Three words describe last night’s game in Chapel Hill for the fans of either team: Hard to watch. You want two? How about, downright ugly.
Malcolm Delaney scored a game-high 28 points and did everything he could to will the injury depleted Hokies to victory, but just as they did on Saturday in Charlottesville, the young Heels overcame a double-digit deficit for another improbable win.
Seth Greenberg threw a zone defense at North Carolina to start the game and the Heels went immediately into the same tailspin they suffered through during the end of the first half and the beginning of the second in Sunday’s victory over Virginia.
The Tar Heels took the lead on a Harrison Barnes jumper and promptly puked all over their shoes. They shot 37% the first half (10-27), made exactly one out of nine three-pointers (11.1%) and a mere three of eleven free throws (27%).
How bad was it? With 3:43 left in the first half, North Carolina had scored 18 points. Not a misprint, that’s EIGHTEEN.
And in spite of that, the Hokies’ halftime lead was only 31-24. No doubt, the always worried-looking Greenberg was worried…
Down to only eight scholarship players due to season ending injuries and illness, Virginia Tech (10-5, 1-2 ACC) was further plagued by cramps (and Jeff Allen) in the second half. Delaney did everything he could to keep his team in the game while Allen again failed to make a big contribution in an important contest.
Delaney had 28 points (seven three-pointers) and four steals while Allen had four points, seven rebounds and three blocks – not bad, but the Hokies need more from their senior big man.
Heralded and still under-performing freshman phenom Barnes scored 12 points and nine of those came during the final 3:30 when he made three shots from behind the arc.
John Henson scored 12 of his 17 points after halftime to help the Tar Heels (12-4) start 2-0 in the ACC for the first time in three years. North Carolina shook off the horrendous start to earn their 300th victory in the Smith Center.
Delaney he missed a long jumper over Kendall Marshall with his team trailing by a point in the final seconds.
Marshall made two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to push the lead to 64-61, then Dexter Strickland stole Erick Green's desperation inbound pass to half court as time expired.
We can’t imagine practice for either squad will be much fun for the rest of the week.
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