Surreal.Prior to about 7:30 PM, this was going to be an incredible easy recap to write. UNC had just won beaten Creighton in impressive fashion on the strength of five Heels in double figures and double-doubles from Kendall Marshall and John Henson. Then came the news of Marshall’s broken right wrist. One moment, we are all riding high, feeling like this team finally has all the pieces fall into place to wondering if Stilman White or Justin Watts will be running point guard on Friday. Since that question cannot be answered right now, let’s turn our attention to the game before the sun was blotted from the sky.
UNC got off to a nice start and it was nip and tuck until Creighton’s Grant Gibbs made an egregious error. On a play under the basket Gibb swiped twice at John Henson’s injured left wrist and was called for a foul. Henson took exception to the play and got into Gibbs’ face earning himself a technical foul. Gibbs winked at his bench following the technical call clearly indicated what he had done was intentional. While Henson has to be smarter than that, it is hard to blame him if he felt like someone was hacking at his wrist. Gibbs’ little play got Creighton one point and managed to piss UNC off. After that it was all Tar Heels who, at one point in the first half, was shooting 75%. The ebb and flow of the game saw Creighton close to within eight by half. In the second half, UNC played well on both ends, ran the lead out to nearly 20 and when the Blue Jay rallied to within 12, Harrison Barnes nailed back-to-back threes to close the deal.
There were so many good individual performances in this game. Kendall Marshall turned in another huge offensive game with 18 points and 11 assists continuing his recent stretch of being a scorer and passer. Reggie Bullock was huge, especially hitting from three. Creighton came in averaging eight threes per game. UNC matched it with eight of their own, three by Bullock. John Henson returned from his own wrist injury to post 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Henson had one of the great moments of the game after hitting an acrobatic shot while foul did a huge fist pump and scream towards the crowd. Tyler Zeller dealt with some of Creighton’s thuggery most of the game and at one point was clocked to the floor by Gregory Echenique in what should have been a flagrant foul yet was not called. Zeller ended up with 11 points and six rebounds.
Then there was James Michael McAdoo who started the past three games in place of Henson continue his stellar play. There was a question of whether McAdoo could continue to produce from the bench as he did as a starter. The answer is a resounding “yes!” McAdoo had nine points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals. When McAdoo was in high school his bread and butter play was the steal on the perimeter leading to a score on the other end. He did that twice in this one, the first kicked off UNC’s big run following the Henson technical.
Now the Heels move to St. Louis where they face #13 seeded Ohio in the Sweet Sixteen as we all wait for news on Marshall.