Ladies and gentlemen, Tyler Zeller. Obviously the standard disclaimers apply and it should be noted Zeller never saw a double-team all night. Still, for a player who has had some struggles this season getting his offensive game going, it helps to have an outing like this, regardless of the opponent. This was the Tyler Zeller of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Yes, it was against a team ranked down the list in by Ken Pomeroy but there needs to be starting point. Was this game such a juncture in the season for Zeller? Time will tell but 11-15 shooting and 9-10 from the line for 31 points and 10 rebounds is a great way for Zeller to start getting his confidence back.
Besides, Zeller, you have Kendall Marshall with another high assist total(13 assists) in this one which could have been higher. There were some easy shots missed and there were a few times Marshall tried to get too cute. At one point, during a 2-on-1 break, Marshall tried a behind the back bounce pass to Zeller which was picked off. Roy Williams yanked Marshall from the game almost immediately. John Henson and Reggie Bullock had solid games while P.J. Hairston had the oddest stat line of the night going 0-2 but 10-12 from the free throw line to end up in double figures. Harrison Barnes was 4-12 for nine points. Not the best outing for him, especially since it seemed like all his made shots were dunks.
Overall, UNC wasn’t nearly as rusty as I thought they might be. The Heels were prone to coming off the gas at distinct points in each half, the first time allowing App St. to close to 34-30 followed by a 38-15 run to go up 27 points with 10 minutes left in the game. After that App St. actually whittled the deficit back down to 10 points with 1:34 left before making if a 15 point final deficit. I suppose there is something to be said for pressing down on the throat but after watching Roy Williams’ teams during the course of his nine seasons at UNC, it simply doesn’t happen as much as we might want it to. Even the 2009 backed off on teams they rightly could have beaten by 50, this team is no different.
UNC plays again on Monday versus Nicholls St then Wednesday versus Texas before an eight day break over Christmas.
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