Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-73 loss to Duke on Friday night in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
- Carolina might have lost this game (and what a game it was!), but if these Tar Heels aren’t worthy of a one seed, I don’t know what the committee is looking at.
- It would have been obviously nice to win this game and wrap up a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tar Heels have to walk away from this one feeling like they didn’t play anywhere close to their best basketball and were still one play away from beating the most talented collection of college basketball players (notice I didn’t use the word team) in America. And, as a reminder, it’s incredibly hard to beat a team three times in a season.
- Despite the missed shot from Coby White at the end of the game, did you catch what happened? As soon as the buzzer sounded, Seventh Woods ran directly to where White was to console his fellow point guard. That is TEAM. That is FAMILY.
- Carolina shot just 4-for-26 from three. Two of those came in the first three minutes of the game. Not going to win many ball games that way. Several of the 22 misses were poor shot selection or settling when a potential better shot was available. For example, Cam Johnson had the shorter Jordan Goldwire on him, but Carolina only exploited this mismatch once. Additionally, the Heels had depth and conditioning on their side but got away from those things.
- Anytime you lose a close game like this you remember the little things: Coby White uncharacteristically missing the front end of a 1-and-1. Carolina stripping the ball in the final two minutes, but it rolling right past everyone to a wide open lay-up for Jordan Goldwire. Carolina stopping Zion Williamson on Duke’s last possession, but allowing him the offensive rebound and put-back.
- Carolina turned the ball over just eight times tonight. Over the last four games, the Heels have averaged 9.5 per game. With the fourth best pace in America, that’s an incredible number. Coby White did come back down to earth in the turnover department tonight, committing three.
- UNC had a 13-point lead with 6:24 left before halftime. Zion Williamson immediately came down and hit a three (Duke’s first of the game) and by the time that halftime rolled around, Duke had tied the game at 44. It was likely in this stretch where the Heels had the mental lapses that ultimately cost them the game.
- The Tar Heels won the rebounding battle 44-39, the offensive rebounding battle 16-10, and second chance points 16-12. Yet it felt like Duke killed Carolina in offensive rebounding and put-backs time after time, including the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) bucket from Zion Williamson.
- Kenny Williams did another remarkable job guarding RJ Barrett. He scored 15 points, but took 15 shots to do so. Williams didn’t have an incredible scoring night, but did contribute nine points (including the only three-pointer Carolina made in the second half), three assists and just one turnover.
- As a team Carolina once again drew multiple offensive fouls on Duke, including two on Barrett that sent him to the bench in the first half.
- Luke Maye had a double-double, 14 points and 13 rebounds. He is now the 12th member of the 900 rebound club in Carolina history. Maye sits at 912 rebounds right now and needs 30 more career rebounds to make it into the top ten (Eric “Big Grits” Montross is 10th with 941).
- Uncharacteristically of a Roy Williams-coached basketball game, only eight players saw the court tonight: The usual five starters plus Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Seventh Woods.
- Similar to Thursday night, Cam Johnson got off to another hot start. He started off 3-for-3, including two threes, for Carolina’s first eight points. He scored 14 points in the first 8:10 and finished with 23 to lead the Heels in scoring. After going 5-for-5 from the free throw line, his percentage in those shots is back up into the 80 percent range.
- Brandon Robinson had another productive night, in just eight minutes. He scored five points on 2-for-2 shooting, drew a charge, and had two assists.
- There are so many big plays back and forth that could be detailed from the second half during which neither team led by more than four points over the final 9:30. In fact, the teams traded one point leads twice in the final 2:30. A great game, that didn’t end the way the Tar Heels wanted. But a reminder: The ACC Tournament is not the ultimate goal. In fact, you should also remember that each of Roy Williams’ three National Champion seasons at Carolina have come on the, ahem, heels of a semifinal loss in the ACC Tournament.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game.
Next up is the NCAA Tournament starting on either Thursday, Marcy 21 or Friday, March 22. Opponent, date, tip time, and TV channel will be announced on Sunday, March 17 during the NCAA Selection Show on CBS, which starts at 6:00ET.
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