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January 5, 2009, 10:50 AM ET
Man Bites Dog: BC Wins at Carolina

by John Gasaway

You’ll be forgiven for wondering where in the world this came from: Boston College 85, North Carolina 78.

Boston College? Winning in Chapel Hill? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the last time the Eagles graced the ESPN family of networks they were beating Iowa. In Chestnut Hill. By two. Not exactly the profile of a team that’s going to take down the Tar Heels.

Yet take them down they did. I’m seeing some morning-after accounts pointing the finger of blame at shots the Heels missed, and it’s true that Roy Williams‘ team didn’t exactly burn up the nets, hitting just 41 percent of their twos and 32 percent of their threes. Still, UNC did score 78 points in a 73-possession game, thanks in large part to excellent offensive rebounding. That will usually be enough for them to eke out a “tough win” at the Dean Dome.

The fact that it wasn’t enough on this night points to the central truth about this game: North Carolina lost because of a failure on defense, allowing BC to score a scorching 1.17 points per trip. Part of that, of course, was simply stars aligning for the Eagles. Rakim Sanders, who entered the game as a 30 percent three-point shooter, made 4-of-7 threes and scored 22 points. Nevertheless, there was justice in this result.

UNC couldn’t get the Eagles to turn the ball over, they couldn’t keep the visitors off the offensive glass, and they couldn’t keep Tyrese Rice off the free throw line. For the first time this season, an opposing player scored as many points on free throws (nine) as did Tyler Hansbrough. BC got the job done by simply doing what they do: taking care of the ball and crashing the offensive glass. As Rice put it: “Just play your game and run your offense.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Anyway, thus endeth the run-the-table talk. Or maybe it simply moves now to more surprising locales outside Chapel Hill: to Pittsburgh, PA, Winston-Salem, NC, Clemson, SC, and Normal, IL.

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