Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 4.17.21 PM

North Carolina bounces back, beats No. 20 UNLV at home

2 Comments

With a more concerted defensive effort and double-figure scoring from five players, North Carolina upset No. 20 UNLV, 79-73, on Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

UNLV trailed by nine points at halftime, but worked back to pull even by the middle of the second half. A scoring drought late in the half gave North Carolina a chance to shut the door for good, but it was unable to do so.

That allowed the Rebels to pull within four points with under a minute to play before North Carolina sealed the game from the free throw line.

Without junior Reggie Bullock due to concussion, North Carolina was without one of its better perimeter defenders, but it didn’t seem to hurt the Tar Heels’ level of defensive pressure in the first half.

North Carolina forced 10 turnovers in the first 17 minutes.

Dribble penetration, which was nearly absent in the first half, was the engine of production in the second for the Rebels. Anthony Marshall, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Anthony Bennett all worked to get to the basket, which opened up opportunities on the perimeter and scoring chances at the rim.

UNLV ripped off a 10-2 run to tie the game at 46 with 14:29 remaining.

North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo was quiet in the first half, but went on his own personal 6-0 run to extend the Tar Heel lead to five.

With the game within one point, 64-63, the UNLV comeback bid was stopped by a cold streak from the floor.

After a Khem Birch layup with 7:33 to go, the Rebels did not score another field goal until the 2:16 mark. Added to that, UNLV struggled from the line, shooting just 11-of-21 on the game.

The offensive balance was important to North Carolina Saturday, with P.J Hairston, Marcus Paige, Dexter Strickland, Brice Johnson, and McAdoo scoring in double figures.

McAdoo finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Strickland led all scorers with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor.

The Tar Heels shot 51 percent from the floor on the afternoon.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
Leave a comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: