Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 2/16/12
North Carolina picked up a crucial victory at Miami on Wednesday night and at least temporarily is atop the ACC standings. The Tar Heels trailed at the half 35-30 and by a 44-36 score a few minutes into the second half, but closed out the game outscoring the Hurricanes 37-20 to notch the victory. UNC improved to 22-4 overall and 9-2 in the ACC, while Miami dropped to 15-9 and 6-5. Here are the grades of both teams performances: UNC offense: Carolina converted just 37.7 percent of its field goal attempts over all and only 27.8 percent from 3-point range, but it turned over the ball just six times and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, increasing their scoring opportunities. Harrison Barnes (23 points on 9-20 shooting) had some very nice moments, and UNC got two huge 3s from Reggie Bullock inside the final five minutes. Grade: C. Miami offense: The Hurricanes hit a lot of shots in the first half, and many were fairly open. But their inability to create looks for each other hurt in the second half. They shot 39.7 percent from the floor overall, including 34.8 (8-for-23) from beyond the arc, but assisted on just 9 of 25 buckets. Miamis shot selection, especially after halftime, was not all that impressive. This team needs to learn the value of a good shot. Grade: C-. UNC defense: Carolina gets ripped a lot for not being able to defend the 3, but the numbers tell a different story if people look at the full 40 minutes of a game instead of stretches. UNC wasnt super intense on that end in the first half, but it was excellent after halftime. In fact, defense set the tone, as the Tar Heels scored 14 points off of Miami turnovers and allowed themselves some separation after netting a few baskets inside the games final 10 minutes. Miami shot 39.7 percent overall and 34.8 percent from 3. Grade: B. Miami defense: The Canes did a nice job not letting UNCs bigs catch the ball in position to score very often, especially in the first half. They held Tyler Zeller to just 9 points and John Henson to a 6-15 shooting night. But the defense didnt give the offense many easy scoring opportunities other than a pair of fast-break baskets following lazy UNC passes in the first half. Grade: B-. UNC intangibles: Carolina grew tougher as the game wore on. The Heels won the rebounding battle 42-33, including a 6-board edge on the offensive end, blocked six shots, forced 15 turnovers, and made plays down the stretch. UNC was a much better team in the final 10 minutes than it was in the opening 10 minutes, thus it closed out a contest well for the second straight games. Grade: B. Miami intangibles: Jim Larranagas team fought hard, played with spirit and did plenty to win the game, but just came up short. This club didnt win the rebounding battle but it may have won the overall toughness battle. If only it ran a more fluid offense maybe it could have pulled out a needed victory. Grade: C.
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