UNC vs. NC State Live Blog: Second Half

Carolina finished on a 9-0 run to end the First. Will they continue their momentum in the second half, rather than play the way they played for the first 15 minutes? The end of the lunar eclipse could point to yes. Yes, that’s irrational, but since when is college basketball fandom supposed to be rational?

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8:02 pm: 36-31, UNC. Hansbrough opens the second half with the turnaround baseline jumper.

8:03 pm: 38-33, UNC. Hansbrough gets an easy one inside, but Thompson does a not-so-great job on the defensive end.

8:04 pm: 40-33, UNC. Qiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…

8:04 pm: 40-36, UNC. Another three-pointer for the Pack. This time it’s Costner.

8:07 pm: 42-36, UNC. Ellington draws a foul and hits two free throws.

At this point, the Pack seem to be letting Hansbrough catch the ball in the lane at will.

8:08 pm: 46-38, UNC. Hickson finally gets a nice shot inside, but Hansbrough hits another easy basket in the lane.

8:09 pm: 48-38, UNC. Q hits an outside shot. Believe me, that’s a big deal. Carolina has the game’s first double-digit lead.

8:15 pm: 52-38, UNC. Ellington gets a layup in transition. The Pack are starting to let this game get away from them. In part, that’s because our defense is finally clamping down.

8:17 pm: 56-38, UNC. Uh-oh. This could get ugly. Ginyard gets a dunk inside, and Hansbourgh gets the steal and dunk on the ensuing possession.

8:17 pm: 56-40, UNC. The Pack finally stop the bleeding.

8:19 pm: Ellington is called for the offensive foul.

8:23 pm: 56-41, UNC. Just for the hell of it:

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8:26 pm: 59-42, UNC. Ellington hits another three. He has 16 for the game.

8:27 pm: 59-44, UNC. You know you’re in the country when the big sign below the scorers table reads: “Enjoy North Carolina Peanuts”.

8:28 pm: 63-46, UNC. Carolina’s transition is revving up in the second half. meanwhile, Deon Thompson’s defense is still iffy (perhaps his knee is still not 100%).

8:30 pm: 66-49, UNC. Ellington’s on fire tonight!

8:31 pm: 68-52, UNC. The Wolfpack finally hit a three. If they have anything left in the tank, Sidney Lowe’s team needs to use it now.

8:34 pm: 70-52, UNC. Hansbrough (28 points) finally takes a breather.

8:36 pm: 72-53, UNC. QIUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

8:38 pm: 72-58, UNC. Looking for something nice to say…well, Sidney Lowe really knows how to whistle.

8:39 pm: 75-58, UNC. J.J. Hickson has not been a factor in this game.

8:40 pm: 78-58, UNC. It’s one thing to be up against a better team, but it looks like the Wolfpack have just given up. They just let Ginyard drive and dunk from the top of the key. It was awesome, but it shows that Carolina is putting a lot more effort into this game than their opponent.

8:44 pm: 80-60, UNC. Green with the reverse layup.

8:45 pm: 80-62, UNC. Oh, sure. NOW Hickson makes his presence felt in the paint.

8:47 pm: 82-64, UNC. After that nice little shot that hung on the back iron before falling in, it just occured to me: Carolina has completely shut down Gavin Grant in the second half, after he was the leading scorer for the Pack in the first half.

8:50 pm: 82-67, UNC. Oh God, no. Plese tell me Mike Patrick did not just do that, Tell me he did not just compare Hansbrough to Wojo. I know what you’re trying to say, Mike, but that’s the last comparison we need.

8:52 pm: The game goes final: UNC wins, 84-70. An impressive victory for the Heels, who dominated the second half. Hansbrough delivers another spectacular performance, with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 steals. Ellington has 21 points, and Thomas has 10. Carolina is now 25-2, and will next face Dino Gaudio’s red-hot Wake Forest team in Chapel Hill.

 

A Chance to Make Fun of Sidney Lowe’s Red Blazer From 100 Feet Above The Court

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There will be no live blog of today’s UNC-NC State game (noon, ESPN) on Tar Heel Mania. The reason? I will be at the Dean Dome. I managed to snag a ticket late this week, and upon reception of said ticket, this was my reaction:

I’ll give a full report of the live experience after the game.

UNC vs. NC State Preview

It’s that time of year again…time to make young Wolfpack fans cry.

