Tar Heels on slump: It's not them, it's us

Jan. 09, 2014 @ 05:29 PM

After Marcus Paige went 3 of 12 from the field against Wake Forest Sunday and failed to score 11 points for the first time this season, North Carolina coach Roy Williams had some questions for his sophomore guard.

“Am I playing you too many minutes? Is it stamina? Were you hurt? Or is it just a bad game?” Williams asked his leading scorer, who averages 17 points per game.

Paige, who also averages a team-high 35.3 minutes, insisted it was just a terrible game. But Paige followed that game by shooting 2 of 15 Wednesday against Miami, and the questions have multiplied.

The Tar Heels (10-5, 0-2) dropped their first two ACC games for the fifth time in program history — both against teams that were not expected to be near the top of the standings — after Miami left the Smith Center with a 63-57 win.

“As a coach right now, the last two games, you start to question everything you do,” Williams said. “From silly stuff like what coat you wear to what kind of defense you’re playing. I don’t know the answer to this… if I knew the answer I’d have already changed it.”

Paige’s struggles mirrored the team’s efforts on Wednesday. Senior Leslie McDonald was supposed to take some pressure off Paige and bring another reliable outside shooter to the court after the senior finished his nine-game suspension for taking extra benefits. But McDonald is just 6 of 25 from the field in the past two games, and 3 of 14 from long range.

As a team, UNC shot just 30.8 percent from the field against Miami, it’s fourth-worst shooting performance since Williams came to Chapel Hill in 2003.

Many of those missed shots came against the Hurricanes’ zone defense, which doesn’t bode well for the next game — the Tar Heels will face No. 2 Syracuse and its renowned 2-3 match-up zone defense Saturday at the Carrier Dome (noon, ESPN).

“I think our movement wasn’t very consistent (and) wasn’t very intelligent,” Williams said. “Then we’d sort of pass and stand still for a second instead of moving immediately. We had some good looks and didn’t make them. They had seven blocked shots. … So I think it was really a little of everything.”

The Tar Heels’ problems aren’t just on offense. Williams counted 20 lay-ups or dunks that UNC allowed to Wake Forest, and Miami had no trouble getting easy baskets at times in half-court sets.

“We just broke down on defense,” point guard Nate Britt said Wednesday night. “We didn’t do a great job of communicating and rotating, so they were getting a lot of open dunks and layups.”

Last season, the Tar Heels also lost at home to Miami to fall to 0-2 in the league before rebounding to a 12-6 finish. Part of that turnaround came when P.J. Hairston was inserted into the starting lineup. Hairston is ineligible this year because of NCAA violations, so this year’s problems will require a different set of solutions.

UNC has already beaten then-No. 1 Michigan State and then-No. 3 Louisville. Now it will have to beat No. 2 Syracuse (15-0, 2-0) to keep from going 0-3 in the conference.

“A lot of things have to change,” Paige said Wednesday. “They’re undefeated for a reason — they’re a good team. We know what we’re capable of doing — we’ve shown it earlier in the season. Efforts like this can’t happen. We just have to play better.”

SUNDAY BOX SCORE

WAKE FOREST 73, No. 19 NORTH CAROLINA 67
  FG FT Reb
NORTH CAROLINA Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Meeks 18 3-8 1-2 4-9 0 2 7
Tokoto 29 6-11 0-0 4-9 2 4 12
McAdoo 29 5-10 3-4 3-8 0 3 13
Britt 21 3-6 0-0 0-1 2 1 6
Paige 33 3-12 1-2 0-4 6 5 8
McDonald 27 3-13 2-3 0-3 1 3 9
Johnson 18 6-12 0-0 5-9 0 2 12
Hubert 7 0-1 0-0 1-1 0 2 0
Simmons 7 0-1 0-0 2-2 1 0 0
Hicks 11 0-1 0-0 2-4 0 1 0
Totals 200 29-75 7-11 24-53 12 23 67

Percentages: FG .387, FT .636.

3-Point Goals: 2-15, .133 (McDonald 1-7, Paige 1-8).

Team Rebounds: 3.

Blocked Shots: 3 (Tokoto 3).

Turnovers: 17 (McAdoo 5, Paige 4, McDonald 3, Meeks, Britt, Tokoto, Hicks, Johnson).

