Tonight the Tar Heels begin their run toward the Final Four in their first round game against Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Kentucky. For a preview of UNC, read my article on what UNC must do to win the title. The only way the Colonels can keep it close is if their guards, Mike Rose and Adam Leonard, hit the three early and often. Then again, perimeter defense has been one of our weaknesses all season. God help me if this is the first 1-16 upset. But I doubt it.
10:07 pm: We in Tar Heel country should dedicate this year’s run to Roy Williams’ sister, who died last night.
Hansbrough has a different mask today, and it seems to be working, as his baseline shot draws first blood. 2-0, UNC.
10:09 pm: 7-0, UNC. Lawson hits a three, and Ellington scores on a putback. They might be running away with this game already.
10:10 pm: 13-3, UNC. Mike Rose finally gives the Colonels their first score, but Hansbrough gets another basket inside, and Lawson gets a four-point play (score, foul, miss, rebound, score again).
10:11 pm: 15-3, UNC. Ellington gets another easy layup. This is getting really ugly, really fast.
10:19 pm: 19-3, UNC. The Heels are playing so well, the game looks like practice so far. Frasor travels, our first mistake of the game.
10:22 pm: 24-6, UNC. Rayshawn Terry, Winston-Salem Native, gets the night;s loudest cheer after hitting a three.
Hansbrough looks so much more comfortable with his new, sleeker mask.
10:24 pm: 26-8, UNC. Mike Rose has all 8 of E. Kentucky’s points in the first 8 minutes.
2nd TV timeout.
10:28 pm: 26-10, UNC. Julian Mascoll finally puts someone other than Mike Rose on the board for the Colonels.
10:30 pm: 34-12, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOOO! (riff) He;s having a big game so far tonight. Brandan Wright scores to give the Heels triple the Colonels’ score, 36-12.
10:33 pm: 39-14, UNC. There’s just something creepy about Dick Enberg using the phrase “attracting young players”.
10:41 pm: 41-20, UNC. Break up the Colonels! They scored a whopping sic unanswered points on the Tar Heels! AHHHH!!!
Brandan Wright returns us to sanity.
10:44 pm: 41-26, UNC. Adam Leonard hits an unbelievable shot, and before the first half’s final TV timeout, the Colonels have reduced the lead to 15. Eastern Kentucky is on a 12-2 run.
This is one of UNC’s big remaining problems. They get too comfortable with a lead before it it truly becomes out of reach.
10:48 pm: We now have a reason to want to absolutely obliterate Eastern Kentucky. Apparently their coach, Ken Neubauer, proposed to his wif at midcourt of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Booo…
10:50 pm: 45-33, UNC. The Tar Heels are really not in this game mentally. They’re doing exactly what they shouldn’t do, and the Colonels have cut the lead in half because of it.
10:53 pm: At halftime, UNC leads 47-35. UNC has a double-digit lead at halftime of an NCAA Tournament game. And yet I’m really really mad at how the Tar Heels played. They really mentally left the building after gaining a quick 25 point lead. And as you can plainly see, when we mentally check out, almost any team can compete with us. This game should already be over, but we have allowed the Colonels to hang around. UNC needs to make some serious adjustments in the second half.
11:12 pm: The second half begins.
11:15 pm: 47-39, UNC. No! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! UNC turns the ball over again, Eastern Kentucky slams is home, and the Colonels are within 8.
11:16 pm: 47-42, UNC. Adam Leonard hits another three, and Eastern Kentucky is within five. They’ve outscored us 30-8 in their run.
11:19 pm: 48-44, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Tar Heels? Did Coach K set you up to this? What kind of sick act has a Tar Heel committed t=for this team to have that kind of karma?
First TV timeout of the second half.
11:23 pm: AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! MY EYYYESS!!! Brandan Wright is shooting free throws!
11:24 pm: 51-44, UNC. UNC finally gets a basket, off a big block on defense by Wright. The Heels were finally able to run their transition offense.
11:26 pm: 53-44, UNC. The Heels force another turnover, and it leads to another basket, this time by Hansbrough.
The crowd is really into the game now.
11:27 pm: 55-46, UNC. Hansbrough hits another shot to bring the lead back to double digits, but the Colonels immediately respond.
11:31 pm: 57-46, UNC. Lawson delivers a great pass inside to Ginyard, who gets an easy layup and bring the Tar Heel lead back to double digits.
11:36 pm: 60-48, UNC. Hansbrough gets the basket and the foul inside. Darnell Dials was simply overmatched.
11:39 pm: UPDATE: Xavier wins an unbelievable game against BYU, 79-77.
11:40 pm: 67-52, UNC. Terry has suddenly come up big to extend the lead back to 17 before the Colonels stop the run. Terry always seems to be quiet for the first half, but come up big when the Heels need him most.
11:44 pm: 71-52, UNC. Terry scores again, a layup that he made look easy, and UNC has a 19 point lead with 8 minutes left.
I don’t care how much Axe product you use. If you’re ugly, girls will not be attracted to you.
11:48 pm: 75-54, UNC. Brandan Wright hits a noce shot inside to extend the lead to 21. With 5 and a half minutes left, the Colonels are pretty much done at this point.
11:49 pm: 77-56, UNC. I can’t recall the last time UNC fans have had to scream “TAR! HEELS! TAR HEELS!” in a stadium this late at night.
11:51 pm: 81-58, UNC, 3:00 left. Wright puts the exclamation point on this game with a huge dunk to put the Heels up 23.
11:55 pm: Bring in the benchwarmers! We should not have three of our starters still in the game.
11:58 pm: The game ends, as UNC wins 86-65. Overall, UNC played 20 good minutes, 10 great minutes and 10 horrendous minutes of basketball. The Colonels can hold their heads high knowing that they outplayed one of the best teams in college basketball for 10 to 15 minutes, outscoring them 32-9 for a stretch of time.
Meanwhile, I can take solace that I’m the last undefeated player in Just Call Me Juice‘s Bracket Challenge. I was the only player who was 12 for 12, and so far I’m 15 for 15. Pitt is going to beat Wright State, which will give me my first loss. but still. I can say that I was the last undefeated player. Kind of like Clemson. And knowing my history in bracket predictions, my fall may be just as meteoric. But let me cherish this moment. Please.