Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 73-71 home win against Tennessee:
- Let’s get this out of the way: this was not a pretty game, but it was a win. A game in which the Tar Heels were missing two starters, shot 2-17 from 3, and shot 13-24 from the free throw line.
- Since returning from Maui (Indiana, Radford, Davidson, Tennessee), the fire, intensity, and urgency that was present to that point of the season appears to be gone. Joel Berry being out for the last 2.5 games doesn’t help matters. It could get really ugly next Saturday against Kentucky if the team can’t recapture the fire they played with in Maui.
- After going down 30-15 with 7:35 left in the first half, there was a steal from Nate Britt, a steal by Kenny Williams, a forced 3-second violation and, less than two minutes later (5:40), the Heels are only down 9. All keyed by defense.
- After cutting the lead to 8 just before halftime (on Justin Jackson’s first two points), the Heels had the lead down to two within the first two minutes of the second half. Another run keyed by defense.
- Nate Britt (similar to most of his teammates) did not shoot the ball well, but he did have FIVE steals.
- Hicks and Meeks each had 3 fouls by 2:30 into the second half and were rather ineffective.. They have to dominate games for this team to accomplish the goals it wants to. Thankfully, Tony Bradley played really well.
- Too many mid-range, contested jumpers. In particular from Justin Jackson, who was struggling with his shot (3-for-15 FG, 0-for-6 3P). When the shots aren’t falling you have to get the ball to the rim.
- Elevator screen on two straight plays in the second half. The first time, Kenny Williams couldn’t quite get through so the usual look at a 3 wasn’t there. The second time, Tony Bradley slipped the screen for a wide-open dunk when his man anticipated the screen and overplayed it to the top side. This was a thing of beauty.
- Who hit the shot to tie the game at 50? None other than Stilman White. He’s filling a similar role to what Jackson Simmons did in recent years. The less-talented, but savvy veteran who comes in and gives a few solid minutes to help settle his team.
- Great end-of-game substitution by Coach Williams. He subbed out Kennedy Meeks for the longer Tony Bradley, who promptly rewarded his coach’s decision by blocking Tennessee’s last shot.