Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guard play and T.J. Yates impress Carolina fans

One thing that struck me during North Carolina's 96-91 victory over Long Beach State had nothing to do with basketball.

Last year, during the Michigan State game, the home crowd booed when UNC quarterback T.J. Yates appeared on the big screens. During the Long Beach State game, Yates was introduced as one of the captains accepting an invitation to the Music City Bowl. The ovation, with most people standing, was almost deafening, especially considering that the Smith Center was only two-thirds full.

The other thing that stood out was Carolina guard play. The starting guards committed only three turnovers while dishing out 11 assists. Dexter Strickland had three assists and 13 points while Larry Drew had eight assists and 13 points. The bulk of Carolina's scoring has come from its big men this season.

"I always want to stay aggressive and look for my shot," Drew said. "Coming into the second half, I think I had only scored two points, but we were up 14. They started making a run, and it didn't really seem like our inside game was where it has been in the last couple of games. We were trying to get the ball into Z (Tyler Zeller) and Justin Knox, but they were doubling down, so I just took it upon myself just to try to be more aggressive."

Backup shooting guard Reggie Bullock scored eight points while backup point guard Kendall Marshall had five points and three assists. The more veteran starters are holding on to their playing time as Drew and Strickland combined for 55 minutes while Bullock and Marshall combined for 20.

For more on the game itself, please click here.

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