Turning point. North Carolina was very much in this game until the under-four TV timeout. Indiana closed the first half on a 15-6 run, breaking a 31-31 tie and creating enough separation to deliver the death blow early in the second half. Over a 15-minute stretch that spanned the final few minutes of the first half and first ten minutes of the second, IU triggered a 37-9 run. Yikes.
Backcourt scoring? For North Carolina to be anything more than a fringe NCAA tournament team, the Heels will need one of their guards to step up as a reliable scoring option on the perimeter. Marcus Paige, the out-of-position, undersized 2-guard masquerading as a point, has actually been UNC’s most reliable scorer. Bullock has disappeared against better competition, specifically the stingier defenses he’s face. Hairston, meanwhile, has been too inconsistent, shooting just 37-percent from the floor while throwing up more shots he shouldn’t take than ones he should. Dexter Strickland can’t shoot. Leslie McDonald can’t do anything but shoot. Can anyone on the Heels create their own shot?
Marcus Paige Conundrum. Paige is a gifted scorer—a strong outside shooter with a solid mid-range game and the ability to get to the rim. He’s just not a point guard. One of the many reasons why Carolina’s half court offense has sputtered against halfway decent competition this year? There’s no rhyme or reason to their offensive sets and marginal ball movement (other than aimless swing passes) to speak of.
‘Hoos’ going to beat the Hoosiers? Ignore the opponent for one minute and return your attention to Indiana’s performance. To recap, the Hoosiers just blew out a top-15 opponent rife with young talent in a game wherein the team shot poorly from the perimeter in the first half, Christian Watford was a non-factor offensively (1-9 FG) and Yogi Ferrell didn’t score a field goal. Derek Elston and freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea will be back soon to add much needed depth in the frontcourt. IU is already stock in the backcourt, and the team owns the best starting-5 in America. Just imagine how good this team will be in four months when Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea shake off their growing pains. Any team that can outplay this Indiana team for 40 minutes, especially in Assembly Hall, deserves instant mention as a Final Four contender.