Duke, And The War for Wiggins
Some sobering thoughts on Car olina’s bad — really bad — loss to Duke Saturday night:
- The Tar Heels lost the battle but they may have won the War for Wiggins. More on that later.
- Larry Fedora has a new goal to hit Duke with a two touchdown lead (14 points) next fall before the Blue Devils know what happened.
- The UNC students didn’t have to sleep in tents for two months to watch that.
- Carolina got so many bad shots out of its system that the Tar Heels might actually think about trying to score from some kind of half-court offense. It was an utterly composure-less performance.
- If they need a lesson, they can watch the tape of Mike Krzyzewski and his staff having Carolina’s small lineup scouted so well that they saw the immediate mismatches and called out plays as the Devils crossed half court.
- Carolina discovered a weakness in the Blue Devils – in case the teams should meet again (like next Saturday in the ACC Tournament). They can’t throw the lob to Mason Plumlee from half-court. The one time they tried the ball went into the stands. Anywhere inside that, it’s a slam dunk.
- The fans that stayed to the end avoided the traffic that poured out of the Smith Center throughout the second half.
- And the Tar Heels didn’t have to suffer a long, somber flight home to think about this one.
- The UNC women can gain a measure of revenge against Duke in the ACC Tournament championship game Sunday (just kidding, expect a blow-out there, too).
- And, indeed, the crushed and demoralized men can have another crack at Duke by winning their first ACC tournament game next Friday (definitely not kidding).
Now for Andrew Wiggins, the best high school player in the country who is a senior and still hasn’t committed to any college. The 6-7 son of former NBA star Mitchell Wiggins is likely a one-and-done, but UNC wants him badly to regain national prominence next season. Wiggins, who is also considering Florida State (where his father went to school), Kansas and Kentucky, was at the game, sitting on the baseline in front of the student riser section.
And, just coincidentally, there were some different wrinkles to UNC’s senior night besides sending Dexter Strickland, walk-on Frank Tanner and three managers off with a rose and a rise from the crowd in a pretty over-cooked pre-game ceremony.
A whole new set of video features seemed tailored to what Wiggins is reportedly thinking about besides playing 25 games on national TV for a team with a chance to win the NCAA championship .
There were Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, Marvin Williams and Harrison Barnes – all NBA lottery picks – talking about how much they loved Carolina. Barnes, especially, had his own highlight reel of high-flying dunks.
And there was this weird video of the Carolina players dressed up in costumes and horsing around in the locker room. Could it be that Wiggins loves the Harlem Shake (which I’ve since learned what that was supposed to be).
For sure, Williams didn’t have to tell Wiggins after the game how much the Tar Heels need him. Wiggins got a bird’s eye view of that from where he was sitting
A few more words about a game to forget.
P.J. Hairston, who made the only three-pointer on UNC’s 1-for-15 night, launched a shot from halfway to Durham on the Tar Heels’ first possession. He fired four more scud missiles before finally making one with 5:00 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 63-49. If only they hadn’t spotted Duke those 14 points.
Williams said he actually thought Carolina might still win at that point, but then Duke got two offensive rebounds and hit the last of its five treys to kill even ol’ Roy’s hopes (this game was basically over five minutes in).
You will likely never again see Reggie Bullock go scoreless in the first half on 0-for-4 shooting against Duke’s Tyler Thornton, starting in Coach K’s three-guard lineup to try to shut down Bullock and Hairston, who eventually combined for 22 points (17 in the second half when they were truly moot points).
Ryan Kelly, who torched Miami and Virginia Tech for 54 points in his return from a re-broken foot, was largely used as a post-up decoy, so Carolina could not double team Mason Plumlee, who was the star of the second half and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds to rekindle his ACC Player of the Year candidacy.
Seth Curry was the star of the first half, when Duke made its first six shots (Curry three of them) and bolted to the 14-0 lead that caused Williams to call maybe the earliest timeout of his coaching career. Curry had 18 in the first half and did not miss a shot until 8 minutes remained on the clock.
Duke shot 70 percent in the first half, while Carolina misfired at 27 percent. The Blue Devils went 5-for-9 from the arc; the Tar Heels went 0-for-8 (ouch!) and shot so poorly for the game (34 percent) that they wound up with seven more offensive rebounds than Duke.
The Blue Devils went back to Durham as the likely No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and the odds-on favorite to win their 11th ACC title in the last 15 years in Greensboro next weekend.
To do that, they will probably have to beat Carolina again. This time Williams might try his really big lineup and see what happens. The results could not be much worse. Hopefully, Wiggins liked what he didn’t see.
All Chapelboro.com Game Photos By Todd Melet