Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-74 win over Oregon in the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday afternoon.
- Big time win for Carolina to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 2-1 record. Heading into the upcoming Ohio State, (at) Virginia, (at) Gonzaga gauntlet, that 2-1 record provides a lot more cushion than 1-2 would have. Additionally, this win will be a nice resume-boost come March.
- Congratulations to Coach Williams (877) for passing Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp (876) for 5th place on the all-time D1 coaching victories list.
- The stat that made the difference in the game: Coming into today, Carolina was hitting 60.3% (82-for-136) of their free throws, good for 324th in the country. What has been a weakness all season, turned into a strength today: The Tar Heels hit 20 of their 21 charity stripe attempts (95.2%). This number included 11-for-11 in the second half.
- The Tar Heel bench is beginning to look like the MASH unit on the sideline for the Looney Tunes in Space Jam. The infirmary has already claimed Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, and Sterling Manley. Leaky Black sprained his foot against Michigan, and while he was able to start the game, was only able to play 8:30 (all in the first half). Garrison Brooks suffered a corneal abrasion (a surface scratch) against Michigan and had to wear what looked like shop glasses to protect his eye. Brandon Robinson suffered from Joel Berry syndrome: He stepped on a Ducks’ foot and re-tweaked his bad ankle. We await a status update on all three Tar Heels.
- Garrison Brooks was able to overcome his Cyclops-like condition to play 32 minutes, score nine points (on 4-for-6 shooting), pull down 10 rebounds and block three shots. His combination inside with Armando Bacot is becoming a dominant force.
- When Brandon Robinson tweaked his ankle, he immediately ran back to the locker room (2:30 into the second half) and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. However, he checked back in just 1:30 of game time later. Robinson was able to manage a career high 13 points, hit three three-pointers, dish four assists, block a shot, and grab two steals. Perhaps most importantly, Robinson played some key (and certainly painful) defensive possessions against Oregon’s dynamic point guard, Payton Pritchard. The most crucial of these possessions came with 20 seconds remaining and Carolina clinging to a three-point lead. Robinson did a marvelous job staying with Pritchard and forcing him into a deep three; however, discerning viewers caught Robinson crouching on the sideline in a great deal of pain after the possession.
- Hard to believe we haven’t talked about Armando Bacot’s performance yet. Bacot, just like Brandon Robinson, set a career high with 23 points. He also had a career high six blocks. The combination of the points and his 12 rebounds (seven of which were offensive) gave Bacot his fourth double-double in five games. The big freshman was just four blocks shy of a triple-double. Most impressively Bacot, shooting just 41% on his free throws this season, hit nine out of 10. This performance at the line will be imperative for the type of inside game he plays.
- Carolina has struggled with three-point shooting. The team got off to an encouraging 4-for-8 start today, made by four different players (Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Justin Pierce, and Christian Keeling). Unfortunately, the Heels only hit two of their final 15 attempts and finished with a 26.1 percentage for the game.
- The Tar Heels were saddled with a good deal of foul trouble. Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot, and Garrison Brooks each had four fouls while Brandon Robinson and Justin Pierce each had three. Curiously, no other Tar Heels committed a foul.
- Anthony’s foul trouble, paired with Leaky Black’s injury, forced KJ Smith into playing 8:16 (by far the most game time he’s seen as a Tar Heel). Smith didn’t contribute much on the stat line, did have two assists and just one turnover. One of the assists was a beautiful drop-off to Armando Bacot for a dunk. Anthony’s fourth foul came with 10:16 remaining but Smith’s steady play allowed the freshman to stay on the bench until after the under-4:00 media timeout.
- The foul trouble and injuries also created some unconventional line-ups. When KJ Smith checked in at 10:16, he was paired with Brandon Huffman, Garrison Brooks, Christian Keeling, and Brandon Robinson.
- Let’s talk about the blocks. Carolina had nine IN THE FIRST HALF. They finished the game with 12. The most impressive of these was the highlight of the game when 6’3” Cole Anthony went up to reject 6’7” Shakur Juiston in transition.
- The second most impressive highlight was also from Mr. Anthony. Just a minute before his block, Anthony deflected an Oregon attempted inbounds pass, chased down the loose ball, and threw down a one-handed slam in transition.
- Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce both had a more dynamic first half, finishing with seven points each. However, Carolina will need the two grad transfers to put together a complete game in order to achieve this teams’ goals. Keeling and Pierce combined to shoot 0-for-9 in the second half. Keeling, in particular, looks uncomfortable or unsure of his shot. Keeling comes in with the reputation of a scorer, and will hopefully soon settle in and find his touch (and confidence).
- Here’s what a senior adds: With around 13:00 minutes remaining in the game, Keeling missed a three and in the rebound action the ball rolled toward the baseline. Brandon Robinson, bad ankle and all, was able to save the ball and throw it directly to Garrison Brooks for a lay-up plus an and-one foul shot (which Brooks made).
- Now seven games into the season, Carolina is still yet to hit 80 points or shoot 50% from the floor. Quite the anomaly for a Roy Williams-coached club.
- The events surrounding the final media timeout of the game were quite interesting. As previously mentioned, this is when Cole Anthony checked back in. Carolina had mounted a 10 point lead which Oregon whittled down to six. The play that led to the under-4:00 media timeout was an incorrectly adjudicated out-of-bounds call which gave Oregon the ball, to go with the momentum they had already built up. This seemingly incorrect decision contributed to the closing moments becoming more tense than they otherwise might’ve been. The other curious happening during this media timeout was that someone involved in the on-court timeout entertainment apparently stole the game ball.
- While they were the flashiest, Cole Anthony’s dunk and block weren’t the most important moments of his play. Saddled with four fouls, the freshman scored six of Carolina’s final eight points after Oregon cut the lead to one with 1:30 left. Most impressively, four of these points were pressure-filled one-and-one free throws. The final two points were also one-and-one free throws, completed by none other than the gritty Brandon Robinson.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Big 10 / ACC Challenge at home against Ohio State on Wednesday, December 4. Tip is at 9:30ET on ESPN.
Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here. Include your name in the text of the email.