UNC-Duke: The Good & The Bad

Brian Morrison

North Carolina's game plan designed to slow down archrival Duke worked in some respects but in the end UNC didn't execute well enough and didn't have the talent to compete in an 87-58 loss on Thursday night in Chapel Hill.

Here is a look at the good and the bad of UNC's 12th loss in 18 games and sixth Atlantic Coast Conference loss in eight games. 

GOOD 

Matt Doherty – UNC had a sound game plan by slowing it down and approaching with patience. The Heels had some success getting open shots (missed six layups in the first half) but coughed the ball up too much despite the sound intent. The Heels were ready to play, executed with confidence in the first half and were in solid position at halftime down 13. Also credit Doherty for working hard for the entire 40 minutes. He mostly kept the team focused and got them to improve with every possession, even though they stayed in the slow-down offense a bit long. In such a terrible season it would have been easy for him to sit on the bench for the final five minutes watching the clock, but he didn't. He kept coaching.  

Brian Morrison – Morrison proved once again why he is the team's best option on the perimeter. He was UNC's best player scoring 12 points and dishing out four assists in 27 minutes. Say what you will about some of the decisions he makes, but also recognize he is the only player on the team capable of taking his man off the dribble and creating opportunities for his mates on a regular basis. At this point it makes to sense to take the mistakes with the good he brings to the floor. He is also a better defensive player than too many fans are willing to recognize.  

Plus, credit him for bouncing back after the situation at Clemson. He too could have packed it in and succumbed to the wishes of some UNC fans that he transfer. But he came back strong, with a great attitude and grew up some as a player and a person.  

Will Johnson – Johnson fought extremely hard around the basket and had some early rebounds, a nice power move in the paint and knocked down a 3-pointer. He had a solid first half. 

Jackie Manuel – Manuel played well in the first half considering he was seeing his first action since suffering a stress fracture in the UConn game. He had a couple of nice drives to the basket, did a decent job handling the ball and played with confidence in the first half. 

First-half rebounding – The Heels outrebounded Duke 14-10 in the first half while allowing the Devils just one offensive rebounds. Duke, however, outboarded the Heels for the game and had nine offensive rebounds in the second half. 

BAD 

Jason Capel – Capel had perhaps his worst game as a Tar Heel. In 31 minutes of action he scored just eight points, had four rebounds and turned the ball over five times while registering zero assists. He was unable to shake Duke's Dahntay Jones and grew increasingly frustrated through the game.  

Kris Lang – Lang also had a poor game registering just eight points while grabbing a measly two rebounds and turning the ball over four times. He fought hard and did a solid job defensively on Carlos Boozer. But overall, he just wasn't very efficient. 

Adam Boone – Boone struggled to get open when he didn't have the ball and when he did had a tough time running the offense. Save for a couple of nice moves he was owned. He scored five points with just one assists and four turnovers in 22 minutes.  

Ballhandling – UNC turned the ball over a season-high 25 times and really struggled running the offense. Many of the turnovers led to easy Duke baskets, especially in the first half. There was too much dribbling on the perimeter, especially by players that normally don't bounce the ball more than a time or two. As well as Duke played on defense, the Heels made the Devils' job easier. 

Shot clock/air ball – Lang's badly missed air ball as the shot clock expired in the second half capped one of the ugliest possessions this scribe has ever seen from a major college basketball team. That epitomized how truly bad this season has been when measured against the last four decades of UNC hoops.  

Four straight – Duke has now won four straight games at the Dean Dome, meaning Lang and Capel will walk away from Chapel Hill having never beaten their rivals at home. Seniors Brian Bersticker and Orlando Melendez are both fifth-year players and were a part of the program in 1998 when UNC routed Duke in Chapel Hill. 

UP NEXT 

The Tar Heels next play at Georgia Tech on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS. 

Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.  

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