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North Carolina

Flat first half dooms Heels in Atlanta

Posted February 17, 2010

The letdown was essentially inevitable. Following a week of intense rivalry games and a century celebration, North Carolina faltered early and often against Georgia Tech, falling behind by 20 points at halftime and ultimately losing, 68-51.

GAME RECAP

North Carolina (14-12, 3-8 ACC) continues to add entries into Roy Williams’ personal record book. Clemson led things off by delivering the Hall of Fame head coach his worst loss at North Carolina, 83-64, on Jan. 13. Maryland upped the ante and handed Williams his worst defeat – 92-71 on Feb. 7 – since Wake Forest blew out Kansas, 84-53, in Winston-Salem on Dec. 7, 2000.

Georgia Tech tried desperately to break that mark on Tuesday in building a 28-point second-half lead, but instead settled for giving the Tar Heels their lowest scoring total during the Williams era. The previous scoring record was set six days ago against Duke when UNC managed just 54 points.

UNC’s 21 points and 22.6 percent shooting (7-of-31) in the first half also mark lows during Williams’ tenure in Chapel Hill.

The Yellow Jackets blew open the contest with a 24-5 first-half run before taking a 41-21 lead into halftime. The Tar Heels shot a season-low 32.2 percent (19-of-59) and committed 19 turnovers against 10 assists.

Deon Thompson guided North Carolina with 17 points, while John Henson posted his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four blocks. Marcus Ginyard was limited to 17 minutes after re-spraining his ankle in the first half.

Four different Yellow Jackets scored in double figures, led by Derrick Favors’ 13 points and nine rebounds. Brian Oliver and Zachery Peacock both scored 12 points, with Moe Miller added 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point territory.

Georgia Tech connected on 44.6 percent (25-of-56) of its field goal attempts and won the rebounding battle, 44-39.

INSIDE THE GAME

Déjà vu All Over Again

“There’s not a lot to say,” Williams told reporters as he sat down for his postgame press conference. “I’m totally shocked, totally stunned by our performance in the first half. Mentally and physically, we were somewhere but it wasn’t here for the basketball game.”

In the first meeting between these two programs one month ago, Georgia Tech blitzed UNC with a 26-5 run that spanned nine minutes and 42 seconds of the first half. The Tar Heels missed nine of their 10 field goal attempts and committed 10 turnovers during that stretch.

On Tuesday, it looked as though someone had DVR’d that January run and spliced it into the second meeting. This time Georgia Tech’s 24-5 spurt lasted ten minutes and three seconds, providing North Carolina with ample time to miss 15 of its 17 shots and cough up eight turnovers.

The surprising stat of the first half was not UNC had 15 turnovers, but that UNC had 14 turnovers in halfcourt sets.

“We had a turnover when somebody’s handing the ball off to another player,” Williams said.

Runs against the Tar Heels have become a rite of passage for programs all across the great land, and you can’t blame Georgia Tech for going back to table for a second helping. But what is most telling about these game-changing spurts is that North Carolina has yet to find a way to soften the blows.

"I can't put a finger on it,” Larry Drew said. “I think maybe when we go out there and play -- this is how I feel -- the minute a team makes a run on us, if we're not able to respond to that run, we kind of just shut down."

That may be the most politically correct way of addressing the situation.

Inconsistency at the Point

“What do you want me to say?”

That’s how Drew responded to a question about his play on Tuesday. It was a fair response. The sophomore point guard, coming off a solid 15-point, seven-assist, two-turnover outing against N.C. State, had just delivered the worst performance of his young career in Atlanta, scoring seven points on 2-of-8 shooting with eight turnovers and just three assists.

In North Carolina’s 14 victories this season, Drew is averaging 11.0 points, 6.8 assists and 2.6 turnovers. In UNC’s 12 losses, the sophomore is averaging 6.7 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 turnovers.

“I’ve just got to find some kind of consistency in doing what I do,” Drew said. “Obviously, I haven’t found it yet. It’s disappointing and frustrating and all of that, but I’m going to find it. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I know that it will happen.”

During Georgia Tech’s fatal 24-5 run, Drew committed four turnovers – the same number he committed during the Yellow Jackets’ 26-5 spurt on Jan. 16.

But his head coach has refused to saddle Drew with too much of the blame, instead choosing to spread the wealth appropriately.

“It’s unfair to single out [Drew],” Williams said. “We haven’t handled it well. We have turned it over, but we haven’t shot the ball well.”

A Lack of Urgency

Williams did not characterize this contest as a desperation game to his squad, and for good reason – while the clouds over Chapel Hill are dark and menacing, there are still five regular season games and the ACC Tournament remaining to be played.

