Home Page banner.cb3cartoon.








Click here for more basketball.

Off the cuff: Earlier in the year, I indicated that if Carolina's free throw woes continued that it could cost the Heels a tourney win or end the season.

While it was by no means the only reason the Tar Heels fell to Florida State, it was crucial as they managed just 14 of 25 from the line. Frankly, FSU was only slightly better going 16 of 22. But Carolina missed both tries from the line on four different occasions.

Shooting from the field was an even bigger problem as the Heels shot the worst they have all season - hitting just 33.8 percent compared to FSU's 45.3 percent.

Carolina fans might be excused to believe that the officiating was the game's biggest problem. Early in the game, a goaltending should have been called on the Seminoles. That was two points that should have gone to the Heels.

At least twice, FSU players lowered their shoulders and knocked over UNC players and scored. Another time, an FSU player was caught in a trap and banged his way out of it by flattening a UNC player and passed ahead for another Seminole basket.

With the score tied in the second half, a foul was called on UNC's Leaky Black when the offensive player had traveled and then lost the ball on his own before the foul was called. FSU's Walker hit both free throws to give them the lead.

Twice Seminole players were clearly out of bounds and neither was called.

Finally on a late inbounds play with 2.7 seconds left and the Heels trailing by two, Walker traveled - taking three steps and a hop. It wasn't called. Even the TV crew was incredulous. Had officials at least got that one right, Carolina would have had the ball under its own basket with a chance to tie or win the game at the buzzer.

Florida State was fresher, having not played a game in the tourney while Carolina played three in three days. But Coach Williams refused to use it as an excuse.

Still, it was a factor as was the fact that Garrison Brooks has not fully recovered from an ankle injury.

All those things going against them and Carolina was in position to win with three minutes left. While they won't be in the finals of the ACC Tournament, the Heels are playing some of their best basketball of the season going into the NCAA Tournament.

Cross your fingers that they get a six or seven seed rather than an eight or nine seed. Had they won this game, I think the Heels would have been a six or seven.

ESPN announcer Jay Bilas said that the finals between Florida State and Georgia Tech "should be a good game." Yeah but will anybody be watching? Viewership will certainly be down in North Carolina as this will be the first time since 1996 that no team from the state will be in the finals.

-------------------

Quite a different game, especially in the first half, as opposed to the domination Carolina showed over Notre Dame.

But the Heels asserted themselves - iinside and outside - over the last 10 minutes of the game.

Virginia Tech came out enthusiastic and aggressive, hanging with the Tar Heels on the boards. But eventually, the deeper, strong Heels took over.

Over a three-minute span during that telling 10 minutes, Armando Bacot scored 10 straight points for the Heels as he singlehanded outscored the Hokies 10-7 during that stretch.

Bacot ended with a game-high 13 rebounds.

Garrison Brooks, coming off a twisted ankle injury, got to play 21 minutes but didn't seem to be himself as he managed just five points and three rebounds.

-----------

Look for my immediate, off-the-cuff comments following UNC basketball games this season. Opinions, observations, irritations and general insightful rants.

----------------------------

Archives

Click here to go to the football page.
Click here to keep up with the 2008 run to the World Series.

Carolina Football: Golden anniversary of a redeeming 50-0 victory over Duke.

Carolina Football: Excerpts from an article on the history of the Carolina-Duke rivalry.

 

Fresh Seminoles sneak past UNC late
North Carolina rallied from 13 down to take a two-point lead but hit just one of eight shots over the last three minutes as a fresh Florida State team squeezed by the Tar Heels 69-66 to advance to the ACC Tournament finals. (3/12)

"Their defense late in the game was much stronger than our offense," UNC coach Roy Williams said simply, adding that the Tar Heels didn't get a good shot off over the last three minutes of the game.

Playing their third game in three days, Carolina came out sluggish and Florida State, which hasn't played in 12 days, took advantage sprinting out to a 22-11 lead.

The Seminoles led 30-17 before settling for an 11-point lead, 35-24, at the break after a step-back, off-balanced three by Malik Osborne at the buzzer. Osborne hit three triples off the bench.

Like they did the last time the two teams met, the Tar Heels came out of the lockerroom on fire and quickly made the game competitive. A 15-7 run over the first five minutes, capped by a three from Kerwin Walton, drew the Heels within three at 42-39.

An 8-0 run, highlighted by a Walton three that tied the game, put the Heels up 51-46 with just over 11 minutes left.

Florida State caught up and took a four-point lead before UNC came back to tie it on a Caleb Love three from right in front of the Carolina bench. The Heels took the lead 64-62 with 3:14 left when R.J. Davis was fouled on a three-point shot and hit all three free throws.

But the Tar Heels went more than three minutes before they scored again. A three by Anthony Polite, who scored only five points on the night, put the Seminoles up 65-64 with 2:05 to go. Florida State never trailed again.

After Leaky Black follow shot with 2.7 seconds left, FSU import Balsa Koprivica, who led the Noles with 17 points, hit a free throw to wrap it up.

The Tar Heels shot just 33.8 percent from the field - their worst performance of the year. And the free throw woes reared their ugly heads again as the Heels went just 14 of 25 from the line, including two crucial misses by freshman Day'Ron Sharpe with 20 seconds to go.

Officiating became an issue as UNC coach Williams argued several calls vehemently, including an obvious traveling violation in the waning seconds that would have given Carolina a chance to tie or win at the buzzer.

The Tar Heels, now 18-10 on the season, wait for Sunday's NCAA Tournament invitation. Speculation from bracket experts put the Heels in a dreaded eight vs. nine seed game. The winner of that one would then play the No. 1 seed in the region.

