Heels fall to Vanderbilt

Second straight loss for UNC

Staff WriterNovember 22, 2010 

North Carolina Vanderbilt Basketball

North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, right, battles for a rebound against Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor, left, and Steve Tchiengang, center, during the game in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

RICARDO ARDUENGO — Ricardo Arduengo - AP

After watching his basketball team lose to Minnesota on Friday, North Carolina coach Roy Williams insisted he doesn't think about last season anymore.

But now that his Tar Heels have lost two in a row - and are off to their worst start since 2001-02 after a 72-65 loss to Vanderbilt in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday - he will likely have to start answering a familiar question from last season's 17-loss letdown: What's wrong?

Although No. 8-ranked UNC (which will certainly fall out of the top 10 this week) came back from a 14-point first-half deficit, it couldn't close out against the Commodores (3-1).

But it's also obvious, with three new freshmen and no returning scholarship seniors, that Williams is still looking for the right combinations of players who can play consistent defense, take care of the ball and score in the clutch.

"What I'm looking at is five guys who will play together as one," he said after his team committed 22 turnovers and allowed the Commodores to shoot 63.6 percent in the first half.

"We've got great kids; you know what they're saying? They're saying 'I've got to do this, or I've got to score.' And it's not that - it's 'we've got to do it.' ... We've got to make better decisions on how tough we're going to be, getting after loose balls, and when teams get second-half opportunities against us."

Trailing 39-29 at halftime, UNC (2-2) opened the second half with a 12-3 run, cutting its deficit to 42-41 on two Justin Knox free throws. The Tar Heels were more aggressive on both sides of the court compared to the first 20 minutes, taking advantage of Vanderbilt's six turnovers and 1-for-5 shooting.

UNC finally took its first second-half lead, 48-47, with about 11 minutes left, on sophomore Leslie McDonald's shot in the lane. But with the score 51-51 with 8:13 left, Vanderbilt put together an 8-0 run, taking advantage of three Tar Heels turnovers and making four of six free throws.

Carolina freshman Reggie Bullock (10 points) halted the onslaught with a 3-pointer to cut his team's deficit to 59-54, then forward Tyler Zeller converted a three-point play to put UNC within a bucket. But it was as close as the Tar Heels got.

With freshmen Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and Bullock on the floor - and starters Larry Drew II, John Henson (six turnovers, zero assists, 2-for-6 from the free-throw line, two points) and Dexter Strickland (four turnovers, one assist, six points) on the bench - Vanderbilt padded its lead by burying a bunch of free throws and getting a layup by Jeffery Taylor that pushed its lead back to 65-58.

Henson, a starting forward, played only six second-half minutes, and 16 minutes total for the game - another example of Williams' determination to find the correct combinations.

Zeller led the Tar Heels with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Barnes (0-for-12 in Friday's game) finished with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.

Jenkins led Vanderbilt with 16 points.

Vanderbilt 72, North Carolina 65

UNC

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-R

A

F

PT

Henson

16

0-2

2-6

4-8

0

3

2

Barnes

29

4-12

3-4

2-4

2

3

11

Zeller

33

7-13

6-6

3-10

1

4

20

Strickland

26

3-6

0-0

2-3

1

3

6

Drew II

23

2-5

0-0

0-1

1

2

5

McDonald

16

2-7

1-2

1-1

0

3

5

Marshall

17

0-0

1-2

0-1

2

2

1

Watts

7

0-1

0-0

0-2

0

1

0

Knox

18

0-2

5-7

0-1

1

3

5

Bullock

15

4-6

0-0

1-2

0

1

10

Totals

200

22-54

18-27

15-35

8

25

65

Percentages: FG .407, FT .667. 3-point goals: 3-11, .273 (Bullock 2-2, Drew II 1-3, Barnes 0-3, McDonald 0-3). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 3 (Zeller 2, Barnes). Turnovers: 22 (Henson 6, Strickland 4, Knox 4, McDonald 2, Barnes, Watts, Drew II, Marshall, Bullock, Zeller). Steals: 8 (Barnes 2, Henson, McDonald, Marshall, Bullock, Drew II, Strickland).

VANDY

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-R

A

F

PT

Taylor

34

6-13

1-2

2-7

3

1

15

Walker

17

1-1

0-0

0-0

2

5

2

Ezeli

25

5-7

5-7

4-9

1

4

15

Tinsley

31

2-6

3-4

0-2

5

2

8

Jenkins

37

2-10

10-12

0-2

0

2

16

Goulbourne

20

3-4

2-2

2-8

1

3

9

Fuller

12

1-3

0-0

0-0

0

0

2

Tchiengang

15

1-1

0-0

1-2

2

1

2

Odom

9

1-2

0-0

0-1

0

2

3

Totals

200

22-47

21-27

10-34

14

20

72

Percentages: FG .468, FT .778. 3-point goals: 7-18, .389 (Taylor 2-5, Jenkins 2-7, Goulbourne 1-1, Odom 1-1, Tinsley 1-3, Fuller 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 4 (Taylor 2, Walker, Ezeli). Turnovers: 21 (Taylor 5, Tinsley 5, Goulbourne 4, Ezeli 2, Fuller 2, Jenkins 2, Tchiengang). Steals: 5 (Fuller 2, Tinsley, Walker, Ezeli).

North Carolina

29

36

-

65

Vanderbilt

39

33

-

72

Att.-NA. Officials-Jamie Luckie, Randy Heimerman, Kevin Mathis.

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944.

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