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Heels collapse against Belmont
SoVaNow.com / November 20, 2013
North Carolina fell to 2-1 on the season after a surprising 83-80 loss to Belmont Sunday night, and the Tar Heels have some definite question marks moving forward.
The suspensions of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald remain unresolved, and the Hairston situation could be complicated.
Carolina is soon headed to Uncasville, Conn. for two more games in the Hall of Fame tipoff, starting with Richmond on Saturday. The Heels are scheduled to play either defending national champion Louisville or Fairfield Sunday.
The Heels get games away from Chapel Hill at UAB and Michigan State after the Hall of Fame tipoff tournament.
UNC faltered at home badly in the closing minutes against Belmont. Belmont went 26-7 last season, earned its sixth NCAA tournament appearance in eight years, and finished with a program-best final RPI of 24.
The Bruins, now 3-1, exploited some unusual late game confusion by Carolina and also drilled the Tar Heels from beyond the 3-point arc, completing 15 of 37 attempts. Belmont also did an exceptional job at the foul line, connecting on 20 of 22 attempts.
UNC had a so-so night offensively, finishing at 48.3 percent from the field and just two of seven from 3-point range. Carolina, like everyone else, is adjusting to new defensive rules and UNC also struggled from the free throw line, connecting on 22 of 48 attempts.
The Heels also had a negative assist (11) to turnover (13) ratio.
James Michael McAdoo led UNC with 27 points and 13 boards. Marcus Paige had 17 points, adding five assists and five turnovers.
The Heels collapsed at the end, blowing an eight-point lead with 2:37 remaining. Paige, caught with the conflicting responsibilities of providing both a scoring spark and efficient operation of the Heels’ offense, had three turnovers in the final 1:40.
Belmont’s J.J. Mann delivered the dagger that sank the Heels and shredded UNC defensively, finishing with five-for-14 accuracy from beyond the arc.
Mann went eight of 21 from the field and led the upset with 28 points.
Carolina still has some very challenging non-conference tests, including the Spartans in the ACC-Big Ten challenge and a home visit from Kentucky on Dec. 14.
Williams noted in his post-game media session that he did a poor job coaching, and that’s undoubtedly an effort to deflect pressure from this still-maturing UNC squad.
Paige said, “every assignment has to be done correctly in a one-possession game in the last minute and a half. It really boils down to, we had four different opportunities. I turned the ball over on three of them.”
The Tar Heels have to execute better in end game situations.
SMITH HONORED: President Barack Obama presented the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday at the White House to a group that includes former UNC men’s basketball coach Dean Smith, President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and 13 others including Chicago Cub Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, Senators Daniel Inouye and Richard Lugar, entertainer Loretta Lynn and astronaut Sally Ride.
UNC coach Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge, the longtime former Smith assistant and his successor as the Tar Heels’ head coach, accompanied members of the Smith family to the ceremony.
Williams said the iconic Tar Heel coach “taught me so much more about people than he did about zone defense, or man to man defense or anything whatsoever.
“I think he’s truly one of the great mentors that you could possibly have. He was a mentor to me, and every player. He truly cared about his players,” Williaims said.
ACC HOOPS NOTEBOOK: Virginia sailed past Navy, 67-42, Tuesday night, as the Cavaliers had four players score at least 12 points for the first time since Feb. 10, 2013 at Maryland. Navy also scored just 17 first-half points, marking the second time this season the Cavaliers have allowed fewer than 20 points in a half (the 25th time in the Tony Bennett era).
Anthony Gill (18 points) scored in double figures for the second time this season and Joe Harris (16 points) scored in double figures for the second time this season and for the 71st time in his career.
Three ACC teams - Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina - were ranked in both polls this week. The Blue Devils have been ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll for an ACC-record 116 consecutive weeks.
Virginia Tech also drilled VMI Monday and won its third straight. Over his last three games, Hokie freshman Ben Emelogu is averaging 19 points and 4.3 boards per game and has connected on nine of 18 attempts from three-point range.
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