Could anymore have went right for the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon? After suffering a tragic defeat Wednesday night to the Duke Blue Devils, it's safe to say the Tar Heels played some inspired basketball. After the heartbreaking loss, many people began to question the toughness of Roy Williams' team. They certainly seem to want to silence the doubters. Just when you thought this was going to be a tough fought game, the Heels came out and put the University of Miami Hurricanes away.
As for the Canes, they came into today's game red hot. Following winning five straight ACC games, they found themselves tied for first place in the conference. Miami's fire was put out in a hurry. Many think the Hurricanes have what it takes to make their way to Houston. Today may have those people questioning their predictions.
While Miami is certainly not the Duke team that beat the Heels on Wednesday, they were the victims of a revenge plot. North Carolina knew they had to move on from the loss and they did just that. Their first victim visited them Saturday afternoon. The nation got to see the team that many have referred to as the best team in the country at their almost full potential. This game was not completely out of the Canes' hands at halftime as the Heels held a nine point lead. But the second half got ugly very quickly.
Not much went wrong for North Carolina on Saturday. While they still did not get a breakout performance from Marcus Paige, they found two sparks off the bench. Theo Pinson and Nate Britt both exceeded their season averages scoring ten points a piece. Of course we got excellent performances from Brice Johnson (16 points, 15 rebounds) and Justin Jackson (15 points, 8 assists). Isaiah Hicks replaced Kennedy Meeks in the starting lineup and provided 12 points and five rebounds. The Heels shot 45 percent from behind the arc, which is their best showing since playing the Maryland Terrapins on December 1st, 2015. Out-rebounding the Canes 43 to 29 helps majorly as well. Everyone knows that North Carolina thrives off rebounds and second-chance points. To put into perspective just how good things were going, Johnson launched a 90 foot shot from his own charge circle and nailed it. However, it was well after the halftime buzzer. With only a nine point lead at halftime, the Tar Heels opened up the second half with an impressive 10-0 run. The game got out of hand when Carolina built their lead to 38 points. Six Tar Heels scored in double figures.
Everything didn't go so well on the Miami Hurricane side. The Canes were led by Angel Rodriguez and Ivan Cruz Uceda who each scored 12 points. Miami seemed to be hanging around, like most teams do with Carolina, at halftime. However, while the Heels started the second half hitting 14 of 19 shots, the Hurricanes scraped out only five shot attempts within the first eight minutes of the second half. Don't forget they also had five turnovers in those first eight minutes. Miami was held to 42 percent shooting, including 31 percent from the downtown and 57 percent from the charity stripe. Of the 25 field goals made for the Canes, they only assisted on nine. Meanwhile, the Heels assisted on 21 of their 39 made field goals. The shooting percentage of the Canes doesn't look awful but it accounts for the 9 made shots in what most people call "garbage time". It was a tale of two cities. One team had everything going and the other not so much.
Even with the blowout of the Canes, Miami is not to be counted out in the ACC. However, North Carolina is sure to be enjoying sole possession of first place in the conference. The Tar Heels will be visiting North Carolina State on Wednesday. As for the Hurricanes, they look to bounce back as they host a tough Virginia team on Monday night. Tune in, folks. These games are crucial as to who will take home the ACC regular season title.