Here are three thoughts about each team I garnered from Wednesday’s game in Chapel Hill. The observations on North Carolina probably hold a little more water, as the team is much more experienced. On the other hand, Texas will probably improve significantly between now and the end of the season.
- Reggie Bullock isn’t just getting love from bloggers for his defense; Roy Williams put the sophomore on Texas’ explosive J’Covan Brown whenever Bullock was in the game. Bullock’s length (he’s 6’7″) was definitely a factor, but he also did a very good job staying in front of Brown on most plays. After the game Williams’ one criticism was that Bullock didn’t box out well. But Bullock has earned the spot as the first substitute to enter the game (for Dexter Strickland), and his offensive skills make North Carolina a much more dangerous team when he’s in the game.
- Texas needs Myck Kabongo and Rick Barnes on the same page. Last night Barnes benched his star point guard for a lack of “discipline” and “purpose” on offense. Without Kabongo, Texas isn’t nearly as dangerous. The forwards in particular really need a facilitator to create play-making opportunities. Kabongo is also lethal in transition. The bottom line is your second-best player can’t be riding the pine in big games.
- Harrison Barnes played his best game of the year offensively. Frankly, it’s not even close. Barnes scored in nearly every way possible. He scored in catch-and-shoot situations, isolation sets and on put-backs. He only had four offensive rebounds, but watching the game it felt like at least six or eight of his points came off those rebounds. This is the Harrison Barnes people were expecting when they picked him as a NPOY frontrunner.