Here is a look at the good and bad of the Tar Heels' fourth loss in their last seven games, and fourth loss through 12 contests this season:
Halftime adjustments – Just like at Florida State, coach Matt Doherty made some tremendous halftime adjustments. The Tar Heels came out ready to play in the second half, picking up their defensive pressure on the perimeter and forcing some turnovers, which of course led to a few easy baskets. And when the Heels went to a zone they flustered Miami, which is the main reason why UNC went on an 18-0 run that turned a 41-34 deficit into a 52-41 advantage.
Zone defense – Usually teams don't go to a zone to stop an opponent's effectiveness on the perimeter, but UNC did on Saturday night and it was effective. Miami was 5-11 from 3-point range in the first half and just 1-11 in the second. The zone allowed the Heels to trap some, especially on the wing. It resulted in frustrating the Hurricanes into poor shot selection and turnovers. UNC's 18-0 run was because of its defense.
Jackie Manuel – Manuel scored 11 points and had one of his best defensive games ever. He was simply sensational on defense, and has already become one of the school's best ever at stopping the opposition. He still turns the ball over too much (three in this game, including two avoidable charges) and has offensive limitations. But defensively, he has few peers.
Raymond Felton – Felton had a solid statistical game (12 points, six assists, two steals) and played with poise. Many say he dribbles too much, but that is by design more than anything else. There were moments where he also showed flashes of leadership.
Jonathan Holmes – Holmes gave UNC a couple of great minutes in the first half. He only got credit for one steal, but drew a charge and did other things well. As a reserve that doesn't play much, he can still play a vital role.
Rebounding/offensive glass – The Tar Heels were outrebounded 43-42, but still did a solid job on the glass, especially the offensive boards, where they snared 21. Damion Grant had three rebounds in two minutes of action. When he is able to give UNC more the Heels will quickly improve on the glass. His production per minute is quite impressive.
If only… - The Tar Heels managed to hit just one more free throw down the stretch they would have won consecutive road games against Big East teams without Sean May.
Doherty's acknowledgements - Give Carolina's coach credit for admitting he made some mistakes after the game. It was clear in the press conference he was genuine with this acknowledgement, and he likely learned some lessons. One is to not slow down his team after an 18-0 run ends and they are on the verge of blowing out an opponent. Doherty had his team slow the pace to speed up the clock. He also acknowledged he shouldn't have run a particular inbounds play that resulted in David Noel taking a fading jumper.
Matt Doherty – The slowdown took the air out of the Heels, as evidenced by their not scoring a field goal over the final 12:10 of the game, and nearly the last 17 minutes without a field goal from a starter. It simply didn't make any sense. The team was on a roll and ready to run Miami out of its own building, but Doherty's tactic allowed the Hurricanes to come back.
Considering that Carolina has ballhandling issues, longer possessions are risky. Some of the players said after the game they prefer to run because they feel that's what they do best. It was clear they also would have rather continued running to blow out Miami. David Noel even acknowledged that the Heels have struggled putting some teams away because of this approach.
The late shots by design and not having Melvin Scott on the floor when UNC needed a 3 were also poor decisions by Doherty. But remember, Doherty clearly knew he had made some mistakes and the odds are this may not happen again. He's young and is still learning his craft. Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski weren't perfect when they were in the early stages of their careers either.
Late shot selection – This goes on Doherty's game resume, but the David Noel look and the two 3s attempted by Williams weren't the best shots the Heels could have taken. Doherty admitted the Noel shot was a play they hadn't practiced with the five players on the floor at those positions (Williams at the five, Noel at the four). Whether he regrets having Williams take the late 3s isn't known, but at some point it would have made sense to screen to set up McCants, the team's best shooter. UNC will likely handle last second shots better in the future.
Scott on the bench – Doherty may also opt to have Scott in the game next time instead of other Heels who aren't as efficient from 3-point range. Scott hasn't had a great year shooting the ball, but is still a capable long-range bomber and is probably the team's second best perimeter option.
Trio from the floor – Jawad Williams, Rashad McCants and Felton combined to shoot 13-46 (28%) from the field.
Put backs – As mentioned earlier, UNC had an impressive 21 offensive rebounds, yet still shot a pitiful 31.3% from the field. Consider that 21 offensive rebounds should result in at least around 18 chips shots, and yet UNC still had an awful shooting night. For the game, UNC had just 16 points in the paint, and remember, a few baskets came on fast break dunks, which obviously count as points in the paint.
Blocks – One reason the Tar Heels had such a poor field goal percentage despite the 21 offensive rebounds is because Miami blocked 14 shots. Certain Heels take about six inches off their height around the basket by repeatedly bringing the ball to their waists when going up for "power" moves. Plus, UNC struggles getting the plus-one at the free throw line.
Free throws – Carolina's struggles from the line continued as it was just 13-20 (65%) from the charity stripe, including a pair of huge misses by Felton and Manuel. Felton missed the front end of a one-and-one with 54 seconds left and UNC ahead by four and Manuel missed the back end of a one-and-one that would have given UNC a four-point cushion with 23 seconds left.
Last 14 shots – The Tar Heels amazingly missed their final 14 field goal attempts, including eight in overtime.
3-point % - UNC made only 6-22 (27.3%) shots from beyond the arc, including a dismal 0-6 performance by Williams, whom Doherty opted to take a pair of last-second 3s.
Rashad McCants – McCants finished with 14 points and had a solid seven rebounds, but something appeared to be missing. He didn't play with much of a skip in his step, and often had his head down. Perhaps he wasn't feeling well. Maybe the banged up finger on his shooting hand was affecting him more than he led on to. Whatever the reason, he didn't look like the player that won the Preseason NIT MVP award.
Jawad Williams – Williams gave tremendous effort and continued to show leadership signs. But he only had three rebounds, an unacceptable number for his 6-foot-9 frame, especially with Sean May out.
Assists to turnovers – Carolina had a tolerable 11 turnovers for the game but just nine assists, six of which were by Felton. Any time the Heels have more turnovers than assists they usually lose.
The Tar Heels return home for just their second game at the Dean Dome in more than a month when Davidson visits Chapel Hill. UNC will try to avenge last year's loss to the Wildcats. Game time is 8 p.m. and will be televised by Raycom.
Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.