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The Daily Tar Heel

Abysmal ?rst half sinks Tar Heels

UNC posts just 21 points in period

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech already had shown this year that it doesn’t need much help when it comes to slowing down opposing offenses.

The Yellow Jackets (18-8, 6-6 ACC) entered Tuesday night’s game with the nation’s No. 2 field goal percentage defense; only eight teams all season had shot better than 40 percent against them.

But North Carolina’s playmakers obliged the Yellow Jackets anyway with their worst half of shooting in UNC’s entire 2009-10 season.

“I am totally shocked, totally stunned by our performance in the first half,” UNC coach Roy Williams said of the Tar Heels’ 68-51 loss. “Mentally and physically we were somewhere but it wasn’t here for the basketball game. I told (Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt) I’m sorry we drug your team down.”

There were no silver linings available for Williams and his team to take from a first half in which it scored just 21 points — its lowest total for the year at the break.

In that half, the Tar Heels shot a putrid 23 percent from the field, 14 percent from three-point range and 50 percent at the charity stripe.

UNC (14-12, 3-8 ACC) finished at just 32 percent from the field for the game.

“We didn’t do a good job as a team working together to get shots,” senior Marcus Ginyard said. “We weren’t playing aggressive. We were falling back on our heels, not really attacking them.”

North Carolina clearly was affected by the length of the Yellow Jackets’ defense, especially 6-10 Derrick Favors and 6-9 Gani Lawal in the post. Those big men and Georgia Tech’s full-court pressure rushed the Tar Heels into a collection of sloppy passes, missed layup attempts and a barrage of off-the-mark jump shots.

Freshman John Henson even chucked up an air ball on a free throw attempt.

“We’re not a good shooting team, but we missed a lot of two- and three-footers,” Williams said. “I would bet we missed 12 to 15 baskets within three feet. Georgia Tech is good defensively … but they’re not shot-blockers.”

And that’s not even to mention all the turnovers the Tar Heels racked up.

North Carolina finished the game with 19 turnovers compared to 10 assists, with point guard Larry Drew II being the main culprit on most of those mistakes. Drew had eight turnovers all by himself, while Deon Thompson, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald had three apiece.

“We had a turnover when someone was handing the ball off,” Williams said. “You’ve got to play basketball. Some way, somehow we’ve got to get it scoring better than we were tonight.”

A missed running layup by McDonald at the first half’s buzzer summed up UNC’s struggles. The out-of-control attempt hit nothing but backboard, and Georgia Tech coasted into halftime with a 20-point lead and the game in hand.

“We missed a bunch of up-close layups, pretty much. We’ve got to make those,” Henson said.

“We kind of starting rushing things and that took a step to affecting us.”

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