RALEIGH -- The Hurricanes had an opportunity Saturday night to really make a statement in front of the nation. It didn't exactly work out. North Carolina stormed back from a nine-point first half deficit and made the Canes look ordinary in a 82-65 victory at the Dean Dome. The extraordinary? That was provided by freshman DeQuan Jones. All the Canes lost to fall to 2-2 in the ACC, there was some good to come out of it -- as well as some bad. We'll break it all down in Beyond The Boxscore.
> GAME BALL: Carolina's Wayne Ellington. I wasn't overly impressed with the Tar Heels Saturday night. I actually think they were better last year -- at least more focused. What made the Tar Heels look good in the end was Ellington, who went off for 23 points in the second half, drilling a career-high seven three-pointers to turn a close game into a breeze. Tyler Hansbrough finished with 24 points and seven rebounds and scored 20 of Carolina's 36 first half points. Right now, he's really the only Tar Heel playing like a superstar on a regular basis. That should tell you just how good Carolina is.
> PLAY OF THE GAME: DeQuan Jones' first half super-funkafied up-and-under dunk. It was more than just the Play of the Game. It was the Play of the Day on SportsCenter. If someone finds a highlight of it on YouTube, please link it. The dunk was spectacular, better than anything any Cane has ever done. It wasn't the only athletic play Jones made. He also volleyball spiked a Carolina shot into the third row. Jones got the start in place of Brian Asbury Saturday, a move Frank Haith made to try and get the young guy jump-started. He scored eight points and played well. But Jones still has a ways to go in terms of locating guys in transition defense and his shot. He's shot more than a few airballs this year and seems to put the ball up a little too hard. But you got to like some of those flashes tonight. Maybe, its the start of something special for Jones.
> TALKING STRATEGY: We knew what Miami's weakness was coming into this game -- transition defense. The Canes did a good job getting back early to stop the fast break. But will killed UM down the stretch was what Roy Williams did to stretch Miami's zone defense thin, asking his players to make long passes and set screens which allowed open shots for guys like Ellison. The Tar Heels also put the clamps on Jack McClinton, throwing a mix of guys at him to get him tired.
> INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The ugly numbers of the night belonged to Canes point guard Lance Hurdle, who finished 0-for-7 from the field, with no points, three assists and two turnovers. Last year, Hurdle had a career-high 20 points.
> PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: Haith made it a point in his post game press conference to say his players decided to turn the game into a battle of one-on-one when things got bad. I'm not sure who he might have been pointing the finger at, but he followed up by saying his team isn't good enough to win that way. Haith is right. They aren't. But they still were playing pretty well against the most talented team in the country and we're leading before they unraveled.
Here's the bottom line, Miami isn't talented enough to beat Top 10 teams on most nights. But they certainly are experienced enough and good enough when they play as a team to make the NCAA tournament again. They just can't afford any mishaps against teams they should beat. That includes the next four -- vs. FSU, Virginia Tech, at N.C. State and Maryland -- before Wake Forest and North Carolina visit and Miami goes on the road at Duke. If the Canes can be 6-5 in ACC play by the time Feb. 18 rolls around, than the Canes will be more than capable of reaching the tournament.