Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 73-64 loss to Michigan in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day.
- First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Despite a disappointing couple hours on the hardwood, thankfully this is a day where we are reminded of the things in life that truly matter. I pray that it was a day filled with family and friends (and eating way too much food).
- As you can imagine from a loss in which Carolina was down by 24 at one juncture in the second half, there are many negatives to dwell on from the nine-point loss to Michigan; chief of which is the fact that the Tar Heels scored exactly two points in the first 9:00 of the second half. Michigan went on a 19-0 run during this stretch.
- On a day like this, you also have to search for silver linings: From that 24-point deficit, rather than folding, Carolina fought back and eventually reduced the margin to as few as eight. Unfortunately, despite some opportunities to cut further into the lead, the offensive ineptitude displayed through most of the game (and season) once again reared its ugly head.
- In a season already filled with free throw struggles, today’s performance at the line was statistically the worst of the year. Carolina shot 10-for-20 (50%). While it’s difficult to expect 100%, missing 10 free throws in a game you lose by nine is a tough pill to swallow.
- One of the biggest issues today was defending screens. Michigan involved Carolina’s bigs in action at the top of the key and then drove at will to the basket. On too few occasions did another defender slide over to provide help defense.
- At the same time, three different Tar Heels drew charges against the Wolverines – Christian Keeling, Andrew Platek, and Cole Anthony.
- Rebounding, which has been an overwhelming advantage for Carolina, was less so today. The Heels won the rebounding category, but just 36-34. That is not enough separation to make up for a poor shooting performance like today’s.
- To that end, Carolina once again failed to score 80 points or shoot 50% from the field.
- Carolina reduced their number of turnovers from 20 on Wednesday down to just 11 on Thursday. However nine of those came from just three players – three each for Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, and Cole Anthony.
- Carolina got off to a hot start, going on a 13-2 run after Michigan scored the first basket of the game. Four different Tar Heels scored on the first four possessions – Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson, Cole Anthony, and Armando Bacot. In fact, all five starters scored in the first seven minutes.
- The Tar Heels fouled out Michigan’s dynamic playmaker Zavier Simpson with 5:11 left in the game. Simpson was limited to 17 minutes of action. Sadly, Carolina couldn’t take advantage of the senior point guard’s absence, because his back-up David DeJulius filled in more than admirably.
- On the flip side, Carolina did a good job not fouling. They only committed one through the first 15:00 minutes of the second half. The flip side is that that number might be a by-product of not playing tough enough defense.
- Similar to Coby White last year, Cole Anthony is learning his way as Carolina’s point guard. When to push. When to hunt his shot. When to get others involved. The same will be true next season when another freshman (Caleb Love) is likely the starting point guard. Patience.
- No rest for the weary. The loss to Michigan precedes an extremely difficult five game gauntlet (Oregon, Ohio State, Virginia, Wofford, Gonzaga). If you take out the game against Wofford (3-4 record), that’s games against teams currently ranked #7, #8, #10, and #11 whose combined record is 27-1.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Oregon on Friday, November 29. Tip is at 11:30am ET on ESPN.
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