With about ten minutes left in this one, I had a recap all written up about how BC, when on the road, always seems to stay close in the first half and then get blown out in the second half. Certainly, that looked to be the case this afternoon as well, with UNC running out to a 15-point lead, largely on the back of Tyler Zeller, who seemed to be scoring at will in the paint for much of the second half. But then a funny thing happened: the Eagles clamped down on defense, started hitting threes, and were a barely-missed Reggie Jackson jumper from winning this one.
It sounds cheesy and cliche, but this was about as encouraging a loss as is possible. Unlike most of its away games, BC showed real heart and defensive effort coming back in this one. If the Eagles could play defense as well as they did in the latter part of the second half, they would be a tournament lock. As it stands now, we'll have to see whether this defensive performance carries over to the rest of the season or was just a blip on what was a fairly crazy Saturday throughout college basketball. A few more random thoughts after the jump:
- ESPN color man Len Elmore was pretty hard on Reggie Jackson throughout the game, lamenting that Jackson wasn't trying hard enough to get open on offense. I'm not sure how accurate that complaint is and how much of it was just due to UNC's solid defense, but Reggie definitely seemed a little tentative early on, which was a major factor in BC's horrid offensive start.
- Sticking to the topic of announcers, both Mike Patrick and Len Elmore seemed pissed they had to be at this game at all in the first half - I've never heard announcers complaining about the play as much as they did. Part of me was refreshed that they weren't being needlessly banal and boring, but the other part got a little annoyed at their general negative tone. In the end, I can't really blame them - BC's first half offensive performance truly was pathetic.
- I was hard on Joe Trapani earlier in the season for his poor decision-making, but I must say he's improved enormously the past few games. Part of that is just that his three point shots have been falling, but he is consistently making better decisions and showing a lot more effort under the rim (which is especially important given our lack of interior presence on either offense or defense). Today was no different, as Trapani's effort on both ends was one of the major factors in BC's almost-comeback.
- I realize I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but Josh Southern is still the most confounding player by far on this team. He had a number of impressive plays this game, including a sweet bounce pass to a driving Trapani, and then a follow-up "and-1" off of Trapani's miss. For long stretches, however, he was either nonexistent or an outright liability on the offensive end. If Southern could be consistent he could be quite the offensive player.
- What does this loss mean for our NCAA tournament chances? Not a ton, except to make our next games at home vs. Miami and @Virginia Tech even more important. It's safe to say we need a minimum of nine ACC wins going into the ACC tournament to have any chance, so losing both of those games would virtually eliminate our hopes.