UNC vs. Eastern Kentucky Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament

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.   

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What North Carolina Must Do to Win The 2007 NCAA Championship

Tonight UNC begins its march to the Final Four at 9:40 pm against Eastern Kentucky. This year’s team is so unpredictable, I’m not quite sure I won’t be blogging the first 1-16 upset in history. But here are a few things that the Tar Heels can do for the next few weeks to ease my worries and possibly bring a 6th National Title.

  1. Maintain focus. The biggest issue for the Tar Heels is that their focus has been lax at junctures of the game that allow opponents to stay in the game. I have seen numerous times that UNC has the ability to put an opponent away in very little time. The most striking example was in Tuscon, when the Tar heels went from down one with 9 minutes to go in the first half to up 18 at halftime. UNC ultimately beat Arizona by 28, and Brandan Wright and Marcus Ginyard, two of our best players, were out of the game. This proves one of two things: either that UNC has the quick strike ability but allows their collective mind to wander off before they finish the job, or UNC works more efficiently with a smaller rotation. Which brings me to my next point:
  2. Don’t listen to the critics, Roy. Have at least 10 guys get significant minutes. We have perhaps the deepest team in the tournament field. If we’re going to survive the likes of Texas and Georgetown before heading to the Final Four, we’ll need to get at least 8-10 minutes out of 10 players.  Doing this conserves our energy and saps our opponents’. If we can dictate the pace of the game, only the very elite opposition can keep up.
  3. Put in Quentin Thomas instead of Bobby Frasor. I have made no secret that I think Quentin Thomas is a better point guard right now for our style of play than Bobby Frasor, at least this year. Frasor has missed a lot of time with a foot injury, and he seems to be a step slower than his freshman year. The minutes that Ty Lawson is on the bench will be valuable, and point guard such as Marquette’s Dominic James, Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel and Texas’ D.J. Augustin would tear Frasor apart. If Wes Miller guards them, maybe it can work, but that creates a new set of problems. Yes, Q can get out of control sometimes, but he’s better suited to keep teams like Texas on their heels.
  4. Hope that we face USC in the Sweet 16. Because I have no idea how we’re supposed to stop Kevin Durant.
  5.  Feed the paint. Brandan Wright and Tyler Hansbrough remain the two best players on this team, and therefore they need to get the ball as much as possible. Wright was a scoring machine in the ACC Tournament, and did very good job of picking up Hansbrough’s offensive slack. Still, I would like to see him rebound better. As for Hansbrough, he’ll need to regain his pre-Gerald Henderson form. Rebounding is also key to giving the Heels more opportunities and taking opportunities away from the opposition.
  6. Wayne Ellington. For most of the season, Ellington seemed to be the big weakness in our starting lineup. In the ACC Tournament he shined not only as a shooter but as a defender. For UNC to get to the Final Four they’ll need that kind of play out of him.

At least four of these six things need to happen for the Tar Heels to make it to Atlanta. There’s very little room for error in the East bracket.

2007 ACC Championship Live Blog: UNC vs. NC State

Today North Carolina plays NC State for the ACC Tournament Championship in the final game of my attempt to live blog the entire ACC Tournament. A win for that Wolfpack would mean an NCAA berth, while a win for the Tar Heels would almost assure them of a #1 seed. We could discuss about NC State’s plan to slow down the game, how UNC needs to have the killer instinct, win the rebounding battle and not turn the ball over. We could talk about how NC State’s subs need to play out of their minds if Atsur and Costner can’t play to the level they’ve been playing this week, and how they they need to shoot above 60%.

But you and I both know that the deciding factors of the game won’t be the players, or even the coaching gameplans. It will come down to the intangibles. Accessories to be exact. If Hansbrough’s mask continues to compromise his play, Brandan Wright will need to have a great game inside, both offensively and defensively. And I heard that Sidney Lowe’s suit was dry cleaned. Don’t you know that dry cleaning robe the suit of its voodoo? Or does it? The answer to that question will determine whether they’ll keep it close.

I heard that Lawson felt something wrong with him today in warmups. The voodoo may still work yet. If NC State wins, that suit will become legendary.

1:06 pm: 3-2, NCSU. Hansbrough draws first blood, but Fells hits a three off a great pass from Atsur.

1:07 pm: 4-3, UNC. Wha? Can it be? It is! IT’S A MIRACLE! BRANDAN WRIGHT HITS BOTH OF HIS FREE THROWS!

Of course, dunks are much easier for him. 6-3, UNC.

1:09 pm: 6-6. Fells hits another three to tie the game.

1:10 pm: 8-6, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!!

So far the game is clearly going at UNC’s pace. Even if NC Stats keeps it close, they’ll need to bring the pace down to a halt, or else they’ll run out of gas.

1:11 pm: 9-8, NCSU. Brandon Costner hits a three as Brandan Wright fails to follow him to the perimeter. He’s every bit as talented as Wright.

The Wolfpack are now 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. My worst nightmare for this team, poor perimeter defense, may finally be realized today.

1:14 pm: TAR! HEELS TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!…

1:15 pm: 10-9, UNC. Danny Green comes in for Terry, and he hits a jumper from the free throw line to give UNC the lead.

1:16 pm: 12-11, UNC. Costner hits a tough basket, but Lawson goes coast to coast for a layup seven seconds later.

1:17 pm: 16-12, NCSU. NC State is now 4-for-6 from 3-point range. McCauley then drives in for an easy basket.

I’m really concerned about the Tar Heels. They’ve abandoned the paint, taking low percentage outside shots.

1:18 pm: 18-12, NCSU. Costner gets the basket and the foul. But he misses the free throw.

1:19 pm: 18-15, NCSU. Terry hits a three, but I still think the Heels should keep attacking the middle. They can’t be effective if they’re chucking up shots from the perimeter without even looking inside. They need to pass more.

1:22 pm: 18-17, NCSU. Nearly midway into the first half. Ginyard’s free throws cut the lead to 1.

1:24 pm: 21-17, NCSU. The Wolfpack are much better able to slow down the game with Frasor at point guard. I know he’s been hurt, but he’s been really ineffective this season.

1:25 pm: 21-21. The Heels are able to get two quick baskets in transition, the latest off a turnover by Atsur. The trap defense UNc has been running since the last TV timeout seems to be affecting him.

1:27 pm: 23-21, UNC. UNC forces another turnover, and and get another easy layup to take the lead.

1:28 pm: 25-23, UNC. Costner gets a tough basket inside, but Thompson gets an easy layup less than five seconds later. If they’re able to play at this level for 30-40 minutes, there isn’t anyone who can beat them.

1:32 pm: 27-25, UNC. The Wolfpack defense still doesn’t have an answer for Brandan Wright.

1:35 pm: 30-27, UNC. Atsur hits another three to take the lead back, and MCauley hits an easy one inside to bring the lead to three, as UNC is again chucking shots from outside.

1:37 pm: 32-30, UNC. Ellington hits another three to tie, and Wright gets a dunk off another great feed inside by Lawson. Wright now has 12. Four minutes left in the first half.

1:38 pm: 32-32. McCauley ties the game again, as the UNC defense doesn’t seem to have an answer for him either.

