Heels look for answers after lopsided loss at Miami

Feb. 10, 2013 @ 05:07 PM
 North Carolina suffered its biggest loss of the season Saturday at No. 8 Miami thanks in part to an historic shooting day from the Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0 ACC). Miami made a program-record 15 3-pointers, more than UNC (16-7, 6-4) had given up in a game in almost three seasons.
Afterward, the team had different opinions on why the Hurricanes – who came into the game sixth in the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage (35.0) – were so effective from outside on their 26 attempts.
For the most part, UNC coach Roy Williams credited Miami. At one point he yelled “Good defense, Marcus” at Marcus Paige for his defense on Shane Larkin – as Larkin’s shot from outside went in.
“Everybody in North Carolina always thinks it’s just about North Carolina,” Williams said. “It’s not. Miami’s pretty dadgum good. It wasn’t all just a failure in what North Carolina did. Give Miami credit.”
Later, Williams added: “A lot of teams couldn’t stand out there with no defense on the court and make 15 out of 26.”
But the UNC players were harder on themselves. Sophomore James Michael McAdoo said the team didn’t make the right adjustments when it was clear Miami was hot from outside, and senior Dexter Strickland said the players weren’t in the right spots.
“I don’t think they were tough shots,” Strickland said. “I think we did a bad job on defense.”
A review of the first half, when Miami made 10 of its 16 attempts from long range, showed a mix of great execution by the Hurricanes and poor defense by the Tar Heels.
Backing up Williams’ point of view, Miami forward Kenny Kadji made the first 3 of the game from more than 25 feet away while being guarded by UNC center Desmond Hubert. The next 3-pointer came seven minutes later from a similar distance by Larkin over Paige.
But some of the other 3s were definitely easier. On one possession, both P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock fell down guarding Durand Scott, allowing Rion Brown to make an open look. On the next trip, Paige failed to get over a screen by Miami center Julian Gamble, giving Larkin room to shoot. And on the last shot of the half, Hubert failed to rotate over on Kadji, who was unguarded when his 3 with time running out gave Miami a 17-point halftime lead.
Regardless of the reasons for the Hurricanes’ success from the perimeter, the effects were clear. Miami, which is still the only visiting team to win at the Smith Center, is the first school to start 10-0 in the ACC since Duke in 2007-08.
And UNC, which won 6 of 7 games against unranked opponents since losing to Miami at home, could not use that momentum to prevent another blowout defeat on the road, this one even worse than the 24-point margin at then-No. 1 Indiana.
Unlike previous losses to Butler, when Tar Heels team cut a 29-point deficit down to six, and at N.C. State, when the team cut a 28-point deficit down to five, there wasn’t even a comeback this time. UNC trailed by at least 20 points for the final 16 minutes.
“Coming into this game we felt great,” McAdoo said. “We felt like we could have beat them at our place. We knew it was going to be a challenge coming in here, we knew we were going to have to bring our A game, but we didn’t do that.”
“Can’t dwell on it though.”
But UNC has reason to be concerned. Next comes another road game against a Top 10 team that excels from long range – UNC plays No. 4 Duke on Wednesday night (9 p.m., WRAL).