In this game, UNC got off more shots than Maryland (69 vs. 68), won the rebounding battle, got to the foul line more and lost by 21 points.
This was a very different loss than the one against Virginia Tech where our strategic failings and unwillingness to make scrappy plays let a poor-shooting VT team get away with the win anyway. Maryland won because they can shoot the ball and they play tough defense. They outplayed us. It's as simple as that.
Right after the game, I tried to rationalize it, like fans do: They were just unreasonably hot and we got some unlucky bounces. In all fairness, they were pretty hot: 12 of 23 from the three-point line is pretty damn good and shooting 51.5% from the field overall is pretty excellent. Almost any team would be hard pressed to deal with that. What I want to stress, however, is that this isn't unusual for Maryland.
Look at this.
Maryland is the 17th best three-point shooting team in the nation. They are the best in the ACC. They have a number of players who are having incredible seasons from behind the arc. It was a good night for them, but you know what? Kind of just par for the course.
Now look at their defense. I thought that they had just absolutely had their best night ever on defense. I mean, they largely shut us down. Held to 37.7% from the field and 31.3% from the the three-point line is a first-class effort. Check those Maryland stats again; this is apparently just what they do. Maryland has the fourth best two-pointer defense in the entire nation, and they aren't slouches on three-point defense either. Our percentages on defense were about the same as every team that's played Maryland. They are just a top-notch defensive crew.
Looking at Marylands other numbers, it's hard not to be impressed: A sweet shooting, lock-down defensive team that never turns the ball over and has an elite playmaker in Grievis Vasquez? Wow. Maybe they are just a mirage, but if you guys want a sleeper pick for a team to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament, look no further. Maryland has all the ingredients, and, if they can deploy them right, are due some post-season success.
Right. So I guess we have to talk about UNC now. Well, Marcus Ginyard overcame his shooting slump and had an overall great game. Actually, if you just looked at the boxs core, you could be excused for thinking there was a clerical error and they'd actually swapped Marcus and Larry Drew's line-- Drew took and missed six shots and had four turnovers. So good job, Marcus; snap out of it, Drew.
Deon, Ed, and Will had passable, if not great games. Mediocre, but not terrible play from Henson and Strickland, and the rest of the bench was pretty invisible. It was nowhere close to our worst performance of this season, which isn't a comforting thought, I know, but it was progress. Sadly, that's just not enough to compete against a really good Maryland team.
That's all I've got. Sorry.
Duke is Wednesday. A lot more to come.