UNC has 5 turnovers in this game, and most of them are unforced. I am really starting to get tired this team mentally fazing in and out of games. This team is capable of so much better than they’re playing.

1:42 pm: 34-32, UNC. Danny Green hits another shot in the lane, but NC State is still very much able to slow down the pace of the game when Frasor is at point guard.

1:43 pm: 40-32, UNC. I spoke too soon. Wes Miller hits two straight three in transition to extend the lead to 8. The Wolfpack must think it’s unfair that the guy to help the Heels breakaway is their 11th man.

1:46 pm: Brandan Wright scores easily again to cap UNC’s 15-4 run to end the first half. UNC leads, 42-34 at halftime. It looks like the Wolfpack are finally running on fumes at the end of the half, but UNC has kept them in the game in part because of their unforced errors. Still, the Heels are in very good position to win the game if they continue to attack the rim and keep a fast pace of the game. If they do that, eventually NC State will reach their breaking point. For NC State tp win, they’ll need to show a second wind, Atsur will need to be able to slow the game pace down to a screeching halt, and they will need to force UNC into mental mistakes.

Then again, maybe Sidney Lowe should have thought of that before getting his suit dry cleaned.

2:06 pm: 46-34, UNC. The second half begins. Lawson hits two free throws to bring the lead to double digits, and Ellington steals the ball and gets an easy layup in transition. The Wolfpack can’t afford to get far behind.

2:07 pm: 50-36, UNC. Lawson hits his first two shots of the game a long jumper and a great reverse layup. The UNC guards are playing really well to start the second half. NC State seems flat-footed so far.

2:11 pm: 50-38, UNC. Gavin Grant provides the Wolfpack their first field goal of the second half, three minutes in.

2;12 pm: 52-40, UNC. NC State forces a turnover, and McCauley gets a tough basket inside to bring the lead to 10, but Ellington drives inside for a floater almost immediately after. They can’t afford to let the Tar Heels continue at this fast pace.

2:16 pm: 54-40, UNC. Deon Thompson scores for the Tar Heels.

McCauley gets poked in the eye. If you;re keeping track, that’s three NC State players who are playing injured (Atsur, Costner).

UPDATE: Northwestern La. State University is trying to get back into the tourney. But Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, and their ridiculously bad color combination, are leading 11-5. NW St. isn;t the same without that guy with the crazy afro.

2:19 pm: 56-43, UNC. Costner hits a three, but with 13 minutes left the Pack are looking really tired. They’ll be zombies by the end of the game, win or lose.

2:22 pm: 56-47, UNC. Suddenly, the lead is back to single digits. and Roy does the worst possible thing for effective strategy against a tired team: he puts in the conservative Bobby Frasor at point guard. Right now the Heels need to run the Pack into the ground, and Bobby Frasor wonlt be able to do that. If Lawson was headed to the bench, I would out Quentin Thomas at point guard. Maybe Roy thought Q would make a few unforced errors to help bring NC State back, but I think leaving the Wolfpack completely out of gas is most important at this point.

2:27 pm: 58-48, UNC. Brandan Wright comes back off the bench, and he immediately ends the Heels’ drought to bring the lead back to 10.

2:29 pm: 64-52, UNC. NC State is getting by on offensive rebounds, but Hansbrough finally gets a basket inside and the foul to bring the lead to 12.

2:31 pm: 64-56, UNC. The Heels’ unforced errors continue to keep NC State in this game, as Costner takes advantage off of a Frasor turnover. Eight and a half minutes to go.

2:33 pm: 66-58, UNC. The Heels finally bring Lawson back into the game.

2:35 pm: Even if we win today, we may not get the #1 seed, because the Selection Committee is going to see that we clearly allowed inferior opponents stay within striking distance of winning a game because of our mistakes or because of simply not having our heads in the game. Therefore they’re going to give us a tough road to the championship, almost to say, “You think you’re the best? Then best the best…5 times.”

Believe it or not, I’m more afraid of an inferior opponent than a top opponent, simply because of our mental state. 68-60, UNC, 7 minutes left.

2:40 pm: 68-62, UNC, 6:30 left. Is it possible for someone to dunk off the backboard? Because I think Courtney Fells just did that.

2:41 pm: 68-65, UNC, 6:00 left. UNC shoots another low percentage outside shot, NC State rebounds, and Gavin Grant gets the tough jumper in the lane AND the foul. The lead has been cut to three.

2:42 pm: 70-67, UNC, 5:30 left. The only reason UNC is still leading is because Hansbrough is 9 of 9 from the free throw line. He travels, and now the Wolfpack have a chance to tie.

2:43 pm: 75-69, UNC, 4:25 left. Fells scores again to cut the lead to one, but suddenly and unexpectedly, Rayshwan Terry comes out of whatever slumber he’s been in for the first 35 minutes and hits two tough shots, the first a baseline jumper and the second a driving layup inside and the foul. It’s good to have you back, Rayshawn, but where the hell have you been?!?

2:46 pm: 75-72, UNC, 4:00 left. Gran t misses his second free throw, but UNC fails to box out, and McCauley gets an easy basket to cut the lead to 3.

Roy, that blazer doesn’t have any mojo. It’s only blue-ish.

2:51 pm: 78-75, UNC, 3:15 left. Terry hits a three, but Costner drives inside, gets the basket, and gives Hansbrough his fourth foul. I cannot point to any good reason why the Wolfpack still have this much energy.

2:53 pm: 1:56 left. Suddenly Wright is missing point blank shots. This must be Sidney’s voodoo.

2:55 pm: 1:28 left. A sign in the stands said: “Beating Carolina: So Easy, A Caveman Can Do It.” Unfortunately, I might not disagree. Assuming that caveman is an experienced, cunning and athletic point guard.

2:56 pm: 80-75, UNC, 1:10 left. Ellington hits his free throws, and Ginyard comes in for defense.

2:58 pm: 82-75, UNC, :50 left. One of the things UNC has done extremely well: they haven’t missed a free throw shot yet.

2:59 pm: 82-78, UNC, :42 left. Costner converts the old-fashioned three, but is it too little, too late?

3:02 pm: 84-78, UNC, :42 left. TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

3:03 pm: 84-80, UNC, :31 left. McCauley hits a quick shot, and the Wolfpack are back within 4. UNC burns a timeout because they can;t inbound it.

3:04 pm: 85-80, UNC, :15 left. Lawson misses his first free throw, but makes the second. McCauley misses his hot, UNC rebound, Terry is fould and this game is bout over if he can make his free throws.

3:06 pm: Terry makes his free throws, NC State misses their shot, and Lawson finishes the game with a dunk. UNC wins the ACC Tournament, 89-80, over NC State! YES! YES! YEEEAAAHHHH!!! UNC WINS THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

You have to give a lot of credit to the NC State Wolfpack. They played out of their minds today. I don’t know how they kept their energy level throughout the game. Brandon Costner is certainly the Tournament’s most outstanding player. UNC did not play their best game, but they did enough down the stretch to win. In particular, Rayshawn Terry came up big late in the game, being the focal point of their offense and shutting down Gavin Grant on defense. Tyler Hansbrough scored 15 points in spite of only two made field goals,  as he made all 11 of his free throws.

