UNC vs. USC Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Tonight UNC plays Southern Cal in game 2 of the East Regional semifinals. For a preview of UNC, see What UNC must do to win the National Championship. North Carolina will be looking to play a very fast game, dominate the pain,t and tire out the comparably thin Trojan lineup. USC, coming off a win against Texas, will be relying on Taj Gibson and Abdoulaye N’Diaye to defend the paint, but their undersized lineup will need to rely on good perimeter shooting and clamping down on UNC’s guards. Ironically, that’s exactly how teams have beaten us this year.

10:07 pm: Ginyard is starting in place of Terry, who will see limited action due to strep throat.

10:08 pm: 2-1, USC. The Trojans score first, a turnaround jumper inside.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jim Nantz and Billy Packer!

10:09 pm: 6-1, USC. Wow. USC is attackin ght einside, and they’re winning. Spreading the ball out forces our forwards outside, which gives USC better opportunities.

10:10 pm: 6-3, USC. Lawson drives inside and gets a layup, the Heels’ first basket of the game.

10:12 pm: 10-5, USC. Hansbrough gets lucky as his 18 foot jumper rims in, but the Trojans get a three on the next possession.

Southern Cal has been quite comfortable playing a transition game.

10:16 pm: 12-5, USC. The Tar Heels seem to be lapsing defensively. Nick Young completely fools the defense.

More importantly, the UNC faithful are very tepid in East Rutherford tonight.

10:17 pm: 12-7, USC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff)

10:18 pm: 15-7, USC. Gibson gets the basket on Hansbrough AND the foul. Ugh. Where the hell is Brandan Wright?

10:20 pm: Okay, something is definitely wrong with the Tar Heels right now. They aren’t battling for balls, they just let the Trojans get the long rebound. They need to contest every ball.

10:21 pm: 18-7, USC. This is very,very frustrating. USC hits another three, and they take a double digit lead.

The Trojans have done a good job of keep the ball away for Hansbrough and Wright.

10:22 pm: 18-12, USC. Deon Thompson scores off a putback, and on the next possession hits an open three from a kickout pass inside.

10:24 pm: As we go to an official timeout (less that 11 minutes left), Tyler Hansbrough is already in foul trouble.

10:27 pm: 20-14, USC. Wright finally gets on the board with a nice hook shot.

10:28 pm: 22-14, USC. How can such an undersized team have their way against one of the best frontcourts in the country? This doesn’t make sense.

10:29 pm: 22-18, USC. At least things seem to be clicking for the Heels offensively. Wright gets an easy putback off the transition.

10:30 pm: What is Hansbrough doing on the court with two fouls and this much time left?

10:31 pm: 22-20, USC. Wayne Ellington gets an offensive rebound and hits the baseline jumper to bring the game within two.

10:32 pm: 24-20, USC. Official timeout, 7:54 left in the first half.

10;35 pm: So it isn’t my imagination. USC HAS severely outrebounded the Heels, 16-8.

10:36 pm: 24-22, USC. Wright gets another easy basket inside, but Lawson picks up his second foul. Quentin Thomas comes in.

10:37 pm: 26-24, USC. Brandan Wright has taken over the paint for the Tar Heels.

10:38 pm: 26-26. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT WHOOOO!!!

The Heels have actually done a better job with some bench players in the game.

10:38 pm: 32-28, USC. Gabe Pruitt makes an unbelievable three point play. He steals a pass in midair, drives insides, gets the basket and the foul.

10:40 pm: 34-33, USC. Terry hits two straight shots, the last a three. I think that’s only our second three of the game. That’s a big concern, and yet it’s not.

10:44 pm: 38-33, USC. The Trojans, and Gibson in particular, continue to get easy shots inside. I’m concerned because Roy isn’t exactly a master of mid-game adjustments.

10:45 pm: USC continues to dominate the boards. It looks like the Tar Heels aren;t even trying to box out.

Wow. Tyler Hansbrough has brass ones. He’s taken two charges even though he has two fouls.

10:47 pm: 39-33, USC. Right now, the Heels have inexplicably stooped looking inside and started chucking up outside shots. The Heels seem to still be in a collective mental haze. USC is outhustling them 80% of the time in this game.

10:50 pm: 42-33, USC. Young gets the basket and the foul to put the Trojans up 9.

Bobby Frasor is playing really bad tonight. He can’t get anything done versus the speedy backcourt of Southern Cal.

10:53 pm: Ellington’s buzzer beater rims out, but USC leads 42-33 at halftime. The Trojans have been able to use their small but fast lineup to their advantage, giving the UNC defense fits with guards consistently getting easy shots inside. They’ve outfought UNC for every ball, adn the Heels have shown a lack of mental focus, their biggest weakness from this season. To get back in the game, Lawson will need to stay out of foul trouble, the Heels will need to attack the inside, getting more contributions from Wright and Hansbrough, and they need to contest every Trojan shot, shutting the lane away from USC’s guards. I thought Wright vs. Young would heavily favor Wright, but Nick Young has had a field day of his own on offense. The Heels may need to go with a smaller lineup for short periods of time, with maybe Terry playing Young on defense.

