Tyler Zeller scored 30 points and North Carolina defeated Maryland on Senior Night, 88-64.
It was clear that Carolina was the better team on the court all night, but you had a feeling throughout that they should have built a much larger lead. They finally built that large lead midway into the second half. It was a quiet crowd and the team reflected that leading Coach Williams to shed his jacket and rings in frustration. The team appeared to respond opening up the lead.
The atmosphere in the Smith Center was if there was the "Big White Elephant in the Room", which was the upcoming Duke game on Saturday. So much had been written and talked about the game, especially the way this Carolina team lost the game to the Blue Devils in Chapel Hill. It would be hard not to look ahead.
As it turned out, the Tar Heel performance was good enough for a big win and the game against the Blue Devils will determine the ACC Regular Season Champion.
One player who came to play early was Senior Tyler Zeller. He was on the floor scrapping, hustling for rebounds and aggressively looking for his shot. It was his last game in the Smith Center and he left it all on the court. When "Blue Steel" was in the game as Roy Williams pulled his starters at the end, Zeller was the first off the bench cheering his teammates with a big smile. That sums up Zeller's career, he has been the consummate team player. To that point, he could have red shirted in 2009 but came back late in the year to play a hand full of games in route to the National Championship.
Zeller went 20 of 23 from the free throw line breaking Tyler Hansbrough's Smith Center record for free throws made in a game. Reflecting on his career at Carolina he said,""Coach always told us it would go by like a flash, and it has. It's been very, very quick."
Point guard, Kendall Marshall got in the record books as well breaking Ed Cota's record for assists in a season. He passed Cota at 258 early in the second half.
Tyler Zeller led all scorers with 30, followed by John Henson with 19, Reggie Bullock with 12 and Harrison Barnes with 10. Henson pulled down 9 rebounds while Kendall Marshall dished out 8 assists.
Roy Williams kept the Tar Heel tradition of starting all Seniors on Senior night. Other Seniors playing their final home game were Justin Watts, David Dupont, Stewart Cooper and Patrick Crouch.
The win moves North Carolina to 13-2 in the ACC and 26-4 overall. They travel the 8 miles to Durham on Saturday night to face the Blue Devils. Aside from the obvious Regular Season implications, seeding for the NCAA tournament are at stake as Carolina is still in the hunt for a number one seed. Game time at Cameron is 7pm.