Again, I must emphasize the this Tar Heel team struggles when they don’t have the mental focus, but when they do, there may not be a better or deeper team in the country. The Tar Heels did just enough to win today, and now they can enjoy being the ACC champions.  Now we’ll see later today what kind of draw they’ll get in the tournament.

And so ends the ACC Tournament. I had a lot of fun covering the whole event, and I’m definitely going to do it again next year. Again, many thanks to the Extrapolater for his help. I leave you with a new phrase that Cliff Ellis has for a three point shot: “From the Bonusphere.” He’s my new favorite analyst.

UNC vs. Boston College Live Blog, ACC Tournament 2007

Today, UNC plays Boston College in the first semifinal of the ACC Tournament and game #9 of my attempt to live blog the entire event (with help from the Extrapolater). For a quick preview of each team, see my ACC Tournament Preview. To see how UNC and BC got here, see Friday’s UNC-FSU Live Blog and BC-Miami Live Blog.

Simply looking at the score, I would have said that BC played a very subpar game against the Hurricanes. However, Miami and coach Frank Haith executed an excellent gameplan for this tournament that has taken Maryland and BC, two good team,s very much out of their comfort zone. But Tyrese Rice was able to save the Eagles with a career high 32 points, and Jared Dudley finally woke up to help late in the game. If Rice plays like he did yesterday, Ty Lawson is going to have his hands full, and if Sean Marshall and Dudley, ACC Player of the Year, can play to the level they’re capable of playing, they can definitely win this game.

North Carolina didn’t have their best showing on Friday, and Tyler Hansbrough was really ineffective with that mask on (which I thought was going to make him even more aggressive), which means Wright will have to do a better job of carrying the load in the frontcourt. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how well the backcourt, especially Wayne Ellington, played against Florida State. He scored 18 points and made sound decisions when shooting, but I was most impressed at how well he played defense. If he can be a complete player like that consistently, our weakness (the backcourt) will become a strength for UNC if players like Hansbrough are neutralized in the paint.

One more quick note: at the beginning of yesterday’s action I prayed for God to deliver us from Billy Packer. At the end of the game, he said he was heading to the Midwest to cover the Big Ten. Prayer works, people. Harness its power.

jesus-swimming.jpg

1:38 pm: No change in the UNC starting lineup. BC has Tyler Roche in at power forward.

1:40 pm: 2-0, UNC. Brandan Wright hits the midrange jumper. He’s really starting to develop his range.

1:41 pm: 4-0, UNC. Hansbrough rebounds a uick BC shot, and Terry finishes on the other end.

1:42 pm: Hansbrough has played great defense in the first two minutes.

The crowd is decidedly louder today. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; the stakes are higher.

1:43 pm: 4-3, UNC. Marshall hits a three for BC, but Hansbrough takes the charge on the next possession. regardless of how much he scores, he’s playing much better in this game.

1:45 pm: Now this is the Psycho T, the aggressive post player we’ve come to expect! Regardless of how much he scores, he’s playing much better in this game. He’s in every scrum today.

1:46 pm: Marshall commits his second foul trying to block a Lawson layup. Credit Ellington for that play. He outhustled everyone for the rebound and made the long pass to Lawson.

UNC is clearly controlling the tempo of this game. But BC is playing a good enough defense that they didn’t get in an early hole.

1:50 pm: 6-3, UNC. I can’t believe it. UNC has played for five minutes and we haven’t seen a single substitution.

Wright puts back a miss by Terry. 8-3, UNC.

Where has the aggressive Wayne Ellington been all season?

1:52 pm: 10-5, UNC. Ginyard and Thompson are the first substitutes for the Heels. Ginyard makes the tough reverse layup to bring the lead back to five.

Neither team has shot the ball very well in this game so far.

1:53 pm: Now UNC pretty much has their second team in. Hansbrough in the only starter in now.

1:54 pm: 12-5, UNC. Hansbrough makes a nice pass to Green, who finishes inside.

We are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jared Dudley to the ACC Tournament.

1:56 pm: 15-5, UNC. We’re 8 minutes in and already have a double digit lead, thanks to a great block by Green and Frasor hitting an open three.

1:57 pm: 17-7, UNC. Dudley finally scores to bring the lead back to 10.

The Tar Heels have done an excellent job of preventing easy opportunities for BC.

1:58 pm: 19-9, UNC. Ginyard almost steals a pass to Marshall, but he misses and Marshall hits a wide open jumpshot.

On the next BC possession, Ginyard times it right and gets the easy layup.

This game is definitely going at UNC’s pace. BC will need to slow it down soon if they want to keep it within reach.

2:03 pm: 23-11, UNC. It takes nearly 12 minutes for BC to score 10 points. You really have to credit the defense, but BC’s shots really aren’t falling.

Brandan Wright finishes another fast break. He’s playing really well today.

2:06 pm: Aside from Sean Marshall, BC is 1 for 14 on field goals. Shamari Spears misses both of his free throws.

2:07 pm: 25-11, UNC. Terry hits a nice jumpshot, and Lawson follows suit on the next possession to bring the lead to 16. If the Tar Heels can play this well, no one can beat them.

2:09 pm: Crap. Now I’m thinking about my stock portfolio. Thanks, Charles Schwab.

2:10 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

2:11 pm: 27-14, UNC. Marshall is now 4 for 4 from the field, but this is starting to get ridiculous. I’ve seen at least three shots go halfway in for the Eagles and rattle out. The BC basket must have some sort of magnetic repellent that only Marshall is immune to.

2:12 pm: 30-14, UNC. Hansbrough gets his first basket AND the foul. I’m now convinced that he’ll be fine by the time the NCAA Tournament comes around.

A very important stat: 21 of out 30 points are in the paint. That equals success.

2;14 pm: The Tar Heel faithful travel surprisingly well.

Defensive specialist Tyrelle Blair hits his first shot. 30-18, UNC.

2;15 pm: Wright gets into foul trouble.

I watch Carlos Mencia’s TV show, but that ad stopped being funny about the 15th time.

2:18 pm: It simply wouldn’t be a live sports broadcast with at least a few awkward jokes. Come on, Mike Gminski.

2:19 pm: 30-19, UNC. I just get really pumped when I see Hansbrough outfight some guy for a rebound. It’s even more awesome when that some guy is the ACC Player of the Year.

2:21 pm: 34-19, UNC. UNC getting rebounds is sparking their fast break, which in turn leads to easy shots, the last a midrange jumpshot by Lawson.

2:23 pm: I hope you’re wearing eye protection. Brandan Wright is shooting free throws.

2:23 pm: 36-20, UNC. Fortunately for Wright, dunking is a substantially higher percentage shot.

2:25 pm: 38-23, UNC. The Tar Heels suffer their first defensive lapse, as Tyrese Rice is left alone for the three. Before that they had shot 23% from the field.

2:28 pm: The games hit halftime. UNC leads BC, 38-23. In spite of Hansbrough’s continued offensive struggles, he has been a defensive menace in the first half, and the rest of the team has shot the ball well, in particular Brandan Wright. The Eagles, with the exception of Marshall, have been shooting horrendously, and even he’s in foul trouble. Give credit to the UNC defense, as they haven’t given BC any good looks. The Eagles will need to find a way to break down the defense in the second half to give themselves a chance in the second half. Either that, or UNC needs to have a meltdown. I don’t even want to think about it.

