by Adam Lucas1. What a second half for Carolina in a 72-51 win over Michigan. The Tar Heels dominated the visitors 43-24 in the second half.
2. It was a win and a performance the Tar Heels needed. Carolina shot well, rebounded well, but above all, well defended.
3. That defense limited the Wolverines to just 35.1% of the floor and just 33.3% in the second half. In a game played almost entirely in the half court – there were only eight combined quick break points scored throughout the game – the Tar Heels had to press and hold the ball. They’ve done it better than they’ve done it all season.
4. Michigan entered the game after being very effective in the paint as they were one of the best teams in the country with two-pointers. They were just 13 for 36 on two-pointers on Wednesday.
5. Part of these struggles was due to Armando Bacot played his former AAU teammate Hunter Dickinson in serious foul issues. Dickinson was called for his fourth foul at 18:27 of the second half. By the time he returned with 8:03 to go, Carolina had built a 15-point lead. Bacot finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
6. The other offensive strong point was Caleb Amour, who has had one of the best non-Duke games of his career – perhaps the best. The second-year goaltender had 22 points on a 9v16 shot, including 4v7 on the three-point line. He played under control and was the game’s most efficient perimeter player.
7. Excellent work from the Tar Heels taking care of the ball. Carolina only committed six turnovers, which meant Michigan had to generate almost all of their attack in the half-court rather than getting breakaways.
8. Basketball Mojo caught freshman Moussa Diabate from Michigan. The rookie started off hot, making his first five shots and briefing everyone in the building in the first half. But after his fifth mark, he fell on his back as he came back down the court. He was 0-for-4 with an aerial ball the rest of the way.
9. We continue to learn more about Hubert davisstyle and preferences. The Tar Heel head coach called his use-or-lose timeout with 29.3 seconds left in the first half and Carolina with possession and 22 seconds on the shot clock. Juwan Howard, to his credit, changed his defense in the save and came out into an area that turned into man-to-man … and all that strategy made absolutely no difference when Caleb Amour hoisted a 24-foot three-point shot that grabbed a 29-27 halftime lead – just the third time in seven games the Tar Heels have led at the break.
10. Lasts the odds of continuous injuries for Puff Johnson, which has had some very good practices recently after regaining health. Unfortunately, he was back on the sidelines on Wednesday night, wearing a boot as a precaution. The good news is that he was taking limited shots before the game. Johnson has shown an ability to reach the offensive glass in practice and would be another offensive weapon for the Tar Heels.
11. A powerhouse exclusive to the Smith Center: Five National or ACC players of the year were in attendance Wednesday night. The group included Tyler Zeller, Tyler Hansbrough, Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak and Antawn Jamison. Jamison was honored at halftime for his recent induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and received a huge standing ovation from the Smith Center crowd. The crowd also included bestselling author John Grisham and, of course, Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams as well as UNC assistant coach. Sean Mai, analyst of the sports network Tar Heel Eric Montross and fellow 1993 national champion Brian Reese. The home crowd were by far the best of the season and made the difference in the game.
12. Also in attendance: Dick Vitale, who played for ESPN on his first return to the Smith Center since battling cancer in the summer and fall. Vitale, who has been a tireless cancer research fundraiser, was recognized ahead of the game on Smith Center video panels. Carolina also honored Stuart Scott during a time out.