11:15 pm: 44-33, USC. Oh crap. If we lose this game, I will forever hate Nick Young.

In case you’re wondering, the second half has begun.

11;16 pm: 46-33, USC. Damn it, Tyler, you can;t let your man get behind you lie that! he’s going to have a field day.

11:17 pm: 49-33, USC. The Trojans have scored the last 15 points. I am shocked at how badly the Heels have played thus far.

11:18 pm: 49-35, USC. Ellington finally stops the bleeding.

When is Roy going to make a coaching adjustment? Our gameplan doesn’t seem to be any different in the second half.

11:24 pm: 49-37, USC. Wow. Jason Ray, the man in the Rameses costume, was hit by a car today and is in critical condition. Here’s to hoping his full recovery. The game isn’t the same without you, Rameses.

11:25 pm: 51-39, USC. Danny Green throws it away underneath his basket AGAIN, and Pruett scores for the Trjoans AGAIN! This game is starting to get really frustrating. What’s it going to take to snap the Heels out of this?

11;27 pm: 53-45, USC. Terry hits a tough Jumper to bring the lead back to 10. Lawson steals the inbound pass and gets the layup to cut the lead to 8.

11: 28 pm: 57-45, USC. The Trojans hit two straight easy shots, but Gisbon goes to the bench with his fourth foul. He’s their only inside player; I hope that the Heels can finally take advantage of this clear mismatch.

11:29 pm: 57-49, USC. Brandan Wright takes advantage of Gibson’s absence with two straight baskets inside.

Official timeout. 11:10 left in the game. UNC is creeping back into it.

11:36 pm: 59-54, USC. Ginyard goes up for the unbelievable putback and the foul. The Heels are now within five.

11;37 pm: We had a perfect fast break opportunity. How did Wright not finish that?

11:39 pm: 59-56, USC. Wright nearly dunks in the opposing basket trying to catch a rebound, but he gets the nice baseline basket to cut the lead to three. I didn’t expect Hansbrough to struggle this much in the game, but Wright has certainly picked up the slack with 23 points and 9 rebounds. USC has been reeling in Taj Gibson’s absence.

11:42 pm: Gibson is back in with over 8 minutes left. UNC needs to attack them.

11:43 pm: 59-58, USC. Ginyard gets two offensive rebounds, including the putback to bring the Heels within one. The Trojans were too concerned with double teaming Wright, and Ginyard slipped by.

7:11 left in the game.

11:47 pm: 62-59, UNC. The Heels have taken the lead! YYYEEEEAAAAHHH!!!

It looks like our deep bench has finally gotten to the Trojans. They seem tired.

11:48 pm: 64-59, UNC. Brandan Wright cannot be stopped…

…except at the free throw line. 65-59.

11:49 pm: Playing the same type of game against an opponent until they run out of gas is a good strategy for winning. But damn! Watching these kinds of game are going to take 5 years off my life.

11:51 pm: 67-62, UNC. The Trojans finally break n 18-0 run by the Tar Heels. UNC is capable of those kinds of runs all the time, and while I wish they’d play like that earlier, how you finish a game is what matters.

11:53 pm: 69-62, UNC. 3:29 left. USC seems to be completely out of gas.

I can;t believe that we’ve made this comeback without Hansbrough being any factor whatsoever.

11:58 pm: 70-64, UNC, 2:45 left. USC is trying to run the full court trap. Damn it, we did not come all the way back to squander this game with a few turnovers.

12:02 am: Taj Gibson fouls out, but them Tim Floyd gets a technical foul. With 48.5 seconds and UNC getting two free throws and possession, that essentially ends the game. A huge lapse of judgement by Floyd.

12:06 am: The game ends, and UNC wins, 74-64! WHOOOOOOO!!!

This game scared the s— out of me, but after USC ran out of gas in the second half, UNC (in particular Wright and Ginyard) took over, outscoring the Trojans 25-5 to end the game. That is the level that the Heels are capable of playing, but where was that for the first 28 minutes? I have to admit, USC was a much tougher opponent than I had expected.

We play Georgetown next. I actually think we match up better against the Hoyas.

UNC vs. Michigan State Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

Tonight the Tar Heels play Michigan State in the final game of day 3 of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of this game goes to the regional finals in East Rutherford. If the Tar heels can stay focused, dominate the paint and play good perimeter defense, they’ll win. I just hope the Spartans wearing green on St. Patrick’s day doesn’t play a factor.