2:36 pm: An ad of a guy getting hit in the face with his own blocked shot, however, never gets old.

2:38 pm: Wow. Christian Laettner looks so much different now that I didn’t recognize him in time to boo my lungs out.

2:48 pm: Boston College has the ball to start the second half. Predictably, they miss the shot in takes them 30 seconds to shoo,t UNC rebounds, and Brandan Wright dunks on the other end five seconds later. 40-23, UNC.

2:49 pm: 40-25, UNC. Welcome to the ACC Tournament, Jared Dudley.

2:50 pm: 42-25, UNC. Tyler Hansbrough is finally getting some offense.

Jared Dudley hits Tyler square in the nose. That, LWS, is why he kept the mask on.

2:51 pm: 46-27, UNC. Even when BC scores, they don’t get back on defense, and Carolina continues to get easy baskets inside. 35 of their 46 points are in the paint.

2:53 pm: 48-32, UNC. Dudley is really starting to play well on the offensive end, but can the Eagles make some defensive stops? Deon Thompson thinks not. 50-32, UNC.

2:58 pm: 50-38, UNC. Boston College is starting to make a run, as they’re finally hitting their shots, and playing good defense. Mike Gminski points out the at the basket at which BC was shooting in the first half and UNC is now shooting, there are two cameras with a lot of black tape that can distract shooters. Thanks, Mike. If we lose, I can blame you.

3:00 pm: Marshall hits a three, and the 20 point lead is now down to 9. With more than 12 minutes left, this game is far from over.

3:01 pm: 55-41, UNC. The Tar Heels finally break the drought. First Terry hits a three, and then Brandan Wright gets another breakaway dunk from a rebound and fast break.

That’s what the Tar Heels still need, the ability to put an opponent away when they’re in control of the game.

3:04 pm: Did you know that in the ACC markets, the tourney games are presented by Racom/Lincoln Financial Sports? Did you also know that they’ve shown every ad at laest 30 times during the tournament? And you wonder why live-blogging this event is hard.

3:06 pm: 59-44, UNC. Wright continues to dominate the offensive post, and Hansbrough is still getting his defensive rebounds. Every time it looks like BC is coming back, UNC gets a fast break basket.

3:08 pm: WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOO!!! (guitar riff) You can’t leave that guy open in the perimeter. 62-44, UNC.

3:09 pm: When Roy Williams screams on TV he sounds just like Jeff Foxworthy. You gotta love the ACC.

3:13 pm: For my complaints about the tournament coverage, I have to say Cliff Ellis does a good job of analyzing these teams. I’d hire him as a color commentator.

3:14 pm: 64-46, UNC. That was just classic Hansbrough. He outfights three guys for the ball, makes some space, and hits a tough shot inside for the Tar Heels. It’s good to have you back, Tyler.

3:16 pm: 64-48, UNC. This is what UNC can’t do late in a game. This is what will get them ousted from the tournament. They simply cannot let up until the game is definitively over. If you give a quality opponent an inch, they’ll take a mile.

3:21 pm: 67-48, UNC. Ellington hits a three off a great pass from Lawson, which reminds me of two things:

  1. Bobby Frasor is a liability for our style of play right now.
  2. Exactly what does Coach Roy have against Quentin Thomas? He’s clearly better than Frasor, yet Bobby gets all of the minutes when Lawson is on the bench.

3:23 pm: 67-54, UNC. Marshall and Dudley hit two straight threes. Again, UNC can’t let up in these situations.

3:26 pm: 69-54, UNC. The Tar Heels seemingly deliver the mortal blow, courtesy of a Wes Miller steal and another fast break layup by Ty Lawson.

3:28 pm: 69-56, UNC. Why is A-Ha’s “Take On Me” in every college band’s repertoire? It’s driving me crazy.

3:29 pm: 71-56, UNC. Brandan Wright definitely finishes off the Eagles with another fast break dunk. He has 20 in this game, seemingly all dunks.

Bring in the substitutes!

3:32 pm: UNC wins, 71-56. WHOOOOOOOOO!!! Cue the band! 

North Carolina played very well today. They played great defense to grab the big lead, and they ran their fast-paced transition game well enough to keep it. They’ll play the winner of NC State and Virginia Tech, which I’ll be covering at Digital Headbutt. I may end up rooting for the Hokies, because I’m really starting to get scared of Sidney Lowe’s voodoo red jacket.

2007 ACC Tournament: UNC vs. Florida State Live Blog

I’m still recovering from yesterday’s slate of four games. I was watching the double overtime game between Wake and Georgia Tech until about 1 am. Frankly I’m trying to enter a fully alert state, and now I have to get pumped to cover the first tournament game featuring my alma mater, in game five of my attempt to post a live blog of every game of the ACC Tournament. Actually, this is only my fourth live blog, as the Extrapolater so kindly lent his blogging services for the late game. He will be doing so again today, as the University of Virginia is his allegiance.

For a preview of each team, see the ACC Tournament Preview, and to see how FSU did yesterday, see the FSU-Clemson Live Blog.

Florida State is here not so much because they beat Clemson yesterday so much as Clemson gave the game away. While that bodes well on paper for the Seminoles’ tournament chances, the committee may not be as impressed. I think they should be in by virtue of Al Thornton alone, but they will need to play a great game, even if in a losing effort, in order to feel confident about a spot in the field.

With UCLA’s unexpected loss on Thursday, UNC could very well get a #1 seed with a deep run in the ACC tournament. Their trek to the finals can either be relatively easy or hell on earth. Both Florida State and Boston College are talented teams, but they don’t match up well against the Tar Heels, BC because their bench isn’t as deep and they thus like a slower game pace, and Florida State because…well, I really don’t know what to expect from Florida State at this point. Brandan Wright and Rayshawn Terry will likely be assigned to Thornton, both of which are somewhat of a mismatch against Thornton’s size, range and quickness. If they’re able to contain him, dominate the post, find a way to play Quentin Thomas for 10 minutes, and most of all have their collective head in the games, the Tar Heels should have too much difficulty today.

I am anxiously awaiting how Tyler Hansbrough will play with a mask on. I think he’ll go ballistic and get 30 points and 20 rebounds today.

12:07 pm: This is the ACC Tournament, right? So why are you showing the Yankees Spring Training complex?

12:08 pm: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassers, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Billy Packer; Amen.

12:10 pm: 3-0, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff)

12:11 pm: 5-2, UNC. Hansbrough gets his first basket of the game, He doesn’t seem to be fazed much by the mask. And what a horrendous mask it is. I was expecting something more like what Rip Hamilton wore in the NBA Finals.

12:12 pm: 7-2, UNC. If the Seminoles were smart, they would foul Brendan Wright and force him to get his points on the free throw line.

12:13 pm: 9-4, UNC. The Tar Heels are playing aggressively. They definitely seem to have the right mindset so far.

The Phantom of the Opera goes to the bench.

