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December 1, 2013
Blazers Dominate Boards Against UNC
Roy Williams and company traveled to see an old friend in Jerod Haase, now coaching the UAB Blazers.The Tar Heels had a week to enjoy a great win against defending champions Louisville, but then the Tar Heels had to make a trip to Birmingham, as
The Tar Heels knew this was going to be a potential trap game---a battle against a team that was 5-2 on the season with a coach who would know UNC's every move.
The last time the Blazers defeated a Top 25 team at home was against Butler in 2009, the year UNC last won the NCAA title, but the Blazers were able to get another one Sunday night against North Carolina, claiming a narrow 63-59 triumph.
The Tar Heels struggled all night, especially in the rebounding department, as the Tar Heels took their second loss on the season along with momentum before heading to face No. 1 Michigan State Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge in East Lansing.
The Blazers were led by Chad Frazier, who finished the night with 25 points (18 points in the first half), while Rod Rucker chipped in 11 points for UAB, who shot only 30 percent from the floor all night.
For the Tar Heels, only two players scored in double figures, as North Carolina shot 42 percent from the floor and were only 1-of-12 from the three (eight percent) and struggled again from the free throw line (4-of-11).
The Blazers were able to jump out to an early lead in the first few minutes of the game, eventually leading by as many as 15 points in the first half, as the Blazers led 33-18 at the 2:25 mark in the first half, before the Tar Heels cut the lead to 12 points at halftime (37-25).
Predictably it was an ugly game---indicative of two coaches with thorough knowledge of each others' tendencies and a pair of teams running similar stuff.
After the Blazers shot 40 percent from the floor in the first half, in the second half, the Tar Heels defense started to pick up,
The Tar Heels started to battle back, slowly cutting the lead into single digits and even closer as the UNC guards tarted to pick up their play.
Marcus Paige and J.P. Tokoto continued to put in points for the Tar Heels in the second half.
Paige ended up with 13 points (11 points in the second half) in the game, while Tokoto finished the night with a career-high 16 points.
However, the overall lack of hustle and focus by UNC in key moments, along with an ability to get some important rebounds down low will be the discussion in Sunday's loss.
The Tar Heels were out rebounded 52-37 against the Blazers, as UAB was able to gain a huge advantage in offensive rebounds.
UAB had a 21-11 advantage against the Tar Heels in offensive boards, as time and time again that Tar Heels were beaten and out hustled on the board at both ends of the court.
Even though the Tar Heels didn't have their best game by any means offensively, they continued to battle back, as North Carolina was able to cut the lead to one point with 35 seconds left.
Yet, the Tar Heels could never gain the lead for good, as the Blazers led the entire night.
James Michael McAdoo didn't have a good night by any means, as he went 3-of-13 from the floor, 0-of-3 from behind the arc, and 0-of-3 from the free throw line.
Brice Johnson wasn't able to continue his streak of double digit points, finishing the night with only eight points.
But perhaps what was most shocking was after the Tar Heel faithful witnessed UNC dominate down low against Louisville, the big guys regressed almost 180 degrees against UAB.
North Carolina mostly dominated in other aspects of the game and looked like they were going to get a chance to redeem themselves for an earlier loss against Belmont with its second half rally, but now the Tar Heels could be facing a two game losing streak if they are not able to turn things around against the number one team in Michigan State, a team that can certainly dominate the boards with their size and experience.