It would always be great for us to beat the Wolfpack (4-5), UNC’s biggest football rival (as Duke continues to reject football as a sport), but above all this game is about keeping the Tar Heels’ (3-6) slim bowl hopes alive. It won’t be easy as the Heels search for their first road win against a suddenly hot Wolfpack team, who after a terrible start have won their last three games to return to the bowl bid discussion. (Although, it’s worth mentioning that Duke is the only ACC team that has been eliminated from bowl eligibility.) This game will go a long way to determining who will represent the ACC in either a bowl in an earthquake zone sponsored by a snack or a New Year’s eve game in Boise.

The key to this game will be turnovers. That may sound like such a simple concept, as there has been a direct correlation between lack of turnovers and wins for both teams:

UNC’s TO margin in their 3 wins: +2

UNC’s TO margin in their 6 losses: -11

NC State’s TO margin in their 4 wins: +6

NC State’s TO margin in their 5 losses: -17

So, this game could very easily come down to an ill-timed turnover. Hmmmm…

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Yes, Pack fans. I am aware of the strong possibility that TA McClendon crossed the goalline on the previous play. However, that doesn’t diminish his inability to secure the football in the picture you see above. (Photo courtesy Andrew Synoweiz) 

Or, it could be far more complex.

Offensively, these teams are almost evenly matched. Both the Tar Heels’ and the Wolfpacks’ passing attacks rank in the top half nationally in yards per game; however, T.J. Yates, Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck have combined to throw 30 interceptions in 18 total games. It’s important for both teams to have an efficient passing game. For the Heels, this means that Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster and Greg Little must get good yardage after the catch and take the pressure off of T. J. Yates to make bad throws. For the Wolfpack, this just means that Beck (2 TDs, 9 INTs) cannot step onto the field. Without good passing the game could get ugly for one or both of these teams, whose rushing attacks are among of the nation’s worst (107th and 110th, respectively). UNC has yet to have a 100 yard rusher, or even a a back who has rushed for 75 yards more than once. So the difference could be which team can run the football well. Or more specifically, which defense allows their opponent to have a good day on the ground.

Speaking of which, defense could be where the Tar Heels have an advantage today. UNC ranks 28th in the nation in total defense; NC State, just 71st overall, and 100th in run defense. However, the Wolfpack have an upper hand in passing efficiency defense, ranking 18th overall to 68th for the Heels. It thus becomes vitally important for Carolina to have a good running game today.

Butch Davis is still looking for his first road victory as the head coach at UNC, and the Wolfpack will give their best effort of the season in order to beat their hated neighbors from Chapel Hill and keep their bowl hopes alive. Still, I’m confident about our chances on Saturday. Unless, of course, Tom O’Brien struts the sidelines with a pencil mustache and an oversized red blazer. In which case, we’re doomed.

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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.

ACC Women’s Tournament Final: UNC vs. NC State Live Blog

Today the UNC Women play NC State in the Women’s ACC Championship. NC State has won 10 of its last 11 games since the return of Kay Yow from cancer treatment, including victories at home against UNC and yesterday against Duke, something the Heels couldn’t do. Ivory Latta is 9 points away from becoming UNC’s all-time leading scorer. For our sake, she better get that record, because we’d be in big trouble if she scored in single digits in this game, especially considering that that she shoots 15-20 times every game anyway. Both of these are evenly matched (with the exception of Latta), as both play a 7-player rotation.

1:08 pm: 3-0, UNC. The Tar Heels win the tip, and Latta immediately drains a three.

1:09 pm: 3-2, UNC. Whittington scores the first basket for the Pack, a midrange jumper.

That’s something I forgot to mention: Whittington, one of NC State’s best players, did not start against the Heels when we lost at Reynolds Coliseum. Having her is a big advantage for the Pack.

2:27 pm: 40-35, UNC. NC State has certainly lost the momentum, but this game is far from over. Khadija Washington hit only her second shot of the game. What’s worse is that those shots were 28 1/2 minutes from each other.

2:29 pm: 40-37, UNC. The heels need to show me the killer instinct right now. They’re having real trouble putting the Pack away.

1:10 pm: 4-3, NCSU. After the initial three, NC State is playing very good defense, and that’s leading to opportunities on the other end.

1:12 pm: 6-5, NCSU. Larkins gets her first basket, but the Pack are able to respond immediately with another midrange jumpshot.