12:15 pm: 11-4, UNC. Every time Florida State forces a turnover, UNC has stolen it right back. I’ve been shocked at how well Ellington and Lawson have played so far. This is the first time I’ve seen Wayne play such great defense. Where was this all season?

12:21 pm: 11-6, UNC. Wow. Al Thornton just made Rayshawn Terry look really, really bad.

12:24 pm: 13-6, UNC. Terry hits a nice midrange jumpshot, but it looks like the offense is shying away from Hansbrough right now.

12:26 pm: 13-10, UNC. The Tar Heels are still playing sloppier than I’d like, especially with Frasor on the floor. Is there some sort of disciplinary measure against Quentin Thomas I don’t know about? Because he’s better than Frasor right now, but Bobby is playing a lot more minutes.

12:27 pm: 13-13. Jerel Allen ties the game with a three. I am starting to get concerned.

12:28 pm: 18-13, UNC. Just as I’m about to type that Lawson should come back into the game, Frasor hits a three and makes a great assist to Brandan Wright to give UNC a 5 point lead. The inconsistency is frustrating.

12:32 pm: UNC is winning the rebound battle, but losing the turnover battle.

TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!

12:33 pm: 21-13, UNC. Lawson hits a three, and FSU’s drought continues.

It was really frustrating that Lawson either will go shot crazy or won’t shoot at all. Against Virginia Tech he threw up 20 shots, only making 6. Against Duke he had a wide open shot for two seconds, and he stood still for an eternity, open, before deciding to pass it to the top of the key. AAAAAGHHH!!!

12:36 pm: 21-17, UNC. A good defensive series by FSU leads to a tough basket by Thornton, but it looks like either UNC’s offense is shying away from the paint or the Seminoles have deiced to lock the paint from any activity whatsoever. Either way, the Tar Heels still must attack the inside. That’s their modus operandi.

12:41 pm: 23-17, UNC. Wright gets a nice basket inside. Florida State is one of the teams we can beat in spite of our bad mindset, mainly because the Seminoles have a bad mindset.

YES! YES! Roy finally listened to me! Quentin Thomas is finally in the game!

12:44 pm: 24-17, UNC. Dis FSU just get the ball off of an official? Is that legal!

12:45 pm: BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS!!! MY EYYEEESSS!!! THEY BURRRRNNN!!!

12:46 pm: 27-17, UNC. Ellington hits another shot, this time a mid-range jumper. Hansbrough isn’t nearly as involved in the game as he should be.

Q picks up his 2nd foul. I thought his defense wasn’t too bad, but they’re going to bench him.

12:48 pm: 30-22, UNC. Danny Green hits a three, but Thornton immediately responds. Florida State needs mor out of him, but he has two fouls. Hansbrough still isn’t has active as I thought he’d be. Is it that UNC is skiddish about giving it to him, or is he still wary of injury?

12:52 pm: 30-24, UNC. After watching him after the second rebound miss, it’s clear to me that Hansbrough’s mask affects the way he plays. He’s certainly not as aggressive, and that’s what makes him effective.

12:55 pm: 30-26, UNC. Florida State has scored the last 7 points, and UNC hasn’t gotten any good looks inside. More importantly, the Heels aren’t making their free throws. Terry, Wright, and Hansbrough are 2-10 from the line.

12:57 pm: This is not good. now the Heels are just taking jumpshots out of desperation. Brandan Wright hasn’t taken over the paint in Psycho T’s absence.

1:00 pm: OOHHHHH!!!! OHHHH!!! What a final 30 seconds. First Thompson draws the offensive foul, then Ellington hits another 20-foot jumper, then Ty Lawson steal the inbound pass, shoots the ball up, and Thompson scores on the putback at the buzzer. UNC leads 36-26 at halftime. What’s even better is that Seminole coach Leonard Hamilton absolutely lost it, and got called for a technical foul. This means that we’ll get two free throws and the ball to start the Second half. Technically, this means that we will have scored between 6 and 9 points between the offensive foul and the next time Florida State gets the ball.

UNC seems to be in control of the game, but they could still do a better job of getting the frontcourt more involved in the offense, as well as cutting down on turnovers, and they have to make their free throws. With the Florida State backcourt in deep trouble (Rich and Swann each have 3 fouls), nothing short of the Al Thornton Show can give FSU a victory at this point.

1:16 pm: Nothing scares the s— out of me more than the thought of Billy Packer in High Definition.

1:18 pm: 40-26, UNC. Just as I said, the Heels make their free throws, the Heels finally attack the inside and give Hansbrough an easy basket, and they’ve scored 8 points before Florida State has a chance to have the ball.

1:19 pm: 44-26, UNC. North Carolina gets two more quick baskets inside, and in 135 seconds of game time Florida State goes from down 4 and with momentum to down 18 about to fall apart.

Now this is what we’ve come to expect from the Tar Heels: the ability to change the momentum so quickly, the opponent has no idea what just happened.

1:23 pm: How can the referees allow that? Echefu was clearly down, the play remained in the paint, and yet the refs did nothing to stop the play until Thornton tripped over his teammate. That is unacceptable. I may be rooting for UNC, but Echefu could have gotten trampled.

1:25 pm: 44-28, UNC. Florida State finally breaks the drought.

Ellington is playing much better defense in this game than he has all season.

1:26 pm: 48-28, UNC. Lawson is having no trouble driving inside and getting layups right now. Florida State is really beginning to let the seas part, especially now that all three of their backcourt players have 3 fouls. (Swann, Rich, Douglas)

1:33 pm: 48-31, UNC. Someone should tell the Tar Heels that taking free throw shooting lessons from Brandan Wright is a bad idea.

1:34 pm: 50-35, UNC. Hansbrough seems to be a lot more comfortable with the mask in the second half.

Jerel Allen hits another three. I think he’s their only player in double figures.

1:36 pm: 52-40, UNC. Just as it looks like the Seminoles were creeping back into this game, Thornton goes out with foul trouble, Allen misses a layup, UNC goes on the fast break, and Terry makes a huge dunk that just took the air out of the FSU fans.

1:42 pm: 54-40, UNC. I had to step away from the computer for a few minutes. What did I miss?

Hmmmm…not much, apparently.

1:43 pm: 57-40, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Rayshawn Terry?

No sooner does Thornton come back in the game than he commits his fourth foul.

Q is back in the game WHOOO!!!

1:46 pm: 59-40, UNC. Q did it again! He did it again, another alley-oop to Brandan Wright. They make it look easy. But notice that he only does that with Wright and his long arms. With any other player, the ball sails out of bounds and Thomas doesn’t see the court for the rest of the tournament.

1:51 pm: 59-43, UNC. Only 22 of Florida State’s 59 points are in the paint. At this stage the Heels should usually have 35-40.

1:52 pm: Al Thornton just fouled out with 12 points. Show some respect.

I can think of few things less respectful to Al Thornton than making him watch Brandan Wright shoot free throws. I wouldn’t wish that even on a Duke fan.

1:55 pm: 63-48, UNC. I really didn’t expect Hansbrough to be affected so much by the mask. He has not made good decisions in this game at all.

You have to give credit of Florida State. They haven’t quit after Thornton fouled out.

