The Dean E. Smith Center crowd went nuts when Reggie Bullock drained his first field goal, a wide-open three-pointer after North Carolina won the tip. They did it again on the Tar Heels’ third possession, which ended with a Bullock layup, and again when Bullock sprung free in the right corner for another three-pointer.
And so Saturday’s ESPN-televised matchup turned into the Reggie Bullock Variety Hour. The junior swingman notched 10 of North Carolina’s first 11 points, outscoring the Maryland basketball team by himself in the first half, making the afternoon’s biggest mystery not, “Will the Terps win?” but rather, “Will they even have more points than Reggie Bullock?”
Maryland won that battle handily, especially after Bullock made just one second-half field goal, but his first-half damage was enough to pace the Tar Heels in a 62-52 win. Bullock finished with 24 points, highs for both the game and his career. As Coach Mark Turgeon said, Maryland “acted like we didn’t even know he was out there a couple times.”
“Reggie probably had his best game in a Carolina jersey, or at least best half,” said James Michael McAdoo, who had his fifth double-double this season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. “[He played] bananas. The crowd’s just like, ‘Go for 40.’ That’s what I kept telling him, ‘Drop 40 on them, Reg.’ He just played great and none of it was selfish. It was all in our system, and that’s Carolina basketball.”
>> Point guard play continues to be a sore point for the Terps, who even had Dez Wells running the offense for extended periods. Pe’Shon Howard had the worst line of his junior season with seven turnovers, zero shots and zero assists in just 14 minutes. Once the ACC’s leader in assists, Howard is averaging just one over Maryland’s past four games.
Seth Allen, meanwhile, shot just 2 for 12 and 0 for 5 from three-pointers, playing mostly along the wing. He had just one turnover but zero assists. Nick Faust started at point guard, but had three turnovers (including two charges), four fouls and four points. As a team, the Terps had five assists, their second-lowest total of the season after posting just four in the loss to Miami.
Obviously, this is not a coincidence. Maryland’s offense relies on sharp ball movement and inside-out principles. Over-dribbling and struggling to complete post-entry passes only compounds the issues. But Turgeon said the problems Saturday weren’t localized to point guard.
“It was everybody,” Turgeon said, like he knew the question was coming. “Alex didn’t adjust well to them doubling. They doubled the first, but then they dug down on him. Simple game. If you have a guard digging on you just throw over them and back out. Our adjustment, is it takes a little bit longer than normal with this group. It was everybody. You could say point guard play wasn’t great, but there were a lot of guys. I thought Dez really competed, he had good numbers, and I thought Charles [Mitchell] really competed. After that, it was a lot of guys that struggled out there.”
>> Maryland’s mini-comeback in the second half coincided with three trips to the free throw line in five possessions, including two by Wells. The Terps went on a 7-0 run after Faust hit a three-pointer – his only field goal of the day – Len hit two free throws, Allen notched a steal-and-score and Wells hit the front end of his two tries.
After that, only Wells made it to the charity stripe for the game’s duration. He finished 5 for 8 from the line. Maryland, as a team, was 9 for 14, the fourth straight game it’s been held to less than 20 attempts.
The Terps had stretches earlier this season against Monmouth, Stony Brook, Delaware State and IUPUI. The difference then, however, was that Maryland shot a combined 55.6 percent from the field over that four-game winning streak. When the offense isn’t coming and the shots aren’t falling, creating offense from the line becomes that much more imperative.
“It’s a long season. It’s such a long season,” Turgeon said. “You’re going to have ups and downs shooting the ball. We have good shooters missing right now. When it’s hard to get a good look, you rush it, and when you rush it you usually don’t make it. So they were good. They were really good defensively. That’s a good team. They’ve got a lot of good players. I think they’re growing up. They were good. Especially in this building today they were great.”
>> Roy Williams was honored at halftime with a commemorative painting, similar to the one Gary Williams received at halftime of the North Carolina State game. After, football Coach Larry Fedora and his players came out to be honored for their 8-4 season, advertising themselves as the Coastal Division champions, even though NCAA sanctions barred the Tar Heels from postseason play.