ACC Basketball: UNC 88, Valpo 77
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 15, 2009
CHAPEL HILL ó Roy Williams had promised there would be times when his North Carolina team looked ready to make a serious run at defending the national championship.
And then there would be days like Sunday, when the sixth-ranked Tar Heels commit “silly” turnovers, don’t put opponents away and lack intensity.
It’s why Williams was so irked by the time the Tar Heels had finished a tougher-than-should’ve-been 88-77 win over Valparaiso. He saw his team blow much of a 24-point second-half lead and look a little shaky after a promising start to the season. And with his team preparing for a tough stretch which begins with a trip to New York to play No. 16 Ohio State on Thursday in the 2K Sports Classic, Williams wasn’t shy in letting his team know it has to play much better.
“We have no chance in New York if we play this kind of basketball,” Williams said flatly.
It just wasn’t coachspeak, either. Sure, the Tar Heels (3-0) won each game by double digits this week, but their performance against the Crusaders (0-2) didn’t offer a lot to feel good about.
Valparaiso made 12 3-pointers, including a 7-for-10 performance during a second half in which the Crusaders shot 53 percent and quietly inched their way back into the game.
Perhaps most alarmingly, North Carolina didn’t show a huge sense of urgency against a determined team that just wouldn’t quit.
“I could feel it coming a little bit,” fifth-year senior Marcus Ginyard said. “In warmups, we didn’t seem like we had that pep in our step.”
Deon Thompson scored 16 of his 20 points after halftime to lead the Tar Heels, while sophomore Ed Davis had a career-high 16 points.
The Tar Heels know they can’t afford a repeat performance considering what awaits. Starting with Ohio State, North Carolina could end up playing five ranked opponents in eight games. That stretch includes a home game against No. 2 Michigan State in a rematch of last year’s national title game, a trip to No. 4 Kentucky and game against No. 3 Texas in Dallas Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 19.