Tar Heels start fast, hold off Terps
North Carolina looked as if it had cured most of its basketball ills for 20 minutes on Saturday. Then, the Tar Heels showed they still need a remedy for inconsistency.
Behind the hot shooting of Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo, Carolina roared to a 22-point halftime lead, then had to survive an ugly 20-point second half in outlasting Maryland 62-52 at the Dean Smith Center.
“The first half was really, really pretty and the second half was really, really ugly,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Young guys do that. They see a 22-point lead and think everything is rosy but this is the ACC and no one is going to stop.”
Bullock scored a game-high 24, but only three came in the second half after he outscored the Terrapins 21-20 in the first half as the Tar Heels took a 42-20 lead. McAdoo added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
But after going a combined 11 of 16 in the first half, they made just 3 of 15 in the second as Carolina’s field goal percentage dived from 48 percent to 35.4 while shooting 23.5 percent after the break.
“My teammates were setting great screens, and I was feeling it,” Bullock said. “I was going through my regular routine shooting and knocking them down.
“In the second half, I got a lot of easy attempts around the basket and I didn’t make them. My teammates were still looking for me but it’s up to me to knock those shots down.”
Said Williams: “They were doing a better job defensively. But he had a wide-open 3 and missed it. He missed a layup. They weren’t going for him in the second half. I wanted him to shoot all the time in the first half and didn’t want him to shoot it in the second half. It’s not about shooting. It’s about making shots.”
Williams said McAdoo was rushing his shots in the second half as he made just 3 of 9 attempts.
“He didn’t take good shots,” Williams said. “He rushed them. In the second half, he made three and every one of them were dunks or one inch from the basket.”
Carolina built its halftime advantage largely on Bullock scoring the first eight points of the game and the Tar Heels closing the half with a 9-0 run. They had nine steals and three blocked shots in the period while forcing Maryland to commit 15 turnovers with just two assists.
The Terrapins finished with 21 turnovers and five assists. Pe’Shon Howard led the turnover parade with seven and Dez Wells had five while leading the Terps with 21 points. Alex Lin added 10.
“Yeah, we weren’t very good,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s pretty obvious. We threw the ball to them sometimes more than we threw it to us. Give the crowd credit, give North Carolina credit. It’s disappointing; 15 in one half is too many. We just kept fumbling balls, fumbling passes. It was just one of those days.”
Once the lead when to 12 with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, Maryland didn’t get any closer until the final minute. Carolina’s biggest lead came at 44-21 with 17:59 to play. The Terrapins went on an 8-0 lead to get within 16 and the margin hovered in the teens most of the rest of the way.
“The second half, we were sluggish,” Bullock said. “We weren’t getting back to guard the ball. We weren’t hitting shots and getting rebounds. We have to have that consistency for both halves of a game.”
Williams blamed some of the Tar Heels offensive woes on less team play.
“They are good defensively but we can’t revert back and go selfish,” he said. “P.J. (Hairston) had a wide open 3 off two screens. Everyone on the bench wanted him to shoot it but he faked the shot, drove in against 77 guys and turned it over. You can’t do those things.”
Maryland cut it to 11 with 3:58 to go on a Wells tip. But the Terps missed on two opportunities to get it to single digits and McAdoo hit a layup to make it 13 with 2:06 to go.
“They weren’t doing anything different on defense (in the second half).” McAdoo said. “They were just outhustling us and playing with more urgency.”