8:16 pm: 2-2. Marquise Gray scores first for the Spartans, but Terry hits a midrange jumper to tie.

So far this game is going at a fairly slow pace. That favors the Spartans.

8:18 pm: UNC already makes their first substitution, as Green comes in for Terry.

8:19 pm: 4-4. Lawson penetrates inside and makes a great pass to Hansbrough, who gets an easy layup.

8:20 pm: 6-4, UNC. Hansbrough gets another basket inside to give the Heels their first lead of the game coming into the first TV timeout.

8:24 pm: 9-7, UNC. Lawson hits a three, but Neitzel responds.

8:25 pm: 12-9, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOO!!!

8:26 pm: 14-9, UNC. Lawson Misses a shot, but gets his own rebound and hits the putback over three Spartans.

8:27 pm: 17-12, UNC. Hansbrough’s aggressiveness will now be tested, as Wright is out with two quick fouls.

Gray gets three to hard way to cut the lead to two.

8:28 pm: Wow. All the players in for the Heels are bench players (Frasor, Ginyard, Green, Stepheson and Thompson).

8:29 pm: 19-15, UNC. Hansbrough comes in without his mask, and he drains his first shot. He’s 3-for-3.

Neitzel hits a three pointer. I’m shocked that Michigan State has been able to keep up with our pace so far.

8:33 pm: 21-18, UNC. Now this is the Tyler Hansbrough we’ve come to know and love, the kind who can take over a game. He has 8 points in as many minutes.

Wright’s back in with 2 fouls.

8:34 pm: 23-20, UNC. Ginyard makes a great coast to coast play, stealing a pass on the defensive end and an easy layup.

8:35 pm: 26-20, UNC. Hansbrough is a man on a mission. He just got three the hard way, and now has 11 points in as many minutes.

8:37 pm: 26-23, UNC. Raymar Morgan hits another Spartan three to cut the lead in half. The Heels need to do a better job of defending the perimeter.

8:38 pm: Wright and Wes Miller made a great hustle play. Hansbrough made a bad long pass, which the Spartans intercepted. But Wright swiped the ball away, and he rolled it toward the right wing, and Miller dived in for the ball and got fouled. Jay Bilas responds with, um, something weird: “Get on the floor for it!”

8:41 pm: Wright is making some very smart plays, the latest a dunk off his own missed shot to make it 28-23, UNC. The Tar Heels definitely seem to be in this game mentally.

8:42 pm: 28-26, UNC. But our weakness still seems to be perimeter defense. Even Miller can;t stop Neitzel from hitting threes.

8:43 pm: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROOWWWWSS!!!! AHHHHH!!! 29-26, UNC.

8:44 pm: More Bilas weirdness: “Roy Williams can bring in fresh body after fresh body…they signal with a fist”

8:45 pm: 31-26, UNC. Lawson makes another great pass, and Thompson gets a layup.

8:46 pm: 34-26, UNC. Wow, UNC is running the transition really well. Lawson passes to Hansbrough, displaying nice touch by getting the inside basket and the foul while being twisted around. He has 14 points.

8:48 pm: 36-27, UNC. Quentin Thomas is in the game, but Hansbrough continues to be the offensive focal point. He has 16 points in 16 minutes.

For a Dookie, Bilas really seems to be blowing UNC’s horn (pun intended).

8:50 pm: 36-31, UNC. UNC has two straight turnovers that lead to two straight Spartan baskets.

8:51 pm: 36-31, UNC. How is that a foul?!? Terry wasn’t even standing up!

8:54 pm: 36-33, UNC. Drew Neitzel likes it in the back door! The Spartans are now in striking distance.

8:56 pm: UNC has seemed out of sync for the last few minutes. Ellington just missed a free throw, and the Heels have made quite a few mistakes since the 4:30 mark.

8:57 pm: 38-33, UNC. The Heels now have three Spartan forwards in foul trouble.

9:01 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

9:02 pm: 41-33, UNC. The Heels force a turnover, and Hansbrough gets a nice basket in transition to end the half. UNC leads, 41-33 at hafltime. We seemed to be running the transition game well, and we seemed mentally in it for about 15-16 of the first 20 minutes. Hansbrough had 19 in the first half, and his wearing down the frontcourt and the very fast pace of the game os foing to take a toll on the Spartans on the second half. For UNC to win, however, they must shut down the chances that Michigan State gets in the perimeter. We aren’t putting pressure on Neitzel, and he’s made us pay. The Spartans will need to continue shooting well from the outside, and the need to slow the pace of the game down to a halt.

9:23 pm: Drew Neitzel looks like a small MC Serch.

9:24 pm: 41-38, UNC. Jay, I know you think Tyler Hansbrough is the toughest player in America, but that’s about the fifth time you said that! You’re going to jinx us! The Spartans just scored two straight baskets to start the second half.

