Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Rion Brown

North Carolina’s loss not a surprise, but Miami winning is


Was it really unexpected, though?

Given what we’ve seen North Carolina do this season, was it really surprising that they lost to Miami 63-57 on Wednesday night at home, the fourth straight time the Heels have lost to Miami?

Let me spell it out for you: North Carolina has beaten Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan State this season. They’ve lost to Belmont (at home), UAB, Texas (at home) and Wake Forest prior to Wednesday.

This team has been nothing if not … consistent. Which is why I’m not going to use this space to talk about the Tar Heels, who head to Syracuse on Saturday in a game that North Carolina is clearly going to win.

Let’s talk about Miami.

This team lost six of the seven players that were in their rotation last season. They lost to St. Francis (NY) to start the season. They were taken to overtime by Georgia Southern. Central Florida, Nebraska and Virginia Tech picked them off. But in the last two games, the Hurricanes went up to the Carrier Dome and very nearly pulled off the upset against the Orange before stealing a win out from under North Carolina’s feet.

How are they doing it?

Well, Jim Larrañaga has his team playing zone for the first time in his 25 years as a head coach, and they’re doing it pretty well. They’re daring teams to shoot over them, they’re corralling rebounds and they’re doing just enough on the offense end of the floor to hang around.

It’s probably not sustainable, but given the slower tempo that they are playing, it means that they probably aren’t going to be getting embarrassed too often this season.

At the very least, the job that Larrañaga is doing must be commended. No one thought this team would do anything in the ACC.

A week in, and they’re competing with the big boys on the road.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.