It was the power of TWO – 2 minutes, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 2 missed free throws, 2 made free throws, 2 more missed free throws, 2 offensive rebounds and
2 HUGE THREE-POINTERS
that completely changed the game on Wednesday night.
In a game where coaches consistently chirp about doing the “little things” that win ballgames – we see a prime example of how a few small TWO’s were wild on this night.
With the Tar Heels holding a commanding 14 point lead coming out for half number TWO against their bitter rivals, in the hostile territory of Cameron Indoor Stadium – one was able to witness how a 2 minute stretch can change the entire flow of a game.
19:24 left in the 2nd half of what was turning into a STUNNING upset of the home-jersey-sporting Blue Devils and the Heels holding a 14 point lead – here is how it all went down.
Foul on Tyler Zellar, leading to a made free throw by Duke’s Ryan Kelly, cutting the lead to lucky 13, but then to the Duke fans’ dismay the 2nd free throw failed. Only to be followed by one of the CARDINAL SINS of basketball, an OFFENSIVE REBOUND, which should NEVER happen. The situation was made worse by the fact that Duke followed it up by hitting a three-point shot. This created a 4 point possession and now the lead had been shaved to 10.
Approximately 19:00 left to play, UNC has possession but Harrison Barnes turns the ball over, giving it back to Duke with 18:45 remaining. Back and forth goes the ball once again from UNC to Duke back to UNC only to then see yet another turnover, this time by UNC’s John Henson. Fortunately neither of these TWO turnovers led directly to Blue Devil points, but it did lead to empty possessions by the Heels and that is never beneficial.
With 18:00 left to play, Duke fouled John Henson sending him to the line for 2 free throws. Now these have always been sort of an oxymoron being called “FREE” throws, due to getting a free look at the goal with no defender, but often times the fact they are considered FREEBIES and should be “Free” points causes players to tense up and miss these shots. John Henson has battled that exact mental struggle all year – showing great form and beautiful follow through at times and then at others it has been a mixture of pathetic airballs and heaving bricks that go bounding off the back iron. Even hoping for 1 out of 2 to be made isn’t terrific, but watching him miss BOTH of the shots was not all that unexpected, but still heart-wrenching nonetheless.
Duke was able to secure the rebound after the miss of shot #2 then moving confidently into the offensive end bringing to a culmination the final seconds of this TWO minutes of terror for the Tar Heels.
17:45 Remaining and a foul is called on John Henson sending the red-hot Nolan Smith to the line for Free Throws. Nolan calmly and confidently sank the first free throw cutting the lead into the single digits for the first time since about 4 minutes left in the first half. Then Smith lined up the 2nd shot but uncharacteristically missed it allowing a rebound to take place. Unfortunately for the Heels Kyle Singler out-hustled them for the offensive rebound – being the 2nd extremely important offensive rebound during this 2 minute stretch. The reason this ended up being so crucial is that just 18 seconds later Seth Curry would bury yet another three-pointer, bringing the Cameron Crazies to a fever pitch.
17:20 remaining (effectively 2 minutes after this episode began) Carolina coach Roy Williams quickly calls a Time OUT.
But I am afraid it was a case of TOO LITTLE – TOO LATE or maybe better yet TWO MANY & TWO MUCH from the surging Duke team.
Bringing an end to the 2 minute span where UNC had 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 2 missed free throws and allowed Duke to capitalize with 2 made free throws and 2 even BIGGER misses with offensive rebounds that led to 2 HUGE Three-pointers causing an 8 point swing and leaving UNC clinging to an ever-increasing more perilous 6 point; or better yet 2 possession lead.
It would in the end be a continual TWO-BY-TWO that equaled up to an outcome that was TOO BAD for the Tar Heels.
Did I mention the final score was Duke 79 – UNC 73 – a 6 point defeat – which equals to
2 Three-point baskets!
This could only be a powerful life lesson that coaches try to teach; it is TRULY the SMALL THINGS that a team either does or does not accomplish – that will lead to 1 of the TWO, SWEET VICTORY or the AGONY OF DEFEAT!