Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Davidson 68 North Carolina 72

This will be the 71st time that North Carolina and Davidson have faced each other with the Tar Heels leading the all-time series 60-11. North Carolina has won 72 of its last 77 season openers, while Davidson has only won two openers since 1996-1997. Many of those losses have come against a team from the ACC.

I am sitting in an elevated press row since Bobcats Arena has a premium of courtside seats. The Charlotte Observer has sent both Cary and Carolina Panther specialist Scott Fowler.

The Wildcats leave the court and Stephen Curry hits his last three-pointer. Hansbrough is down there now doing dunks with a medicine ball. He doesn't seem to be favoring his thumb much at all. The Wildcats will be without the services of freshman walk-on Ben Allison today. The 6-9 product from England has been in street clothes for the last two games.

Bobcats Arena really is quite impressive. I have never been to any other NBA arena recently, but I would think that this place ranks among the best in terms sight angles, club suites and overall appeal.

North Carolina might have the advantage in terms of numbers of fans tonight, but Davidson definitely has the home-court advantage. All of the pre-game announcements, ribbon board ads and jumbotron graphics are Davidson ads. The Davidson students have filled the entire right side of the lower bowl and everyone is wearing red and standing up. There doesn't look to be concentrations of Carolina students in the arena. I wouldn't be surprised if a few Tar Heel fans aren't a little upset that the uppity Wildcats are the home team in a neutral sight game. OK, maybe that was a tad premature, the Tar Heel fans in the upper deck just rocked this place as the Tar Heels entered.
17:37 D 2 UNC 4
Things started well for Davidson inside as Sander scored a layup on Hansbrough. Both teams' defense have buckled down and forced poor shots. Curry picks up his first foul off the ball. And Hansbrough gets on the scoreboard after taking Boris back door. I'm surprised the Wildcats have attacked the paint so much in the early going. Curry hasn't shot yet.
17:00 D 5 UNC 4
And there's two quick fouls on Lawson. J-Rich with an old fashioned three point play. This game is being played in the half court right now, which would have most of us surprised since both teams like to run so much.
14:29 D 7 UNC 6
These refs are calling a lot of fouls early. That's four already on Carolina. Hansbrough is doing his thing on the defensive boards but hasn't gotten too many opportunities on offense yet. Sander is taking him one-on-one. Now it's speeding up a lot. Davidson is missing shots but they are getting so many off of Carolina turnovers. There's the second interior foul on the Wildcats. With the Wildcats' transition game, they definitely are wary about taking it all the way to the basket. They are going to have to hit the pull-up jumpers. Overall, however, UNC's offense seems a bit sluggish despite its size advantage.
11:46 D 11 UNC 8
The Wildcat double team has messed with Stepheson and Thompson. UNC with another turnover. Unlike with Maryland, they aren't finding the open man. Hansbrough gets to the line for the first time and barely touches rim. He misses both. And both teams are off the mark with the jump shooting. If you told me that we hadn't hit a three and Curry was scoreless with 11:46 remaining, I would not bet that Davidson would be leading at this point in the first half. Carolina has cement in their shooting shoes. We'll see how long that lasts.
11:19 D 11 UNC 10
UNC is shooting just over 36% from the field and 0-4 from the foul line. But the Wildcats aren't much better.
9:11 D 19 UNC 13
Oooh, somebody has gotten into the refs ears about how mid-majors make great ratings...even in November. Several questionable calls against Carolina. And Curry with his first three of the game. Wow, the Tar Heels now have seven fouls. Davidson will need to take advantage of the free throws. Davidson is forcing the turnovers left and right. They won't pull away in this game, but they are outplaying Carolina. And that's the third foul Hansbrough has drawn...Carolina in the bonus.
7:33 D 21 UNC 20
Davidson's nerves have gotten to them a little bit on the offensive end. They have missed several wide open shots badly. Hansbrough has eight points and is getting worked into the offense much more. I would like to see a little more of that wide open play again. UNC's last run froze us a little bit before Curry saved a possession with a bank shot. The Wildcats are substituting very liberally and the eight team fouls are pretty well distributed.
5:50 D 21 UNC 24
And UNC is looking good. Their defense has the Wildcats really flustered on offense. Every player is half a second away from a closely guarded call. And the Wildcats can't hit runners or threes. Richards out of the game after going 2-7 and then Max badly misses a three. McKillop with a TO. But overall, Roy Williams is probably not pleased with his players' output so far. UNC has only gotten to run in recent minutes and they only hold a three point lead over a team that's shooting 38% from the field.
3:49 D 28 UNC 28
Davidson needs strong play from Richards to be successful and they really aren't getting it right now. Richards gets called for a walk in the open court and he is visibly frustrated, grabbing his ankles. The Wildcat frontcourt, however, has held their own with Boris and Steve-O. And here comes Curry to take back the lead. They are calling ticky tack fouls on both teams and then getting a little scared when things get too physical. I wouldn't say that it's unfair in anyone's favor so far...but I think both groups of fans probably find it arbitrary.
1:00 D 31 UNC 38
Oooh, Wildcat zone with Lovedale at the top. But Frasor beats it with a three-pointer. Richards answers on the other end and the zone is still on. Green hits a three this time pushing the Wildcats back to a man to man. Frasor with another big shot. The Heels are finding their touch from mid-range.
Halftime D 31 UNC 38
The Tar Heels go into the half with plenty of momentum after scoring on 4 of their last 5 possessions. The Wildcats will need to find that interior scoring like they started with...and look for the backdoors which have been successful. For the last few minutes of the half it looked the second half of the Maryland game where everyone was just looking for Curry.

