Three Things: Carolina 79, Maryland 68
The scuttlebutt going into this game was that Carolina would struggle with Maryland's size, that since the lineup change, the Terps would be the first team the Tar Heels would face with two true big men playing meaningful minutes. Well, the scoreboard tells the story. With 3:25 to play in the first half, Nick Faust gave the Terrapins a 27-26 lead. A 10-0 Tar Heel run before halftime gave Carolina a lead it would not relinquish. Here are three instant reactions to the 11-point Carolina win.
1. Reggie plays big
P.J. Hairston's insertion into the starting lineup lately has given him the headlines, as he's dropped points by the bucketfull, but Bullock has quietly been the do-everything man for the Tar Heels. Bullock is a tremendous rebounder (he hauled in 12 tonight) with his ability to leak to the basket, then fight for boards on defense. He is also able to stretch the opposing defense with outside shooting ability. Bullock finished with 19 points.
2. Len denied inside
Carolina did a good job keeping Alex Len away from the basket. The 7'1 Len scored six second-chance points, and finished with eight on the night, but for the most part the Tar Heels kept him out of comfortable shooting range. "We did get help and we tried to jam down from the front, we just didn't want to jam down off of Layman or Logan (Aronhalt)."
3. Marcus struggles with the press
At about the 6:20 mark, Maryland turned up the defensive pressure, and consecutive Marcus Paige turnovers led to five Terrapin points, cutting the Tar Heel lead to six. But Roy Williams stuck with the freshman, and Paige rewarded him with a three-pointer to answer a Nick Faust basket. That long-distance connection sparked an 8-2 Tar Heel run. Williams said Ty Lawson too had struggled in College Park in 2009. "I think that the biggest play to me was him stepping up to make the three," the coach said of Paige. Marcus finished with eight turnovers, but showed heart in fighting through his struggles.
In addition to the stats that fill the box score, this Tar Heel team deserves credit for going on the road to a hostile environment and getting a statement win. With the win, the Tar Heels locked up at least fourth place in the ACC, and a first-round bye for next weekend's conference tournament. Saturday night is looking like it's going to be a good one.