1:17 pm: 9-5, NCSU. Ashley Key hits her second FG of the game, this time a three.

The Wolfpack women are well represented in the stands today.

1:19 pm: 11-7, NCSU. Jessica Breland is in the game; the Heels will need a good game out of her. But the Pack immediately hit another shot before Larkins ends the UNC scoring drought.

1:20 pm: 13-7, NCSU. The Tar Heels have five turnovers in seven minutes, and really seem to be mentally out of the game so far.

1:22 pm: Ivory Latta has been shockingly quiet so far in this game. She just committed an offensive foul, her second. I think that was a bad call. She took a misstep and tripped, and Ashley Key came in front of her so Latta could not avoid contact. She’s on the bench now.

1:25 pm: 15-7, NCSU. Goring, NC State’s center, makes a shot that was way too easy for UNC to give up.

1:28 pm: 20-9, NCSU. Camille Little finally scores for the Heels, but NC State continues to get easy shots while UNC can’t buy good shots.

I watch the Heels playing right know and the phrase “Persistent Vegetative State” comes to mind.

1:23 pm: 20-14, NCSU. Latta is forced back into the game and makes an immediate impact, hitting another three and getiing an easy layup. She’s 1 point away from the record.

1:31 pm: 20-16, NCSU. She did it! Ivory Latta is UNC’s all-time leading scorer, with 2,202 career points! She has scored the 7 unanswered points by herself since getting coming off the bench.

1:35 pm: 22-18, NCSU. What the Hell?…Chick-Fil-A has an inflated “Blimp” with a “cow” floating around the “arena”. Now that’s “strange”.

1:39 pm: 24-18, NCSU. Uh-oh. Latta just picked up her third foul. The Heels simply cannot afford to have her out for extended periods of time.

1:41 pm: 25-20, NCSU. Yes! I can finally figured out how to tell Rashanda McCants apart from her brother. She, unlike Rashad, actually plays defense. Rashad, on the other hand, actually plays offense. Keep that in mind the next time you’re confused.

1:45 pm: Am I the only person who saw Erlana Larkins behind the 3-point line at the top of the key and thought, “Shoot it!” because 1) she was wide open and 2) Even if she missed it would be the funniest shot ever?

1:47 pm: 25-22, NCSU. McCants scores again! Wow. Now I’m confused again.

1:48 pm: 25-24, NCSU. UNC has played absolutely shutdown defense, and Larkins gets an easy layup in transition. She’s a lot faster than she looks. UNC has outscored the Pack 15-5 since the three point play.

1:50 pm: NC State ends their scoring drought at the buzzer to take a 27-24 halftime lead. The first half has been dictated by long spurts of great defense by both teams, but NC State has the lead because they are winning the rebounding battle against the Tar Heels, and they have put Latta in foul trouble. For the Heels to win, Latta need to stay out of trouble in the second half, and the frontcourt of Larkins, Little, Pringle, and Breland must be more physical and dominate the post.

2:08 pm: 27-25, NCSU. Here’s a scary stat: that was just UNC first two free throws of the entire game. The frontcourt has to play more physical in the low post.

2:09 pm: 28-27, UNC. YESSS!!! Latta hits another three, and the Heels take the lead.

2:11 pm: Larkins still isn’t playing like the dominating offensive rebounder I know her to be. I have yet to see her get an offensive rebound.

2:13 pm: 30-27, UNC. Wow…Larkins is really fast for a big girl, isn’t she? She moves like a guard.

The Pack have yet to score in 4 minutes in the second half.

2:17 pm:34-29, UNC. Larkins scores on two straight possessions, but Ashley Key finally puts NC State on the board in the second half. Erlana has 13 now.

2:19 pm: 36-30, UNC. The Big Deuce (that’s my new nickname for Larkins) has taken over this game. She cannot be stopped.

2:20 pm: 38-30, UNC. It’s a little belated, but I have to ask: Can anyone recall the last time a McCants sibling wasn’t in foul trouble?

We are on a 29-10 run since being down 20-9 in the first half.

2:24 pm: 40-33, UNC. Ashley Key has NC State only two field goals in the first 9 minutes of the second half.

2:27 pm: 40-37, UNC. UNC needs to show me the killer instinct. They’re having serious trouble putting the Pack away.