1:56 pm: 66-49, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff) He’s our best player today. Although if one of our shooting guards is our best player, usually that means our frontcourt isn’t playing well.

1:57 pm: 66-52, UNC. Uche Echefu is a lot like Thornton. He’s not as fast, but his range is just as good.

1:57 pm: 68-54, UNC. Ironically, it’s our guards, Lawson, Ellington and Ginyard, who are finally putting this game away.

I feel bad for Florida State. I hope this game doesn’t cost them an invitation to the NCAA tournament, because with Thornton and the right mindset, they can do some damage.

2:08 pm: 70-56, UNC, 2:00 left. Hasnbrough fouls out. He’s had a really disappointing game. It’s possible that this may be due to conditioning, if Hansbrough missed practice time because of his injury. He certainly didn’t look like himself today.

2:11 pm: 72-56, UNC. Dewey Burke is in the game. This game is over.

Seriously, Billy? Special meal? Do your research! We get BISCUITS after UNC scores 100 points.

2:13 pm: The game is over. UNC wins, 73-58. I can’t say that I’m especially pleased with the result today. There were a lot of things that we did right. We played great defense, Ellington is becoming a complete player, and it appears that we can survive with a more balanced attack. Still, I am shocked at how ineffective Tyler Hansbrough was in this game. Either the injury or the mask has really affected his on-court attitude. But more importantly, we seemed to let a team hang around when we were perfectly capable of putting the game away quickly and easily. A better team will take advantage of that and take that kind of game away from us. Still, even with a bad mindset, we can still win the ACC tournament depending on our draw. But to make it to the final four, the Heels will need to show the killer instinct, the ability to press their foot on the throat of their opponent and not let up.

Now to see who our semifinal opponent will be. I’ll be at Digital Headbutt to live blog ACC Tournament Game #6, BC vs. Miami.

UNC vs. Duke Live Blog II: UNC Wins, 86-72

Today, UNC plays their final game of the season in the Dean Dome against the University of New Jersey at Durham. This is an extremely important game not only because of our opponent, or because it’s the last home game for Rayshawn Terry, Wes Miller, and Dewey Burke. The Heels are still vying for ACC and NCAA tournament position.

That was a sentence I would not have believed I would be typing at the beginning of the year. The ACC is a tough conference, but considering how well the Heels played last year and how good the incoming freshman are, everyone was fully expecting the Heels to run away with the conference title and a #1 seed in the Big Dance by this point. One of the problems is unrealistic expectations (last year was a freak of nature that we may never see again), but the main problem has been our gameplan, or specifically our deviation from it. Our bench players have seen significantly less time. We haven’t been aggressive on defense. Our inexperienced guards are not shooting well, but more importantly they’re shooting too much. Our strength is in the low post. But Hansbrough and Wright have not been reliable defenders either. The bench is their biggest asset, and they need to take more advantage of that. For example, Quentin Thomas is their best passer. He should play at least 10 minutes in this game, probably 15. That will leave 20-25 for Lawson, and 5 for Frasor. Perhaps the most important matchup will be Jon Scheyer versus Wayne Ellington and Marcus Ginyard. If the main objective is improving our defense, Ginyard should start and shut down Scheyer in the game. Ellington shoots too much, anyway.

But I am confident that UNC will win this game and clinch a share of the ACC championship. Don’t take it from me, take it from a corrupt, boring senator:

4:05 pm: Wow. The start of the game almost got pre-empted by the Missouri Vally Conference Championship. That’s how far the Mid-Majors have come.

4:07 pm: Burke and Miller start in the backcourt. WHOOOO!!!

Virginia Tech did its job by losing, now we need to do our job.

4:08 pm: 2-2. McRoberts and Wright each get an easy shot inside to begin the game.

4:09 pm: Duke has already attempted 6 shots. UNC is doing a bad job of defensive rebounding so far.

4:10 pm: 4-2, UNC. Wright goes inside and again scores easily. Dewey Burke comes out of the game.

4:11 pm: 8-2, UNC. Lawson makes a great dish to Terry for the basket, and then Hansbrough tips in a miss to give them 8 straight points. UNC is doing exactly what they should do, attacking the inside on every possession.

4:13 pm: 10-2, UNC. McRoberts tries to cheat by pushing a basket out from inside the net. UNC has all the momentum right now.

Ellington is in for Miller.

4:14 pm: 12-2, UNC. Green and Thompson are already in the game, and Green gives the Heels another easy basket.

4:15 pm: 14-8, UNC. What the Hell? Gerald Henderson was a non-factor all season, and suddenly he hits three straight shots? I of all people should know that UNC-Dook exists in separate bizarro universe, but even I cannot comprehend this. Thankfully, Hansbrough gets another basket and brings back a semblance of sanity. Speaking of insanity…

4:18 pm: Presenting the most bizarre advertisement ever made. For crying out loud, you’re a chemical company!

4:20 pm: 16-10, UNC. Wright scores again, but what the hell is up with Gerald Henderson? Since when did he stop stinking and do stuff like this?

4:21 pm: 18-10, UNC. Wright scores again, this time off a steal and pass by Ellington. There isn’t anyone on this Duke team with the skill set to defend him. Unless Lance Thomas can leap like a combination of a kangaroo and Tyrone Biggums.

4:26 pm: 23-14, UNC. Terry hits a huge three to put the Heels up nine. He’s playing unusually well; normally I would not have heard from him at all at this stage in the game.

4:28 pm: 25-17, UNC. Ginyard makes one off a drive in the lane, but Paulus hits Duke’s first three of the game.

Bobby Frasor is in the game. I’m still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas.

4:29 pm: 27-19, UNC. Hansbrough gets another tip-in, but he gets into early foul trouble. He’s probably the one guy the Heels can ill afford to have on the bench for a long time.

4:31 pm: 27-22, UNC. How does UNC leave Paulus that open? How does Deon Thompson miss a layup? Most importantly, how has CBS managed to resist a Coach K closeup? They haven’t become, like, sane, have they? Nah, probably just an oversight.

4:34 pm: UNC has to do better at rebounding. Their shooting percentage is nearly double that of Duke, but they keep getting second chances.

4:35 pm: 29-22, UNC. Now that’s what I call defense! Thomas gets position inside, but Terry rejects him, and the Heels are able to get a basket in transition by Thompson.

4:36 pm: 32-22, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOOOO!!! (riff) Ellington gets three the hard way to bring the lead back to double digits.

Hansbrough’s back in the game. Odd as it may sound, I’m not sure I like this decision. UNC was doing fine in his absence, why risk a third foul? We need him in the second half.

4:39 pm: Finally, A Coach K closeup after he takes a timeout. I knew CBS would return from their senses eventually.

4:41 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

4:42 pm: 32-24, UNC. Paulus breaks the drought with an easy layup off a backdoor cut.

Still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas.

4:43 pm: Hansbrough, a great steal, but what the hell kind of a shot was that?

4:47 pm: 34-24, UNC. OOOOHHHHHHH!!!! OOHHHHHH!!! What a pass by Lawson, and Hansbrough is in the paint, all alone. I don’t think I need to tell you what happened next.

4:48 pm: 34-25, UNC. I love you Wes, but what are you doing?!?!?

