SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — North Carolina struggled to score Friday night, committed too many turnovers, and didnt have a leader emerge.
In a performance that generated flashbacks to last years 17-loss dysfunction and probably should push them out of the top-10 rankings -- the eighth-ranked Tar Heels lost 72-67 to Minnesota in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
They will play Vanderbilt in the final day of the tournament at 5:30 Sunday night.
After shooting 56.3 percent in their Thursday night tournament game against Hofstra, the Tar Heels (2-1) struggled just to get quality shots off from the get-go and when they did, they didnt swish through.
Freshman Harrison Barnes, who had 19 points in the first half Thursday night, missed all 12 of his shots and finished with only seven points. Sophomore Leslie McDonald, who tied a career high Thursday night with 16 points, was 0-for-4 from the field.
Junior Tyler Zeller led the team with 16 points, but he was hampered by foul trouble early.
Carolina only shot only 29 percent before halftime. And it didnt help that their big men picked up so many early fouls; Zeller had three, while Justin Knox had two, leaving 6-feet-4 Justin Watts covering the likes of 6-10 Colton Iverson.
With 11 first-half turnovers, the only reason UNC wasnt behind by more than 27-24 at halftime was because Minnesota has committed 14 and only shot 34.6 percent, themselves.
Trailing by as many as six points early in the second half, UNC freshman Kendall Marshall tied it 41-41 with a runner in the lane with about 11 minutes left. But Minnesota countered with a 11-2 run, making it 52-43 with about eight minutes left.
The Tar Heels systematically tried to chip. Barnes, 0-for-10 from the field at that point, hit three free throws to cut it to 58-53, then Larry Drew IIs drive to the basket made it a three-point game until Gopher Al Nolen buried a 3-pointer to push the cushion back to 61-55.
With 2:53 left, Zeller cut the lead to 62-59. But the Tar Heels never got any closer.
UNC shot 36.9 percent for the game, and committed 16 turnovers. Blake Hoffarber led Minnesota with 20.
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