2:32 pm: 44-41, UNC. NC State finally ties the game, but Latta hits a three on the very next possession. So far UNC has done what I’ve said they should do. Latta has stayed out of trouble, the Heels have continued to play good defense, and Larkins has taken over the offensive paint.

2:35 pm: As much as I want to hate the Wolfpack (as they commit their 17th turnover), I have to show my respect for Khadija Whittington. She’s a true warrior out on the court.

2:38 pm: 48-43, UNC. Oh crap. I leave the room for a minute, and i miss three baskets.

2:39 pm: 51-43, UNC. Rashanda McCants drains a three to extend the lead to 8. Now I’m really, really confused. WHO ARE YOU, RASHANDA?!?! MAKE UP YOUR MIND! OR TAKE OFF THAT WIG, RASHAD! OR SOMETHING! ANYTHING! BEFORE I PERFORM SURGERY ON MY OWN BRAIN!

2:44 pm: 53-47, UNC, 4:13 left. NC State hits a three, but Latoya Pringe is trying to make her own mark in the paint. Which reminds me, I haven’t heard much from Larkins in the last 8 minutes or so.

2:49 pm: 55-49, UNC, 2:45 left. The Heels commit a costly turnover. They cannot afford to do that in this stage of the game.

2:51 pm: 55-49, UNC, 1:52 left. It’s probably not Kosher to make fun of Coach Yow, but I would pay to see Sidney Lowe in that turetleneck. It looks really funny.

2:51 pm: 55-52, UNC, 1:32 left. God immediately smites me for that joke as the Pack hit a three and Larkins misses the 1+1 free throw. NC State now has a chance to tie.

2:54 pm: 57-52, UNC, :36 left. What a play by Latta! She lets the shot clock run down, she drive down the lane, busts a move, and gets open for the shot inside. She then gets the defensive rebound and is fouled to pretty much seal it.

2:56 pm: 59-52, UNC. To the fan in the stands: I appreciate your enthusiasm and wearing Carolina Blue, but it doesn’t make much sense to go to a women’s game in a Tyler Hansbrough jersey.

2:58 pm: 59-54, UNC. Mr. Wuf exists in a computer-generated dream world, blissfully oblivious to the truth: NC State is about to lose and there is nothing that smile on his face can do about it.

3:00 pm: It’s official: THE NORTH CAROLINA LADY TAR HEELS HAVE WON THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP! The final score: 59-54. Congratulations to the Tar Heels for winning, and many thanks from Tar Heel Mania for a great season. On to the UNC-Duke game.

UNC vs. NC State Live Blog II: God Is Withholding The Destruction Of China Until He Gets A Bootleg Copy of “Snakes On a Plane: Air Force One”

If you’re wondering about the title, the part after the colon has nothing to do with tonight’s game. I just though you should know that before you make any travel plans. I have my sources.

Anyway, when these two teams last met at the RBC Center on Feb. 3, NC State managed to pull off the upset 83-79. Now, we could talk about how UNC may have overlooked their opponent, how soft the Tar Heel defense was, how well prepared the Wolfpack were for their opponent, how they managed to squeeze their starters for all they were worth, what a boost the return of point guard Engin Atsur was, how well they passed the ball, how they dictated the pace of the game by bringing to a screeching halt, and how the Wolfpack shot 76% in the second half. We could dissect every angle of the game, but you and I both know there was only one reason they won that game:

sidney_lowe.jpg

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That’s it. It was that friggin’ red blazer that our good pimpalicious friend Sidney Lowe wore on the sidelines. They won because of coach Lowe’s gaudy outfit! Good lord, I wish I knew how to use Photoshop so I can give him a red fedora and “cheerleader” by his side. That would complete the image. If he does that, the Wolfpack will be unstoppable. However, I don’t think he’ll go that far today, which is why I think that the Tar Heels will be prepared enough not to allow lightning strike twice. It will still be a nail-biter; the Pack will be able to hold on until the bitter end. But at some point, the Heels are going to dictate the pace of the game; if an when that’s happens, UNC will win. I just hope the game does not rest on Brandan Wright free throws. Then all bets are off.

(By the way: if you found this blog in the WordPress dashboard, the preceding photograph is the reason you found me. I posted this photo after the first game. Yesterday a forum on InsideCarolina.com was looking for a picture of Lowe in his pimpadelic garb. Some dude in Virginia linked to my article.)

