and it carried over into the game."

Yes, defense (which included nine blocks) was the key but Harrison Barnes going six of six in the second half and hitting eight free throws made the difference offensively.

A team with this experience and talent shouldn't need a blow-out loss to get going - but maybe they did.

Tar Heels 82, Virginia Tech 68
Carolina explodes to pull away from VT

North Carolina trailed by eight early in the second half but - just after hearing the Virginia Tech fans chant the Florida State tomahawk chant, reminding the Tar Heels of the 33-point loss - the Heels went on a 19-0 run that ignited them to an 82-68 victory. (1/19)

The game was reminiscent of the FSU loss in that the Hokies were hitting three and three including the ninth Virginia Tech three of the game that made it 44-36.

But the Tar Heels exploded, having what UNC coach Roy Williams called the best half of the season. Harrison Barnes, who finished with a seasons-high 27, scored eight of the next 10 points and the Tar Heels took the lead for good at 46-44 with 16:13 left.

Tyler Zeller gave Carolina its first double-digit lead at 54-44 on an old-fashioned three-point play when he hit one falling down and was fouled.

The Heels worked the margin up to 18 on a three-point shot by Barnes that made it 67-49 with just over eight minutes to play. The largest lead of the game, 21, came with five minutes to play at 76-55.

Defensive intensity, which included contesting every shot and getting most of the rebounds (51-28), changed the tone of the game. Then the Tar Heels started hitting some shots, shooting 52 percent in the second half.

The defense also held the Hokies to just 36.8 percent from the floor for the game despite VT hitting eight of 16 threes in the first half.

The big three led the way for Carolina as Barnes had 27, John Henson had 16 and Zeller added 14. Henson had 16 rebounds and Zeller had 11.

About the only bad news was a knee injury suffered by Dexter Strickland, who was also in foul trouble and played only nine minutes. There was no news as to the extent of the injury.

The Tar Heels, 16-3 and 3-1 in the league, have a week off before they play N.C. State Thursday, Jan. 26.


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

© 2009 CB3media Cary, NC