But that doesn’t mean the boys in blue shouldn’t play desperate every time they step out onto the court. That clearly did not happen at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.

“If I am desperate, I am going to dive on the dadgum floor for the ball,” Williams said. “If I am desperate, I am not going to turn it over in a handoff. If I am desperate, I am going to sprint back. If I am desperate, I am going to know who I am guarding."

John Henson wasn’t exactly sure what to make of his coach’s comments in the locker room, but agreed that the team’s sense of urgency was lacking from the tip.

“I think we started to play with a sense of desperation once we got down,” Henson said. “I think we need to play like that all of the time and we’ll be just fine.”

Unfortunately, any improvement in that regard is likely too late this season. North Carolina must win two of final five games to post a winning record in hopes of a NIT bid. While the NIT no longer requires a winning record for admission, the tournament has not invited a team with a losing record to play since the rule change five years ago.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
 
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
 
Final
PHI 91
BRK 99
 
Final
ORL 96
GSW 111
 
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
 
Final
CLE 113
WAS 87
 
Final
DET 98
LAC 104
 
5th
DAL 95
NYK 95
 
Final
ATL 115
TOR 126
 
4th
MIN 84
MIL 93
 
4th
HOU 88
SAC 79
 
4th
OKC 95
UTA 77
 
3rd
SAN 70
IND 73
 
Half
PHO 64
DEN 64
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MEM
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
FRES 64
MAR 68
Final
CHAT 61
RMU 46
Final
EMICH 68
ROCH 35
 
Final
MRGST 51
LIB 50
 
Final
HAMP 60
AMER 64
 
Final
BEL 78
DEN 57
Final
UMASS 79
NE 54
Final
JMU 79
SHU 72
 
Final
KNST 84
SAMF 71
 
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
CHAM 60
MIZZ 74
Final
CCAR 61
LAMON 48
Final
OKLA 75
UCLA 65
Final
ELON 65
UNF 72
 
Final
UWMIL 66
ORU 69
Final
WCU 66
CHIST 61
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
BYU 85
PURD 87
 
Final
EVAN 79
USF 72
 
Final
COL 71
GTDNS 75
 
Final
VERM 73
BRY 47
 
Final
OSU 91
CAMP 64
 
Final
LOU 45
CLST 33
Final
UCF 69
DAVID 95
 
Final
IONA 126
DELST 76
 
Final
OU 78
UGST 83
 
Final
TOWS 97
GOUCHER 43
 
Final
ND 81
GRAM 54
 
Final
YALE 82
LAF 60
 
Final
GWU 91
LONG 66
 
Final
VT 78
UMO 63
 
Final
WAKE 83
MNTER 49
 
Final
NAVY 67
PSUHARRIS 42
 
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
MINN 61
STJ 70
 
Final
JVU 69
TRINBAPT 57
 
Final
YOUNG 66
UMKC 63
 
Final
UAB 43
WISC 72
 
Final
CORN 67
CAN 60
 
Final
WVU 103
VMI 72
 
Final
DEP 74
LEH 86
 
Final
UNT 67
MVSU 52
 
Final
MARS 68
MORE 77
 
Final
TCU 74
RAD 50
 
Final
SELA 86
TENT 65
 
Final
SMU 72
TXSOU 59
 
Final
UTAH 85
TXPA 48
 
2nd
LMU 64
UCR 62
 
Final
SCAR 89
UNCA 75
 
Final
SD 86
WAYNEST 69
 
Final
PITT 70
KYST 47
 
2nd
UWGB 54
FLGC 41
 
2nd
IOWA 57
NILL 39
 
Half
ORST 35
AUB 41
 
2nd
MONT 36
CARROLLMT 23
 
2nd
SUTAH 40
EKENT 34
 
2nd
NMST 40
FAM 15
 
Half
WYO 33
STET 16
 
2nd
EWASH 56
NKENTUCKY 28
 
2nd
IDST 34
WLVRN 41
 
1st
GEOR 21
UF 20
 
1st
GONZ 23
UGA 12
 
1st
NIOWA 24
NW 18
 
1st
CAL 5
CPSL 4
 
1st
UCD 5
UTST 9
 
10:20pm Tonight
SDST
ARZ
10:30pm Tonight
NDAK
ALAST
11:00pm Tonight
CSNO
PORST
11:30pm Tonight
AKAN
PAC
11:30pm Tonight
OKST
TULSA
Final
NYI 3
WAS 2
 
Final
BUF 1
WIN 2
 
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
 
Final
TAM 4
NYR 3
 
Final
DET 5
PHI 2
 
3rd
PIT 3
TOR 3
 
3rd
MIN 0
LOS 4
 
2nd
COL 1
CHI 0
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CAL