9:05 pm: 2-0, UNC. The Heels are trying to dictate the pace early. Brandan Wright starts off with an easy layup in transition. Hansbrough then gets the steal on the other end, but he turns the ball over himself.

9:07 pm: 2-2. Gavin Grant gets behind the defense for an easy dunk.

I see Coach Lowe is pimped out once again tonight.

9:08 pm: 5-2, UNC. Danny Green hits the first 3-pointer of the game. Ironically, NCSU has had three open attempts from beyond the arc and missed them all.

9:09 pm: 5-5. Just as I type that, Brandon Costner gets three the hard way.

9:10 pm: 7-5, UNC. Hansbrough gets his first basket of the game. That’s only the second time he’s touched the ball in this game.

9:13 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!

9:14 pm: NC State is doing a good job of collapsing on the ball defensively. That has prevented several potential baskets for UNC so far.

9:15 pm: 9-6, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (guitar riff)

I just saw Ty Lawson slow down on his way to the halfcourt. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it means everything.

9:18 pm: 9-8, UNC. Bobby Frasor is in at point for the Heels. Thompson, Miller and Ginyard are also in the game.

9:19 pm: 12-8, UNC. Brandan Wright makes a relly nice shot inside and drwas the foul. Perhaps even more impressive is that his free throw was nothing but net.

9:20 pm: 16-11, UNC. Engin Atsur hits the first three for the Wolfpack. Ginyard then gets 4 points in one possession. First he goes to the free throw line, makes the first, and misses the second. UNC rebounds, and Ginyard hits a quick three.

9:23 pm: 16-14, UNC. I would say that luck is on UNC’s side, but then State hits another open three pointer, and then Ginyard commits an offensive foul. That was a bizarre series of events. This calls for a really bizarre commercial. You gotta love Japan.

9:25 pm: 18-16, UNC. Costner ties the game for NC State, but the Hansbrough makes a hook shot from the baseline.

9:26 pm: 21-18, NCSU. The Wolfpack are really starting to hit their shots, and have taken the lead. Hmmm. The basketball gods must not like Japanese TV.

9:28 pm: 25-20, NCSU. At the beginning of the game, NC State couldn’t make a shot. Now, they can’t miss. The red blazer is working its voodoo. Roy should have known better than to not wear some gaudy Carolina Blue blazer.

9:30 pm: 28-24, NCSU. Lawson makes a nice layup inside, but he picks up his second foul. This means that Quentin Thomas enters the game. Believe it or not, he may be the team’s best passer.

9:35 pm: 28-26, NCSU. Thomas enters the game and the pace immediately picks up. The transition goes form Hansbrough rebound to Thomas pass to Ellington layup in 5 seconds.

9:38 pm: 29-28, NCSU. Q! QIUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!! I think that’s the seventh shot he’s hit this season.

9:39 pm: 30-29, UNC. Hansbrough gives the Heels the lead on free throws. UNC is on a 8-1 run.

9:42 pm: 32-31, UNC. Psycho T is getting his touches, and it shows. But Atsur hits another three to make it 34-32, NCSU.

9:43 pm: 36-34, UNC. OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! That did not just happen! NC State was rejected, UNC won a scrum for the ball, and Q threw an alley-oop to Wright. Q made it look too easy.

9:44 pm: Wait a minute…Q plays absolutely phenomenal at point for 4 minutes, and then Roy puts in Bobby Frasor? That makes no sense. But I love when Engin Atsur is shouting “BULL—-!” on the court. You may not have heard it, but I could read his lips.

9:48 pm: 37-36, UNC. McCauley finally gets on the board for the Wolfpack, but Horner picks up his third foul. the frontcourt is in real foul trouble.

9:49 pm: Oh no. BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS!!! MY EYYYEEEESSSSS!!! IT BUUUUUUURRRNNNSSS!!!

9:50 pm: 39-36, UNC. Wright hits 2 of 4 free throws. Still, it was pretty ugly.

9:52 pm: 40-39, NCSU. The Wolfpack draw two quick fouls, and suddenly they take the lead at the line.

9:53 pm: 41-40, UNC. Brandan Wright gets a nice inside basket at the end of the half. NC State cant get a shot off, which means that UNC leads 41-40 at halftime. Believe it or not. the Heels did not play too badly so far in this game. NC State seemed to control the pace for the first 12 minutes, and UNC seemed to regain some semblance of control in the final 8 minutes, especially when Quentin Thomas was at point. I definitely think that he is a better matchup against point than the slower, more conservative Bobby Frasor. That’s what UNC needs to do to win this game in the second half. They must absolutely be the aggressors in the second half, and tire out the thin Wolfpack.

