Lucas: Ohio State Rapid Reactions

By Adam Lucas

1. That was a big-time win in a big-time environment for North Carolina. In a classic, old-school, somehow-pull-it-out-while-it-doesn’t-seem-possible victory, the Heels beat Ohio State, 89-84 in overtime. Carolina came back from 11 down in the second half (and 14 in the first half) to do it.

2. Incredible execution from the Tar Heels in the final two seconds of regulation trailing by two. With a timeout to work with, Carolina threw the ball to RJ Davis at midcourt and called timeout (a play they practice regularly). Then, with Ohio State appearing to expect the Heels to go for a three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left, Black threw a gorgeous pass to Pete Nancewho drained a jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

3. Carolina’s defensive pressure changed the game in the second half. Down ten, the Heels pressured in the backcourt, not guarding the inbounder and instead using Pete Nance as another defender to cover the ball handlers. It perplexed Ohio State and led to three quick turnovers in four possessions, which Carolina promptly turned into seven points to get back into the game.

4. For much of the day, Carolina didn’t shoot the ball well from the three-point line. The frustrating part was that the Tar Heels missed some open shots that they should have made. Just sink the wide open three-pointers that they missed–and it wasn’t just one player, as three different Heels missed big open trifectas–and it’s a very different game. The counterbalance was that Ohio State left numerous points hanging at the free throw line, including a couple of front ends on one-and-one situations. OSU finished just 6-for-13 from the line. But, Ohio State made the one open three-pointer they had to make–Zed Key hit it with under a minute to play. That’s the same shot Carolina had on numerous occasions that just never went in.

5. Armando Bacot was solely responsible for keeping Carolina in the game in the first half. During a stretch when Carolina was struggling mightily from the field, Bacot went 6-for-10 in the first half and scored 16 of the Tar Heels’ 35 first half points. He had the only UNC field goals for almost 14 full minutes of clock time in the first half. Bacot finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds in a terrific effort.

6. It felt like the Heels lost track of time and score after taking a 75-74 lead on a clutch RJ Davis three-pointer with just over a minute to go in regulation. After getting a big stop on Sueing, Leaky Black rushed a corner three-pointer less than ten seconds into the shot clock. You would’ve liked to: 1. Use more clock and 2. Get a better shot in that situation. The mistake was compounded by OSU scoring on its next two possessions.

7. Carolina tried a couple wrinkles to slow down the Buckeye offense in the first half. That included one trap to try and speed up Ohio State, but it ended in an open three-pointer for Bruce Thornton.

8. On a day when every Tar Heel other than Caleb Love struggled from the three-point line, why wouldn’t it be Black who sank a big one? Black hit a corner three with under five minutes to play that was the first trifecta by any Heel other than Love. That seemed to unlock the Carolina perimeter game, as Davis also made a big late one.

9. Two good coaches at work in the final sequence of the first half. OSU’s Chris Holtmann called timeout to set up a play, and the Buckeyes got a basket from Justice Sueing (although they didn’t go two-for-one, which is always a little perplexing). OSU then went zone, a smart move that they hadn’t shown all half, but Carolina crisply carved it up and got an RJ Davis-to-Bacot slam. Unfortunately, the series ended with a Sueing three-pointer, Ohio State’s seventh trifecta of the half–the same total they average for an entire game this season.

10. The CBS Sports Classic has moved around in its history, with Saturday marking the first visit to Madison Square Garden. Most of the previous stops have seen a large influx of Kentucky fans, as the Wildcats are well known for their basketball travel. This year, though, Tar Heel fans made a huge showing in New York, a nice reminder of the importance of this area to Carolina Basketball. Hubert Davis has made it a priority to play not just in New York, but in the Garden, as often as possible–the Heels will be back here next year.

11. Very minor detail, but with Ohio State wearing their scarlet jerseys and Carolina wearing blue, Saturday’s game was the rare (and incredibly visually appealing) color-on-color matchup.

12. Carolina is now 30-11 in the current Madison Square Garden facility. Saturday was an electric, pro-Carolina atmosphere. It’s easy to see why Hubert Davis wants to come back here.

13. A subtle change by Hubert Davis after Armando Bacot missed the Virginia Tech game with an injury. Pete Nance has taken all subsequent jump balls and has had a much better success rate. He won the opening tip over Zed Key but lost it in overtime.

14. An encouraging sign: Ohio State very clearly wanted to make it a physical game. That worked in the first half, but Carolina fought back in the second half and stood firm. The Tar Heels won the overall rebounding battle, 48-42, had more offensive rebounds (16 to 14) and won the second chance points battle, 14-9.

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