Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Stage Is Set: Duke v. North Carolina II

Harrison Barnes making the winning shot.
#13 NORTH CAROLINA 72, FLORIDA STATE 70 –The ACC pattern of late has included blowing a lead and then hanging on desperately to secure the win. There was no reason that chapter two of UNC v. FSU should be any different.  But if, Saturday’s Duke at North Carolina game was going to have the maximum drama, the Tar Heels needed desperately to get out of Tallahassee with a win and a share of the ACC lead.

North Carolina led by seven with 3:56 left to play when the Noles went on a 10-2 run.  Suddenly, Ol’ Roy’s boys, who had throttled Florida State (20-9, 10-5) in Chapel Hill, found themselves down a point with 18 seconds remaining.  The plan called for Harrison Barnes to isolate one-on-one and to drive to the basket.

The eighteen-year-old freshman who has built a resume this season on late-game heroics had other ideas.  He liked the look he got at the top of the key and sank the game winning three-pointer. Nice bookends as Barnes had made North Carolina’s first basket as well.

On the subsequent inbounds, Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen stepped out of bounds as he rushed back up the court looking to return the favor.

Game over.

FSU's Barnes gets blocked by FSU's James.
“Great players make great plays,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton shrugged. “That’s about as good as it gets.”

But it wasn’t anything unusual for Barnes, who has made the game-winning or go-ahead shot in five games this season.

“I’ve always been comfortable taking the last-second shot,” said the soft-spoken Barnes, “I’m glad Coach gave me the opportunity and I came through.”

Barnes was supposed to drive to the basket, but decided to pull the trigger from long range after he briefly surveyed the defense.

“They had three guys high so I knew it was going to be a jump shot, because it would be hard to get to the rack,” he said.

“You can’t really second-guess yourself,” Barnes said. “You have to go with the first instinct.”

Florida State’s Michael Snaer blamed himself.

“I just gave him too much breathing room,” Snaer said.

Kendall Marshall gets an earful from Roy Williams.
John Henson had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Barnes added 18 points for the Tar Heels (23-6, 13-2 ACC), who won their sixth straight game overall and their fifth in a row on Florida State’s court.

Leslie McDonald added 10 points for North Carolina, including two 3-pointers 43 seconds apart that gave the Tar Heels a 49-44 lead with 14:18 left.

Snaer added 11 points and Bernard James had 10 for the Seminoles, who were without top scorer Chris Singleton (broken right foot) for the fourth straight game.

North Carolina shot 47.3 percent for the game and had a 39-28 rebound advantage.

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