10:12 pm: Apparently Sidney Lowe fell ill at some point during halftime. What this means is that his red blazer can no longer do its voodoo, which means it’s only a matter of time before the Heels pull away.

10:14 pm: 43-40, UNC. Actually, all bets are off again. They coach filling in for Lowe, Monty Towe, was the point guard of the 1974 Championship team.

10:15 pm: 43-42, UNC. Costner hits the first FG of the second half, but McCauley picks up his 3rd foul.

10:16 pm: 45-45. Hansbrough is fed the ball again, but Costner hits an NBA three. He is an unbelievable athlete.

10:18 pm: 49-45, UNC. Well, the momentum from the three pointer lasted about 10 seconds. First Ellington drives in for a layup the gives UNC the lead, then the Heels force a steal leading to a two handed dunk by Terry. Which is good, because I haven’t heard from him all night.

10:22 pm: 51-45, UNC. NC State turns the ball over again, and Bobby Frasor gets an easy layup.

10:23 pm: 55-47, UNC. Gavin Grant stops the bleeding with a dunk, but Deon Thompson proceeds to get two straight baskets inside. UNC has outscored NC State 14-7 in the second half. More importantly, the Heels are dictating the pace of the game.

10:26 pm: A travel?!? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

10:27 pm: 57-50, UNC. How does Courtney Fells get that open?!? Fortunately, Wright and the UNC frontcourt are dominating the offensive paint.

10:28 pm: 57-52, UNC. RUN TO THE HILLS!!! BRENDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS!!!

10:29 pm: 60-52, UNC. Sidney Lowe is in the hospital, but he’s okay. Now to the important stuff: Hansbrough just dunked! WHOOOOOOOOO!!!

10:32 pm: 62-54, UNC. What was UNC doing not boxing out? They gave up a basket because of that! Fortunately, Wright makes another basket off a Hansbrough miss.

10:34 pm: 65-54, UNC. Yes! Lawson hits a three, and UNC has its first double digit lead of the game.

Dear Hansbrough: wear prescription goggles. This contact lens stuff is getting ridiculous.

10:36 pm: 68-54, UNC. Danny Green hits another three for the Heels. More importantly, it looks like the Wolfpack are out of gas.

10:37 pm: 68-56, UNC. Gavin Grant gets a breakaway dunk. I just had to open my trap, didn’t I?

10:39 pm: Bizarre ad: Young man, you may wanna wean off that Photoshop.

10:42 pm: 70-56, UNC. Wait…did that just happen? Did Brandan Wright hit both of his free throws? ITS A MIRACLE!!! The answer to my prayers!

10:44 pm: 72-58, UNC. WAYNE’S W– ooh…YEAH! WRIGHT’S WORLD! WRIGHT’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOO!!! (guitar riff)

10:46 pm: 74-61, UNC. Brandan Wright is truly having a career day. Not only does he have a caree high 24 points, he has dominated the paint on both sides of the ball unlike I’ve ever seen him before.

10:50 pm: 78-61, UNC. Hansbrough gets a nice basket inside. He has 18 tonight. The frontcourt has dominated this game. But why hasn’t Q seen more time on the court? He played very well when he was on the court (better than Lawson, to be honest), but he only played 4 minutes. What gives?

10:53 pm: 80-61, UNC. The Heels pretty much have this one in the books. This is a game closer to what I expected in our original matchup: That the Wolfpack was good enough to hang around in the first half, but UNC’s depth would allow them to pull away in the second half as NC State ran out of gas. To be honest, the game was over the moment their pimpadelic coach left the building. It’s hard to overcome that.

10:56 pm: 83-62, UNC. WHOOOO!!! WES! WES! WES! Miller hits a three.

10:57 pm: And that’s how the games ends: UNC wins 83-64! WHOOOOOO!!! Cue the Band! With this win UNC remains solidly in first place in the ACC at 10-3. Regardless of what I said about coach Lowe, I really hope he’s OK.

11:00 pm: Oh. Good Lord. The NC Powerball drawing just killed that atmosphere. Way to go WRAL.