Steals: 9 (Britt 2, McAdoo 2, Hicks, Tokoto, Paige, McDonald, Johnson).

Technical Fouls: McDonald.

  FG FT Reb
WAKE FOREST Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Thomas 26 4-8 1-2 2-9 4 3 9
McKie 30 7-11 2-3 0-2 1 1 16
Cavanaugh 30 1-3 9-11 1-4 3 2 11
Miller-McIntyre 33 5-10 2-7 1-2 4 1 12
Jones 26 3-7 0-1 0-2 3 3 6
Williams 21 3-8 0-0 0-1 0 2 8
Washington 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Rountree III 14 0-1 0-1 0-2 0 1 0
Adala Moto 18 3-6 5-8 1-9 0 1 11
Totals 200 26-54 19-33 8-34 15 14 73

Percentages: FG .481, FT .576.

3-Point Goals: 2-12, .167 (Williams 2-6, Cavanaugh 0-1, Miller-McIntyre 0-2, McKie 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 3.

Blocked Shots: 6 (Rountree III 4, Cavanaugh 2).

Turnovers: 13 (Jones 3, Adala Moto 3, Miller-McIntyre 3, Thomas 2, McKie 2).

Steals: 11 (Jones 3, Rountree III 3, Thomas 2, Cavanaugh, Miller-McIntyre, McKie).

Technical Fouls: None.

North Carolina 32 35—67
Wake Forest 34 39—73

A_12,462.

Officials_Mike Eades, Mike Roberts, Doug Shows.

 

WEDNESDAY BOX SCORE

MIAMI 63, NORTH CAROLINA 57
  FG FT Reb
MIAMI Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Kelly 10 0-1 1-2 0-1 0 2 1
Kirk 20 3-5 0-0 1-3 0 5 7
Brown 31 7-14 3-6 1-10 0 4 19
Adams 37 3-8 2-6 1-3 6 0 9
Reed 10 0-3 0-0 0-2 0 0 0
Jekiri 27 1-4 0-0 3-10 1 4 2
Lecomte 38 2-7 6-8 0-3 7 2 11
Swoope 25 5-8 4-4 1-4 1 2 14
Akpejiori 2 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0
Totals 200 21-50 16-26 9-38 15 19 63

Percentages: FG .420, FT .615.

3-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Brown 2-6, Lecomte 1-1, Kirk 1-3, Adams 1-4, Reed 0-1, Kelly 0-1, Swoope 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 1.

Blocked Shots: 7 (Jekiri 3, Brown, Kelly, Kirk, Swoope).

Turnovers: 13 (Adams 3, Jekiri 3, Lecomte 2, Swoope 2, Reed 2, Brown).

Steals: 7 (Adams 2, Swoope 2, Jekiri 2, Kelly).

Technical Fouls: None.

  FG FT Reb
NORTH CAROLINA Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Tokoto 30 3-7 0-0 1-4 2 2 7
McAdoo 29 5-12 2-6 9-12 1 2 12
James 8 1-1 2-2 2-5 0 2 4
Paige 38 2-15 2-2 0-1 8 2 8
Britt 19 1-4 1-2 0-1 1 2 3
McDonald 24 3-12 0-0 0-2 3 5 8
Hubert 2 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1
Johnson 21 3-8 2-2 5-6 1 3 8
Meeks 16 2-3 1-2 0-4 0 1 5
Hicks 7 0-3 1-2 1-2 0 0 1
Simmons 6 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0
Davis 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 20-65 12-20 20-42 16 19 57

Percentages: FG .308, FT .600.

3-Point Goals: 5-21, .238 (McDonald 2-7, Paige 2-11, Tokoto 1-2, Hicks 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 3.

Blocked Shots: 3 (Johnson, Meeks, Tokoto).

Turnovers: 11 (Britt 3, Paige 2, James, Meeks, Johnson, Tokoto, McDonald, McAdoo).

Steals: 6 (McAdoo 2, Hicks, Britt, McDonald, Johnson).

Technical Fouls: James.

Miami 29 34—63
North Carolina 23 34—57

A_17,569.

Officials_Brian Kersey, Brian Dorsey, Gary Maxwell.