1. As soon as Brice Johnson went down with an ankle injury early in the first half, there was no option but for one of Carolina's stable of post men to step forward. It turned out to be Kennedy Meeks. The big freshman poured in 15 points to go with 13 rebounds and played one of his best games of his first season in Chapel Hill. That's how good he can be right now. Now it's up to him to decide how hard he wants to work this summer to see how much better he could be.
2. The win illustrated some maturity for James Michael McAdoo. In past seasons, when he has started slowly, it's been difficult for him to get back into the rhythm of the game. On Sunday, he scored just one point and had only one rebound in the first half, but then closed with 13 points and six rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
3. Unfortunate ending to a very good basketball game. From sitting right across from Roy Williams, there is absolutely no question that he ran up the sideline signaling for a timeout when Kane made the eventual game-winning hoop. Somehow, no one saw it, and no one seemed to know how to operate the clock, and the game ended. It was very unlikely that the Tar Heels were going to race the length of the floor in two seconds. But man, you would've liked to see them get the chance.
Williams explained the issue this way: "We're not laying this on the officials," he said. "We practice that situation all the time...We made mistakes. Let's not lay it on the officials or anything like that. The clock operator started the clock late. They didn't recognize my calling the timeout and when they did recognize it and went to the monitor, they realized the clock operator had started the clock late and there shouldn't be any time left."
4. Iowa State effectively neutralized Carolina's multiple defenses in the first half. The Tar Heels played two zone possessions in the first half--one trip of 1-3-1 and one trip of 3-2 zone--and the Cyclones hit three-pointers on both of them.
However, the 3-2 zone changed the tempo of the ISU offense in the second half, beginning when J.P. Tokoto created a turnover by stealing a pass out high. The Cyclones recorded just two field goals against seven 3-2 zone possessions in the second half.
5. You think Marcus Paige is going to have a little offseason motivation? With Carolina up 76-68 with under four minutes remaining, Paige might have rushed a three-pointer when time and score might hvae suggested to burn a little time. That shot missed. Then, with less than 35 seconds remaining, Paige committed a turnover in an 81-81 game.
Iowa State scored on seven of their final eight possessions after the missed three-pointer, and each of their last seven opportunities.
It is totally impossible to find fault with anything Paige did on Sunday. Carolina would not have even sniffed San Antonio--and probably not even sniffed the NIT--without his heroics throughout the year. But you know he's going to think about those plays over the next eight months.
"I told the team in the locker room that in 2009 we got to the facility for the semifinals of the Final Four and Bobby Frasor stood up and said, 'Remember what we felt like when we left the locker room last year because we didn't come out ready to play in the first half (in the 2008 Final Four).' Bobby and those guys remembered that all year long...I told them to use that as fuel."
6. Steady performance from Leslie McDonald in his final game as a Tar Heel. The senior shot 7-for-15 from the field, made four-for-nine from the three-point line, and contributed 18 points and a couple of assists.
Adam Lucas is the editor of CAROLINA.