Harrison Barnes scored 20 points to lead the Tar Heels by a gritty Wisconsin team on Wednesday night and to a 60-57 win.
Barnes scored 10 of his 20 during a second half run that turned things around when Wisconsin seemed in control of the game and the Heels needed a lift. The Badgers defense totally disrupted the Tar Heel offense and never allowed them to get into a flow.
In the first half, it felt as though North Carolina was in total control of the ball game but only lead by 1 at halftime. It didn't take long for the Badgers to take the lead and expand it in the second half. The Tar Heels were finally able to recapture the lead at the 9:30 mark in the second half and never relinquished it behind the play of Barnes.
It was the best defensive effort of the season by the Tar Heels holding Wisconsin to just 35% from the floor and 28.6% from behind the three point line for one of the Nations best 3 point shooting teams. But even with the defensive effort, North Carolina was never able to shake the Badgers. Carolina finished at just 42.2% from the field themselves. UNC played terrific defense on Jordan Taylor, led by Dexter Strickland. Taylor was held to 6-20 from the field and just 3-11 from behind the arch.
John Henson led the Tar Heels with 17 rebounds and Carolina out rebounded the Badgers 39-26. Wisconsin frustrated Kendall Marshall who dished out only 7 assists on the night and turned it over 4 times. Wisconsin bottled up Tyler Zeller for much of the night, he did finish with 12 points and 7 rebounds in the win.
Jared Berggren led Wisconsin with 14 points and 5 rebounds on the night. The Badgers will face Marquette next in an in state battle.
For the Tar Heels, the win erased the bitter taste of a lackluster effort last Saturday night against UNLV and gets them back on track with the game against #1 Kentucky looming this Saturday. They showed a fight in this game that they did not in the UNLV loss. It was not a work of art, but that is a credit to Wisconsin but they showed some of the defensive prowess that led them down the stretch last season and got back on track on the boards, something that they will have to continue to do as the season goes along.
Carolina moves to 6-1 on the season and will travel to Kentucky on Saturday, the last game outside of the Smith Center in the month of December. All eyes will be on the status of P.J. Hairston who injured his wrist in the game.
(Photo by Gerry Broome / AP)