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.
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:
- Bobby Frasor is a liability for our style of play right now.
- 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.