The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday December 5th

Tyler Zeller breaks records on senior night

In North Carolina’s last regular-season home game Wednesday, all record-setting attention was supposed to go to point guard Kendall Marshall.

And while Marshall did set the UNC single-season assist record with 289 assists, it was Tyler Zeller that made the biggest impact on both the books and the night.

As No. 6 UNC defeated Maryland 88-64, Zeller notched 30 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals all with seven minutes remaining in the game on senior night, as the forward took the bench to a standing ovation.

“It’s a great way to be able to finish,” Zeller said. “It’s something that I’m very proud of, but I think that my team did a great job getting me the ball in places I could score.”

While Zeller’s entire game contributed enormously to his candidacy for ACC Player of the Year, it was Zeller’s performance at the free-throw line that was his most notable point of play.

The Indiana native earned himself a Smith Center record as he sank 20 points from the charity stripe out of 23 attempts. Those 20 points also put him just one foul shot away from UNC’s all-time record of 21 free throws, which was set in 1959.

Zeller did so well getting to the line that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon suggested that one of his own post players, Alex Len, should attend the “Zeller school of drawing fouls,” to become that way for Maryland down the road.

That ability for Zeller, though, has come from four years of work.

“He does have tremendous savvy,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “He can turn to either shoulder. … And then he’s got a little bit of that Ichabod Crane clumsiness to him. He gets his arms and legs and head going every direction so those opposing defensive players have a lot of things that they can foul.”

Always the self-critic, Zeller still expected more from himself.

While the big man’s 30-point game became his ACC career-high, which was previously set at 25, and the third 30-point performance of his career, Zeller still cited that he could have done more with and-1’s and on the glass.

“It’s a great stat line,” Zeller said. “I really could have made it better if I was able to get two rebounds and get a double-double, but you can’t always do that.”

Double-double or not, Zeller’s performance may as well have sealed his shot at becoming ACC Player of the Year — at least to his teammates, that is.

“I think he’s head and shoulders above the competition for that individual accolade,” Marshall said. “It might be a little tough being that we have so many good players on our team that people may look different ways … but in my eyes, hands down Tyler Zeller.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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