North Carolina burst out to an early lead against Ohio. At one point, the Tar Heels led 22-8 before the Bobcats put together a bit of a run. In the absence of Kendall Marshall, Stilman White and Justin Watts have played fairly well. Stilman White has three assists and no turnovers. Watts has three turnovers and no assists.
The Tar Heels lead Ohio 29-22 at halftime. Take a look at two areas the Tar Heels are excelling in and two UNC will likely look to improve.
# Tyler Zeller: Ohio started two players taller than 6-foot-3, the tallest of which is Ivo Baltic at 6-foot-8. Tyler Zeller has a clear size advantage in this game and he’s exploiting it like he was expected to. Zeller finished the first half with 11 points, nine rebounds and shot 5-for-8 from the field. While some other Tar Heel players have struggled early, Zeller has been nothing but steady. In fact, he’s cleaned up a few missed shots on the offensive glass with put-backs. Five of the 7-footer’s rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor.
# Rebounding: In a game without its starting point guard, North Carolina needed to win the battles it was supposed to. So far, UNC is doing that. Ohio doesn’t have a single player on its roster this season that averaged more than five rebounds a game, and the Bobcats have just one player taller than 6-foot-8. UNC’s size advantage played out as expected in first half, as the Tar Heels are outrebounding Ohio 30-17. Not only does rebounding well limit Ohio’s possessions, but it can buy the Tar Heels a few more on the offensive end. Tyler Zeller has been a big part of that. He leads UNC with nine boards. Reggie Bullock grabbed five while John Henson and Harrison Barnes each have four.
# Harrison Barnes: The Tar Heels went on and on about how much everybody needed to step up to get a win in point guard Kendall Marshall’s absence, but so far, forward Harrison Barnes hasn’t really done that. Barnes — who leads UNC in scoring with an average of 17.3 points per game — finished the half 1-of-7 from the floor for three points. Barnes does have two assists, but he was also called for traveling twice in the beginning of the half. The sophomore has been known for coming out of the locker room after halftime with a bang following quiet first-half performances, so time will tell if tonight will be the same.
# Turnovers: North Carolina knew going into tonight’s game the Bobcats — who rank fourth in the NCAA in steals per game — would likely cause a lot of turnovers. And so far, they have. UNC finished the half with 13 turnovers, while the Bobcats had just six. The Tar Heels took advantage of Ohio’s early shooting slump to get a lead, but if they plan to hold onto it in the second half, they should try harder to make the most of every possession.