Three Things: Miami 87, Carolina 61
Carolina was embarrassed Saturday at Miami to a Hurricanes team that continues to prove that they are for real. There were several things one could point to that led to that result. Here are three of them:
1. Miami was lights-out from beyond the arc.
The Hurricanes were an eye-popping 10 of 16 from 3 in the first half, and finished 15-26. The game began with a Kenny Kadji three, and the Hurricanes added six points - all on lay-ups - before the Tar Heels were ever on the board. The Hurricanes did an excellent job using screens at the top of the key to free up shooters. Carolina got as close as seven, but Miami had an answer every time. Rion Brown, Durand Scott and Shane Larkin responded to Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston threes with ones of their own, and the Tar Heels weren't going to come back by trading baskets.
Extremely hot shooting helped Miami, sure, but a lack of defensive awareness by the Tar Heels certainly contributed. As Eric Montross pointed out in the postgame, Miami has threats both inside and outside. Double down in the post, and that opens up the perimeter. The Hurricanes slowed things down a bit by going inside more in the second half while continuing to hit shots from outside.
2. A lack of offensive aggression
The Tar Heels shot just six free throws on the day, something that points to two things, as Roy Williams said in his postgame press conference. 1) Miami is a good, savvy defensive team that does a good job of guarding without fouling, and 2) the Tar Heels weren't nearly aggressive enough to cause contact and draw free throw attempts. Once they got down, Carolina seemed to think the only way back into the game was by hoisting up shots from deep. The road rims weren't as kind to the Tar Heels as they were to the home team.
On the other hand, there were times when James Michael McAdoo wanted to make an emphatic statement, and perhaps he tried to do the spectacular when the simple would have sufficed. Two dunk attempts were blocked by Kadji, and McAdoo seemed to somewhat go into a shell. He finished 3-12 from the field with just six points on the day.
Jim Larranage stressed getting back on defense to his players in his pregame speech, and the Hurricanes did an excellent job there.
3. Miami's pretty daggum good
Sports like basketball are not single-player affairs. This is not solitaire. Carolina did not play well Saturday, and Miami played extremely well, to the delight of their fans. "Everybody from North Carolina always thinks its just about North Carolina," Williams said after the game. "It's not. Miami's pretty daggum good." With Saturday's win, the Hurricanes became the first team since Maryland in 1975 to have wins of 20 or more points over both Duke and Carolina in a single season.