No. 1 North Carolina Stunned in Las Vegas Invitational by UNLV 90-80

David ScercyContributor IIINovember 27, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 26:  Chace Stanback #22 of the UNLV Rebels celebrates with fans after UNLV's 90-80 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels during the championship game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena November 26, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For at least one night, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels were a much better basketball team than the No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. UNLV (7-0) used a rock-solid offensive game plan going right at big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson, and the North Carolina big men had no answer.

UNLV's starting five outplayed Carolina's starters, scoring 75 points to 50 points from the Tar Heel starters.

UNC (5-1) was just outplayed by the Rebel offense, which used drives and kick outs to hit perimeter shots at will, especially in the second half. UNLV knocked down 13 off 32 attempts for the game.

Senior guard/forward Chace Stanback was the hero of the day, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for the Rebels. Stanback also hit four three-pointers.

UNLV controlled most of the first half, taking the ball to the rim and getting Carolina in terrible foul trouble early. Carolina committed 11 first half fouls, with Zeller committing three fouls, and only having three first-half points.

Carolina trailed most of the first half, but did rally to take a 42-38 lead into the locker room at the half.

UNLV then came out and set the pace in the second half, outscoring the Heels 14-0 out of the gate, as the Heels started the second half 0-9 from the floor. The stretch included three-pointers by Mike Moser and Oscar Bellfield, and baskets by Stanback and Carlos Lopez. Mike Mozer finished the run by hitting three free throws.

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 26:  John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks over Chace Stanback #22 of the UNLV Rebels during the championship game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena November 26, 2011 in Las Vegas,
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Heels made a few runs but never could get the big stops they needed to complete any chance of a rally. Carolina cut the least to five a couple times, but UNLV always seemed to have an answer.

Carolina got another huge game from freshmen guard P.J. Hairston, who came off the bench to score 15 points in 15 minutes. Hairston hit 4-6 from the floor, and was 3-5 from three-point land.

The bigs of North Carolina appeared to be rattled throughout from UNLV's front line. Zeller scored just five points with seven rebounds, and John Henson scoring 11 points and grabbed only eight rebounds.

Harrison Barnes finished with 16 points, but only hitting 6-16 field goal attempts.

Some might come out of this saying that the Heels—who host Wisconsin next week in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge—might have just treated this as a trap game and was unprepared for such a game. That should not be the case. North Carolina went to Vegas knowing what they needed to do and were just outplayed by a better basketball team.

UNLV won this game with authority.

UNC continues to struggle from the free throw line hitting just 60.6 percent of their attempts in this game. Most of the misses came during UNLV runs and were big misses.

Harrison Barnes left briefly with a ankle roll, but did continue on to finish the game.