Florida State and Georgia Tech, each having played only one ACC Tournament game due to COVID cancellations from Duke and Virginia, play for the league title at 8:30 Saturday night.

Box Score

UNC's Caleb Love led the Tar Heels with 13 points despite hitting only four of 14 shots. (UNC Sports Information photo by Maggie Hobson.)

Big second half puts UNC in semi-finals
North Carolina, behind a strong second half from guard R.J. Davis and big man Armando Bacot, came from behind to defeat Virginia Tech 81-73 and advance to the ACC Tournament semi-finals. (3/11)

In a back-and-forth game, a Davis three from the right wing midway through the second half gave Carolina its biggest lead to that point, 53-49, and started a 14-5 run as the Tar Heels pulled away.

Within seconds after he hit the triple, Davis pickpocketed Hunter Cattoor and went in for an acrobatic contested layup high off the backboard and drew the foul. The old-fashioned three-point play put the Heels up by seven.

After eight straight points by Bacot the Tar Heels were up by double figures at 66-56 with under six minutes to play.

The Hokies did cut the margin to five with less than two minutes to play but UNC's Leaky Black, who came into the game having missed 18 of his previous 19 three-point shots, popped in an open three from the right corner. After a Bacot steal, Davis ended any chance for Virginia Tech as he got another three from the right wing with just over a minute to go.

Davis, who scored a team-high 19 points off the bench, got at least as much playing time as three of the starters. "We went with the smaller lineup a lot," UNC coach Roy Williams said, adding that he felt the team needed two ball handlers in there. "Their defense was pretty aggressive and we were turning it over."

Virginia Tech got out to an 11-3 lead during the first five minutes and looked like the fresher, more energetic team.

But a more active Tar Heels team later went on an 11-2 run of its own which featured threes by freshmen guards Davis and Caleb Love. Love's swished three, followed by a swished two put the Heels up 21-18.

Carelessness with the ball led to two straight UNC turnovers that helped the Hokies regain the lead at 31-28. Virginia Tech would take a 35-32 lead into the lockerroom buoyed by an 18-12 advantage in the paint - an area the Heels controlled in their first game of the ACC Tournament against Notre Dame. All 18 points were layups or dunks.

"They came out with a sense of urgency that was greater than ours," Coach Williams said. "At half I felt very lucky that we were just down three."

Virginia Tech was holding its own inside in the first half. In fact, Bacot, who ended with 17 points, didn't score until the last two minutes of the first half.

The big guys, who destroyed Notre Dame in the Heels first game of the tourney, didn't start controlling the boards until the second half.

"We keep coming and keep coming and keep coming," Coach Williams said. "Hopefully during the course of a 40-minute game, it'll be big for us."

Virginia Tech, a lock as an NCAA Tournment team with a 15-6 record, was led by Justyn Mutt's season-high 24 points. North Carolina, which improves to 18-9, plays Florida State, a team that hasn't played yet in the ACC Tournament after Duke pulled out with COVID issues, at about 9 p.m. Friday.

Box Score

UNC's Armando Bacot scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half.
(UNC Sports Information photo by Maggie Hobson.)

2020-21 UNC Season Preview

Read about any UNC basketball game since 2007-2008
Other old archived headlines:
2012-2013 UNC basketball season preview
2010-2011 season began with Late Nite with Roy

ESPN blows it - What were they thinking?
Read about UNC's 2010 football bowl win
Readers weighed in on Tar Heels' 2009-2010 troubles
Shorthanded Heels get big game from freshmen in opener
Season Review: UNC baseball had one of its best years in 2008
Carolina basketball's run ends after comeback falls short
Tar Heels run out of gas against Fresno State
Season Review: Carolina ends season where it wanted - in Omaha

Flack does it in the clutch again as Tar Heels fight on
Federowicz heroics keep UNC alive in College World Series
Carolina in the College World Series again
UNC is one win away from third straight trip to the World Series

Carolina baseball advances to host Super Regional starting Saturday
Heels defeats UNC-Wilmington 7-3 with five-run inning
UNC's wins over Miami vault Heels to No. 1 in the nation
Carolina baseball reaches 40-game win mark
Tar Heels take two of three from Florida State

Also, check out my articles for the UNC alumni Web site on Carolina's 8-4 win over LSU, the 5-3 loss to Fresno State, the 7-3 win over LSU, the 4-3 victory over Fresno State and the season-ending loss to Fresno State.

© 2021 CB3media Cary, NC

Barnes

Heel Prints reviewed each UNC game
As a student sports editor years ago, prior to the season, Clifton Barnes predicted a national championship for the Tar Heels and indeed they won. In fact he wrote his lede paragraph for the national championship game almost a year early. He regrets that he didn't keep a journal after each game. He kept a journal after each game of the 2007-2008 season and you can reach them here. At the request of readers, he has kept up his journal of each game ever since. He also has written about UNC baseball and wrote an analysis after each 2008 UNC football game.

 

Editor's Note: HeelPrints chronicled the UNC basketball, baseball and football seasons for 2008 and 2009. Since the vast majority of comments I get about the site relate to basketball and since this isn't a paying job for me, I decided to limit my coverage and analysis to basketball. Baseball and football will remain archived and if I have comments or opinions I want to make on those or any other sports at UNC, I will make them here on the front page and then archive them in the corresponding sports section. Thanks for all the positive comments I have received about the site. Should I get sponsorship in the future, I will reconsider adding baseball and football again. Ironically, my favorite sports to watch in person are baseball and football. But my first connections to UNC came from watching Dean Smith's basketball teams on TV or listening to them on the radio in the days before all the games were televised. It should come as no surprise that people pay more attention to the basketball coverage. Thanks for your interest in this site.