But the Tar Heels suffered a worse loss than any the Terrapins could have delivered, as John Henson landed awkwardly on his wrist in the first half and writhed in pain for several seconds. He returned after a few minutes but visibly struggled even to catch the ball, resulting in his departure from the game for good.
X-rays turned up negative, but whether Henson can play on Saturday — versus N.C. State at 1 p.m.— remains highly uncertain. More troubling, depending upon the extent of the injury, he could miss or play with reduced effectiveness during the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Henson is right-handed but prefers to finish with his left in the paint, and offensively he’d have little to offer should that hand be compromised.
More immediately, Henson’s potential absence opens up a realm of possibilities to the Wolfpack. C.J. Leslie historically has performed very poorly against Henson’s length, but the sophomore forward should enjoy much more success against James Michael McAdoo or any other Tar Heel frontcourt option.
Turning the focus back to the Terps, Kendall Marshall continues his offensive tear. He set the ACC single-season assists record in a 13-point, 12-assist effort, and he knocked in 3-for-4 on threes.
Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock — whose confidence appears to be at an all-time high — led the Heels with 15 points apiece. Barnes played a more complete game than usual, snatching seven rebounds, dishing out two assists and thieving three steals. Conference player of the year Tyler Zeller turned in a steady 14 points and seven rebounds.
McAdoo proved to be a pleasant surprise. He played 29 minutes in Henson’s absence and accumulated 14 points and eight rebounds on 5-for-8 shooting. He’ll need to maintain that aggression tomorrow to offset a State frontline hungry to avenge their frustrations.
Carolina shot a sizzling 51 percent from the field, including 47 percent on three-pointers. Clearly, the Heels’ improved shooting has restored confidence in the team after questions hovered above it most of the season. Nevertheless, Henson’s value to the squad likely precludes it from making a deep NCAA run if he’s unable to return to form.
Click here to view the UNC/Maryland box score.