BOZICH | North Carolina speed, shooting overwhelm Indiana, 101-86, in Sweet 16
North Carolina continued the ACC's dominance in the NCAA Tournament by overwhelming Indiana with quickness and three-point shooting in the East Regional semifinals.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WDRB) – You play North Carolina, you keep the Tar Heels away from the rim.
I paid $99 for access to the ShotAnalytics web site. The data screamed that no team does a better job of pounding its way to victory on the offensive glass than North Carolina.
Where do I request a refund?"
The Tar Heels scored from Gastonia, Rocky Mount and Wilmington, punishing the Hoosiers with 11 three-point shots while rolling to a 101-86 victory in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament Friday.
"If North Carolina shoots like they shot against us, they're definitely going to be successful all the way to April," said Indiana senior Max Bielfeldt.
The first words that North Carolina coach Roy Williams said to Indiana coach Tom Crean in the handshake line:
“We haven’t shot like that all year.”
North Carolina winning was hardly an upset. The Tar Heels were the top seed in the region as well as a 5-½ point favorite. The Tar Heels winning while impersonating the Splash Brothers, that was an upset.
The Indiana defensive scouting report included this paragraph:
If the Tar Heels want a three-point shot, better to give them a three-point shot than a five-footer. Williams hasn’t had a ferocious three-point shooter since Wayne Ellington and Danny Green left Chapel Hill with an NCAA title in 2009.
Justin Jackson. Nate Britt. Theo Pinson. Marcus Paige. Nobody has compared them to Larry Bird.
Let them fire away.
Especially Marcus Paige.
The guy barely made a third of his shots from distance this season. His performance during Atlantic Coast Conference play made you wonder why Williams let Paige launch 111 threes. He made 31.
That’s less than 28 percent.
Indiana let Marcus Paige launch at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night. The Hoosiers let all the Tar Heels fire away.
Paige wasn’t Marcus Misfire. Paige was a powder-blue-clad Steph Curry. He scored 21 points while making a half-dozen three pointers. That's more threes than Paige had made in a game this season.
He scored 12 of North Carolina’s first 14 points, hitting from deep, deeper, deeper and deepest.
"Paige was making video game shots to start the game," Crean said. "I mean, seriously. He's a tremendous player."
"As a shooter, when you get that first one to go down, it's always kind of a good thing for your confidence," Paige said.
They say shooting is contagious – and a virus surged through the UNC lineup. The Tar Heels made their first seven shots from distance.
They did not stop, making 10 of their first dozen while surging to an 84-64 lead.
Normally, Crean would have summoned sophomore guard Robert Johnson to help defend on the perimeter. Johnson wanted to play through a severe sprain in his left ankle. But Crean and the medical staff overruled the player because of a bone bruise and ligament damage in his foot.
"When we picked it up on Paige, other guys whose numbers don't exactly say they're three-point shooters started knocking them down," Bielfeldt said. "They're getting bounces and offensive rebounds. With a good team like that, sometimes it's their night. Tonight was their night. They played their game."
When North Carolina was not making threes, the Tar Heels were making layups. Or free throws.
That’s what happens when the team with the basketball is quicker and more mobile than the team playing defense. Indiana could not stay in front of the Tar Heels, especially in the second half. IU finished the season 27-8 and with the Big Ten regular-season title.
The hooting at the officials from Indiana's bench was unrelenting in the second half, especially when North Carolina was shooting bonus free throws before the first TV timeout. North Carolina shot 33 free throws -- and made 26. Indiana was 23 of 26 from the line.
Were some of the whistles deserving of questions?
Sure. A few always are.
But Indiana could not guard North Carolina.
It was really that simple. Could not stop the Tar Heels from making three-point shots in the first half. Could not stop the Tar Heels from dancing into the lane and scoring or drawing fouls in the second half. North Carolina shot better than 62 percent in the first half and nearly 52 percent for the game.
Jackson usually makes 27 percent of his threes. He made his first two. Add a three by Nate Britt that seemed to stick against the back of the rim before falling through the net. Carolina didn’t miss a shot from distance until the final seconds of the first half when Theo Pinson misfired.
Indiana never led. The Hoosiers trailed by as many as 22. Yogi Ferrell (25 points), Troy Williams (21) and Max Bielfeldt (15) tried to bring Indiana back.
North Carolina did not allow it.
"We took a couple of punches from them and tried to come back," Bielfeldt said. "We just didn't have quite enough to overcome it."
"North Carolina played outstanding," Crean said. "If they play like that, even remotely close to that, then they're going to be very, very hard to beat."
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