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Joe Ovies

Talking Points: Devils & Heels avoid scares

Posted March 22, 2013
Updated March 23, 2013

1. Duke and North Caro...oh my! Did y'all see what Florida Gulf Coast did to Georgetown!? Those alley-oops were straight out of Lob City.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes. Duke and North Carolina took care of business in their respective NCAA Tournament openers. Neither contest will see extensive coverage in the wake of a few of upsets. Along with Florida Gulf Coast's shocker, La Salle and Ole Miss provided enough bracket-busting drama to distract everyone from the rest of Friday's games. Hoops Headquarters -- black 2014 NCAA men's interactive bracket

2. North Carolina shot 50 percent, drained eleven 3-pointers and had four starters finish with double-figure scoring. At one point the Heels built up a 20-point lead over Villanova and looked primed for cruise control the rest of the night.

So how did this game get away from Carolina? Turnovers, rebounding and scoring droughts.

The Heels let the lead dwindle to single-digits by halftime by failing to knock down a field goal after Dexter Strickland landed a jumper with 5:18 left on the clock. They also turned the ball over a total of 17 times and were unable to pull down anything on the offensive glass.

Roy Williams gave Jackson Simmons considerable minutes in the second half in an attempt to plug a rebounding hole, but Villanova continued to do work on the boards. The Wildcats managed to pull down nearly 80 percent of North Carolina's missed shots and ended the game with 38 total rebounds. 

3. Timely shooting from Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and Marcus Paige helped North Carolina overcome their woes. 

The trio came through in a key stretch with roughly six minutes left in the game and the Heels up 57-50. Hairston and Bullock traded 3-pointers to keep the Heels out in front. Paige then hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and his two free throws. 

They will get their next challenge Sunday evening in a showcase game against No. 1 seed Kansas (5:15 p.m. WRAL-TV / 99.9 FM The Fan)

4. While Duke never relinquished the lead to Albany like North Carolina did with Villanova, the Blue Devils didn't exactly leave the Great Danes in the dust.

The lack of urgency didn't sit well with Mike Krzyzewski or Mason Plumlee. At one point late in the game, Plumlee told his teammates "Listen, if we don't win that game, my career is over," the Fayetteville Observer reported.

The palpable angst is understandable considering Duke has been constantly reminded of their early NCAA tournament exit at the hands of Lehigh last season.

5. Plumlee and Seth Curry carried the load for Duke. The seniors combined for 49 points on a very efficient 19-of-25 shooting. The rest of the Devils struggled to make only 8 field goals. 

6. Ryan Kelly is of particular concern. The senior has failed to recapture the magic of his first game back from a foot injury on March 2.

Since dropping 36 points on Miami, Kelly is only 8-of-23 shooting in the last three games and coming off a forgettable defensive performance against Maryland in the ACC Tournament. He wasn't much better as Albany had success off the dribble. 

Clearly Kelly is still readjusting, but that incredible performance against the Hurricanes has skewed the expectations.

He and the others get plenty of time to rest. They play in the nightcap Sunday with a 9:40 p.m. tip against Creighton (TBS / 99.9 FM The Fan).

11 Comments

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  • Hokies94 Mar 23, 5:57 p.m.

    UNC had a scare with losing a 20 point lead. They had to perk up down the stretch. Duke shot the ball well, but I doubt they can do this in the next one. I surely hope that they do. Rebounding is still the puzzle this season.

  • 903 mens national championships Mar 23, 4:31 p.m.

    I caught the last five minutes. I thought it was a rugby game. I wonder who will be guarding Big... View More

    — Posted by Toddler10-21

    Duke will throw double-teams at him. Unlike Duke, Creighton doesn't have a great scoring option at all 5 spots on the floor where a defender or two can leave who they're guarding to help out on the other team's star.

  • Toddler10-21 Mar 23, 12:10 p.m.

    I caught the last five minutes. I thought it was a rugby game. I wonder who will be guarding Big Doug? Plese tell me Kelly or the defensive stopper!

  • ugottabkiddinme Mar 23, 10:39 a.m.

    When is the Media going to realize dook is not all that..they may have won but they were playing... View More

    — Posted by ugottabkiddinme

    The West region is the easiest bracket and all the experts agree. I know you hate every and... View More

    — Posted by dworm84

    Really...so who the heck does dook play before Louisville...what a tard

  • dworm84 Mar 23, 10:34 a.m.

    When is the Media going to realize dook is not all that..they may have won but they were playing... View More

    — Posted by ugottabkiddinme

    The West region is the easiest bracket and all the experts agree. I know you hate every and anything Duke. Take off those sissy blue shades and get your facts straight before posting.

  • ugottabkiddinme Mar 23, 10:22 a.m.

    When is the Media going to realize dook is not all that..they may have won but they were playing... View More

    — Posted by ugottabkiddinme

    the refs calling the games in the tourney let players get by with much more physical play then... View More

    — Posted by iron fist

    You're right...but last night was brutal...don't get me wrong, i like it when they let them play too but when the player gains an advantage by fouling, they need to call that.

  • iron fist Mar 23, 10:16 a.m.

    When is the Media going to realize dook is not all that..they may have won but they were playing... View More

    — Posted by ugottabkiddinme

    the refs calling the games in the tourney let players get by with much more physical play then the ACC refs in the ACC the refs try to call every little touch foul and I think this will hurt the ACC. ACC teams are not used to playing physical they need to adapt quickly.

  • ugottabkiddinme Mar 23, 10:11 a.m.

    When is the Media going to realize dook is not all that..they may have won but they were playing the ...Greatdanes?!...with that said they are in the easiest bracket by far so they still have a shot to lose to louisville....as for the Heels, yeah, they let a lead slip away but it seems a lot of that was due to the refs letting nova mug the guards in order to get a turnover...at one point they tackled paige..but some how over came poor officiating

  • uncsuckz Mar 23, 9:23 a.m.

    Congrats to coach Roy. 700 wins is nothing to take lightly. Its a plateau very few have managed to scale. Wonder if he'll stick around long enough to make it to 900?

  • 4tarheels Mar 23, 7:56 a.m.

    I thought UNC showed a great deal of toughness when after letting the big lead slip away, the dug deep, responded, and came away with the victory. That shows mental fortitude in the face of adversity and I like it. GO HEELS and Congrats Coach Roy on another big milestone in a stellar career.

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