Davidson sign of the day: "I hope this doesn't go to double OT....I have a molecular bio test tomorrow!"

The Wildcats are probably pretty lucky to be only down by seven at this point. They ended the half pretty poorly and are only shooting 13-34, including 2-12 from three. The Tar Heels own a 22-11 advantage in rebounds as Davidson has not attacked the offensive glass at all (only 1 Orebound). Curry has 9 points while Richards has 10. Davidson has forced 11 turnovers including 5 total from Stepheson and Thompson. Most of those came in the first 10 minutes however and the Tar Heels have settled down. Ultimately this has really been a game of the stars. Curry and Hansbrough have been leading their teams' runs, even if they aren't the ones doing the scoring. Curry only sat for 1 minute in the first half while Hansbrough sat for 3. Davidson will need Sander to return strongly as he only played 7 minutes due to two fouls.
17:04 D 39 UNC 38
Boris Meno with a huge block on Thompson but then Richards called for a charge. Both teams are running a little more now by using defensive rebounds. And guess what, Andrew Lovedale picks a fight with Tyler Hansbrough. And LOVEDALE WINS!!!! Technical on Hansbrough plus the personal gives him two quick ones. And that fires up the Davidson fans as Hansbrough takes a seat.
13:41 D 43 UNC 40
Curry with a SportsCenter highlight play through the lane. And this is looking like the beginning of the first half. Five fouls on Carolina.
12:37 D 45 UNC 44
Perhaps a makeup call right there as Curry gets bowled over and then called for a blocking foul. And these missed dunks are killing us. Curry now with three fouls as all the Davidson players surrounded Hansbrough in the paint. This thing is emotional for everyone in the building right now. And I keep hearing Kevin Cary in my ear saying, "and Davidson isn't even playing that well."
10:46 D 47 UNC 46
Davidson might not win this one in the end, but they've played three-quarters of a game against the #1 team in the country and lead by 1. They won't be written off for lack of performance no matter what happens in the next ten minutes. That's really encouraging. But as McKillop said after last year's NCAA tournament game, we can't just stop with 10 minutes left and declare ourselves the winner, we have to finish it. Carolina is only shooting 2-12 from the floor in the second half but they only trail by 1.

Hansbrough has 14 points so far, but only two in the second half. This foul situation will be really interesting in this final stretch. Neither team has too many fouls on any one player, a testament to both teams' depth. As the season progresses, both Carolina and Davidson will be very successful in their respective leagues because they go so deep.
8:00 D 52 UNC 54
Danny Green comes up big with a three and an o rebound with a two and follow. That got the Carolina crowd loud. But Hansbrough's third foul quieted them again. Wildcats in the bonus.

And the cameras are capturing that good Sweet Caroline stuff.
6:26 D 59 UNC 56
Lovedale picks up his fourth after Ginyard sky'd high for an O rebound. Carolina can really jump out of the building. I was just about to write that Curry's been much for that. And four fouls on Hansbrough. OMG, is this really going to happen? Six more minutes. If the Wildcats can keep getting to the line with Hansbrough on the bench...we'll see. Carolina can still shoot the ball, though, and they are challenging every rebound.
5:29 D 61 UNC 61
Curry picks up his fourth on a reach-in and Archambault replaces him. No matter what, Davidson gets respect from this one. Hands down. I am sitting next to Scott Fowler and Harry Pickett from the Charlotte Observer. I love overhearing them working on tomorrow's front page..."If Davidson wins..."
3:44 D 61 UNC 61
Both teams are struggling on offense without their bigguns (Curry, Hansbrough). This one might just go down to the wire, if Davidson can stay within one or two possessions.

And the announced attendance is 19,299. There isn't an empty seat in this place.
1:40 D 63 UNC 66
The Wildcats need a big play now. Those missed free throws by Lovedale really hurt. Davidson won't get too many more possessions before they have to foul and UNC has been shooting well from the line.
30 seconds D 65 UNC 68
This hurt. Lovedale brought Davidson within 1 and then Ellington countered with a big two. The Wildcats had a chance to tie with the three, but the ball ended up in Lovedale's hands who missed a two pointer.
12 seconds D 67 UNC 70
Curry missed two chances at a three...and he was fouled on one without a call. Sander gets the easy two and Davidson will need a steal on the inbounds.
Final D 68 UNC 72

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