After struggling in every aspect of the game during the first half, the Tar Heels improved during the second in all but one area: Defense.
And, in particular, fighting through the many screens Butler set to give its shooters open looks. The Bulldogs offense isnt complicated, but it requires a defense to play with the kind of discipline and communication that UNC lacked on Tuesday. Butler made seven of its nine 3-point attempts during the second half, and that success rendered futile the Tar Heels spirited rally. UNCs inability to handle Butlers screens was the difference between us, Heels guard P.J. Hairston said.
UNC coach Roy Williams admitted that part of his teams early struggles the Heels 18 first-half points were their fewest since a January 1996 game against Wake Forest were a result of how well UNC had played the night before. Williams team wasnt challenged during its 95-49 victory against Mississippi State and Williams said the Heels played early on Tuesday as if they had become fat and happy off that victory.
The Heels entered the season with concerns about what kind of production theyd receive from the post, and those concerns seem well-founded after Tuesday night. UNC missed 17 shots during the first half, yet rebounded only one of those.
At one point early in the second half, no UNC starter had more than one rebound. Desmond Hubert, whom Williams said has remained in the starting lineup because of his defense and rebounding, finished without a rebound in five minutes of playing time.