4:49 pm: How is that a foul on Brandan Wright? It was McClure who was reaching for his nutsack!

4:50 pm: 38-25, UNC. Great defense by the Tar Heels, and it leads to easy transition baskets, the latest by Lawson.

4:51 pm: 38-28, UNC. Just as I type that, Scheyer hits a three to reduce the lead to 10.

4:53 pm: The first half ends, with UNC leading 38-29. UNC played well in the first half, playing good defense and attacking the inside. Three things still concern me about the game so far.

  1. Duke won the rebounding battle in the first half; UNC cannot let Duke keep getting second chances.
  2. Dewey Burke has played more in the game than Quentin Thomas. This is inexcusable; Q passes better than anyone on our team, even if he can’t shoot a lick.
  3. UNC has only attempted 3 free throws so far. Hansbrough and Wright need to be more physical when they get the ball. More importantly, the guards need to get the ball to them when they are in better position to attack. Which brings us back to number two; that’s still one of Lawson’s weaknesses.

Back in the second half.

5:09 pm: 42-29, UNC. Hansbrough gets two straight baskets to start the second half, the first one of which was too easy.

5:10 pm: Correction: when I said Scheyer hit a three, he didn’t/ I turns out he’s has been held scoreless so far.

4:11 pm: 44-35, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Gerald Henderson?

Wright hits a basket again. He hasn’t missed yet.

Scheyer finally hits a three to bring the lead back to single digits.

5:16 pm: 46-37, UNC. It takes a minute and a half for Duke to score. It takes 6 seconds for Ty Lawson to drive in for a layup.

5:17 pm: 46-40, UNC. What the hell is happening? Suddenly UNC decided to make really bad decisions, and they’re letting the Dookies back in the game. That’s their problem; when they’re mentally focused, they can blow any team out of the sky. But if they’re not mentally focused, well…they lose to 5 players and Sidney Lowe’s red suit.

5:22 pm: 46-42, UNC. Hansbrough finally gets fouled, but he should have made that first shot.

5:23 pm: 50-44, UNC. Hansbrough makes a tough fadeaway jumper to extend the lead.

I am still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas. Does he have an injury I don’t know about?

5:25 pm: 50-48, UNC. Once again, UNC is in danger of losing their lead, and it will be because they didn’t play as hard as the opponent. I am really starting to get sick of this.

5:26 pm: 53-48, UNC. Hansbrough gets the basket AND the foul on McRoberts. He now has 19 points and 12 rebounds.

5:27 pm: 53-50, UNC. Robot Henderson scores again. I’m mad at UNC’s sudden bad decision making, but I guess it wouldn’t be UNC-Duke if it wasn’t a nail biter, would it?

5:31 pm: 56-50, UNC. Ginyard hots a huge three at the top of the key, and Lawson almost steals the inbound pass.

McRoberts flops like an Italian soccer player.

5:32 pm: 58-50, UNC. Hansbrough scores again! This time it’s a hook shot. He now has 21 points.

5:34 pm: 58-50, UNC. If Dook loses, McRoberts should be held single-handedly responsible for their demise.

5:36 pm: 60-50, UNC. Ginyard makes some great moves for a layup to bring the lead back to double digits. It looks like the Dookies may be running out of gas.

5:39 pm: 62-50, UNC. Paulus is on the bench with 4 fouls.

5:41 pm: If Lawson is going to be our point guard, now is a good time to rest him for two to three minutes. Guess who gets my vote?

5:42 pm: 66-52, UNC. Scratch that. Lawson is responsible for two straight buckets, one an assist to Hansbrough. Robot Henderson’s basket is canceled out by a Wright rejection of McClure.

5:45 pm: 68-54, UNC. This Tar Heel team has to realize that they have to play with this kind of intensity for six games in a row if they want to win the national championship. They have yet to show me that they can maintain that mindset long enough to pull it off.

5:48 pm: 68-57, UNC. Carolina, don’t you dare let up now! Don’t leave their guards that open, no matter what the situation is.

5:50 pm: 70-59, UNC, 3:40 left. If all the Heels do is play defense and hit their free throws from this point on, they should hold on to win this game.

5:53 pm: 73-59, UNC, 3:10 left. Wright rebounds a Paulus miss, and Terry hits a jumper off the glass on the other end.

5:54 pm: 75-59, UNC, 2:31 left. It looks like UNC has pretty much sealed this game.

Seriously, could the Rams Club pay for Tyler Hansbrough’s laser eye surgery or something? This whole contact lens thing is getting really old, really fast.

5:56 pm: 75-64, UNC, 1:57, left. Oh no, don’t tell me Scheyer is suddenly going to get hot and mount a Dook comeback.

5:59 pm: Dook is running the full court trap against the Heels. This is how they erased a 10 point deficit in less than 60 seconds against Maryland in 2001. This is textbook Coach K. It almost got Hansbrough to turn the ball over in front of his own basket.

6:01 pm: 79-64, UNC, 1:21 left. Fittingly, Senior Rayshawn Terry puts this game away at the free throw line.

6:06 pm: 83-68, UNC, :46 left. Miller and Ginyard put the exclamation point on this game. WHOOOOO!!!

Terry and Miller are given their curtain call. I’m going to miss them, but Terry should have stepped up to be the team leader this year.

6:10 pm: 84-72, UNC, :17 left. Bye bye, Paulus! Bye bye, McRoberts!

6:12 pm: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! That was just a cheap shot by Robot Henderson! He simply took his frustrations out on Tyler Hansbrough’s face! He should be ejected. Tar Heel fans everywhere have a new favorite player to hate.

6:16 pm: YYYEEEEEEAAAAHHHH!!! Henderson is ejected. I looked at the replay, and now I realize that while too aggressive, and probably meant to make solid contact Hansbrough, he probably wasn’t going for the face. Still, the Dean Dome crowd lets him hear it.

6:18 pm: The gems officially ends: UNC wins, 86-72. Normally I would be very ecstatic about winning our final home game, beating Duke by double digits, and winning the ACC regular season crown, but that Henderson elbow (intentional or not) really put a damper on things. I don’t think I’ve seen Hansbrough so pissed off. Seriously, he was about to cry; a blow to the nose hurts like hell. (I should mention that Hansbrough had 26 points and 17 rebounds, one of his best games ever.) Still, congratulations to UNC for finally winning the ACC championship, and to Rayshawn Terry, Dewey Burke and Wes Miller in their final home game. And congratulations to Tar Heel fans across the world We now officially have a new excuse to despise our neighbors.

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UNC Men vs. Maryland Live Blog: Who is Mike Jones?

This game is about to start just as the UNC-Duke Women’s game is getting interesting. Doing them both simultaneously, even if for half an hour, will be hard. It looks like Maryland’s tourney hopes are safe, as they will most likely finish .500 or better in the ACC. But They still need a signature win, and UNC would certainly fit the bill if they can pull it off.

5:35 pm: Turtles are cold-blooded animals, and thus will not survive in the snow of Maryland tonight.

5:40 pm: 2-0, UNC. Hansbrough opens the scoring for UNC. There is no stopping him when he’s in position.