9:25 pm: 43-38, UNC. Wright gets an easy basket in transition.

9:26 pm: Gray picks up his third foul.

Suton did a great job of defending Hansbrough on that play, not allowing him to gain position inside.

9:28 pm: The Spartans have decided to try and shut down Hansbrough, and it really seems to be disrupting our offense. More importantly, Michigan State has begun to impose their halfcourt game, which concerns me greatly. It also looks like the Heels may not have made a full mental return to the game yet.

9:30 pm: 43-42, UNC. How did the Spartans keep getting those offensive rebounds? UNC needs to do a better job of boxing out. And shot selection.

9:31 pm: 45-44, UNC. The Spartans gets their first lead of the half after Neitzel stole the ball from Ellington and Suton got the basket inside. Michigan State got away with a travel on that play. But Deon Thompson gets a putback almost immediately as UNC tries to reinsert a fast pace to the game.

9:32 pm: 46-45, MSU. Suton gets another basket inside, slipping away from a screen and behind his defender.

9:36 pm: 46-46. Lawson hits one of two free throws.

9:38 pm: 47-46, UNC. Hansbrough is fouled, and he hits one of two free throws to give UNC the lead back.

9:40 pm: 49-47, MSU. Raymar Morgan gets the basket off the inbound pass and the foul.

Michigan State has imposed the halfcourt game onto this game. UNC needs to speed the game up.

9:41 pm: 50-49, UNC. Hansbrough makes a great play inside, getting the turnaround basket and the foul. Walton now has 4, and Hansbrough has 23 points.

2nd official timeout of the half.

9:47 pm: 52-51, UNC. Lawson manages to break through between several defenders and go inside for an easy layup to take the lead.

9:48 pm: 54-54. Neitzel hits another three, but Hansbrough slams it in to tie. He has 25 points in the game.

less than 10 minutes to go.

9:51 pm: How does Gray get that rebound?

57-54, MSU. Neitzel hits another three. He’s killing us!

9:53 pm: 57-56, MSU. I can’t believe we haven’t forced any of the Spartans to foul out yet. Lawson hits two free throws.

9:55 pm: 59-58, MSU. Hansbrough shoots free throws to give the lead back to the Heels, but Neitzel strikes again.

Less than 8 minutes to go.

9:59 pm: At some point, the fact that we can’t hit our outside shots is going to bite us in the ass. Even if it’s not tonight, it will really cost us at some point.

10:00 pm: 60-59, UNC. Terry’s free throws give the lead back to UNC.

10:01 pm: 62-59, UNC. Wright gets a great rebound, after which my first thought is “where the hell has he been for the last 10 minutes?”. Lawson drive the ball up quickly, and he makes a great dish to Hansbrough, who finishes easily. He now has 27.

10:05 pm: 67-61, UNC. Lawson hits the huge three to put the Heels up six with less than five minutes left. he has 18 points and has played just as well as Psycho T, if not better, especially in the second half.

10:07 pm: Wright picks up an offensive foul, his fourth. Thompson comes in.

10:09 pm: 68-61, UNC, 3:50 left. Our final official timeout.

10:13 pm: Michigan State misses the front end of a 1+1. The Spartans can;t afford to make those kinds of mistakes this late in the game.

10:14 pm: 70-63, UNC, 2:50 left. Terry hits a midrange jumper.

10:15 pm: 73-65, UNC, 2:15 left. It seems that even though he struggles most of the game Terry seems to always make a big shot late in the game.

Neitzel is out of gas; he just airballed a shot attempt.

10:17 pm: 74-65, UNC, 1:34 left. Brandan Wright makes a huge rejection, Hansbrough takes the ball, and he’s fouled. It looks like the Spartans are finally out of gas.

10:20 pm: 75-67, UNC, 1:26 left. Neitzel has 26 points, but is it too little, too late?

10:21 pm: 77-67, UNC, 1:15 left. Suton dribbles the ball off of his foot, it goes out of bounds, and it’s Carolina ball. The Spartans are definitely empty. Izzo players don’t make those kinds of mistakes without serious fatigue.

10:23 pm: 81-67, UNC, :26 left. Terry delivers the exclamation point with a three as the shot clock ran down.

10:25 pm: Now there’s a stat: Michigan State only hit one field goal in the final 8 minutes.

10:27 pm: The game ends, as UNC wins, 81-67. Hansbrough had 33 points and 9 rebounds, and he and Lawson helped to dictate the pace of the game, as the Spartans tired out in spite of Neitzel’s 26. UNC moves on to the Sweet 16. My bracket is rooting for Texas, but my heart is rooting for USC. I really don’t want to see the matchup nightmare that is Kevin Durant.

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.   

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 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:

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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.