Monday, January 5, 2009



UNC’s Danny Green said he thought the Heels could use a close game, but Tyrese Rice and Boston College’s idea of “close” turned out to be something all together different.

No doubt, various coaches have analyzed the current Carolina squad (13-1, 0-1) and come up with a plan to beat the number one team in the country. Non-conference opponents have a few days or maybe a week to try and figure it out while conference foes have months and years to develop a plan. Clearly, Boston College is figuring it out.

Rice (#4) and the Eagles (13-2, 1-0), have been giving the Heels trouble recently with the wiry B.C. point guard putting up 46 points in last year’s late season meeting. This time it took both Rice and his backcourt mate, Rakim Sanders (#15), to post 47 points, but it was more than enough to knock out the previously undefeated Tar Heels.

Not only did the Eagles design the plan to defeat North Carolina at home, but they also executed it to near perfection. Minimize turnovers? Check. Strong on the glass? Check. Hard nosed defense? Check. Make your free throws? Check. Shoot extremely well, both twos and threes? Check. Boston College did it all, and then got some help from UNC who shot poorly both from the floor (credit B.C.’s defense) and from the charity stripe (credit the basketball gremlins).

With just five minutes remaining in the game, Boston College had committed just seven turnovers. They had held their own on the offensive boards as well. Both items dramatically reduced Carolina’s ability to run and produce transition baskets. On the other end, the Eagles hard-nosed defense held UNC to 38.4% shooting.

Tyler Hansbrough scored more than twenty points per game yet again, notching 21 points and nine rebounds. But the normally reliable Hansbrough missed three of six in the final minutes as the Heels were making a last ditch comeback attempt. His mates were no better as Carolina missed twelve free throws and several of those were at the front end of one-and-ones. North Carolina shot 29 percent in the second half and 15-for-27 from the foul line for the game. That included a 5-for-12 effort in the last 8 minutes as they desperately tried to rally from a double-digit deficit, getting as close as four points in the final minute.

Ty Lawson scored 10 points, making him the 62nd Tar Heels player to score more than 1,000 points in his UNC career. Three others -- Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Hansbrough -- also currently play for the Heels.

B.C. Freshman Reggie Jackson had 17 points -- including seven in the decisive second-half run -- for the Eagles who led by six points at halftime and pushed the lead to as many as 15 before holding off UNC’s frantic rally.

Boston College was picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the 12-team ACC.

The Tar Heels sounded eager to see how they would handle a tougher game. Most expected that would come with a trip to unbeaten and sixth-ranked Wake Forest next weekend. Instead, North Carolina finds itself at the bottom of the conference standings to start its run for a third straight league title.

"We never sat in the locker room and said, 'Let's go straight undefeated,'" said Tyler Hansbrough, who had 21 points to lead North Carolina. "That was more people outside the locker room talking about that. Now you can put that to rest and bring us back down to reality, and we can all focus on what we need to do better instead of all this hype."

(Photos by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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