5:41 pm: Rayshawn Terry always gets himself injured in a game. This time, he hits his fingers against the backboard. Nothing you can do about it, but it’s still like, his 10th mini-injury of the season.

5:46 pm: 10-3, UNC. Wow. A lot can happen in five minutes. This could get ugly.

5:47 pm: The Comcast Center’s most interesting feature is the “the wall”. The seats behind the opponent’s basket are all on one plane in a 35 degree incline, creating the illusion of a wall of fans looking down upon the opposing players. I understand that it can be pretty intimidating. It will be interesting to see what kind of role it plays in the second half.

6:01 pm: 24-11, UNC. UNC is absolutely dominating this game. Frasor just hit a three. Don’t ask me how, I’ve been watching the other game.

6:11 pm: 30-21, UNC. Now thatthe women’s game is over, I can finally focus my attention to the dudes.

6:13 pm: 34-29, UNC. This game is happening at such a fast pace, I can barely keep up. UNC is playing really bad defense right now, and Maryland keeps getting easy shots inside.

6:15 pm: 34-32, UNC. Maryland brings it to within two thanks to three the hard way by D.J. Strawberry off an unbelievable pass by Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones!

6:17 pm: 37-34, UNC. Just as the Terps have all the momentum, Wes Miller comes in and sinks the three.

6:18 pm: 39-36, UNC. Lawson hits an off-balance jumper, but Ibekwe gets an easy basket inside on the next possession.

6:22 pm: 41-36, UNC. Danny Green makes an easy layup off a Brandan Wright rejection on the other end.

6:24 pm: 44-38, UNC. How does Maryland not know that Wes Miller is going to shoot that every time?

The announcer was very observant about the crowd. They have been enigmatic, in and out of it today. FSN may have the best commentators. Not a lot of fluff, just good commentators. The kind of coverage that I crave, but also makes me sleepy.

6:28 pm: The first half ends, with UNC holding on to a 44-41 lead. Honestly, I didn’t see enough to give a full critique of the first half (watching the end of the UNC-Dook women’s game), but it looked like UNC was struggling because they seemed to shift in and out of focus. They need to play better defense and clean the glass to keep their lead in the second half. Maryland is one of the few teams whom I see can run with the Heels.

6:38 pm: Video evidence of perhaps the only situation where Hooters and Dick do not go well together.

6:45 pm: The ball is stolen by Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! and UNC is very lucky that he missed the layup.

6:46 pm: 48-42, UNC. Hansbrough gets two consecutive easy baskets inside. The Maryland crowd is shockingly quiet at the beginning of the half.

6:47 pm: 48-46, UNC. D.J. Strawberry is an insane athlete. He just made the drive to the basket between Terry and Hansbrough look easy. What was Wright doing on that play?

6:49 pm: 52-48, UNC. Just as Maryland makes a great play to tie the game, Wright and Hansbrough get two easy shots on two straight possessions.

6:50 pm: 52-52. Wow. This game is going at an extremely fast pace. Maryland gets two quick baskets to tie the game in 35 seconds, the second one off of a big block by Ibekwe.

6:53 pm: Oh no! BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS! AAHHHHHHHH!!!! MY EYYYYYEEESSSSSS!!! Fortunately, he can dunk it. 54-52, UNC.

6:55 pm: 56-52, UNC. Green gets an easy layup off a rebound and pass by Marcus Ginyard.

I simply can’t get over how well Bambale Osby is playing today. Or his hair.

6:56 pm: 60-53, UNC. Hansbrough shows his range with a 15 foot jumpshot. Frasor follows it with a nice midrange shot of his own. The Tar Heels seem to have the momentum right now.

7:01 pm: 62-57, UNC. Maryland gets to within 5 thanks to another basket by Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Hansbrough has continued to play like the beast that he is on the offensive end in the second half.

7:05 pm: 64-57, UNC. If there were a Bojangles in the DC area, I would start chanting for biscuits about now.

7:06 pm: 69-59, UNC. Osby makes another shot to keep it close, but Lawson’s three extends the Tar heel lead to double digits.

I like Osby. He and his afro can become the next Ben Wallace.

7:07 pm: 73-61, UNC. Psycho T robs Osby blind and dunks it on the other end. He now has 19 points in the game, and UNC could be on pace to hit the century mark.

7:10 pm: 75-65, UNC. Vasquez brings the Terps deficit to within 10, but Ibekwe has four fouls.

The Heels seem to have no problem scaling “the wall” tonight.

7:14 pm: The Terps student section has broken out the hypnotic spirals for free throw shooting, and they seem to have fazed Alex Stepheson.

7:16 pm: 77-67, UNC. Frasor, Gunyard, and Wes Miller are in the game. Frasor misses an easy layup, and Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! hits a three to bring the lead down to 77-70.

7:17 pm: 77-73, UNC. Strawberry is very sour for me right now. He just hit a three to cut the deficit to four after an Ellington miss. No Stairway? Denied!

7:18 pm: 79-75, UNC. Tyler Hansbrough is an unstoppable force. There is simply no other way to say it.

Mike Jones will make sure you know who he is by the time this game is over. Back then, they didn’t want me; now I’m hot, they all own me.

7:22 pm: 80-77, UNC. Nothing scares the crap out of me more than a sweaty, pissed off Gary Williams. The Terps are now within one possession in this game with less than four minutes left.

7:26 pm: 81-80, UMD, 2:45 left. Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! I am really scared now.

7:28 pm: 82-81, UNC, 1:55 left. UNC gets a very lucky bounce, as their shot clangs in.

7:29 pm: 85-84, UMD, 1:26 left. Maryland simply cannot be stopped right now.

7:32 pm: 89-84, UMD, :55 left. UNC is taking bad shots, and Maryland is suddenly outhustling Hansbrough for the ball inside.

7:33 pm: 89-87, UMD, :48 left. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOO! (riff)

7:34 pm: 89-87, UMD, :18 left. UNC manages to force a turnover, jarring the ball out of a driving guard without fouling. UNC will now have the ball with a chance to tie.

7:36 pm: 89-87, UMD, :04 left. UNC’s hopes lie in the free throw shooting of Brandan Wright. And naturally he misses his first shot. If karma is any indication, Wright will make his next free throw while trying to miss. AHHHHHHHHH!!! MY EYYYYYYYEEESSSSSS!!!

7:38 pm: Wright misses like he should but Hansbrough is unable to control the rebound, and Maryland wins 89-87. I am just completely speechless. How is UNC outscored 24-10 in the final minutes of the game? How do the Tar heels allow that to happen. I give huge credit to Maryland, who played a great game, but I was very surprised to see that in the closing minutes, Maryland played more physical in the paint that Wright and Hansbrough did, which I thought was impossible. UNC also only made four free throws in the second half of the game, something that simply cannot happen if they want to keep a lead down the stretch. Maybe “the wall” and the hypnotic spiral did make a difference. But Maryland is going to be one of the most dangerous teams in the NCAA tournament. You have to be very good to recover from a double digit second half deficit to beat a team like North Carolina. This UNC team is much better than they’re playing. We cannot underachieve like this in March if we want to go to Atlanta.

Update: You know I couldn’t leave you without a Mike Jones video.