"I feel badly that the game ended like that," said Roy Williams, who told his team afterward that sometimes it helps to be lucky.
Long story short, this was a sloppy game full of missed shots, turnovers, and blown dunks. At the end, there were some calls and no-calls that went UNC's ways, and that made a difference, because, looking at the numbers, it's hard to see how we won.
We shot 34.9% from the field, 11.8% from three, and 50.0% from the free throw line. Rhode Island got more steals than us. They got more blocks than us. They shot better than us (35.8%, 25.0%, 66.7%; still terrible, still better). We won. How?
Well, if I had written a scouting report, here's what I would have told you about URI (via Ken Pomeroy): They never turn the ball over (better at this than all the other teams I've said never turn the ball over), they have a great offense, and a mediocre defense, and make their money on fast-break points. I also would have pointed to their most glaring weakness: Defensive rebounding.
True to tendency, the Rams gave us a lot of offensive rebounds. A lot more. Ten more offensive rebounds goes a long away to fixing the inefficiency of bad shooting. Really, the only way to overcome bad shooting and get a win is to take a lot more shots than your opponent. Rebounds helped. So did turnovers.
We turned the ball over 17 times and so did Rhode Island, which was a bizarre and unexpected turn of events considering how good they are at not turning the ball over and how relatively average we are at forcing turnovers. It was just chaos on the court, people falling all over. When both teams play sloppy, the sloppy team benefits, and we did.
We played hard, and we did the right things when the shots weren't falling. We didn't play well, but we did play well enough. Then we got those critical calls.
It wasn't really fair, but what do you want me to say? I try not to resort to cliches, but I like this one and it's as true as anything else I can say: Those are the breaks of the game.