The Tar Heels had been looking forward to their rematch with the Wildcats from a year ago when the Heels came to Lexington and were embarrassed by John Wall and Co.. They got their revenge on Saturday afternoon beating the ‘Cats 72-75 in front of a sold out crowd at the Dean Dome.
Kentucky, a team that prides themselves tremendously on their defense looked as if they had not shown up on that end of the floor. This was due in large part to the height deferential. All three of UNC’s big men scored in double digits and two recorded double-doubles.
The ‘Cats had no answer for Tyler Zeller who played the best game of his season and John Henson who was great on the defensive end of the floor. Zeller went off for 27 points and 11 boards. The 7’0″ center created a mismatch for the Wildcats all night and he nearly unstoppable.
John Henson used his lanky 6’10″ frame to shut down arguably the best freshmen in the country in Terrence Jones. Henson had 13 points and 12 rebounds but he held Jones to just 9 points and eventually got him to foul out of the game. Between Henson and Zeller the Tar Heels had eight blocks and would not let Kentucky get to the basket.
The Heels had nearly a million dunks (slight exaggeration) and none more powerful then the one in which the ball caromed off the rim up into the air and Harrison Barnes did his best impersonation of Michael Jordan, skying to grab the ball in mid-air and cramming it through the hoop.
The world’s softest player award goes to Eloy Vargas who, when on the floor seemed to be non-existent and just wasting space. When you watch Vargas on the court it looks like he gets lost and has no clue on how to use 6’11″ frame. UNC realized this and went at him all day. Zeller manhandled both Vargas and Harrellson the entire night making them look like practice dummies.
If Kentucky is unable to get any production out of the post game on either end of the floor from these two then it is going to be a long season against good teams.
Doron Lamb was the one bright spot for the Wildcats, once again coming off the bench. Lamb scored the team high 24 points was 75-percent from long distance. He proved again to the country that if you give him the open shot he is going to knock it down on a regular basis.
John Calipari cannot be happy with the performance of his team on defense. The Tar Heels had plenty of uncontested shots that could have made the difference in the game. Harrellson and Vargas combined, scored 4 points and had just nine rebounds. Yes, that means the Zeller and Henson both recorded more rebound on their own then Kentucky’s two posts did combined.
Another key to the game was UNC’s ability to keep Kentucky in foul trouble all day. Four Wildcats fouled out and Calipari was forced to play Jarrod Polson at the end of the game. Kentucky has no depth which is something that everyone knows and games like this one for instance, turn UK’s nine man roster into something very hard to work with.
This was yet another game that proved Kentucky is unable to stick around with the big boys. Connecticut exposed them and now UNC has. Kentucky has not won a credible game yet but it’s a long season. The pending ruling on Enes Kanter does not look good but if by some luck he is ruled eligible it would be a big boost. Until then all UK fans can be thinking is Free Enes!